A new booklet to help riders avoid banned substances that occur naturally has been launched by the British Equestrian Trade Association (BETA).

The free guide names the naturally occurring prohibited substances (NOPS), some of which can be used legally but not in competitions.

Accidental contamination during manufacture and failure to comply with medication withdrawal periods are, warns the guide the main reasons for the accidental presence of NOPS in the horse.

“Many riders are unclear what a prohibited substance is and are surprised to hear that they can be found in everyday food and drink such as chocolate, coffee and tea,” said BETA executive director, Claire Williams.

“By taking a few careful measures — many of which are just plain common sense — the risks of exposing a horse to the substances in question could be significantly reduced,” she added.

The guide provides a comprehensive checklist of care for stable, feed and medication management. There is an extensive list of dos and dont’s on the accompanying poster.

These include emptying the loose box, manger and water trough before a new horse arrives and keeping all medications in a locked cupboard.

On the yard the guide says no-one should eat or drink in the stable, hands should be washed after treating a horse.

Owners and riders are warned they should carefully read the labels on the feed bags, and make sure they buy from companies signed up to the BETA NOPS scheme.

For a copy of the free guide, and accompanying poster, contact Tina Hustler, tel 01937 587062 or email tinah@beta-int.com

This article was first published in Horse & Hound magazine (10 April 2014)