By: Paulick Report Staff

In South Africa, an international showjumping horse tested positive for a banned substance resulting from a product used to help his owner’s thinning hair: minoxidil.

Owned by Dianne and Mark Slade, and ridden by Jonathan Clarke, Felix van de Mispelaere tested positive for an illegal substance at a horse show in South Africa in August of 2015. Minoxidil, which treats high blood pressure, was found in the horse’s system; it is banned under Fédération Équestre Internationale (FEI) rules as it has no legitimate use in horses, reports Horse & Hound.

However, it was determined that the horse was inadvertently contaminated by Mr. Slade, who was using the product in an effort to regrow his thinning hair. A report on the decision noted that the Slades were very attentive to detail to ensure that their horses were not exposed to chemicals and that they took great care to limit what the horses were exposed to.

The report also noted that the Slade’s grooms were well trained in contamination risk and that Jonathan was not involved in the horse’s management or care—he simply competed the animal.

Mr. Slade began using the minoxidil product in 1999, never thinking that it could affect the horses in any way. The product was applied by Mr. Slade twice a day and was massaged into his scalp with his hands. Once dry, it  retained a sticky texture that could easily be transferred to his hands, and then on to anything he touched–including the horses.

On the day of the positive test, Mr. Slade hand-fed Feliz van de Misoelaaere grass and then presented the horse for the vet inspection. He recalls removing his hat before the presentation, scratching his head, shaking the vet’s hand and then rubbing the horse’s head.

The FEI tribunal accepted that the contamination was the result of the minoxidil use and that Jonathan could not have known about the contamination risk. His suspension was lifted and will have no other sanctions placed upon him, though he will have to pay 1,000 Swiss francs in costs, as will the Slades.

Read more at Horse & Hound.

Read the full report here.