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Calming supplements: what is on the market this spring?

Some equine calming supplements are instant or fast-acting — often in paste-form and administered via a large syringe into the horse’s mouth — while other horse calmers take time to build up in your horse’s system, which are more likely to be in powder or liquid form. They all have the same overall aim of reducing acute stress and overall anxiety, which should allow your horse to learn better and have a lower risk of stress-related disease. Any change of routine can bring new stresses with it. In these situations, a calmer can help to “take the edge off”, leaving you with a more relaxed horse that may be safer to handle. Despite lots of anecdotal evidence to support their effectiveness, there is limited scientific research into how calmers and their active ingredients work in horses. Popular ingredients include:
  • magnesium, which is thought to produce an anxiety-reducing effect
  • tryptophan — a building block of serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter associated with lower levels of stress
  • valerian, which is thought to reduce anxiety
If you intend to compete with your horse then it is important you make sure any supplements you use do not contain any prohibited substances.