Q My question is about sedation. If I was to have my horse sedated by the vet to have her teeth done just before a show, I’d like to know if the sedatives used are swabbable, and if so, what’s the withholding period before they are allowed to compete again? Marina, via email
Vet Dave replies:
Marina, this is an excellent question and well worth considering, as sedation is most certainly swabbable. Firstly, this answer is only a generalisation and should in no way replace seeking advice from your own vet, as the actual withhold will depend on the specific drug or drugs used, the amount, the duration and the route by which they were administered, and with consideration also of any other medication that is being administered.
The New Zealand Equine Veterinary Association (NZEVA) produces a list of detection times for drugs for racing and equestrian sport’s world governing body, the FEI, also produces its own list of detection times; detection time being the length of time a er administration of a drug which the drug can still be detected in the system.
Withhold time is the period of time a er administration a er which there is no drug remaining in the system – this is markedly different from detection time.
As you would expect, the detection times given are solely intended as a guide for veterinarians in establishing withhold times.
e majority of drugs used for sedation have a detection time that varies between two to three days. From this, vets will usually recommend a four- to ve-day withhold time. is is very much a generalisation and the exact time is best specified by your own vet who is administering the sedation.
It is worth bearing in mind that it is the owner’s responsibility to ensure that their horse is free from prohibited medication at the time of competition. Unless you have a very specific reason for using sedation close to a competition it is better to err on the side of caution and have any sedation performed with extra withhold time up your sleeve.