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Royal row over 'official' horse doping.

Buckingham Palace was criticised by animal welfare campaigners yesterday after it emerged that horses from the royal stables were sedated before ceremonies such as Trooping the Colour.

The drugs, administered in feed, are used to ensure that young animals appearing at major public events remain calm and obedient.

Buckingham Palace justified the practice by saying that the horses, used to draw carriages carrying members of the Royal Family including the Queen, were only given the sedatives if they were unusually skittish.

But World Society for the Protection of Animals spokesman Mr Jonathan Owen said: "I am astounded. You shouldn't use these horses if you can't train them properly."

Mr Owen went on: "Horses can be trained humanely. Saying the animals are young and frisky is no excuse.

"You should not use sedatives as a shortcut to make them stand as still as a statue for the purposes of royal spectacle."

RSPCA spokeswoman Ms Ros Varnes said the prolonged use of even mild sedatives could have unpredictable results. "We would have some concerns because of the unpredictability of the drug. It certainly should not be used too often," she said.

A Buckingham Palace spokesman played down the issue, insisting that the sedatives were similar to what vets would occasionally prescribe for horses in transit or household pets scared by a thunderstorm. He said: "It is only on very, very rare occasions that a young horse might be given a mild sedative."
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Feb 15, 1999
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