New code for stable bedding helps horses stay drug free

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Bedmax is the first equine bedding company to be BETA NOPs accredited. Picture: Bedmax
Bedmax is the first equine bedding company to be BETA NOPs accredited. Picture: Bedmax

A stable bedding company that has worked to minimise the risk of substance contamination in its products has become the first of its type to become accredited in Britain.

Bedmax is the first equine bedding company to become approved under the new BETA NOPS Code for Equine Bedding by the British Equestrian Trade Association (BETA).

Contamination by naturally occurring prohibited substances (NOPS) has been an issue with performance horses for many years and the FEI takes a no-tolerance stance to prohibited substances. The list of prohibited substances is long, and the rules can be difficult to navigate. The problem often lies in inadvertent cross-contamination from external sources which is not just a problem for professional riders, but amateur and hobby riders too.

Carrying the BETA NOPS Code for Equine Bedding badge certifies that all products from Bedmax’s range, which includes Bedmax, Littlemax, and Stockmax shavings and its recently launched Strawmax straw pellet bedding, conform to the current best practice in minimising the risk of contamination by NOPS.

Prohibited substances in bedding can be absorbed into a horse’s or pony’s system if contaminated bedding becomes mixed up in hay, for example, and even tiny quantities can be detected and result in a positive doping test. Spot testing is much more common at all levels of professional and amateur competition in all disciplines, and riders need to be vigilant as fines can still be administered if they are unable to prove that all preventative measures have been taken.

BETA first launched its NOPS Code for Equine Feed in response to the increase in incidents in positive doping tests. Further research revealed that bedding is also a common source of cross-contamination, and so the BETA NOPS Code for Equine Bedding was set up to recognise manufacturers that conform to the current best practice in minimising the risk of contamination by NOPS.

BETA Executive Director Claire Williams said the scheme had been in development since January 2020.

“I am so pleased to see the years of work on this scheme coming to fruition. It seemed logical to develop this programme to complement the NOPS Feed code, when bedding and feed are so closely associated,” she said.

“Working alongside our independent auditors, Kiwa, we have produced a scheme that adds another level of risk assessment to bedding production that I believe is unique.

“Congratulations are due to Bedmax on auditing successfully to the standard. I know how much work they have put in to ensuring that they meet the standards that we have set.”

Carrying the NOPS logo also assures customers that equine bedding products are marketed fairly and legally. It means that claims are evidenced and offers peace of mind that bedding products receive the same amount of scrutiny for the risk of prohibited substances as feed.

Bedmax has been operating for 21 years and the NOPS accreditation is a landmark in its commitment to excellence, Managing Director Tim Smalley said.

Bedmax Managing Director Tim Smalley
Bedmax Managing Director Tim Smalley

“This is a very positive step forward for both Bedmax and the equine industry, especially professional riders and trainers. Unlike feeds and supplements, you don’t get a list of ingredients on a bag of bedding so it’s important to know that the manufacturer has taken steps to ensure the product does not contain prohibited substances,” Smalley said.

“I am delighted that we are the first bedding company to carry the BETA NOPS badge and I hope this will help all equestrian organisations in their drive to make competition at all levels as clean and fair as possible. We pride ourselves on providing customers with the highest quality of equine bedding, and this is a milestone achievement for us as a company.”

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