Calming Supplements for Horses

Horses need sometimes to be calmed. There are various products in the market that claim to serve this purpose. Horses stress and anxiety might be as a result of poor management, unpleasant experiences from a previous time and also genetic influences. Anxiety makes horse complex to manage due to their irrational behaviours such as barging, pulling, biting, shying and even rearing. Such behaviours are dangerous to both the horse and the owner.

It is necessary to understand that it is common for horses to be under stress caused by different situations which then charges their anxiety causing to behave in a funny manner. The degree of susceptibility to stress exhibited by different horses tends to vary. This creates the essence of acquiring an ideal calming supplements for horses that helps them to easily and quickly adapt to stressing situations and learn better.

Calming Supplements for Horses

Magnesium

There are some magnesium calmers with a claim that the amount of magnesium that they provide to the horse is much higher than most of the other calmers in the market.  This statement is somewhat attractive but it is actually baseless. Studies conducted on mice samples indicates that magnesium supplement provides anxiolytic-like and antidepressant-like effects. The amount of magnesium that led to these effects was very much and injected directly into the body rather than allowing the mice to feed on it. More studies on mice indicated an increase in anxiety when the mice were fed on a diet deficient in magnesium. The diets provided to the horses contain enough magnesium hence its deficiency is quite rare. 

Magnesium supplements can bring about orthopaedic complications because they tend to interfere with calcium balance. A study conducted on horses where they were fed 11 grams of magnesium aspartate which is said to be very bioavailable compared to other magnesium forms indicated that there is a reduction in the reaction speed of the horses in comparison with the control. To get such results, it means that the horse has to feed on 140 grams of magnesium daily which is about 10times the amount of magnesium found in the supplements. Moreover, it was not easy to understand whether these high quantities of magnesium acted within the brain or had an effect on the response of the muscles. Unfortunately, the Prohibited Substances List of FEI does not contain magnesium that is orally taken. Information about the efficacy levels of the quantities of this mineral that are being fed to the animals is not available.

Calcium

Professional riders are aware that calcium deficiency is not linked to the horse’s rational behaviours or even anxiety. In a study where rats were infused with calcium fluids, it was realized that the rats ate more food and then convulsed. Moreover, studies indicate that high calcium and magnesium levels are found in human urine when they are stressed. Simply, this does not mean that stress is caused by the loss of magnesium or calcium. Rather, it means that stress leads to the loss of both magnesium and calcium. Further studies indicate that certain physiological conditions including anxiety tend to improve with calcium intake. However, the improvement was due to calcium inhibitors taken in form of drugs to block calcium from being transported to the brain. This indicates that having positive effects from calcium intake is most unlikely. Moreover, it is rare for horses to be calcium deficient and in such a case, the amount of calcium in the horse’s body is controlled by hormones.

Tryptophan

This is one of the most active amino acid ingredients present in equine calmers. It is used to inhibit stress and act against neurotransmitters and serotonin responsible for aggression, stress and fear in numerous species. In low doses, the horses tend to be more aggressive rather than being calm. When induced in high doses, the horse can suffer from haemolytic anaemia as well as a reduction in endurance.

B vitamins

B vitamins are usually present in a number of equine best calming supplements for horses. However, these supplements have not been seen to have any behavioural effect on horses. On the other hand, chamomile species have not been used to relieve stress in horses just like they are used in humans. Valerians is on FEI list of prohibited substances but there is no study that indicates that it has stress relieving effect in horses.

Conclusion

Anxiety and stress in horses can be caused by a number of factors. The effort to relieve anxiety and irrational behaviours in these species have not borne any fruits since the engagement of the scientific community has not found any substance that effectively relieves stress or anxiety in horses. Valerian, chamomile, B vitamins, tryptophan, calcium and magnesium have all been tried.