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Horse Behavior

May 2020 SmartPak SmartTip of the Month: How to Help a Nervous Horse

A nervous horse can react in several ways, from tense muscles to stopping, snorting, and bolting in the opposite direction. If your horse is acting out of character by spooking, or he continues to be on edge during every ride with no signs of relaxation, there may be something more going on, other than changes in weather or a new object in the ring. You don’t have to let a spooky horse take the fun out of your barn and riding time. There are ways to help your horse stay cool and confident.

It’s important to first work with your veterinarian and trainer to get to the root of the problem, whether it’s medical, physical, or behavioral. These concerns could range from gastric ulcers, to improper saddle fit, and lack of turnout time, respectively. If you’ve worked with your veterinarian and your trainer to cross off the possible health and management reasons for your horse’s bad behavior, adding a calming supplement to your horse’s diet may be a smart choice. There are three types of calming supplements to consider: nutrient-based, herb-based, and those for moody mares.

SmartPak SmartCalm Ultra Pellets. Image Courtesy SmartPak

Horses may be anxious if their diet does not provide enough of the nutrients necessary for proper nervous system function. Nutrient-based formulas are designed to bring your horse’s dietary levels into the optimal range for a correctly functioning nervous system. These supplements provide ingredients like vitamin B1 for normal transmission of impulses along nerves, magnesium to support nervous system function, and tryptophan, which is converted by the body into serotonin and may help increase feelings of well-being and contentment. SmartCalm® Ultra Pellets is one of SmartPak’s SmartSupplements, which offers all of these ingredients to support a healthy nervous system!

SmartPak SmartTranquility Pellets. Image Courtesy SmartPak

If you’ve tried a nutrient-based supplement and didn’t see the results you were hoping for, consider trying an herbal formula. Herbal ingredients can provide soothing support for tense, anxious horses. These supplements include ingredients like valerian to help balance the nervous system and address muscle tightness associated with tension, chamomile to help horses who process their nervousness through their GI system, and vervain, which may help balance the nervous system of horses who have unfocused energy. This category of calming supplements combines herbs with the nutrient-based ingredients, too. SmartTranquility® Pellets provide a comprehensive formula, including these herbs, to offer support for a more balanced temperament.

SmartPak SmartMare Harmony Pellets. Image Courtesy SmartPak

Finally, if your sweet mare turns into a moody monster during or around her heat cycle, her unpleasant attitude could be related to hormonal fluctuations or discomfort in her reproductive tract. There are formulas that provide ingredients that support balanced hormones and an even disposition. These ingredients include raspberry to support smooth muscle tone and help relax muscles in spasm, passionflower for muscle tension in smooth and skeletal muscle, and chasteberry to help maintain a balanced hormonal system. SmartMare® Harmony Pellets is an ideal formula to help take her from moody to mellow!

Read more tips from SmartPak.

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