Tack n' Talk

Online Equestrian Resource

Acepromazine or Ace – the commonly used sedative.

Acepromazine or acetylpromazine,  known as ACP or Ace,  is commonly used in the equine industry today as a sedative with its principal value in quietening and calming the anxious horse.  Used by many, but truly understood by few.

Acepromazine or Ace is a phenothiazine derivate antipsychotic drug which was first used in humans during the 1950s and now is frequently used in horses, dogs and cats.  Its potential for cardiac effects can be profound and as such, is not recommended for use in horses that are geriatric and those experiencing anemia, dehydration, shock or colic.   Tranquilization with Ace does make the horse more obedient without significantly affecting learning performance and as such, it is a tool that has been used frequently by the less skilled handlers on testy horses to perform mildly aversive procedures such as trailer loading or clipping, while allowing the horse to learn to tolerate this training.  Unfortunately, at times, Ace is sometimes administered prior to showing or sale inspections misrepresenting the true temperament of the horse.  As Ace is so often used unnecessarily in the equine world, one really needs to consider animal welfare.  Is the use of Ace for the benefit of the horse or the trainer?

Ace accumulates in the body.  If a horse is given a daily dose of this drug, eventually he will need smaller doses for the same effect.  Ace is a prohibited Class A drug under FEI rules and its use is prohibited or restricted by many other equestrian organizations.  Ace can be detected in the blood for 72 – 120 hours, although repeated doses may make it remain present in the horse for several months.

The side effects are not common, but the use of Ace in intact males is cautioned as it may cause the penis to drop, which can result in paraphimosis,  a rare permanent paralysis of the muscles that retract the penis.  Heart and circulation are also affected by Ace, causing a drop in blood pressure.  Horses dewormed with piperazine should not be administered with Ace.

However, Ace can be very effective for the safe performance of medical procedures that cannot be accomplished by any other method of restraint.  An injured horse that has been stall bound for a prolonged period of time is a good candidate for Ace as proper tranquilization, under the watchful eye of your veterinarian,  facilitates handwalking and lessens the chance of injury to both horse and handler.  Emergency situations can call for the use for of this drug, but the risks and benefits need to be carefully weighed and your veterinarian must be consulted.

The bottom line is that low dose use of Ace can help with an immediate, urgent problems but should not be used repeatedly as a substitute for proper training!

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1 Comment»

  Johnny Walmsley wrote @

Sure, there are going to be times when things are less than perfect but it pays to keep going. Keep up the good work.


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