Horses can experience stress for various reasons. This may be due to a move, incorrect (feed) management or, for example, a traumatic experience. One horse is also more sensitive to stress than the other. There are also horses that are a bit spooky during work and often have trouble with the so-called "arena gnomes". Many horse owners then turn to a magnesium supplement, because this would be the solution. But is that true? Is magnesium the panacea for stress?
Different kinds of stress
Horses can experience different types of stress. You can divide these forms into 2 groups: short-term stress & chronic stress. If the horse is startled by an unexpected situation, found a trailer ride exciting or was tense during a competition, then there is short-term stress. The horse has experienced stress, but can quickly let it go and continue with "normal" life without being bothered by it for a long time.
With chronic stress, there is long-term stress in the body, which causes the horse to go into a kind of survival mode for a long period of time. This can be due to a traumatic experience, the death of a buddy who cuts in or wrong management. For example, if a horse is not housed according to its needs, it can cause chronic stress. This stress gets into the cells and can also cause physical problems such as stomach ulcers and muscles that are constantly under tension.
Look at the circumstances first
Does your horse experience stress? First find out what the reason is. Is it the character that makes him a bit shivering or did something happen that could explain his behavior? Is your horse getting the right (amount of) food? Standing without food for a long time also causes stress! Is your horse not outside enough and can your horse not stand in the stable?
Once you have found out the reason for the stress, you can start looking for a solution. Sometimes this may mean that the stable policy (of the retirement stable) does not suit your horse and that it needs to be changed. Sometimes it is character and we as a horse owner need to learn to deal with it and to steer it in the right direction. But only when you know the reason can you start to see whether a supplement against stress will be functional. However, it is important to assume that a supplement is not a permanent solution, it is a tool, the stress factors must always be removed!
Magnesium only functional in case of deficiency!
Magnesium is an important mineral involved in many different processes in the body. For example, it plays an important role in the relaxation of muscles and in the transmission of nerve impulses. For that reason, magnesium is also often used in horses that experience stress. It is therefore regularly recommended by therapists, instructors, etc. Horse owners often purchase a magnesium product, but as soon as the jar is used up, there is no difference with the horse. And that can be right! Magnesium supplements can be very functional during stress, but really only when there is a magnesium deficiency. In the case of a magnesium deficiency, the transmission of nerve impulses is less effective and the muscles “cramp”. Horses then become more visible and frightened. Magnesium is fantastic for these horses, because the deficiency is solved so that the horse can relax again and the stimulus transfer goes well again. These horses therefore benefit from a magnesium supplement.
Use blood results as a guideline, not as a fact!
Keep in mind that a blood test is a snapshot. The amount of magnesium in the blood does not give a very good picture. It is possible that the horse has sufficient magnesium in other tissues, but at the time of the blood test has not "released" this into the blood. The other way around is also possible! It may be that the horse has released all of the magnesium into the blood, but has none left in other tissues. This horse actually has a magnesium deficiency, but according to the blood count, there is nothing wrong. Therefore, use blood results as a guideline, but also keep a close eye on your horse's behavior!
But which supplement do I give my horse with stress?
There are different types of stress relief products available. Would there be products based on herbs (passion flower and chamomile), based on clove extract and, of course, magnesium. Below is an explanation when you use what:
- Herbal supplement: passion flower and chamomile provide more focus and provide relaxation. You use these products in horses that experience short-term stress. So at the farrier, competition, dentist and transport. It is also a great product to use with horses that are going to be trained or that are a bit nervous in a new stable.
- Clove extract: cloves contain cannabinoids and these provide balance in body and mind. A product based on clove extract provides more inner peace and removes stress from deep within the cells. This is therefore good to use in horses with traumatic experiences or chronic stress. The death of a buddy can be a traumatic experience for horses and then cloves work very well!
- Magnesium: Ensures relaxation of the muscles and better stimulus transfer. Only has an effect in case of stress if the stress is caused by a magnesium deficiency. Is your horse explosive? Or does it regularly go out of its picture? These horses consume more magnesium and during such a burst they use up all the magnesium in their muscles. These horses often benefit from the addition of extra magnesium.
Is there no point in giving magnesium at all?
Magnesium is certainly useful to give! It is an extremely important mineral for many processes in the body. We definitely recommend giving extra magnesium on a regular basis. Feed a magnesium cure to make up for any deficiencies, because concentrates and roughage unfortunately do not contain enough. And in horses with stress due to a magnesium deficiency, magnesium is also very useful!
Choose the right form of magnesium, we always prefer a magnesium chelate, this form is very easily absorbed by horses, especially in liquid form!