Are calming supplements cheating?
I crack a lot of jokes about how much Perfect Prep I sell at hunter/jumper shows; the quantity is usually measured by the case, not by the tube. It’s one of those things we can all laugh about, in a sort of, “Oh, those silly hunters!” way- even the hunters laugh in self-deprecation.
At the last h/j show, someone asked me if the store carried Total Calm & Focus. The store doesn’t, and I’d never heard of the product, so I Googled it. And then I Googled “total calm focus vs perfect prep” in an effort to learn more about which product people prefer. That search led me down a Chronicle of the Horse forum rabbit hole.
I think we can all agree that CotH forums don’t always facilitate rational discussion; rather, they attract users with strong opinions and firm convictions. In this particular case, my search eventually led me to a thread where someone asked advice about using calming supplements like Perfect Prep and Total Calm & Focus for their young horse at a show. The comments on the thread were equally split between people defending the use of such supplements and people railing against their use, citing the USEF drugs and medication rule which bans any medication given to enhance performance.
The pro-supplement side’s arguments were:
- Horse will have a more positive experience because it is calmer
- Horse will be safer for handlers and riders
- Supplements are not drugs
- Supplements do not contain prohibited substances
The anti-supplement side’s arguments were:
- Horse will never learn to be calm at shows because it is always sedated
- Supplements violate the spirit of the drugs and medication rule even if they do not contain prohibited substances
I’m curious to hear your thoughts on this issue. Are calming supplements cheating? Is it okay to use them at a schooling show but not a rated show? Where do you draw the line?