By Peter Fishpool of Scientific Nutritional Products
Are you getting prepared for the competition season? Planning a hunter trial, scheduling your final drag hunt, fittening your event horse, or preparing for a leisure or sponsored ride? Whatever your chosen equestrian activity, there’s often the need to travel, which for some horses is a stressor. Plus, the environment at a show or event can cause horses and ponies to become over excitable.
Here are some suggestions to help maintain equine calmness under pressure
If your horse or pony struggles with tension or stress at shows, it is important to remember that all horses are individuals and how you manage them at shows depends on their own unique personalities. Some horses need to be kept ‘on the move’, while others are best left alone.
Walking the horse or pony around or lunging where appropriate may be ideal, while some equines prefer having a companion at shows to boost their confidence.
Always leave yourself enough time when you arrive at a competition to fully prepare your horse without being rushed or becoming stressed yourself. Allow ample time to get ready, tack up and to warm up, as being underprepared with be of significant detriment to your performance. Remember that your horse will sense your own anxiety!
If your horse is displaying fresh, fizzy or bad behaviour at competitions, their diet should always be considered. If you think that food is fuelling the excess energy, this may cause a horse to become frustrated or stressed, so a change could help. Typically research has shown that high-starch diets offering quick release energy can result in a ‘fizzy’ state of mind – a diet rich in fibre and oil may be a better choice.
When travelling, even if it is a short distance, ensure your horse or pony has ample forage on-board your horse box or trailer, and take a spare hay net for whilst he is standing and waiting. When you arrive, always offer your horse a small drink prior to tacking up, and after riding.
It may also be beneficial to feed a horse magnesium calmer in the diet to promote relaxed behaviour at shows. New Calmer Equine from Scientific Nutritional Products contains premium chelated Horse Magnesium, an ‘anti stress mineral’, and B group vitamins which help relax muscles and the nervous system, plus Pre and Probiotics for calm digestive system.