There are many different types of horse calming supplements on the market these days. For the most part, a large proportion of those supplements contain glucosamine, MSM, and hyaluronic acids to name, but a few. Although these types of supplements are pretty common, there is also a wide variety that contains all-natural ingredients that some owners prefer.
A wide selection of herbs is available to buy. This can be part of a complete supplement or as a stand-alone calming solution. Many horse owners believe that using herbs instead can provide a much better long term solution for the nervous or anxious horse. Regular calmers are often only effective in the short term.
Let’s take a look at some of the most effective herbs that are safe for equestrian use and how they might affect your horse’s behaviour.
Chamomile is a great herb to use for horses that suffer from anxiety and need a bit of extra support. It is commonly used in natural medications for humans and you may associate this with being used frequently in herbal teas. This herb is a great natural sleep aid and helps to reduce stress. Chamomile is also used to effectively calm upset stomachs the natural way.
The daisy-like plant comes from the family Asteraceae and has been used in traditional medicine for thousands of years. It is safe to use for horses as a calming aid and its sedative properties are likely to be very effective.
You will notice that many horse calming supplements contain Chamomile higher up in the ingredients list and are a completely natural way to help your horse deal with nerves, stress, and anxiety. Lots of horse owners swear by this herb and concur it really does take the edge off a hot horse.
Vervain may not be an herb that you are particularly familiar with, but it can be found more often than not in many horse calming supplements. There are over 250 species of this flowing herb with the majority being native to the Americas and Asia.
This type of herb is used in many horse calming supplements on the market. It can also be used as a stand-alone medication and is particularly helpful in calming spooky or fizzy horses. We all know how difficult and sometimes dangerous it can be when dealing with a hot horse on the ground. Many owners believe natural calmers are the most effective in easing this type of behaviour.
Vervain works very well with Chamomile. This is why you will often see the two ingredients mixed together in traditional calming supplements. So many competition riders opt for this natural tension reliever as the herb is fully legal in competition rules.
Valerian is a flowering herb native to Europe and Asia. You will notice this plant will display sweetly scented flowers that usually display in white or pink. It is regularly used in human medicine and can help to assist with sleep disorders, psychological stress, and anxiety. Valerian can also be found in many day to day products we consume and the oil extracts from this herb are commonly used for flavouring in food and beverages.
Valerian is a great solution for dealing with a stressed or anxious horse. It is often already found in many horse calming supplements, but can also be used neat in your horses feed. Many owners choose to use this herb during particularly stressful times for their horse. Travelling in the horsebox can be particularly stressful as well as show days.
It must be noted that according to FEI and Jockey Club rules Valerian is a banned substance. If you are competing under these conditions you must avoid using any products which contain Valerian.
Passion Flower is a climbing vine that is native to the Americas. All the parts of this plant that grow above the ground are used regularly in everyday medicine. It can often be seen used as a flavouring in the food and beverages we buy. This natural herb can really help with sleep problems, anxiety, stress, and ADHD. Many people choose to take a dose of Passion Flower to help with anxiousness right before surgery.
The chemicals in this plant have calming and muscle spasm relieving effects. For horses this a major benefit as it helps to relax the whole nervous system. Passion Flower is also said to have great long term effects on horses by changing their reaction patterns. For example, an ex-racehorse who has previously been through much stress in the racing world with a history of nervous or temperament problems can really benefit. It helps the horse set aside all the previous reaction patterns and reset themselves.
You may have heard the phrase before ‘the beer is hoppy’? This refers specifically to the herb HOPS and how it is used widely in the manufacturing of beer products. HOPS is an aromatic herb that adds the unique flavour we experience in some of the best well know beer brands on the market. The cone-shaped flowers are the primary bittering agent that most brewers use to help balance the sweetness levels in the beer.
HOPS is also widely used for horses to help them relax and settle. It is known for its anxiety and tension-reducing properties. It can be fed to horses in many different forms such as powder and tincture however feeding directly in its natural state should be avoided.
Most of us will be familiar with the product catnip particularly if we have feline companions in our lives. Cats go absolutely crazy for this magical stuff. It is said that two-thirds of our kitties have an intense attraction to this herb. Catnip is also commonly used as an herbal tea for humans. It is highly valued for its sedative and relaxation properties.
More and more equine products on the market these days are recognising the great benefits of using catnip as a horse supplement. It is considered a low-level tonic that helps horses calm their nerves. It also contains many antibiotic properties that assist with anaemia as it helps to stimulate the appetite.
Another great benefit of catnip for horses aside from having a calming influence is the fly repelling properties this herb contains. We all know how plagued our horses get with flies, particularly during the summer months. Research on catnip for horses suggests that oil from this herb was effective 99% of the time for repelling blood-sucking stable flies. We absolutely love a 2 for 1 product!
Raspberry leaves are a native plant of Europe and parts of Asia and they grow nutritious and sweet berries. It is in fact the leaves that are full of nutrition and the part of the plant which you will often find in supplements. In human medicine, the leaves have been used to treat various ailments, in particular, to induce labour during pregnancy.
Raspberry leaves for calming horses are a relatively obscure one and you may associate this herb being used for mares during pregnancy. This is often used to support the tone and health of the uterus, particularly in the last trimester.
In complete contrast, Raspberry leaves are commonly used as a natural remedy to help with calming and relaxing the muscles. Although associated specifically with mares to combat hormonal mood swings, it is fair to say this is an all-round natural supplement and works in the same way for a gelding.
Raspberry leaves are also high in B vitamins which have one of the highest impacts on calming horses.
Overall there are some fantastic natural remedies that can be used for horses to help calm their nerves and relieve stress without the use of harsh, manufactured ingredients (Some we’d like to add that do not have enough research to back up their effectiveness).
You will often find a combination of these natural herbs the best way to go. Chamomile and Valerian root are without a doubt the most tried and tested natural remedies as a calmer for horses. Many reviews confirm their effectiveness and a mixture of these two is usually the best route to take.
You will notice that Valerian is regularly seen used in horse calming products. It is important to note again that although very safe for horses, it is technically classed as a banned substance. This means if you are out competing on a regular basis particularly through the Jockey Club or FEI then you must not use this herb as a calming solution. Try to make sure you check through the ingredients on supplements to be certain this ingredient is not included if you plan to compete.
Many owners believe that natural remedies have a long term effect on the mental status of your horse. Opposed to supplements using the likes of glucosamine and MSM as a cover-up. Natural herbs are said to alter behaviours over time rather than just masking the problem itself.