Your horse did what?

Calming for Horses

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 asking what horse calming supplement to feed, 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 for a horse 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.

Horse Jumping

Just like every other category in the hugely oversaturated supplement market there are dozens of natural horse 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 a horse calming supplement product. 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 supplements.

Rider Falling from Horse

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.

When getting into the horse calming supplements area another very common question is will it test. This is where you need to be careful about products that have ingredients listed as a proprietary formula and there is little or no disclosure on the actual active ingredients or the levels contained in the product. If you can’t get a straight answer from the manufacturer about what is actually in their product I would seriously consider looking for an alternative horse calming supplement that provides you with full disclosure on ALL ingredients, the form and levels of all active ingredients.

Another question we get asked all the time is how long will a horse calming supplement take to work? This is again hard to be exact about given the vagaries about the cause of the behavior in the first place, the delivery system and again the specifics as far as ingredients go. With our Grand Calm Paste for example, even though we are comfortable with feeding 2-3 hours before required we saw the best results feeding half the Grand Calm Paste the night before and half the morning of as a couple of the ingredients have a time release aspect to them. The best advice I can proffer on this is to experiment before to see how your horse reacts, there is absolutely no golden rule in tis department despite claims made by some manufacturers as regards a time frame for effect, remembering that every horse has different needs, physiological processes etc. Find out before you are between a rock and a hard place at a show.

So in summary try as best as you can to look at all the possible reasons why you are having problems with a particular horse before always grabbing the nearest horse calming supplement as there may well be another reason, other than a nutritional deficiency, for that horse’s undesirable behavior patterns.

by Nick Hartog