Its almost the start of summer; with excitement and nerves running high as the show season kicks off, the lighter evenings providing the perfect opportunity to start a young horse or to bring one back into work, it can also be the season that many mares have a little bit of an 'attitude change'. As a result, many of you will be considering starting your horse on a calming supplement, but with so many on the market how do you choose what ingredients are best for your horse?
If you are looking for ways to relax your spooky or sharp horse, improve focus in a new or young horse or ease the tensions of your moody mare, here' s a list of the main ingredients for you to look out for.
Magnesium is a very common ingredient in calmers, with various forms of Magnesium being listed. Magnesium works together with Calcium to control muscle contraction and release, with Magnesium being the stimulus for the 'relaxing' phase. It is also essential for nerve and muscle health and, therefore, it is believed that increasing Magnesium in the diet will help to ease muscle tension, reduce nervous tension and calm horses.
The type of Magnesium used will dictate the overall effectiveness as different forms of Magnesium have varied bio-availability .
B-Vitamins, in particular Thiamine B1 are essential for energy conversion and good health, deficiencies in B vitamins have been linked to anxiety.
Supplements may also contain various herbs known to have soothing effects such as chamomile and Valerian.
Please note that Valerian is banned from competition.
Focus and Concentration
L-Tryptophan is an amino acid and precursor for serotonin, an important neurotransmitter sometimes referred to as the 'happy chemical', responsible for cognitive functions including memory, learning, mood regulating, and of course happiness. Supplemental L-Trytophan is ideal for young horses or those lacking in focus and concentration.
Chaste Berry is a plant extract that has been used for many years to reduce hormone imbalances in both mares and geldings. This very effective herbal supplement can also be used to support horses and ponies with cushings.
The health of a horses gut and mental well-being are connected. When a horse is stressed this can have a negative impact on the bacteria in the gut and vise versa, if a horses gut is not in good health it can lead to anxiety and behavioural problems. Therefore, any horse exhibiting stress or behavioural issues should have their diet reviewed and be placed on to a pro-biotic supplement, which can also be used safely alongside any of the ingredients listed above.