Skip to main content

Picture : Intra-articular injections can see a horse running free of pain, which is not in the best interests of the horse

It is dangerous to comment on something one knows little about, but the NHA’s new rule on intra-articular injections looks lenient compared to the rule on the same matter in the USA.

The NHA’s recent rule amendment stated: 


            Without in any way derogating from the provisions of the RULES, no PERSON shall:- 

72.1.46      race a HORSE within 7 days, calculated inclusively from the date of treatment, after the administration of any intra-articular treatment. 

Meanwhile in the USA there was a spate of horse fatalities at the home of the Kentucky Derby in late April through May and this might have prompted a rule amendment by HISA (Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority).

The rule was announced in late June and on July 14 the following press release announced the penalties to be imposed on transgressors:

July 14, 2023 (Lexington, KY) – The Anti-Doping and Medication Control Standing Committee (ADMC) of the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority (“HISA”) has re-considered the Intra-Articular injection rule and has issued new guidance regarding its enforcement.

HISA ADMC Rule 4222 prohibits Intra-Articular injections on Race Day, within 14 days prior to Post-Time and within 7 days prior to any Timed and Reported Workout. Effective July 16, 2023, the Horseracing Integrity & Welfare Unit (HIWU) will sanction the Responsible Person of any Covered Horse that violates the prohibition on Intra-Articular injections within 7 days prior to a Timed and Reported Workout as follows (within a 365-day period):

  • 1st violation: $3,000 fine.
  • 2nd violation: $6,000 fine, 10-day suspension.
  • 3rd violation: $10,000 fine, 30-day suspension.
  • 4th violation: $20,000 fine, 60-day suspension.
  • 5th violation: $25,000 fine, 120-day suspension.


Beginning July 16, 2023, Covered Horses will not be subject to a period of ineligibility for violations of the Intra-Articular injections Workout rule or Race Day rule, unless multiple violations involving the same horse are incurred within the 365-day period.

Until this new guidance takes effect on July 16, and in accordance with guidance previously announced on June 26, the prohibition on Intra-Articular injections within 7 days prior to any Timed and Reported Workout will continue to be enforced only against the Covered Horse through the imposition of a period of ineligibility of 30 days. The sanctions associated with the prohibition on Intra-Articular Injections within 14-days prior to Post-Time have not been modified, other than the fact that the Covered Horse may not be suspended.

The full language of today’s issued guidance, which was approved by the HISA ADMC Standing Committee and the HISA Board, can be found on HISA’s website.

Under Rule 4222, the day of administration is considered day 1. A horse may breeze on day 8 following administration and may enter to race at any time, provided the race is on day 15 or later – Ends.


Although the new HISA rules and accompanying punishment might seem sufficient they still came in for criticism in a recent TDN article:

CLICK HERE TO READ TDN ARTICLE (Intra-articular Joint Injections Litmus Test For HISA)


About the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority (HISA)

When the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act was signed into federal law, it charged the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority (HISA) with drafting and enforcing uniform safety and integrity rules in Thoroughbred racing in the U.S. Overseen by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), HISA is implementing, for the first time, a national, uniform set of rules applicable to every Thoroughbred racing participant and racetrack facility. HISA is comprised of two programs: the Racetrack Safety Program, which went into effect on July 1, 2022, and the Anti-Doping and Medication Control (ADMC) Program, which went into effect on May 22, 2023.

The Racetrack Safety Program includes operational safety rules and national racetrack accreditation standards that seek to enhance equine welfare and minimize equine and jockey injury. The Program expands veterinary oversight, imposes surface maintenance and testing requirements, enhances jockey safety, regulates riding crop use and implements voided claim rules, among other important measures.

The ADMC Program includes a centralized testing and results management process and applies uniform penalties for violations efficiently and consistently across the United States. These rules and enforcement mechanisms are administered by an independent agency, the Horseracing Integrity and Welfare Unit (HIWU), established by Drug Free Sport International (DFS). HIWU oversees testing, educates stakeholders on the Program, accredits laboratories, investigates potential ADMC violations and prosecutes any such violations.