If you ride, drive, or work around a nervous horse, you know how nerve-racking it can be for both you and your horse. The popularity of calming supplements has exploded over the past few years, and with good reason. These supplements can help your horse decrease their anxiety level to allow them to process information easier during difficult and stressful situations. Equestrians are helping their horse manage their nervous energy and become show ring ready with a number of different calming supplements.
Many people have questions about these relatively new supplements. Keep reading for answers to many of the frequently asked questions that we receive about using a calming supplement.
Q: Should I use a calming supplement for my horse?
A: Chances are, if you are asking this question, your horse may benefit from using a calming supplement. Typically, horses that have trouble focusing, are inherently spooky, and tend to be anxious are prime candidates.
Calming supplements will address imbalances in your horse’s system, but they will not tackle any training issues. If your horse’s anxiety is in response to pain, such as ulcers or an ill-fitting saddle, they will not give you the results you’re looking for. When considering calming supplements for your horse, it is important to think about the root of your horse’s worried or overactive behavior.
Q: Are calming supplements safe for my horse?
A: Absolutely! In fact, many of the substances that are used in calming supplements are naturally occurring in your horses body. The supplements work to balance essential vitamins and minerals in the body, which promotes attentiveness, relaxation, and a calm demeanor in your horse.
As always, make sure that you feed supplements according to the manufacturer’s recommendations and consult with your veterinarian if you have questions about your specific horse.
Q: How do calming supplements work?
A: The magic of calming supplements lies in the short list of high researched ingredients which help your horse’s nervous system function at an optimal level.
Magnesium is a common ingredient in many calming equine supplements. This essential nutrient is responsible for a number of functions within the body, including the maintenance of the nervous system and the production of hormones that regulate your horse’s adrenaline response. A magnesium deficiency can cause your horse to be stressed, nervous, and anxious.
Thiamine, also known as Vitamin B1, plays a direct role in the release of your horse’s energy. Many studies have shown that large doses of B1 have a calming effect on your horse. Because Thiamine is water soluble, any excess is quickly flushed from your horse’s system, making it safe to feed in higher quantities.
Another commonly seen ingredient is taurine, an amino acid which is found in high concentrations in the brain, heart, retina, and muscle mass. In the body, it helps to regulate the nervous system activity and assist the heart in maintaining a steady rate. It is actually commonly used in humans to reduce hyperactivity and nervousness.
Many calming supplements utilize different ingredients and different ratios of ingredients. If one particular supplement does not seem to be effective for your horse, consider trying another brand or formulation.
Q: Are calming supplements legal?
A: Many of the calming supplements that we carry in the store and online do not contain any prohibited substances and will not provide a positive result on a drug test at United States Equestrian Federation (USEF), American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA), or FEI sanctioned competitions. For instance, Perfect Prep EQ Training Day currently contains no ingredients which are on the USEF Prohibited Substances List. When purchasing calming supplements, refer to your association’s rulebook or work with your veterinarian to ensure that they do not contain any prohibited substances.
It is important to note that calming supplements are not illegal to compete with, however the term “legal” is a slippery slope. The use of calming supplements during competitions does violate the spirit and intent of the USEF Equine Drugs and Medications Rule, as they have the potential to better the performance of your horse without any other therapeutic benefits. If you have questions about the ingredients and their legality in calming supplements, we encourage you to speak with the association that you are showing with.
Q: What works better, the calming paste or the calming pellets?
A: The form of calming supplement that you use depends on the application and why you choose to use it. If you are looking to manage your horse’s anxiety on a daily basis, we suggest a daily powder or pellet supplement such as Uckele Seroquine Powder or Grand Calm. These maintain a low level of magnesium and other essential ingredients in your horse’s bloodstream to promote relaxation and increase attentiveness. Daily feed-through supplements are a great option for spooky horses or horses that have difficulty focusing on their work.
To help your horse through stressful situations, such as trailering, farrier visits, veterinarian visits, and competitions, consider using a calming paste supplement as a temporary calming measure. Administering high doses of specific ingredients, oral pastes work in as little as one hour with effects that last throughout the day. Easy to administer, calming pastes, like Kentucky Performance Products Trouble Free Calming Paste and Cavalor Take It Easy, are perfect to travel with and take with you on the go.
Pastes and pellets or powders can also be used in conjunction with one another to maximize the effects during high stress situations. Please refer to the manufacturer’s instructions for proper protocol in feeding to your horse.
Q: How long will it take to see a difference in my horse?
A: The length of time that it will take to see results in your horse depends on the form of calming supplement that you select. The pastes will begin to work in 90 minutes, but the results are not as long lasting as the powder and pellet supplements.
Calming supplement powders and pellets are designed for daily use and are considerably more economical on a “per serving” basis. It takes several days for the supplement to build up in the system, with many equestrians seeing results in as little as 3-5 days. Be sure that you give any supplement a trial period of at least two weeks to determine whether or not it is a good fit for your horse.
Q: If I use calming supplements consistently, will they stop working?
A: Not at all. Consistent use of calming supplements will not make them less effective. Because they do influence your horse’s behavior and anxiety, daily use of the calming powders or pellets may make your rides easier and more enjoyable.
Q: Will my horse be more crazy if I stop using the calming supplements? What happens if I run out of the supplement suddenly?
A: No. If you decide to discontinue using calming supplements, your horse’s behavior will gradually return to the horse that he was before supplementation. In some cases, they will maintain a calmer demeanor because you have been able to log quiet, non-stressful rides. Many times this will assist your horse in decreasing their anxiety and feeling more confident in their under saddle work.
If you run out of your calming supplement, don’t fret. It takes several days for the supplement to make its way out of your horse’s system. Your horse’s behavior will begin to gradually return to it previous state, giving you a few days to place a supplement order and restart your horse on the supplement.
Do you have a question about calming supplements that we didn’t answer? Connect with a member of our educated sales staff. They can answer all of your questions, as well as assist you in selecting the right calming supplement for your horse.