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Managing Horse Anxiety: Calmative Supplements and Alternatives

Calmative Supplements for Horses

As horse owners or handlers, one of our main concerns is keeping our equine friends safe, healthy, and happy. However, horses, just like humans, experience anxiety and stress.

It is a natural response to certain situations or environments. But too much stress can be harmful and even lead to health issues.

That is why some horse owners turn to calmative supplements as a way to help reduce anxiety in their horses. In this article, we will discuss the benefits of calmative supplements, the comparison between two commonly used sedatives, the safe use of calmative supplements, factors that influence their effectiveness, and the alternatives to calmative supplements.

Benefits of Calmative Supplements

Calmative supplements are a type of medicine that can help reduce anxiety and stress in horses. They contain natural ingredients such as magnesium, chamomile, and valerian root, or some synthetic ingredients like acepromazine and Dormosedan.

The benefits of using calmative supplements include:

  • Reducing the risk of injury or health issues due to excess stress.
  • Improving the horse’s mood.
  • Enhancing the horse’s ability to focus during training.

Dormosedan and Acepromazine Comparison

Dormosedan and Acepromazine are two common sedatives used to help calm horses. Dormosedan is a gel that is applied to the gums, while Acepromazine is an injectable medication.

Both medications are effective in reducing stress and anxiety in horses. Some differences between the two include their mechanism of action, administration, and effectiveness.

Dormosedan works on the alpha-2 adrenergic receptors that trigger relaxation and sedation. This gel can be applied easily to the gums, but the dose must be carefully calculated by a veterinarian, as it can be dangerous if overdosed.

Acepromazine, on the other hand, is an injectable medication that is commonly used in veterinary medicine. It works on the dopamine receptors in the brain and produces a longer-lasting sedative effect.

However, it can cause a drop in blood pressure and some horses may experience adverse reactions such as excitement or aggression.

Using Calmative Supplements Safely

It is important to use calmative supplements under the guidance of a veterinary professional. The type of supplement, the dosage, and the administration method must be carefully considered before use.

Additionally, the horse’s diet, environment, and health status must be taken into account to ensure that the supplement is safe and effective. It is also important to be aware of any potential adverse effects of the supplement, such as drowsiness, behavior changes or gastrointestinal issues.

If you suspect an adverse effect, contact your veterinarian immediately.

Factors Influencing Calmative Supplement Effectiveness

Several factors can influence the effectiveness of calmative supplements. The horse’s size, age, breed, and overall health can affect how a supplement will affect them.

The dosage must be tailored to the individual horse’s weight and situation, as underdosing will not provide any benefit, and overdosing can cause adverse effects. The horse’s environment, including factors such as temperature, noise level, and proximity to other horses, may also impact the effectiveness of the supplement.

Lastly, the horse’s diet can affect the absorption of the supplement. For example, supplements that contain magnesium may not be as effective if the horse is deficient in magnesium.

Alternatives to Calmative Supplements

While calmative supplements can be an effective way to reduce anxiety in horses, they are not the only solution. Improving the horse’s nutrition and exercise routine can reduce stress and anxiety levels.

A balanced diet with plenty of forage can help regulate the horse’s digestive system and reduce stress.

Exercise and free-range time can also help release pent-up energy, reducing anxiety levels.

Additionally, desensitization and introduction methods can help horses get used to new situations or environments gradually.


In conclusion, calmative supplements can help reduce stress and anxiety levels in horses. They can be effective, but they should only be used under the guidance of a veterinary professional.

The type of supplement, dosage, and administration method must be carefully considered before use. Factors that can influence the effectiveness of calmative supplements include the horse’s age, size, breed, environment, and diet.

Finally, alternative solutions such as improving nutrition and exercise routines, desensitization and introduction methods can also help manage anxiety and stress levels in horses.

Benefits of Calmative Supplements

Horses are naturally timid animals who often respond to stress and threatening situations with the fight or flight response. This response is characterized by the release of adrenaline into the bloodstream that prepares the horse to either fight or run away from the perceived danger.

Unfortunately, this response can be detrimental to both the horse and its handler. Calmative supplements can help reduce the physiological effects of the fight or flight response, enhance focus and memory, and improve the horse’s overall attitude.

