If you have a fizzy, over-excited horse, and you are looking at your options to help support calm behaviour during lock-down, please reconsider all your nutritional options:
- Starch - High starch feeding will stimulate hot behaviour, so check both the amount you are feeding per day against recommended feeding rate and the amount the horse is receiving in each meal. Starch should not exceed 1g per 1kg body weight per meal in a horse who is ‘hot’. The digestibility of the starch is also vital, as quick release sources (highly digestible starch) cause a rapid increase in absorption, and subsequently ‘blood sugar levels’. This is why ‘heating feeds’ contain larger proportions of cereal grains that are highly digestible like oats and barley. They release rapidly available energy to hard working horses.
- Meal Size - Consider how much feed you are putting in one meal. Little and often is always the best approach to encourage level-headed behaviour and normal digestion.
- Ingredients - Consider the ingredients within each product making up the daily diet (i.e. forage, chop, hard feed), as some horses are more sensitive to some ingredients in comparison to others. Some will respond more energetically to oats, others to barley; it is a matter of getting to know your horse.
- Supplements - These are a great option, as they can be introduced and/or taken away from the diet as need dictates, whilst keeping your core daily feeding routine unaltered. Look for those containing Magnesium Oxide. This is one of the ingredients Dodson & Horrell Be Calm Balancer contains to help promote calm behaviour.
- Herbs – These are a popular choice for owners who would like to give all-natural ingredients to their horses to promote calm behaviour. Herbs like Vervain, Lemon Balm, Chamomile, and Lavender have all been described as having a calming effect. Herbs have been used in Dodson & Horrell formulations for many years, and our herbal blends have become very popular for specific concerns. If you horse is generally over excited then Placid may be most suitable, however, if you have a specific behavioural problem like rig behaviour, Perfect Gentleman might be a better choice. Stroppy Mare is the equivalent option for a mare that needs support of her hormones and sensitive behaviour.
- Forage - It is always worth considering forage sources and their possible effects on your horse. The first time you turn out on fresh grass will always get your horse over excited (the energy and sugar content in grass can jump quite alarmingly in Spring). The use of haylage over hay can also potentially stimulate over excited behaviour if the energy content is fluctuating from bale to bale. The grasses used to make hay and the respective cutting can also influence energy and therefore behaviour of the horse. Sweet green hay for example will contain significantly more sugar than second cutting, dry, one-year old meadow hay. To learn more about your hay, consider speaking with our Nutritional Helpline, who can arrange forage testing through our Dodson & Horrell laboratory.
Remember to consider all the food that is going into your horse, and to seek professional advice if you have questions. Our Nutrition team can help and are available on livechat during working hours at www.dodsonandhorrell.com.