Your horse did what?

So lucky you, you got the crazy mare, you lunge her, lower the carbs in the diet, offer a prayer to various deities and yet when you want her to do the work she acts like she is on crystal meth.

Hmmm how do we fix this? If I had a dollar for every rider who has come up to me at shows over the years with similar stories, I would be lying on a beach on a tropical isle with a drink with an umbrella in it.

Here’s the problem – there are a lot of reasons why your horse can present an attitude that is akin to Genghis Khan, when he is having a bad day. Many experienced trainers will adamantly state that it is the owner’s fault, that the horse is not being managed correctly hence the wack job personality. We would agree sometimes that may be the case.

We also know a lot of good trainers who have had to resort some kind of calming supplement because whatever they do on the day they simply cannot get the horse to do what they want. Rearing up in the Dressage ring can really mess up your score so I’m told.

A lot of times these reactions can come from the horse being confused, if you really think about it does the horse really understand what you are expecting? We all communicate with our horses in a similar way from the use of our legs, the bit, the crop and our behavior on the ground. As the horse starts to acclimatize to a new task, make sure you are giving constant positive reinforcement to validate in the horse’s mind that he or she is doing the right thing.

“What do you think we are idiots – we’ve done all that and the anxiety is still there?” many of you may be thinking. Just trying to cross the T’s and dot the I’s.

Just like every other category in the hugely oversaturated supplement market there are dozens of calming supplement choices and let me the first to say no one product will work for every horse simply because of the myriad reasons that can cause the nutty behavior in the first place.

At Grand Meadows we had, until quite recently, steered clear of calming supplements because the research was pretty thin. A study in Australia in 2015 pointed to some definite benefits with Magnesium, which is the primary ingredient in most non-herbal calming supplement. For us though we have always looked to bring something new to the table and we heard about an ingredient L-Theanine which had some promising data. L-Theanine, is synthesized from tea, what does everyone in England do in a crisis – make a cup of tea? The research on L-Theanine indicates that it promotes Alpha brain waves, which keep the brain alert but at the same time promote a relaxed physical and mental state. So the animal is not doped and can still perform but the anxiety is reduced. We originally produced a dog product, Grand Tranquility, using a combination of L-Theanine, Magnesium and Thiamine and we received so many positive responses, we decided to formulate it for horses. Happily the transition to horses has been really gratifying. While we will never say that Grand Calm or Grand Calm Paste is the only solution in solving issues with your willful equine partner, we have had lots of great testimonials and, particularly gratifying, from many people who had previously not had success with a calming supplement.

Trainers and professional riders all seem to agree that the first recourse for unfocused, excessive energy is to carefully re-introduce the horse to the environment or task that appears to create so much confusion or fear.  This tactic is the best approach to give you the success in bringing your willful, confused, fearing horse back into control so you can concentrate on your ride and your horse can concentrate on your aids.  Grand Calm products are also an effective aid that will help turn your horse from Genghis into a more Zen like mode.

by Nick Hartog