Horse Health Care – Natural Feed Supplements For the Nervous Equine

Does your horse get nervous before a competition, trailering, or learning something new? I have a couple of horses who are strung kind of tight, and I’ve found that there are a number of natural horse feed supplements that really help calm them down.
Not all of these are legal for all competitive events, so if you do consider using any of these, be sure to check with your discipline’s governing body to see what’s legal and what isn’t.
Horse Feed Supplement #1: Homeopathic Chamomile
Homeopathic chamomile is a wonderfully simple solution for many nervous horses. This vibrational remedy will not make a horse calmer than his normal temperament, but can restore a horse’s mental balance so that he can think clearly. For instance, if your horse is normally calm but gets bouts of diarrhea before trailering, giving him a dose of Chamomile 30x before he try loading him might help him stay calm. You can purchase this homeopathic remedy at most health food stores.
Horse Feed Supplement #2: Adrenal Support Herbs
The combination of adrenal support herbs I have been feeding my horses is relatively new on the market and is a potent combination of four herbs that really seems to help horses remain calm. I’ve used this supplement on my mustang mare, who gets the heaves (or COPD) when she gets nervous. When she starts getting that distinctive rattle in her chest, I empty two capsules of these herbs into spring water, mix with a juice mixer, and then put it in a syringe. I syringe the mixture into her mouth, and then wait 30-45 minutes. Within that time, the rattle in her chest goes away and she is restored to her normal happy state.
Being a Metal horse personality, she loves routine and gets nervous whenever she thinks we are going to do something totally new (read more about horse personalities on the Horse Harmony website by Dr. Madalyn Ward). She then flips into the sympathetic nervous system, which for horses is the equivalent of “fight or flight,” and heaves are the result. The adrenal support herbs have the effect of restoring her to the parasympathetic nervous system, which is the one associated with rest and relaxation. The beauty of these herbs is that they can be fed daily or only as needed. The effects are also fairly immediate, making it a crucial part of any first-aid kit.
Horse Feed Supplement #3: Probiotics of Acidophilus and Bifidus
Probiotics like acidophilus and bifidus are the beneficial bacteria that live in your horse’s gut. The reason probiotics help to calm a nervous horse is because the beneficial bacteria produce B12. The B vitamins, especially B12, produce a natural calming effect on the body. If your horse has diarrhea when he gets nervous, bifidus is especially useful since it tends to soak up excess fluid in the bowel and restore normal stool consistency. Adding probiotics to your regular horse feed regimen will help in general, and giving oral probiotics before any event that might make your horse nervous will help in the moment.
Horse Feed Supplement #4: Equilite Relax and Relax Her Blend
Relax Blend and RelaxHer Blend, two horse feed supplements from Equilite are also excellent for calming the nervous horse. These supplements are made from a combination of natural herbs, and can be added to your horse feed regimen on a daily basis. Best of all, these supplements come in a Valerian-free formula, which makes them legal to feed to most show horses.
Horse Feed Supplement #5: Specially Processed Blue Green Algae
Blue-green algae, which has had its cell wall removed, is what I call “brain food.” It is blue-green algae that has been processed in way that removes the cell wall, leaving only the “heart” of the algae. This form of algae contains vitamins, minerals, and trace minerals in particles that are small enough to penetrate the blood-brain barrier. The blood brain barrier, as the name implies, is a barrier in the brain that separates the cerebral spinal fluid from the circulating blood. This barrier prevents foreign invaders like bacteria from entering the brain, but also prevents most vitamins and minerals from entering the brain as well.
Many nervous horses suffer from under-nourished brains, and many a nervous thoroughbred or flighty horse has been calmed when this form of blue-green algae is added to their horse feed. It’s definitely worth checking out, especially as it is also useful for building strong hoof walls and is legal for show horses.
Well, this is just a short list of horse feed supplements that can help the nervous horse become calm again. If you have any other supplements that you have found useful, please leave me a comment or drop me a line. I love learning about horse nutrition, and sharing what I know!