Sammy hauled out to a photo shoot for the first time yesterday. He did great getting in to leave home and haul out and to come back home but after 45 minutes of walking around on a halter and lead rope when we got to the new place he was still so nervous and distracted at this new arena that it took 3 people to help me bridle and saddle him. He just wouldn't stop dancing.
Are there any natural aids I could use that might help next time? We have shows coming up in October-February and I'm hoping that an hour of stall time before we start tacking will be good for him to calm down but if it isn't will a large dose of rescue remedy help?
I'd prefer not to drug him on ace and rompin (sp?) or something like that. We have to do a small dose to get his back feet trimmed (long story). But are there any natural products that might just calm his nerves at a new place. Once I'm on he's totally fine but until then he's a nervous mess.
Some of his nervous antics and he did yesterday and he did some of the same things when I first bought him too:
Wiggled his lip and nickered repeatedly
Violently bobbed his head really high then ground touching low
Ears as far forward as they could possibly get, eyes HUGE
Prancing in place while eating from the hay bag
Butt bumping the trailer
Snorting A LOT
excessive pawing as soon as he was alone and screaming
He refused to line up to the mounting block so I had to stretch and get on from the ground. I rode him around for about 10 minutes without my stirrups since they were too long to adjust while he was exploring but after I was properly positioned he calmed right down.
The pictures of his jitters actually came out pretty well. The photographer said the end result was "fantabulous" and he'd get me pictures as he got them done.
Rescue remedy is hit or miss at best.
I would be doing some weekly trailer trips to get him used to being away from home. It's asking a lot to make his first trip a "working" trip. The up side is the more you travel with him the better he should get.
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Try something with valerian root or tryptophan.
They have them in paste form like wormers, that you give to the horse 2 to 4 hours before the start whatever activity it is that freaks him out.
I'll look into that! I talked with my trainer today and she said she has something but I forget what she said it was.
No is the basic answer to giving him stuff like that. *If* he's deficient in magnesium, he may be more 'nervy' than is natural for him, so adding this supp may help a bit. Giving massive doses of anything like Rescue Remedy will not be more helpful & is potentially harmful. It's essentially a homeopathic, so tiny amounts are best(& it's also alcohol based). I have found Rock Rose and Aconite are possibly helpful for helping generally mildly anxious horses, but if they're really stressing out about some real problem, as yours is, nothing of this sort is likely to cut it.
The poor boy sounds very stressed about it all & the only really effective 'natural' answer is to desensitise him to the situation with repetition & careful, low stress handling with 'approach & retreat'. I personally wouldn't want to subject him to these experiences until you can do it properly. Standing in a strange stall may well stress him out even further, and won't help get him used to the rest of the foreign environment. I personally would be very hesitant to ride him in this state of mind, as I suspect the reason he 'calms down' for you when you're on is more likely 'shutting down'. How about starting with taking him out & about as much as possible in hand, if hauling him places is out of the question?
But if it's the hauling that's the biggest problem, while the more low-key training over time the better, if you hired a trailer for a few days & trained him well(with approach & retreat, low pressure) to be *confident* about it, that would help a lot & not be too expensive.
My horse was given some before she was moved. She settled right into her new stall although she'd never been stalled before and the nervous energy levels in the barn were running insanely high as all the other horses there were also being moved in at the same time and a few of them had been moved multiple times in the days prior.
My only advise is keep working with him there every day until your show. So he'll get used to the new place and surroundings. I personally found the calmer NOT to be very helpful (including valerian and even ace shot) on my horse when it comes to the excitement of the new place.
The ones I've used and seen others used with success is Quietex. But that is just a band aid. There is nothing better than practice, practice, practice. If you need to pay for someone to bring a trailer out a couple of times a month (or more to work with him), you're going to be way better off.
My boy is deathly afraid of wind storms, which we have a lot here. I sometimes have to give him Quietex when all my other methods don't work (extra hay, extra love, music). So they can be used, but again, nothing can replace working with them.
To the OP, you may end up trying number of different calmers (yeah I know it's somewhat costly :cry: ) before you find the one, which works for your horse.
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