Nervous/Spooking

By: Dr. Lydia Gray

What is it?

Some horses are naturally calm about any and all situations they encounter and other horses are less calm. In fact, the behavior of a nervous horse can range from becoming tense in the muscles, to stopping abruptly to look and snort at a scary object, to wheeling and bolting in the opposite direction. Whether it's because of breed, age, training or diet, a nervous horse can be hard to handle to downright dangerous.

What can be done about it?

First, review how the horse is managed to see if there is anything that can be done to improve the behavior. Feed high-quality forage and complete the diet with a ration balancer or multi-vitamin/mineral supplement instead of grain. Provide daily turnout that includes socialization and keep the horse on a consistent work schedule. Consult with a trainer who has knowledge and expertise in horse behavior to expose the horse correctly to potentially frightening objects or situations.

What else do I need to know?

If the horse is being fed, exercised and trained appropriately and is still nervous, a calming supplement, such as SmartCalm Ultra, may be helpful. Some products contain herbs known as "nervines" because they have specific actions on the nervous system. Valerian, Vervain, Chamomile and Hops are examples of herbs believed to "rebalance" the nervous system. For more information on these ingredients, please refer to our Supplement Ingredient Glossary.  Other products contain vitamins and minerals such as Thiamine (B1) or Magnesium to meet a dietary deficiency in these nutrients, or the amino acid tryptophan, which is converted to serotonin in the body, a natural calming substance.

About Dr. Lydia Gray

 

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