Last Updated on March 8, 2022 by Allison Price
This question is asked several times per week. I decided to expand on it! Whether your horse is on rest with hand walking, gets anxious during trailering/farrier/veterinary visits, or needs some edge taken off for riding- there are literally hundreds of options to try! Let’s begin with the calmers. They are arranged by efficacy.
For horses that require mild calming effects, I will recommend either a magnesium-rich or herbal product with tryptophan. You can also mix Thiamine/Vitamin B1 with other ingredients. Mare’s Magic is another alternative made from raspberry leaf extract. Surprisingly, I’ve had excellent results with geldings. As with many of the options below, these substances are not all show-safe. Make sure you check your horse show regulator’s list for prohibited substances. Follow the instructions carefully if you are using a paste to ensure that there is enough time for the activity. It’s much more difficult to get horses to calm down if they become anxious or excited.
I will be using Platinum Gentle to calm horses who are in stall rest. Silver Tranquility is the next level for nervous horses. These are expensive options but can prevent further injury or avoid an accident.
Cannabis therapy with hemp products is a rapidly growing market. Cannabidiol (CBD), seems to be very well-received by horses in situations of severe anxiety. It is a safe and effective alternative to sedatives. We’ll talk about it next. A Hemp paste for horses is another option by VetCS. You should be aware that some hemp products may contain THC. Make sure to get CBD products from a trusted source such as USEF/FEI.
Let’s move to prescription-based products. Zylkene is a very reliable and effective calming product. This milk protein product is extremely effective. It takes less than 24 hours for the effects to begin. Although this can prove costly for horses with nervousness, it is a reliable option. Although Prozac and other medications such as Gabapentin or hydroxyzine can provide calming effects, it is not the primary mechanism of action. Don’t give magnesium intravenously to horses to calm them. This route can pose serious risks!
Because they are tranquilizers, the last group of medications is reserved for horses with anxiety. Acepromazine, which can be administered IV, IM or by mouth, is the most popular injectable sedative. It takes between 30-40 minutes to deliver the drug before it can be activated, just like an oral paste. Higher doses will cause some ataxia or unsteadiness. SediVet, which is Romifidine hydrochloride, is another short-term injectable drug. However it’s very difficult to obtain right now. Ace produces a less reliable sedation and causes less ataxia. Although there are many long-term tranquilizers available for horses, they can pose a significant risk. The long-term effects of sedatives on horses can have a significant impact on neurologic behavior. Horses will need to endure severe side effects for at least 1-2 weeks. These long-term sedatives are rarely used. However, it can be difficult to determine if a horse was given one of these medications. A drug screen is an important tool for determining if your horse has been administered any of these drugs.
This is why I felt this topic was important. There are so many options! We are always happy to answer your questions about safe ways to calm your horse. We wish you a happy trail!
I’m Allison, born and raised in San Diego California, the earliest memory I have with horses was at my grandfather’s farm. I used to sit at the stable as a kid and hang out with my Papa while he was training the horses. When I was invited to watch a horse riding competition, I got so fascinated with riding!