How U.S. Trainers Defend Lasix

Furosemide, or Lasix, is used, ostensibly, to control pulmonary bleeding in rapidly moving racehorses. But it is also a powerful diuretic that causes the horse to shed water weight (and helps flush the system) prior to the race. To the rest of the world (excepting Canada), U.S. horseracing is derelict in allowing raceday Lasix (in practically all starters). But according to American trainers, the rest of the world is wrong.

Prominent trainer Dale Romans starts with this premise (Paulick Report, 9/13/12): “Racing causes EXERCISE INDUCED pulmonary hemorrhage (EIPH, respiratory bleeding) in 100% of horses.” So, for the good of the horse, it must be controlled. Enter Lasix, which, Roman says, decreases the incidence and severity of this “natural” condition and “has no harmful effects.” See, the drug is therapeutic, indeed humane. And, notes Romans, since all trainers have access to it, none are afforded a competitive advantage.


Prohibiting Lasix, in Romans’ estimation, would lead to methods antithetical to equine welfare – like withholding water prior to a race: “It is my firm belief that one of the worst abuses that can be done to the racing horse is to ban Lasix.” Adds his colleague Rick Violette (DRF, 8/11/11), “Horses bleed. That is a fact. To force an animal to race without it is premeditated, borderline animal abuse.”

What Romans and Violette conveniently ignore, however, is that the level of natural bleeding that adversely affects the Thoroughbred, a 3 or 4 on a 1-4 scale, is rare and bleeding through the nostrils even rarer (perhaps 1%). So to say it’s more therapeutic than performance-enhancing is dubious.

But what if Romans is right about EIPH being innate (and painful) to the racing horse? If so, then the animal abuse that Violette speaks of is at racing’s very core: Horsemen are ever eager to proclaim racing as innocuous – horses are born to run, love to run; the ubiquitous whip is but a painless “guide.” But here, according to Romans et al., the fundamental act (racing) causes equine suffering (through bleeding). Is there another sport on the planet whose primary physical motion is inherently painful? Absurd.

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  1. Absurd and incriminating statements by Romans. However, I’m not surprised. Horses bleed into their lungs because they are pushed beyond their physical capacity. And I guess they know horses “love to run” because the horses say so !!!

  2. EIPH Is Prevalent In Most Disciplines, Not Just racing, That’s why Its Called “Exercise” Induced, Not “Racing Induced” , And Your “Bleeder” Stats Are Wrong, So Far Wrong ThaT I Really LOL
    Try Again

    • I’m never very impressed with stats. I like to look more closely to see where and by whom…. There is a great little book available called How to Make Statistics Lie for You !!! All depends which side of the fence you are on.

  3. Yes, My Point Is That If You Know Anything about Horses, You Know That You Cannot Force A Horse To Do Anything. You Can Teach TheM, And If They Are Willing, They Will Follow, If Not, They Won’t. You Cannot Make A Horse Run, Jump, Spin, Pivot, Pilaf, Side Pass, Run Barrels Or Poles, Slide To A Stop, Carry A Saddle Or Bag, Pull A Cart, Push A Ball, Rush Through A Croud, Cross A Bridge, Load In A Trailer, Or Pack You Through The Woods For Hours, Eat O, So The Saying Proves True… You Can Lead A Horse To Water, But U Cant Make Him Drink it. They Will Only Do Any Of These If THEY Want To.

    • I disagree with you Steph. I’ve trained horses for 30 years and they will do a lot of things they don’t want to do if they think they are going to be whipped. It doesn’t matter how much they weigh — horses have no concept of their size. I can tell the difference in the way a horse will act as soon as they know you have a whip in your hands. Also, if they will run without one – why are they using them?

  4. I have never seen a greyhound bleed from it’s nose or mouth following a race or a human. But I sure have witnessed horses bleeding from their nostrils even on Lasix. The drug is touted as preventing EIPH in horses but it sure does not work for many of these bleeders and that is a fact. These bleeders should not race, period. And horses pushed in other disciplines suffer EIPH and should not be competing. As most know, EIPH is a symptom and sometimes the cause can be systemic hypertension or pulmonary hypertension.

