Horse Stress

Natural equine herbal feed supplements to relieve stress and calm anxiety in stressed out horses.

    natural equine supplements to relieve stress in stressed out horses

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    1. What is Horse Stress?
    2. What Causes Horse Stress?
    3. Diagnosing Horse Stress
    4. Help for Horse Stress
    5. More Information on Horse Stress

    What is Horse Stress?

    Horses, like humans and pets, tend to have a variety of behavioral problems. These behavioral issues may arise suddenly, after a traumatic experience, or may be deeply rooted in the horse’s psyche from past experiences. Horse anxiety and stress are common conditions that may affect every aspect of a horse’s performance, as well as affecting a horse’s appearance.

    What Causes Horse Stress?

    Stress in horses will almost always have a root cause. The cause may be physical (caused by a physical factor – such as a snake or banging barn door) or psychological (past abuse or fear and anxiety). It may also be hereditary – so it is important to determine the cause of the problem. All horses that exhibit prolonged or sudden stressed behavior should undergo a full check up at the vet.

    Remember that horses are fight or flight animals, so when they are put into stressful situations they have a tendency to become anxious and want to ‘flee’. Some horses will be less stressed than others because of how they are able to handle stress. Also, always check for physical things that may be causing the stress – such as a banging barn door, fire-crackers on a neighboring field, a saddle pinching a nerve, etc.

    Other Causes of Stress

    Other causes of stress may include:

    • A horse in a new or unfamiliar environment
    • Fear of other horses sharing stables
    • Lack of a close relationship at ‘ground-level’
    • Lack of training
    • Past abuse or traumatic experience
    • Traveling – changing habitat
    • Showing
    • Feeding at irregular times
    • Insufficient nutrients
    • Toxins in water, hay, air-radiation, heavy metal, herbicides, etc.

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    Diagnosing Horse Stress

    Because degrees of stress vary, it is important to know your horse well and watch out for both physical and behavioral changes.

    Behavioral Signs to Watch For
    • Backing into the corner of the stable
    • Peeling back of the lids (widening of the eyes)
    • Shaking or trembling
    • Restlessness (a horse may pace back and forth)
    • Rearing
    • Sleep disturbances
    • Loss of appetite
    • Cribbing
    • Shying
    • Head tossing
    • Weaving
    • Tight lips

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    Physical Signs to Watch For
    • Constipation
    • Colic
    • Eczema or skin disturbances and hair loss
    • Sore muscles
    • Heat in joints
    • Dull dry coat
    • A cold back

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    Help for Horse Stress

    There are many medications to assist horses that are nervous, stressed or overly anxious. Unfortunately, these medications are not without side effects, and while they may help to relax the horse in the short term, their long-term effects are not known.

    Furthermore, sedatives and calming drugs can leave a horse’s senses dulled – that can make competitive events as well as training difficult, as concentration and alertness is required. Speak to your vet about other alternatives.

    Natural Remedies

    There are many herbal and homeopathic remedies that can help to lessen equine anxiety while still keeping your horse alert. Homeopathic ingredients such as Chamomilla, Kali phos and Cina have been used traditionally for centuries to treat underlying root causes of fear and promote calmness.

    Homeopathic remedies get to work on a cellular level, addressing the horse’s imbalances and promoting adequate levels of cell salts in the living cells needed for physical and mental health. Phosphorus and Asarum can also help to strengthen the nervous system in the animal body – promoting sound mental health and addressing nervous disorders and stress or worry.

    More Information on Horse Stress

    Tips for Managing Horse Stress
    • Increase the amount of turn-out time. This will allow your horse to expend extra energy and ‘de-stress’ in its natural setting. Try regular varied exercise and mix ring work with hills and trails.
    • Feed a well-balanced diet, about 8-12% protein and the calcium/phos. ratio is critical — natural grass mix legume hay and provide nutritional mineral/vitamin supplement if needed (look into supplements that have a natural calming effect on a horse).
    • Introduce your horse to a toy! There are many different types of toys on the market that can redirect your horse’s mind from stress to play – try to interact with your horse and the toy – even better to relive anxiety and stress for the two of you!
    • Prepare your horse for travel or other changes – if you are going to move, take a few trips prior to the final move, so your horse can get used to the new smells and surroundings.
    • Soothing touch can work wonders speak to your vet about massage and touch therapy.
    • Allow your horse to meet other horses and smell manure (it’s like reading the paper for your horse!).
    • See that your horse has the opportunity to roll daily – great activity for keeping their backs healthy!

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