The new zero tolerance attitude to drug use in competition horses is both welcome and overdue. I’m sure that most of us agree that riding a horse that requires medication in order to be considered sound is both dangerous and cruel. Similarly, equine versions of Lance Armstrong are completely undesirable.
As a company which sells herbal products for horses, we are inundated with queries from people confused as to what is banned and what is not banned. Natural products are foremost in this confusion.
Let’s start with what is not banned. Vitamins, minerals, traditional feedstuff ingredients as well as anything traditionally grazed by a horse are not banned. Endogenous substances (substances produced by or present in the horse’s own body, naturally) in normal concentrations are not banned. Certain drugs are legal up to specific threshold limits (for more details on this, contact the FEI, SANEF or ERASA).
Herbal products enter a bit of a grey area. The FEI actually states that the use of herbal products in competition is not recommended. The reason for this statement is twofold:
- Herbal products are not as regulated as pharmaceutical products. This has resulted in some unscrupulous manufacturers illegally including pharmaceuticals such as bute, anabolic steroids, caffeine, etc. into their formulations without listing them as ingredients on the label. So, innocent riders have fed their horses what they believe to be harmless and legal products and have ended up faced with positive test results!
- Some herbs themselves contain banned substances. An excellent example of this is the Chinese herb, Ephedra. Sold as an energy tonic, Ephedra actually contains ephedrine, a potent and potentially harmful stimulant. Another example of this is when a trainer, several years ago had a stable yard full of horses testing positive for caffeine. An investigation revealed that the feed manufacturer had switched to using cocoa husks in his feed. Cocoa, of course, contains caffeine, hence the positive result.
The moral of this story is to always choose a reputable brand of herbal products. The Herbal Horse products are safe and do NOT contain any added undeclared drugs. There is NOTHING illegal in our products.
This is a link to the FEI Prohibited Substances list: http://www.feicleansport.org/2013%20Equine%20Prohibited%20List.pdf.