Pain re­liev­ers and per­for­mance

EQUUS - - Eq Casereport -

A horse is taken to a lo­cal show by his owner, whose un­cle is run­ning the event and whose younger sib­ling will be com­pet­ing. The horse fin­ishes the first class and seems to be limp­ing. The owner gives the horse an oral anal­gesic so that the sib­ling can ride him in a class later the same day.

This sce­nario gen­er­ated the great­est con­sen­sus among the ex­perts, with the pre­vail­ing feel­ing be­ing that the horse’s wel­fare was at im­me­di­ate risk. The me­dian rank was 4, the high­est of the study, with the range of be­tween 3 and 5.

“There was a lot of agree­ment on this,” says DuBois. “Most of the ex­perts felt that this was some­thing that re­quired in­ter­ven­tion.” The fact that the horse was limp­ing, she says, was a com­mon thread among the ope­nended re­sponses ex­perts pro­vided re­gard­ing why they ranked the sit­u­a­tion as they did. “Even for in­di­vid­u­als who ranked this sce­nario lower than other par­tic­i­pants, there was con­cern for the horse’s long-term health,” says DuBois. “While in the mo­ment the anal­gesic re­duces the pain---and thus ‘im­proves’ wel­fare---the po­ten­tial for the horse to ex­ac­er­bate the in­jury by con­tin­u­ing to use the in­jured limb also war­ranted considerat­ion.”

This sce­nario raised an ad­di­tional is­sue: Some par­tic­i­pants in­di­cated that, re­gard­less of wel­fare con­cerns, it was not eth­i­cal to use an anal­gesic to con­tinue to com­pete. “Ethics and wel­fare fre­quently over­lap,” DuBois says, “and it is al­ways par­tic­u­larly in­ter­est­ing to ex­am­ine re­sponses when they do.”

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