  5. Perhaps You Should Take A Visi To Wikipedia, Where You May Educate Yourself. I DidSay Disciplines, Not Species, But Yes, EIPH DoesCover Other Species, IncludIng Greyhounds, Camels And People. But this Arguement PertaiNs To The Equine athlete, where EIPH Is Considered An “Inevitable Consequence Of ModeratE To Intense Exercise.” X PercEnt Of Runners suffer no Or minimal Bleeding During Exercise Or Racing. So For The X Percent That Do Have theSe symptoms, Why Tick treating Them Accordingly Such A Crime? Should We Just Euthanize A Bleeder? They Clearly Can Have No Good Lifestyle, They Cannot Move On To Be Jumpers, Not Even A Trail Horse Exerts Less Than “Moderate” Exercise. So Lets Just Kill Them All, ThatS Humane, Or Perhaps You Would Like To Stick Them In A Tiny Field Where They Cannot RuN Fast Enough To Get Hurt. No I Think We Should Kill Them. While You Are At It, Go Ahead And Kill All THe Dogs With Hip Problems, All The Children With Asthma And Any Adult Who Needs An Oxygen Machine. And Go AhEad ANd The ProductioN Of Lasix, Tha Way The People Who Suffer From Congestive Heart Failufe Die Of Natural Causes, Instead Of Being EuThanized.
    And The Fact Is That No Two Horses Nor Human Are Alike, Dosage Matters, And Just Like The Real World, Sometimes It Takes TriaL And error To Find The Right Dosage. Just Like Your Happy Pills, Pain Pills, Allergy Pills, Cough Medicine…

  6. You do make a lot of assumptions. Did you ever consider that you may not know as much as you think you do ?
    However, I do wish you the best. Oh, and thank for your suggestion re.Wikipedia !!!

  7. Also, as far as Wikipedia goes I have never considered it the be all and end all of information. You might want to read the piece ” Wikipedia Probes Suspicious Entries” in the WSJ, B2, Oct. 22.

  8. If You Do Not Like Wikipedia, Then Uust Use A Dictionary To Read The Definition Of EIPH. As Far As My Assumptions, I Dont See That Ive Made More Than Whst Follows here, You Voted For obama, You Have Never Been To A Race Track Or A Barn And Seen The Gold Shimmer In ThE Coat Of A Racehorse(Or Show horse) You’ve Never Seen The Twinkle In Their EyE…. All Things That Represent Exemplary Health And Qaulity Care. You Have Never Witnessed The Bond Between Horse And Rider, You Have Never Seen The Blood, Sweat And Tears ThAt We Humans Go Through Just ToTry To Have A Happy Horse. No You Sit Bdhind Your Computer Screens Going Article To Article Shunning Something You Know NothiNg about

  9. “Steph”, I’m a bit confused regarding all of your blood, sweat, and tears you speak of in your attempts to make your horses happy in whatever discipline you are involved in…in light of your previous comments that you can’t make a horse do anything it does not want to do, I have to assume your horses just love what they do and do it willingly! Hence, why all the blood, sweat, and tears?

    • then You, As Well As The Rest, Have No Idea What Goes Into OwninG An Animal, Training An Athlete, And Developing A Relationship With Both.A Willing Horse makes It To The Races, The Show Ring, Because They Are “Willing” To Learn, Not Because We Beat Them There. AnimalS, Like Children, Do Not Learn Overnight, And Unlike Children, Take More Time And patience(Sweat And Tears), Trial And Error(Blood And Sweat) sometimes failure And Defeat(Blood Sweat And tEaRs) We slave In The Barns Trackside And Farmside From 4Am Til Sundown, and sundowTo Sun UpP Cleaning, Feeding, Foaling, Fixing, Treating, Teaching, Riding, Waiting, Watching, Warming, Cooling… 7Days A Week, 365 DayS A Year. We Have No Sick Days, Vacation Days, Off Days. Christmas, Thanksgiving, New Years,Labor Day, Memorial Day, We work, While U Sleep, Horses Are Not Computerz, There Is No OfF switch., We Slave. We Probably Make Far Less Money Than You As Well, The Sport Of Kings Often Provides A Negative ROI, In A Poor CommuniTy. Simply Owning A Horse (Even one That Never Gets Ridden) Will Consume All Of Your Blood, Sweat, Tears And Money, And For NothinG More Than The Love Of A Horse. But You Wouldnt Know Anything About That, Would you.

