Equine Medication Monitoring Program (EMMP), background: horses in a field

ALERT: As of January 1, 2022, the California drug testing fee will now be $14 per horse entered in competition or consigned to a public sale.

2014 Changes to California's Equine Medication Rule


The California equine industry sponsored legislation in 1971 to prevent the misuse of drugs and medications in equines (horses, ponies, mules and donkeys) in public shows and sales. The resulting law is the Food and Agricultural Code (FAC) Sections 24000-24018. The Equine Medication Monitoring Program (EMMP), managed by the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA), monitors equines in public shows, competition and sales through random collection of blood or urine for chemical analysis. The intent of the EMMP is to ensure the integrity of public horse shows, competitions and sales through the control of performance and disposition enhancing drugs, while permitting limited therapeutic use of drugs at horse shows and competitions. The FAC outlines the California Equine Medication Rule for equines in California public shows, competition and sales. Equine exhibitors and consignors must comply with both the California Equine Medication Rule and any event-sponsoring organization drug and medication rule for the event; the more stringent medication rule applies for the event. The EMMP Advisory Committee, which represents a broad range of equine disciplines regulated by the EMMP, is responsible for addressing industry concerns about the EMMP.

Outdated Equine Medication Rule

There have been limited revisions of the California Equine Medication Rule since origination; the last update to the permissible drug and medication list was in 2002. The EMMP Advisory Committee recognition that the California Equine Medication Rule is not consistent with nationally-accepted standards for equine performance horse medication rules led to the request changes to update the Rule.

California Medication Rule Change Process

At the request of the equine industry, the CDFA began the rule change process in 2011. A review of pharmacologic advances for performance horses and evaluation of existing performance horse medication rules was undertaken by EMMP staff. EMMP staff then prepared a legislative change proposal to the California Medication Rule. The EMMP and United States Equestrian Federation (USEF), the largest governing body for US equestrian sports, are currently collaborating to align future drug rules of the two programs.

Following review and approval of the proposed legislative changes to the California Equine Medication Rule by the EMMP Advisory Committee and the CDFA Legal Department, the proposed FAC changes were submitted in 2012 for the 2013 Legislative Session.

The Assembly Committee on Agriculture sponsored the 2013 bill, AB 1388, which included the proposed California Equine Medication Rule regulation changes. The bill was approved by the Assembly and Senate. AB 1388 was approved and signed by the Governor on August 16, 2013.

In an effort to have all program authority consistent with USEF on January 1, 2014; emergency regulations were submitted to Office of Administrative Law and approved on December 5, 2013. The focus of the emergency regulations is to enact the authorized FAC changes in AB 1388, which was signed by the Governor.

The revisions to the California Equine Medication Rule are effective on January 1, 2014.

Effective January 1, 2014, the following Changes Apply to the California Medication Rule:

  1. Modification to the event definition to clarify exempted events not originally intended to be covered under the Equine Medication Monitoring Program (EMMP). The following events are exempt from EMMP regulations:
    1. A rodeo-related competition, which is strictly a timed performance with no subjective judging, when held apart from a horse show.  This includes barrel racing, team penning, ranch sorting, roping and gymkhana.
    2. A sale of solely racehorses.
    3. Competitions under the jurisdiction of the California Horse Racing Board.
    4. A public horse show in which the class or event entry fee is less than $4.99 per class and other fees do not exceed $19.99 (Other fees include, but are not limited to, grounds fees, stall fees or office fees).
    5. A public horse show in which all fees for participation are less than $19.99 (to include, but is not limited to class fees, grounds fees, stall fees and office fees).
  2. Limit of One Non-Steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drug (NSAID): The new regulations restrict the therapeutic administration of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to one NSAID. The detection of more than one NSAID in a sample is a violation of the rule. If more than one NSAID had been used therapeutically, one of the NSAIDs must be withdrawn 72 hours before competition.
  3. Elimination of Drug Declaration Form for NSAIDs: The drug declaration statement for administration of a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) is no longer a requirement since routine use of a NSAID is now permissible.
  4. Additions to the Restricted Permissible Medications List. Restricted permitted medications are medications which can be administered to horses entered in shows and competitions provided the dose of the medication does not exceed the listed maximum allowable level in plasma or urine.

    The new restricted permitted medication list is:

  5. Emergency use of flunixin (Banamine®) administered by a veterinarian is allowable for the treatment of colic or an ophthalmic emergency provided there is a 24 hour withdrawal of a horse from competition after administration and a drug declaration filed.
  6. No administration of injectable substances within 12 hours of competition, except by a veterinarian administering the following:
    1. A minimum of 10 liters of emergency fluids within 6-12 hours of competition
    2. Antibiotics (Procaine Penicillin is prohibited)
    3. Dexamethasone injection within 6-12 hours of competition for the treatment of hives. The veterinarian must file a drug declaration following the administration of these substances.

Contact Us

CDFA Animal Health and Food Safety Services,
Animal Health Branch

1220 N Street
Sacramento, California 95814
Phone: 916-268-0609 or
Fax: 916-900-5333
Email: emmp@cdfa.ca.gov