Owning a horse with an anxious or flighty personality can make attending or competing in events a bit tough at times. Some horses exhibit signs of anxiety or being nervous everywhere, even where they live, while others only exhibit these signs when they are taken to a new place or their surroundings change. Luckily for both horse and owner, there are a variety of calming supplements that can be given on a daily or as-needed regimen. Having a calm horse is makes riding much more enjoyable for both the horse and rider. Horse calming supplements are given to horses that easily become stressed, anxious, and/or nervous. As a horse owner, how do you decide what is the best calming supplement for horses?
Take the time to research the ingredients. Learning how the different ingredients work as a calming agent is important so you are choosing a supplement that will be the most effective for your horse. Not all supplements are the same and it’s important to remember that our horses are not all the same either. One supplement may work great for your friends’ horse and may not work on your horse at all. Try multiple supplements so you get the best calming supplement for your horse. The ingredients and the amount each supplement contains will vary from product to product. Start with the smallest dose possible and increase until you get the desired result from your horse. Learn what the most common ingredients are and what their function in the supplement is.
Ingredients Commonly Used in Calming Supplements for Horses and What They Do
- Magnesium – Antidepressant and anxiety-reducing capabilities. Increases hundreds of biochemical reactions in the body, including muscle and nerve function.
- L-Tryptophan – This amino acid is a precursor for serotonin, which induces calming and melatonin production, which encourages sleep.
- Valerian – The ancient Greeks use this relieve restlessness, anxiety, and insomnia. Do not use prior to or during competition. The FEI has Valerian listed on the prohibited substances list.
- Chamomile – Commonly used to treat anxiety and insomnia.
- Thiamine – Vitamin B1 aids in the proper function of the nervous system.
- Taurine – abundant in animal tissues and is important for many neurological functions.
- Inositol – Vitamin B8. Research suggests that this organic compound is helpful in treating panic disorders.
- Raspberry Leaves – High in vitamin C and tannins. Has a natural calming effect that is highly effective on young horses and mares. Often given to mares during the heat to reduce heat symptoms.
The ingredients used in calming supplements are usually all-natural products, rarely will there be any synthetic or chemical substances. Although the ingredients in the calming supplement may be all-natural, check before you start giving them to your horse because many of them are not suitable for horses that are in training for competitions or competing at the competition itself.
The International Federation of Equine Sports (French: Federation Equestre International) has a detailed list of all restricted supplement ingredients that are not suitable for horses to consume before or during competition. Individual show and /or breed associations may also have their own specific restrictions regarding supplement restrictions and they can provide you with a list upon request. The FEI holds itself to a strict code of conduct, which protects the welfare of the horse from physical abuse or doping. The FEI website can provide you with all of the prohibited substances along with answers to other questions you may have.
Read more about Which is the Calmest Horse Breed for Beginners?
Top Picks for Best Calming Supplement for Horses
Mare Magic Calming Supplement is a raspberry leaf supplement that is used to calm horses. Raspberry leaf has been given to both horses and humans for centuries. This supplement can be fed daily with an additional scoop given the day of activity. Although the label says “Mare” Magic this supplement is not mare specific, it can be given to geldings also. This product was originally produced to help ease the discomfort associated with the mare’s heat cycles and contains no hormones. This product is used among many horse owners, with positive calming results.
- Helps calm a variety of behaviors: aggressiveness, spooking, overall anxiety, and reduces heat symptoms.
- All-natural supplement.
- Mixes easily with other feeds such as grain and/ or alfalfa cubes, anything that isn’t hay.
- Does not work on all horses, but it works on over 75% of them
- Can cause some horses to have increased anxiety or worsen their negative behavior.
- Purchasing in bulk may cost less, but large amounts of the product may not maintain quality over long periods of time.
This supplement does more than calm your anxious horse. AniMed Via Calm is also effective in enhancing the overall health of your horse and maintaining your horses’ normal emotional balance. This supplement is intended to be fed daily, but some have used it on an as-needed basis, giving the supplement 30 – 45 minutes prior to riding. L-tryptophan is one of the main ingredients in this product.
If you and your horse compete regularly you will want to make sure that you are not using this product, as it is on the FEI prohibited substance list. L-tryptophan is often used as a sleep aid and has been known to cause drowsiness, so be mindful of the amount your horse is consuming. Riding a horse that is showing signs of heavy drowsiness can be dangerous and can potentially cause harm to the horse and rider. Start with a small dosage, you can always increase the amount you are giving.
- Can be used as a daily supplement or only when needed.
- Mixes easily with other supplements.
- Works well on horses of all ages, breeds, and genders.
- Cannot be used prior to or during competition.
- Some horses may become more anxious or nervous.
- The packaging is convenient but not environmentally friendly.
This equine supplement is one of the best on the market today. When you include this in your horses’ diet you are no not only giving them a supplement that will help reduce stress and anxiety, you are also providing your horse the nutrition needed to promote overall health.
This supplement is made 100% of amino acids and that is just what horses need for a healthy and shiny coat, to increase and maintain muscle tone, help recovery time from hard works or injury, and hooves will be stronger. One to two large scoops per day that can be fed with or without feed, highly palatable, and mixes well when given along with other grain type feeds. With the overall health benefits that come from feeding this supplement, it is highly recommended that it be fed daily and not on an as-needed basis.
- Horses will not only benefit from a more relaxed and less anxious attitude but overall health will also increase.
- Overall health benefits are visible in all ages, breeds, and gender of horse.
- Highly palatable and easy to digest.
- May not produce results in all horses.
- Higher price point than other supplements.
- Maybe a bit salty for some horses’ taste.
The large variety of calming supplements that are available on the market today giving you ample options when searching for the best calming supplement for your horse. As you research and test potential supplements it is very important to remember that all supplements are not created equal. Choosing a supplement that is free of prohibited substances is necessary for the many horse owners who compete regularly. It is highly recommended to take the time to familiarize yourself with the FEI list of prohibited substances so you are not disqualified during the event.
Supplements will range in price depending on who the manufacturer is and what ingredients it contains. If you plan to feed a calming supplement daily it is important to keep your price points realistic. You don’t want to try a supplement, find that it works great for both you and your horse only to find out that it is not something that can realistically be part of your horse budget. If cost plays a factor in choosing a supplement to look for one that has fewer ingredients, the more ingredients the cost can be potentially higher. The same goes for dosage, find one that doesn’t require a large amount to be given per feeding, the smaller the dosage the less costly it will be in the long run.
Finding the right supplement can have its challenges. Research the ingredients so you are familiar with their individual uses and how they are used as a calming agent. Take note of any recommendations from other horse owners, although the supplement may not end up working out for your horse, there is a good chance that it could work and you would have saved a significant amount of time with the trial and error process. Lastly, if a supplement doesn’t work as intended many of the manufacturers will offer a refund or at least a partial refund if you return the remaining product to them along with a detailed explanation of what you were expecting and why it didn’t work for you.