The Best Calming Supplements for Horses

The Best Calming Supplements for Horses

by | Jun 5, 2023 | Equine Health, Equine Supplements

As has been said before many times, horses only spook at two types of things: things that move, and things that don’t. Prey animals by nature, millennia of evolution have sculpted horses into sensitive creatures with lightning reflexes and razor-sharp nerves. These reflexes are perfect for a life in the wild full of predators. For life in a stable with people, not so much.
Some horses are calmer by nature, and some horses are a lot more excitable and nervous. Some frustrated owners turn to calming supplements to manage their high-strung horses. But is that the best solution?

How to Manage Spookiness and High Energy in Horses

Any time a horse is extremely spooky, fast, excitable, or shows an undesirable stable vice, we must first look at how he is managed. Is he getting enough turnout time? Horses are designed to move around grazing constantly in a herd. Ask yourself if, given your current situation, the horse is allowed a lifestyle as close to that as possible? Is there a way his routine could be changed to allow him more time outside to graze with friends?
Some horses at the bottom of the pecking order in a herd are bullied by one or more of their herdmates, and that leads to anxiety. Watch your horse as he interacts with other horses in the stable. See if there are signs of unrest between him and his neighbors or herdmates, and if possible, try to turn him out under different circumstances.
What is in your horse’s diet? Foods that are high in starch produce a lot of energy, making a horse really “feel his oats.” Horses in heavy work need to fuel this work, of course, but the energy in must be given a sufficient energy outlet, otherwise you can get ready to ride a rocket. If your horse has far too much energy, consider consulting with your vet or an equine nutritionist about switching to a low-starch, high-fiber, high-fat feed. Foods that are high in fat and fiber release their energy slowly in the body, which means that the horse is less likely to have such explosive energy to release in spooking, bucking, or bolting.
Maybe your horse has a balanced routine, and has passed a vet check, but still is spooky and hot. Or maybe your horse gets miserably stressed out under certain circumstances, such as for the farrier or when travelling to a show. If you want to try a calming supplement and don’t know where to start, read on!

Calming Supplements for Horses – What Is in Them?

Calming supplements could be based on amino acids, vitamins, minerals, or herbs. The most common minerals are magnesium, zinc and calcium. Vitamins, especially the B-complex vitamins, are often found in calming products because they help manage stress, supporting and quieting the nervous system. Vitamin C has been known to help the body battle stress, in addition to its role in supporting the immune system (which is weakened by stress).
Many calming supplements feature the amino acid tryptophan, which isn’t produced by the horse’s body but is converted into serotonin, better known as the “anti-stress” or “happy” hormone. Two herbs commonly found in calming products are valerian root and chamomile, both reported to soothe edginess and function as a sleep aid. Equestrian competitors beware: although valerian is the stronger of the two, it is considered a banned substance by some equine associations. Check the rules of your association, and the ingredients list of your calming supplement, making sure that it is out of your horse’s body before you need to compete.
So to summarize, you may see one or more of the following in calming supplements:

Thiamine
Vitamin C
Magnesium
Zinc
Calcium
Tryptophan
Valerian
Chamomile

So what are the supplements that feature these calming ingredients?

What Are the Best Calming Supplements on the Market These Days?

Depending on your budget, preferences, and your horse’s diet, you can choose from the following calming supplement options:

Ani-Med ViaCalm features tryptophan, thiamine, magnesium, and calcium.

Total Calm and Focus Show Safe Supplement has natural mineral ingredients with no traces of valerian and therefore no compromising substances.

Equilite RelaxBlend has all herbal ingredients, but is not safe for use before anesthesia and has not been tested for use in pregnant or lactating animals. It does feature valerian.

DAC Formula Calm B is safe for daily use and is also drug free. It features lysine, thiamine, magnesium, and tryptophan.

For a quick one-time solution before a show, farrier visit, or other stressful event, the Durvet Calm Balance Equine Gel is an excellent solution.

OralX Calm and Cool supplement is available in pellets and paste and is made with tryptophan and Vitamin B. Competitors be warned – it does contain valerian root.

Formula 707 Calming Packets work to address mineral imbalances by supplementing the diet with thiamine and magnesium. It also features tryptophan for additional calming effects.

Conclusion

If you want an animal that never spooks, never misbehaves, and is perfectly calm in every circumstance, consider a stuffed unicorn. As horse owners and caretakers, it is our responsibility to make sure our horses have everything they need to be as peaceful as possible on their own. If, due to various circumstances, our horses end up suffering from a higher amount of stress that they cannot manage, there are ways to help them manage that too.

If you decide to try several calming supplements, be sure to only try one at a time, and never combine different supplements at once. Some of the active ingredients can negatively interact with each other, or cancel each other out. Additionally, if you try several at once and you see effects, you won’t know which supplement is working. It is best to try one calming supplement for a period of one month to get a good idea of its effect on your horse.

Which of these calming supplements appeals to you the most?

About The Author

<a href="https://www.equiniction.com/author/ani-petrak/" target="_self">Ani Petrak</a>

Ani Petrak

Ani Petrak is a freelance linguist and writer based in the Czech Republic. A lifelong English rider and groom, she has experience showing in dressage, hunter-jumpers, trail, and young horse in-hand competitions. She is currently working with a Grand Prix showjumping and dressage trainer while raising and training her young warmblood gelding for a career in dressage, working equitation, and cross-country hacking.

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