GABA horse calming drug now prohibited


A substance reputed to have a calming effect in horses has been added to the FEI’s Equine Prohibited Substances List. 

National Federations were advised by FEI Veterinary Director Graeme Cooke  that the use of Gamma amino butyric acid (GABA) and Hydroxy-gamma butyric acid (Hydroxy-GABA) at FEI Events would not be permitted from April 27.

GABA and Hydroxy-GABA are ingredients in a commercial product sold in the USA under the trade name ‘Carolina Gold’.

The two substances were brought to the attention of the FEI List Group, the expert group tasked with determining which substances should be included on the FEI Equine Prohibited Substances List and in which category (Banned or Controlled Medication), primarily by the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF). GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter and the USEF has banned its use following documented adverse reactions in horses.

GABA and Hydroxy-GABA have been added to the FEI’s list as a Banned Substance and, following the 90-day implementation period as provided for in the Equine Anti-Doping and Controlled Medication (EADCMR) rules, will be subject to sanctions (from July 24).

In February,  the USEF said “while initially not considered a forbidden substance, the use of GABA as a ‘calming supplement’ does violate the spirit and intent of the Equine Drugs and Medications Rule. During recent research and administration trials involving ‘Carolina Gold,’ many adverse reactions were documented. The nature of these reactions has prompted immediate action from the USEF Equine Drugs and Medications Program.

“Effective immediately, ‘Carolina Gold’ or any other product containing GABA is considered a forbidden substance under USEF rules. Further, because there are no recognized medical uses for this substance, the use of a Medication Report Form to report its administration is not applicable.”


2012 Equine Prohibited Substances List

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