      • Again you assume a lot. I and many others here, I would bet, do own horses. And, yes, they are a lot of work 365 days each year and cost a lot of money.
        So my point is, I and others do know something about that !!

  10. Steph your comment that you cannot make a horse do anything it does not want to do shows first hand that you know nothing about the horse industry. Horses are forced to do things everyday that they do not want to do. They are forced into loaded trailers, they are forced into lines at the slaughter house, they are forced into kill boxes to die. The BLM uses force every day in their round ups. In training many trainers use force and abuse to get horses to do many things because that takes less time than doing it by actually “training” the horse. Just go onto youtube and watch some videos and you will see many videos of people “forcing” horses to do things the horse is NOT doing willingly. These morons think it is funny, it is not.

  11. Oh and just for your information I am a horse owner and involved in the horse industry.

  12. Steph, you actually pointed out one of the BIG problems in Thoroughbred racing…”The Sport Of Kings Often Provides A Negative ROI, In A Poor CommuniTy.” BIG PROBLEM. Because, you see Steph, those in what you call the “poor community” are consistently the worst offenders of mistreating and neglecting their charges. Time and time again, those folks didn’t have the money to get simple diagnostics on their injured racehorses. Horses with fractures were denied x-rays…horses with bows didn’t get ultrasounds…horses with colic were left in pain with no intervention. Instead, they stood in their stalls and waited for help…some of the injured waited literally FOR WEEKS with no evaluation or treatment. I don’t care who are you or what discipline you are involved in…and this pertains to those who merely keep a horse in their backyard…if you cannot meet the needs of your horse(s) present and future (and this includes upon their retirement), you have no business having horses. BIG PROBLEM in the racing industry…the majority of those who make their living in it are not “kings”…and it is their horses that suffer the consequences and pay the price at a higher percentage. In addition, horses that were once in the possession of the “kings” eventually fall to the “paupers” (except for the “lucky” ones who live their lives producing more horses as either a breeding stallion – what an unnatural and lonely life! – or as a broodmare birthing foals year after year after year). I can give you LISTS of those horses!…horses bred by the “kings” in racing, those for whom money is never a problem…but yet their horses in time find themselves laboring at cheap tracks with chronic injuries, still training and racing and all the while, exacerbating those injuries to the point of leaving them so damaged that a chance for life after racing is at last taken from them as well.

    In the end, this billion-dollar gambling industry uses up horses and tosses them aside day in and day out. The options you present (“just kill them all” or “stick them in a tiny field”) are certainly not options WE have suggested!…do you seem to think those are the only options?…or do you just want to minimize the abuse the racehorses endure by suggesting the ONLY other options for them is “killing” them or having them cruelly confined to “tiny fields”?

    I’ve been to the racetrack…been on the backside…and for over a decade, have been involved with the rescue/rehab/re-homing of the horses of which you speak “we” should see…the ones with the “gold shimmer in their coat” and the “twinkle in their eye”?…of the hundreds and hundreds of horses in the shedrows I’ve seen, the majority had neither the shimmer nor the twinkle. Their coats were dull, as were their eyes. And without those of us who love them for simply what they ARE, and not for what they can DO, they had no hope.

    Lastly, you are dead wrong about me…I don’t just sit behind a computer. I DO know what goes into “owning” an animal (don’t normally use the word “own” when it comes to one of my family members, whether human, equine, or any other)…and I know what goes into training, rehabbing, developing a relationship with, loving, losing…all of it. Three of my beloved equine family members were used up and tossed aside by the racing industry…and no one in that industry was there for them when they stood injured and waiting for help. I have also stood at the end of the lead line with a racehorse so damaged that humane euthanasia was the only option more times than I care to count. And I only mention this because I’m not unique…there are many, many folks out there just like me that do the same thing. With even that said, there are still THOUSANDS of TB racehorses suffering the trip to and the death at the slaughterhouses. So when you state that I wouldn’t know anything about the “love” of a horse and in the context of what you do, you are right on. That kind of “love” is totally foreign to me…in fact, it seems that those in the industry are confused about “love” of the horse and “love” of what that horse can do for them…two totally different things.

    • Excellent summary/analysis of the plight of so very many Thoroughbreds, the people involved in the industry and the confusion re. “love” of the sport as well as “love” of the horses.

