Horse calmers and equine calming supplements are a booming business. As the spring grass arrives, many riders find they have their hands full and turn to a calmer to take the edge off their excitable horses.
In many cases a reduction in feed to equate to the extra energy being provided by the spring grass will solve the problem, while others would benefit from time being spent on schooling and the advice of a qualified instructor can be invaluable.
But if you wish to try a calmer, there are a wide range of products on the market. Some are designed to be fed on an on-going basis to regulate behaviour, while others are designed to be used only when necessary and are administered shortly before exercise.
“The most important factor is doing your research,” says nutritionist Lizzie Drury, from Saracen Horse Feeds. “What works for one horse may not work for another. Once you have chosen one, give it time to work.”
Competition riders also need to be aware that some calmers may contain ingredients that are not allowed under affiliated competition rules. If you are unsure about whether a calmer is allowed to be used in competition, contact the manufacturer and the relevant governing body for advice.
Nupafeed Liquid Calmer
This organic, competition-legal, magnesium compound formula works to maintain a normal calcium:magnesium ratio and a normal release of adrenaline. It can be added to feed and the levels fed can be adjusted to suit individual horses. A top-up booster syringe is available for particularly stressful situations.
Tel: 01438 861900; visit: www.nupafeed-uk.co.uk
Designed for horses with anxious temperments or who cannot cope with stressful situations, this calms without reducing presence. It includes yeast, B vitamins and magnesium. It is apple flavoured, can be mixed into feed and is suitable for FEI competition. It starts to work in days, with a maximum effect in about 3 weeks
Tel: 0870 240 6596; visit: www.topspec.com
Feedmark Steady-Up Advance
This product contains a blend of herbs to help maintain calmness without reducing performance, and is suitable for long-term use. It is designed for horses showing signs of fear, anxiety, agression, spooking or over-excitability. Includes magnesium, B-complex vitamins, chamomile, lemon balm and yeast, and no synthetic sedatives. Can be added to feed.
Tel: 0800 585 525; visit: www.feedmark.com
Blue Chip Karma
Made from natural ingredients, Karma includes the water-soluble form of magnesium, which is quickly absorbed into the bloodstream. This supplement regulates blood pressure, maintains a healthy nervous system and relaxes muscles.
Tel: 0114 266 6200; visit: www.bluechipfeed.com
Net-Tex Carl Hester Pro-Mag Calm Boost
This can be given before stressful situations, such as travelling or clipping, to help soothe nerves and calm over-excitement. It contains magnesium glycinate and magnesium aspartate, as well as ginseng and vitamin B.
Tel: (01474) 813 999; visit: www.net-tex.co.uk/carlhester
Dodson & Horrell Placid
Containing chamomile and skullcap, which is renowned for its soothing properties, this herbal blend provides nutritional support for the nervous system, and is great for horses and ponies that are prone to excitability.
Tel: (0845) 345 2627; visit: www.dodsonandhorrell.com
Equine Herbals V-Calm
Although this should not be used for 24hr before a competition, it may calm an excited horse in 20min, and is suitable for use as a one-off treatment. It contains a herbal tincture of valerian from New Zealand.
Tel: (01208) 821 758; visit: www.equushealth.org.uk
Equiform Nutrition Stay Calm
Ingredients include natural flower remedies such as aspen, mimulus and rock rose. This powder is ideal for horses who become stressed and anxious, such as when travelling or competing.
Tel: (01270) 530 930; visit: www.equiformnutrition.co.uk
Horse First relaxMe
This supplement contains vitamins E and B, magnesium, thiamine hydrochloride, Yea Sacc and folic acid. It helps to relieve nerves, stress and excitability, as well as tummy upsets.
Tel: (02830) 251 195; visit: www.horsefirst.net
Magnesium-based, this formula contains herbs such as withania, passion flower and hops, which reduce tension in tight muscles and boost concentration. The magnesium also keeps muscles healthy and relaxed.
Tel: (0800) 373 106; visit: www.naf-uk.com
Officinalis Relax Equine Calmer
This is enriched with herbs such as linden, granadilla, poppy and chamomile, which have a calming effect and help the horse to regain concentration. It’s suitable for horses who suffer from anxiety or aggression while competing or travelling.
Tel: (01253) 888 188; visit: www.trilanco.com