There are many supplements on the market that are said to affect stress in horses. Many of these supplements are based on magnesium or herbs. For the correct effect it is important to choose the right supplement (s) for the right situation. In this article we explain the difference in effect of stress supplements based on magnesium and herbs.
What is the effect of Magnesium
Magnesium plays a role in the nervous system, also called the regulation of nerve impulses. In horses with stress, more magnesium is secreted by the kidneys. But also horses that “explode” regularly use almost all their magnesium. A magnesium deficiency will therefore arise more quickly. If a horse is deficient in magnesium, the horse does not have optimal resistance to stimuli. This manifests itself in nervousness and an inability to relax. A supplement based on magnesium can then ensure that this immune system is rebuilt against stimuli. Magnesium supplements do not take away stress situations, but supplement deficiencies so that the horse can relax better. If the horse still has stress afterwards, magnesium will not remove this stress and it is important to find out where the stress comes from in order to be able to act in a more targeted manner.
Benefits of a magnesium supplement:
- It doesn’t hurt to give magnesium for a longer period of time
- Strengthens the nervous system of horses, making them better able to deal with stress
- Relaxing effect on muscles
- Supports stiff and / or tense muscles
- Supports laminated horses
- Doping free
Cons of the magnesium supplement:
- Does not relieve stress if not caused by a magnesium deficiency
- Works up to a certain height (makes up for the shortage).
- Some horses don’t want to eat it.
- If there is no shortage, magnesium will have no effect on nervousness and anxiety.
- Longer processing time. It takes some time for the immune system to build up and so it works in stressful situations.
- Magnesium is not absorbed into the body if it is given in combination with a calcium-rich diet.
- There are many cheap varieties of magnesium supplements that are not properly absorbed by the body (magnesium sulfate or phosphate and magnesium dioxide). Choose a supplement based on magnesium citrate or chelate.
What is the effect of anti-stress herbs
Various herbs are known to have a calming effect. Some of these herbs also have a narcotic effect. That is why it is important to look at which supplement is best for each situation. A supplement based on narcotic herbs is not recommended for horses that are nervous at competition, but for horses that are under stress from the farrier. Always be careful with herbs that have a narcotic effect, horses do get everything that can cause internal stress because the horse cannot physically respond to it. Below an overview of the herbs with effect:
- Chamomile: Has a calming, calming, anti-spasmodic, analgesic and anti-inflammatory effect.
- Passion Flower: Scientifically shown to have a calming effect. In addition, relaxes the nervous system, cramps muscles and is analgesic.
- Hop: Calming effect
- Agnus cactus: harmonizing effect on the (female) hormone balance
- Red Clover: Calming, estrogenic effect
- Valerian: Has an anti-spasm effect on the nervous system and can be used for stress, overload and anxiety.
- Thyme: Calms the nervous system
Benefits of herbs:
- Fast effect so you can give it on time if you know that a stressful situation is coming.
- Continue where magnesium ‘stops’.
- Some herbs are extremely suitable for nervous horses at competition such as passion flower because they are not narcotic.
- It is 100% natural
- Overdose is not possible
Disadvantages of herbs:
- Doesn’t take away all stress
- Some horses don’t want to eat it
- A number of herbs (including valerian) are not allowed at competitions
Conclusion difference between the effect of magnesium and herbs
The difference between magnesium and herbal supplements is that magnesium supplements prevent the deficiency and thus builds the immune system. If this immune system is optimal and a horse still shows symptoms of nervousness and stress, herbs can offer the solution. Herbs have a calming effect and promote the concentration of horses.
Magnesium supplements do not take away stress situations, but make the horse more resistant to stress to a certain extent. Magnesium deficiency can cause nervousness and inability to relax. Is your horse often nervous? Feeding magnesium for a while can make him more resistant to stress. But it makes no sense to do this only at certain times, such as before a competition or a farrier visit, because magnesium has a long-term effect.
In that case, it is better to give a supplement based on passion flower. Passionflower ensures that the nervous system relaxes and stimuli can be absorbed well. Horses can concentrate better. HELTIE Horse Stress is such a supplement based on Passionflower, Hop, Agnus cactus and Camomile. Ideal for competition horses because it has a calming effect, but is not sedative. You can give it short-term (2 days in advance) or a lower dose for a longer period. For questions and advice, please contact our customer service. Our experts are happy to help you!
Of course it is also important to find out the reason for stress and towork on that. Stress can also arise from incorrect nutrition, incorrect housing or, for example, overtraining.