  13. Patrick, you should not be writing and commenting about something that you know absolutely nothing about. You are actually a danger to the welfare of horses. The majority…MAJORITY of horses bleed when racing. That is a fact. Some horses bleed into their lungs in small amounts that don’t even make it into the trachea where it can be seen through an endoscope. The fact is that there will always be horse racing and horses will bleed. Instead of being ignorant and negative about every topic (like about Todd Pletcher’s omeprazole positive – for treating ulcers), you should get your facts straight. The real answer to this issue is to implement uniform treatment to stop the bleeding as best we can. Lasix us a diuretic and lowers the blood pr3ssure, but only helps to a degree. Some juristictions have also allowed the administration of clotting agents that are administered by the vet when administering lasix (such as n-butyl alcohol and aminocaproic acid). These products are safe and work extremely well with lasix to prevent bleeding which is the HUMANE thing to do for the race horse and is also fair to the betting public because the horse will run to its true ability. You need to understand the difference between performance enhancing drugs and drugs that are used to maintain the health and integrity of the animal. That would be like comparing anibolic steroids to insulin for a diabetic athlete. Also, when a horse bleeds, they are more prone to lung infection. Learn the facts before you pass your ignorance on to others.

    • Carl, I’ll just repeat what I wrote:

      But what if Romans is right about EIPH being innate (and painful) to the racing horse? If so, then the animal abuse that Violette speaks of is at racing’s very core: Horsemen are ever eager to proclaim racing as innocuous – horses are born to run, love to run; the ubiquitous whip is but a painless “guide.” But here, according to Romans et al., the fundamental act (racing) causes equine suffering (through bleeding). Is there another sport on the planet whose primary physical motion is inherently painful? Absurd.

      You and your entire corrupt industry have no business tossing around the word “humane.” Oh, and one more thing: racing will die. Of that, I’m sure.

    • Well, Carl, perhaps you are not as knowledgeable as you think. Giving clotting agents is very risky, and giving them to a healthy animals just so they can be pushed beyond their normal capacity is outrageous. One risk of n-butyl alcohol is complete occlusion of the jugular vein…very bad for the horse !

      Also, Lasix is a drug that has many undesirable side effects as you surely know !! Further, the horse is the only healthy species to be given Lasix, a drug designed to treat the disease, congestive heart failure. Bleeding into the lungs when pushed to the limit is NOT a disease. So what disease in the horse is being treated ?

      And, au contraire, Lasix is considered a performance enhancing drug by many in racing. The difference being that it is “legal” as opposed to all the other “drugs” and other concoctions such as “milk shakes” and “thyroid supplements” etc.

      The “HUMANE” thing to do for the horse, instead of drugging, is not to run him and not running him goes a long way toward maintaining his health !

      There is nothing humane about racing no matter how you try to spin it.

      PS The betting public needs to understand there is no fairness in racing…too many cheaters !

  14. I think if the American people saw what racing did to horses they would rise up and demand Congress stop the drugs and they would stop going to the race track. I believe horse racing will die when the American people realize what is going on. Enslaving these horse to run until they drop dead or are sent to slaughter is so evil.
    It is so brutal and cruel it is hard to believe that I am in America witnessing this. I just found out about this 12 weeks ago when I started watching a show called Heartland that is filmed in Canada and had seen several stories on the horses at the racetrack and drug abuse and shocking the horses to make them run faster. I had no idea as I have never been to a race track as to what was going on.

    I am praying that whoever gets elected in November will have the heart and soul to stop being afraid of the Farm Bureau and help stop this insane abuse of horses at all levels. Racetrack abuse, rodeo horse tripping abuse , horse soring, and horse slaughter. How can anyone in their right mind stand by and think this is acceptable.

    How can anyone say that horses were born to run when they are dropping dead in record numbers across America. This makes no sense to me at at all. So many people in these industries have shut down their heart to their suffering and I think are in danger of losing their souls. Money has become their God.

  15. The facts I see are this.

    Horses are dropping dead on the racetrack in record numbers and we only know a fraction of how many horses are dying because only New York and California are reporting it from what I understand.

    How can anyone think that is acceptable.

    Race horses are being discarded and sent to be slaughtered while still alive and they suffer a horrible cruel death at the hands of vicious people and trainers and owners of these race horses are allowing this to happen..

    How can that be acceptable

    It is not.

    It is evil and those that sell these horses into slavery (claiming races) and to the slaughterhouses are evil.

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