HEY RACING INDUSTRY, WAY TO MISS THE POINT.

I have a lot to do. I mean, a loooot to do. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have the time to stick my head back into Bad Blogger territory and spit and snarl in the direction of the people who are COMPLETELY MISSING THE POINT. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH

Okay, so for those who haven’t been following this, North American horse racing rules allow the use of a race-day medication called furosemide, or, commerically, Lasix or Salix, in any racehorse in any state on any track, 24 hours before the race. This is theoretically meant to prevent and/or reduce bleeding in the respiratory tract caused by high-intensity exercise coupled with a genetic weakness of the respiratory tract wall. Unfortunately, it has come to be used almost universally, by every trainer, on every horse, which has drawn persistent criticism from international racing bodies, which do just fine without the drug (it’s banned, in fact, almost everywhere else in the world). Recently, the Breeders’ Cup has threatened to ban it from the Championships, sparking industry-wide debate and a series of conferences and forums to try and figure this shit out. In theory, it’s a great idea, and a really great move from the BC.

Iiiin practice, everyone is a dumbass. More to the point, no one seems to be willing to talk about the actual problem with the drug–or else they just don’t know, but there are enough vets and doctors on these panels to make me think that if someone hasn’t worked it out, they’re an asshole for not mentioning it.

The problem as I see it is that furosemide is a diuretic. It thins the blood, which reduces friction on artery walls and prevents internal bleeding from the rupture of blood vessels. Yay, right? Yay, except that diuretics have other effects than thinning blood; in fact, their most severe effect is on the kidneys. Biology lesson: kidneys filter the blood, removing toxins and excess water and converting it into urine. Diuretics thin the blood by taking water from the tissues and putting it in the bloodstream–and then, when it gets to the kidneys, the water is drawn out of the blood and excreted as urine. As a result, too much water is removed from the system, and you end up with dehydration. Gives a whole new meaning to “pissing like a racehorse,” doesn’t it?

Furthermore, as anyone who has ever exercised knows, physical exertion demands a great deal of water input to the system. Mammals sweat like crazy when we run, and the water in the sweat is taken from–you guessed it–tissues inside our bodies. Now, imagine a perfectly adapted running machine, only imagine it losing water in every direction. Every function in a horse’s metabolism requires water. Like, all of them. At this point, because water is so scarce, clinical dehydration sets in, and metabolic functions begin to falter and shut down. The first to go is the one that is needed the least: higher muscle function. Top performance, which would have been difficult to achieve in the first place because thinner blood means a lower concentration of red blood cells and oxygen-carrying iron. Get it?

And it doesn’t end there. Dehydration coupled with kidney stress is one of the most difficult conditions to recover from. The body needs weeks to get back to peak condition, and in the mean time muscle tone is necessarily lost–sound familiar? Is it any wonder that our last Triple Crown winner came before the advent of furosemide?

ARGH

Anyway. That’s me. I’m annoyed. Grr.

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