Reducing The Fight or Flight Response

Calmative supplements that contain tryptophan compounds can help reduce the intensity of the fight or flight response in horses. These compounds work by increasing the production of serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter that regulates mood, appetite, and sleep.

By increasing serotonin levels, the tryptophan compounds can reduce fear and anxiety in horses. Furthermore, they can decrease the release of adrenaline into the bloodstream that is the characteristic of the fight or flight response.

This reduction in adrenaline can provide a safer environment for both the horse and its handler.

Attitude Adjustment

Magnesium plays an important role in transmitting nerve signals throughout the body, including those that signal relaxation and contraction of muscles. When horses are deficient in magnesium, their nervous system can become overstimulated, leading to hyperactive, anxious, or irritable behavior.

Calmative supplements that contain magnesium can help regulate nerve signal transmission, providing a calming effect on the horse’s behavior. Magnesium has an added benefit in that it can also improve bone density and prevent cramping, making it an excellent supplement to aid in equine health.

Enhancing Focus and Memory

Horses that are prone to hyperactivity may find it challenging to focus during training, affecting their ability to learn and retain information. Calmative supplements that reduce hyperactivity can improve the horse’s ability to focus, ultimately enhancing their memory retention and clarity.

Additionally, these supplements can help improve muscle contraction, leading to better athleticism, performance, and overall health. Calmative supplements with added performance-enhancing supplements such as branched-chain amino acids can help provide the necessary building blocks for muscle growth, development, and repair.

Administering Calmative Supplements

Calmative supplements come in various forms, and the type you choose will depend on your horse’s individual needs and your personal preference. The administration method and the duration of administration will also vary based on the supplement’s concentration and its half-life.

Long-Term Supplements

Some calmative supplements can be added to the horse’s daily diet as a pellet or powder. These supplements are typically formulated to provide a sustained effect over an extended period, reducing the risk of peaks and valleys that can be detrimental to equine health.

These pellets or powders can be mixed with the horse’s regular feed, making their administration convenient for horse owners.

Oral Administration

Calmative supplements can also be administered orally using a paste or syringe. These supplements can be applied directly under the horse’s tongue or mixed with feed and swallowed.

The dosage and frequency of administration will depend on the supplement’s concentration, and it is essential to read the manufacturer’s instructions carefully. It is important to note that some horses may spit out the supplement, so direct administration may be necessary.


Injectable calmative supplements are powerful and fast-acting. They can be administered intravenously or intramuscularly depending on the supplement’s form and concentration.

Intravenous administration can provide a near-immediate effect, while intramuscular administration may take several minutes to become active. However, some injectable calmative supplements can have adverse side effects.

For this reason, it is essential to administer injectable supplements under the guidance of a veterinary professional who can ensure their safe use. In conclusion, calmative supplements provide several benefits for horses, including reducing the fight or flight response, improving their attitude, and enhancing their focus and memory.

Administering calmative supplements can be done through various methods, including long-term supplementation in the diet, oral administration using a paste or syringe, or by injection. It is crucial to consider the supplement’s concentration, dosage, and administration method based on the horse’s individual needs.

Always consult with a veterinary professional before administering any type of supplement or medication to a horse.

Alternatives to Calmative Supplements

Calmative supplements can be a helpful tool in reducing stress and anxiety in horses. However, some horse owners may prefer or need to use alternative methods of managing their horse’s behavior.

In this article, we will discuss several alternatives to calmative supplements, including nutrition, exercise, desensitization techniques, and introducing calming supplements.


Horses are herbivores who rely on a diet high in fiber and oil to maintain their health and wellbeing. However, certain dietary changes can also contribute to a calmer disposition in horses.

Limiting grain in the diet is one way to achieve a calmer demeanor, as high sugar intake can lead to hyperactivity. Feeding small, frequent meals rather than two or three larger meals throughout the day can also help reduce hunger and anxiousness in horses.

For horses with a history of anxiety, adding magnesium to their diet can help regulate nerve signals and reduce stress and nervous behavior. In general, a horse’s diet should be tailored to their individual needs and health concerns.


A lack of exercise can lead to boredom, depression, and sourness in horses, which can contribute to anxious or high-strung behavior. Increasing the level and intensity of exercise can help improve the horse’s mental and physical wellbeing, reducing stress levels in the process.

