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Competing on calmers
While commercially available calmers are advertised as having no prohibited or banned substances under FEI rules, FEI veterinary director Graeme Cooke warns competition horse testing looks for a wide range of substances, including those currently used in legal calmers.

“We test all the time for things not on the prohibited list and we know when excessive levels appear in a horse, levels which might have a performance-enhancing effect; it’s extra effort but the technology allows for that. We look for abnormal shifts from the baseline level we find in the thousands and thousands of tests we conduct,” says Mr Cooke, who admits legal calmers are an “area of confusion” but one under close review in the coming months.

“If we found a very high level of magnesium in a horse — very much higher than routinely expected — we would investigate this and take advice on whether it had significantly affected the performance of that horse.

“We have concerns about supplements generally because of quality control during manufacturing and the possibility of cross-contamination with prohibited substances, and would advise owners to be very cautious.”

New rules for ALL competitors
In March 2011, the British Equestrian Federation (BEF) announced a new set of National Equine Anti Doping and Controlled Medication rules (BEFAR).

The new rules, which closely mirror the FEI guidelines, will affect all BEF member bodies in FEI disciplines (dressage, eventing, showjumping, para equestrian dressage, endurance, driving, vaulting and reining) and all disciplines must be fully compliant by 1 January 2012.

“The new system will see an increasing number of anti-doping tests across the disciplines and all affiliated members should expect their horse to be tested, whether they are competing at grass roots level or at a national championship,” says Claire Shand from the BEF, which represents organisations like British Showjumping and British Eventing.

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