S P E C I A L R E P O R T
Written and Researched
by JANE ALLIN
TABLE OF CONTENTS
WITH the exception of North America some may query that international horse racing jurisdictions ban the use of NSAIDs, phenlybutazone included, for horses in competition. And that is rightly so.
However, this is purely a measure taken to ensure that it is not administered on race day or within any time period where it will be "detectable" at a specific threshold level for methods employed for its measurement nor affect the performance or the welfare of the horse during its next race.
The manifest certainty is that every country in the entire world permits the use of phenylbutazone for therapeutic relief. It is the cloak of the phrase “banned from use for horses in competition” together with the presumed adherence to EU regulations that dupes the masses.
Interestingly and somewhat puzzling is the 2011 FEI prohibited substances list effective April this year and its newly mentioned allowance of “bute”. A conundrum in itself as “bute” has always been permitted between competitions, but has never been on an "approved" list of medications. Instead, it is considered a "controlled" substance. Some rationale is circuitously provided by the group's chair, John McEwen, BVMS, MRCVS, who is also the FEI Veterinary Committee chair and the team veterinarian for the British Equestrian Federation.
McEwen said all NSAID drugs should continue to be prohibited during competitions, and drug testing for these substances should go on as before. The FEI does not currently prohibit the use of NSAIDs between competitions, provided they are no longer detectable at competition testing, and the new recommendation does not change this.
"What we're recommending is practical guidance and support, with clear, accurate, modern levels available," he said. 
What exactly this means is somewhat perplexing.Is their intent to change detection limits in favor of tolerating higher dosage allowances? This seems in direct contrast to North American initiatives. In the fall of 2010, in the face of mounting criticism from fans and racing jurisdictions abroad, the Association of Racing Commissioners International (RCI) Model Rules Committee proposed a change in the North American tolerance level allowance of 2 micrograms of phenylbutazone per milliliter of plasma or serum, down from 5 micrograms as currently stated in the RCI Model Rules.
"The policy for Bute has been the same for 30 years," Stirling said. “The testing threshold is five micrograms, but they want to lower it to two. Even Europe is considering going with eight." 
Regardless, the entire issue of phenylbutazone use in the horse is lost in the overwhelming focus on "race day" medication.
This is not to support the use of race day medication in any way but rather to garner attention to the fact that sport and pleasure horses are not immune from slaughter for human consumption, EU regulations withstanding. Recall that "lethal adverse effects in humans are not always dose-dependent and demonstrate unique outcomes contingent on a particular individual’s susceptibility." Simply stated no amount of “bute” is safe.
In point of fact, the use of “bute” has always been permitted; the scorn of the industry has always been non-compliance by North America and its romance with race day medication. While it is true that North America has taken the administration of drugs to an abusive degree, nonetheless, the fact that virtually every sport and pleasure horse ends up on dinner plates around the world is unsettling.
Essentially every Thoroughbred, Standardbred, Quarter Horse or what have you has been administered “bute” – a known carcinogen, prohibited in horses intended for human consumption and forever present in the meat due to the nature of its exponential decay.
Indisputably none of these horses should be slaughtered for their meat, yet it is so very transparent that in fact they are, and despite the rigorous policies imposed by the EU.
Insofar as the EU regulations are inherently well-meaning there is undeniably a salient flaw in the system driven by greed – the engine that propels this most insidious multi-billion dollar industry. To the degree that North America is at fault in forging documents it is seemingly so elsewhere from a global perspective; perhaps not as unreservedly evident and prohibitive but nonetheless factual. How and when will this industry falter and regress?
The horse as it should be — revered as the iconic symbol it represents historically, emotionally and intrinsically — a vital element in the human journey.
As Holden Caulfield pontificates in The Catcher in the Rye:
"I’d rather have a goddam horse. A horse is at least human, for God’s sake."
What insightful truism was ever spoken?