Ground poles, lunging, and trail riding are all useful forms of exercise that can provide physical and mental stimulation for horses. Incorporating changes in the exercise routine can also help prevent boredom and desensitize horses to new situations, reducing anxiety levels.

Desensitization Techniques

For horses with specific fears or anxieties, desensitization techniques can help reduce these fears and anxieties. These techniques involve exposing the horse to the stimuli that triggers their anxiety in a controlled and gradual manner.

For example, if a horse is fearful of needles, the horse can be exposed to needles in a non-threatening manner, such as using a fake needle or a blunt end. Gradual exposure to the stimuli emphasizing rewards such as treats or praised will help the horse realize there is no danger in some situations.

Introducing Calming Supplements

For horses with an aggressive disposition or underlying health issues, introducing calming supplements may be necessary. It is essential to investigate the root cause of the horse’s anxiety and aggression before administering any supplements.

Not all calming supplements are the same, and it may be necessary to try different supplements to see which one works best for the horse. They are also available in different forms, such as paste or pellets to be taken once-off or as a daily supplement.

Careful observation and consideration must be given to dosing and administration methods, and a veterinary professional’s consultation is always recommended.

Conclusion and FAQs

Benefits of Calmative Supplements for Horses

Calmative supplements can effectively reduce stress and anxiety levels in horses. They are especially beneficial for highly-strung horses who are susceptible to stress and anxiety, ultimately reducing the risk of injury to themselves and handlers.

Finding the Right Calming Solution for Your Horse

Finding the right calming solution for your horse requires careful investigation and consideration of the underlying causes of the horse’s anxiety. Moreover, they are various calming supplements available from daily supplements to once-off doses such as Dorm Gel.

It is essential to be informed about dosage, administration and the potential benefits and adverse effects of each supplement before choosing the appropriate one.


  1. Can calmative supplements cause sedation?
  2. Yes, some calmative supplements contain sedatives that can cause drowsiness and sedation. It is essential to consult with your veterinarian to determine the appropriate dosage of the supplement.

  3. How soon will a horse respond to a calming supplement?
  4. The length of time it takes for the calming supplement to take effect depends on several factors, including the supplement’s form, the dosage, and the individual horse’s metabolism. Injectable supplements may work more quickly as they are administered directly into the bloodstream, while supplements administered orally may take more time to take effect.

  5. Can I give my horse a larger dose of a calming supplement if they seem particularly anxious?
  6. No, it is not advisable to give a larger dose of a calming supplement than what is recommended by the manufacturer or your veterinarian. Overdosing can lead to adverse effects, which can cause further harm to your horse.

    It is important to follow instructions carefully and consult with a veterinary professional if necessary. 4.

  7. Is it possible to gradually wean a horse off calmative supplements once they have been taking it for a long time?
  8. Yes, it is possible to gradually wean a horse off calming supplements, especially if their anxiety levels have decreased, or the issue that prompted use of the supplement has resolved.

    It is essential to work with a veterinarian to determine the appropriate weaning protocol, as abrupt cessation of supplements can cause adverse effects. In conclusion, there are many alternatives to calmative supplements that can help to reduce stress, anxiety, and aggressive behavior in horses.

    These alternatives include nutrition, exercise, desensitization techniques, and introducing calming supplements once the underlying cause of anxiety has been determined. Careful investigation and consideration must be given to each solution’s individual benefits and adverse effects, and a veterinary professional’s consultation is always recommended.

    This article delves into calmative supplements, discussing their benefits, methods of administration, and alternatives for horses that suffer from stress and anxiety. The benefits of calmative supplements include getting rid of the fight or flight response, improving attitude, and enhancing focus and memory.

    Calmative supplements come in different forms, including long-term supplements, oral administration, and injections. Furthermore, the article also discusses alternatives to calmative supplements, including nutrition, exercise, and desensitization techniques such as gradual exposure.

    Finally, common questions about sedation, administration, effectiveness, and alternatives are answered, and the overall takeaway is that horses’ health is a crucial priority. Careful investigation and a physician’s consultation are vital before administering supplements, so horse owners must ensure they are informed about dosage, administration, and potential benefits or adverse effects to gain the best out of these supplements.

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