Monday, July 06, 2009

"Relax Dressage Medication Rules!" Anky Speaks Out in Support of Isabell, Defends Meds for Therapeutic Use

by Fran Jurga | 6 July 2009 | Fran Jurga's Hoof Blog

They are the Affirmed and Alydar of the sport horse world. Venus and Serena on horseback. One wins one day for technical perfection. The other wins the next day for taking risks on a horse that seems barely under control...and yet delivers in artistic superlatives. A single hoofprint out of line often is all that separates the two.

When Germany's top dressage star Isabell Werth was suspended last week for a positive medication test on her lower level horse, her arch-rival Anky Van Grunsven of Holland did not shout with glee that her rival would not be at the World Equestrian Festival in Aachen this weekend to oppose her.

In a poignant moment of sport solidarity, Anky stepped up to microphone and voiced her criticism for the zero tolerance medication rules that make it impossible to sedate a nervous horse for a routine stable procedure like shoeing or clipping. In Isabell's case, it was a medication for the condition known as "shivers". (Click here to read post about Isabell and shivers medication.)

Here's Anky's statement, taken from a video published in Dutch last week:

"I am not a supporter of doping at all but I want to do what is best for the horse.

"An example: when I want to clip my horse before a show, I would like to give him a light sedation to relax because my horse is a bit afraid of the clipping machine. The stuff we use to relax the horse is doping positive. Imagine, I asked the vet how many days before the show I can clip my horse and he says three days. But what if it is found in my horse’s blood at the show five days after I used it? That means my horse is doping positive! But I think it’s for the horse benefit to clip him.

"I think the rules have to be changed. The research regarding doping is very expensive but it will be a good idea to work with a logbook and write down what had been given and why.

"If the medication is not to improve the performance, I think there is no reason to maintain the zero tolerance for these cases."

Click here to watch the video. It's in Dutch but has some nice footage.

Note: in another poignant twist of fate, Anky did not win at Aachen this weekend. That honor went to the American, Steffen Peters, on Ravel. One can only wonder what might have happened if Isabell had been allowed to compete.

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