Calm Down! - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 10 Old 03-27-2011, 06:37 PM Thread Starter
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Calm Down!

My mare gets nervis at things that don't make sense. For instance, she gets nervis when people touch her face (specifically her nose) and she was afraid of the one end of the ring where she goes ALL THE TIME. She is also very nervis when she goes to shows. Sometimes to the point where she cannot do the show. I want to try a calming supplement to take the edge off her nerves. I can't imagine its fun to life a lot of your life thinking everything is out to get you!! I was thinking of trying a b1 vitamin supplement but I heard that it only worked if the horse was deficient. Then I read "Increasing the thiamine supply above the basic minimum nutritional requirement can have an apparent calming effect on an excitable horse." (Horses and vitamins) I don't know if my horse is deficient in it and do not know if this statement above is true. She doesn't have any of the symptoms I read a deficient horse has. Has anybody had experience with this or have an opinion?? Thanks!
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post #2 of 10 Old 03-28-2011, 06:18 AM
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Instead of trying to mask the symptoms with supplements and whatnot - why not cure the cause instead? Desensitize her face. There are lots of different exercises that you can do to desensitize the horse that would calm her down forever instead of "for the show".

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post #3 of 10 Old 03-28-2011, 08:37 AM
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What is the rest of her diet like? How much turnout and stall time does she get? Both diet and turnout play a HUGE role in horse behavior.

I would evaluate the above and make changes if possible before starting her on supplements. After you make some changes (give it 20-30 days to see the results) and you still want her calmer, you can consider different supplements.

A friend's mare is the same way about her face. It makes deworming interesting... We have been using clicker training to get her to WANT her nose to be touched. It seems to be working .
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post #4 of 10 Old 03-28-2011, 09:18 AM
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Originally Posted by kim_angel View Post
Instead of trying to mask the symptoms with supplements and whatnot - why not cure the cause instead? Desensitize her face. There are lots of different exercises that you can do to desensitize the horse that would calm her down forever instead of "for the show".
I agree. Your horse needs a leader that she can look to for support. You have not established that with her. Since she can't look to you for support, she gets nervous because she thinks she has to look out for herself. Doing groundwork and exercises with her will build her respect and trust in you. Fix the problem, not the symptom.

Everyone should be allowed at least one bad habit, and that's NOT owning a horse!

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post #5 of 10 Old 03-28-2011, 09:00 PM Thread Starter
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She is currently getting an average coffee can (sorry i don't know how much it weighs or anything :/) of hay pellets in the morning and a coffee can of Nutrena LiteBalance at night. She is getting 1.5 quarts of beet pulp at night. With her night grain she gets a multi-vitamin (Mega-Cell), a coat supplement (smartshine Ultra), a joint supplement (Flex-N-Action and MSM), and magnesium. She gets two flakes of hay at around 8 am, one flake at 1 pm, and 2 more arouns 5. (She may get more then that at another time that I do not know about but it would only be another flake or 2). I don't like that she is waiting around not eating a lot because I know thats not good for them but there isn't much I can do since I board her. I don't give her any treats because she is totally motivated by food and cannot handle herself if she gets treats lol :).

She goes out around 7 or 8 am and comes in at 5 or 6 pm. The area she is in right now is small because the fields are wet but i ride her and make sure she has enough exercise due to this.

I don't have any problem at all touching her nose. She just isn't a fan of it. Its like the lower part of her nose is just really sensitive to the touch.

I totally agree that she needs to think of me more as a leader and I need to do groundwork with her, but I don't know what! I was working with her over the winter with Parelli but I got to the end of level one and didn't really like it after that. I also got some Clinton Anderson books to read. As you can see I am into the natural horsemanship! I also tried to desensitize her nose but I don't think I was persistant enough with it.

Thanks for your imput guys, its really helpful!
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post #6 of 10 Old 03-28-2011, 11:14 PM
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I agree...this sounds like an issue that may be more resolved by training. Given that she is flighty about her face being touched and a 'certain place' in the ring.

Start taking her to shows JUST to be there...don't show...just take her to the shows, hand walk her around, do some lungeing in areas you know she isn't really comfortable, and wait for her to relax, then just leave that area. When she is behaving better on the ground, then start riding her around the grounds...but again, don't put her through the pressure of being shown...just get her used to the idea of being in a strange place.

Same with her face...the only way she will get used to her face being handled is if she has her face handled, period.

There are supplements that could help her with the anxiety, that won't hurt her...such as Be Calm, and essential oils like Lavander Oil. So if you would want to try something in conjunction, I think it could help for a while, but I don't think it should be something you lean on for the rest of her life...maybe just for a while.

One thing you may want to make sure of, is with the two supplements you are actually giving, that you aren't doubling up on certain vitamins or minerals...too much of certain things isn't a good thing either; not that you would be seriously overdosing, but even just a little of an overbalance could be causing her to be unbalanced in other aspects of her over all health and well being.

"The ideal horseman has the courage of a lion, the patience of a saint, and the hands of a woman..."

Last edited by mom2pride; 03-28-2011 at 11:23 PM.
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post #7 of 10 Old 03-28-2011, 11:28 PM
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What kind of hay is she getting? What kind of hay pellets? Does the beet pulp have added molasses? Does she go out alone or does she have a friend during turnout?
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post #8 of 10 Old 03-29-2011, 06:38 AM Thread Starter
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She is getting a timothy hay and I believe the pellets are that too. The beet pulp has no molasses in it and currently she is going out alone. When she gets out into the fields she will be going out with three other horses.

I will try to lunge her in areas of the barn she isn't comfortable in first. Does that sound like something that is good to do? There is an area next door she isn't super comfortable with that I could start working her in. She definitely has gotten worse over the winter probably because she couldnt really do much.

Do you think that the fact that she is standing around not being able to eat anything for a while during the day and night has something to do with it? She eats her hay very fast and I was also considering getting her a hay net with small holes to slow her down.
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post #9 of 10 Old 03-29-2011, 07:39 AM
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Being without hay in her stall could increase her anxiety. A small mesh hay net might be a good idea. A stall toy wouldn't hurt either.I would do lots of in-hand work with her, getting her to trust you more.

You're right, it also sounds like she would be a great candidate for a calming supplement. Since she gets extra magnesium now, I would stay away from a magnesium based supplement. I would look in to one with high b-vitamins plus tryptophan (sp?) and camomile. If you're not showing, valerian works well too. SmartPak has a good compareson chart so you can look at ingrediants and daily cost. I would shop around for better prices though, once you decide on one.
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post #10 of 10 Old 03-29-2011, 09:30 AM
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Desensitizing and ground work.Lot's of it. Move her shoulders, hindquarters, teach her to side pass. You need to make sure she knows she has a leader and can look to you when she gets nervous. Find "scary objects" ie a tarp. beach ball, hoola hoop. you get the idea and put just enough pressure on her to make her unsure. Then lounge her/work her around it untill it doesn't bother her. Do that untill you can touch/rub her with the items. This will teach her to trust you. Then you can apply this to the areana: take her to the place that scares her and move her around lunging or moving shoulders ect. She'll forget to be scared because she is concentrating on what you asked her to do. Always start small and build up.
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