Supplements to calm your horse? While it may sound too good to be true, there are, indeed, certain nutrients which have been known to improve a horse’s “attitude”.
However, before giving any type of calming supplement, it’s important to rule out other issues that could be negatively affecting your horse’s behavior. Ulcers, subtle lameness, or dental problems, among other things, could be to blame. Likewise, a horse working on an empty stomach is more likely to have behavioral issues—so ensure that forage is always offered before work.
But if other problems have been ruled out, a calming supplement may very well benefit your high-strung horse. Let’s take a look at some commonly used ingredients in calming supplements:
Many horses are magnesium deficient and can benefit from supplementation. Magnesium is actually one of the most important nutrients needed by the body as it regulates over 325 enzymes and increases oxygen delivery to muscle tissue. Additionally, magnesium activates enzymes needed for carbohydrate and amino acid metabolism. This mineral is well-known for its ability to relax muscles and have an overall calming effect on horses.
B vitamins may also play an important role in reducing stress. Horses can generate the majority of their own B vitamins, which occur as micro-organisms in the hind gut, but there is some evidence showing that additional supplementation can benefit horses during high stress situations or extreme exertion, such as that experienced with endurance riding or racing.
Let’s take a look at some specific B-vitamins and their functions:
- Thiamine (B-1): Thiamine aids in transmitting nerve impulses. Feeding higher levels of this B vitamin is thought to have a calming effect on nervous horses.
- Riboflavin (B-2): Like magnesium, this B vitamin is crucial for carbohydrate and protein metabolism. It also plays an important role in the function of the nervous system.
- Niacin (B-3): B-3 is also essential for the metabolism of fats, protein, and carbohydrates. Additionally, it helps to increase blood flow in the extremities.
- Pyridoxine (B-6): B-6 is essential for protein metabolism, energy production, and maintaining a healthy nervous system.
- Folic Acid (B-9): Folic acid helps to produce hemoglobin and red blood cells, essential for a healthy circulatory system.
A number of herbs are also known to have calming properties, but the drawback is that they may have an over-tranquilizing effect, interact with other medications, or have possible unwanted side effects. Chamomile, valerian, black cohosh, ginger root, and passion flower are a few examples. Additionally, some herbs will show up on drug testing.
At Peak Performance Nutrients, we carry several calming supplements such as Ex Stress, an all-natural, herb-free formula which can help your horse handle the stress of travel and competition. This product is available as a powder, pellet, or event-day paste. Out of 30 calming supplements tested, Horse Journal picked Ex Stress as the overall best choice.
We also have two multi-use vitamin, mineral and amino acid formulas for race horses: Pro V.M. and Pro V.M. with EFA’s. These two products include magnesium as well as several B vitamins and may have a positive effect on behavior.