Here are Six Tips to Help Prevent Stress in Your Horse
Besides being the month of spring showers, April has also been recognized as Stress Awareness Month since 1992. Although the designation refers to human stress, it’s a good time to assess potential stress triggers in horses as well.
While most people recognize that major events such as long trailer rides, training and competition can be stressful for horses, it’s also important to understand the everyday stressors that can have an impact on a horse’s overall stress level.
As fight or flight animals, horses are keenly in tune to their environment. Even what we perceive as subtle changes can potentially increase a horse’s stress level. “Something we don’t think of as a ‘big deal,’ like a change in feeding time, inclement weather, reduced turn-out time or the removal of a pasture mate can cause stress for a horse,” says Sarah Reuss, VMD, Equine Technical Manager, Boehringer Ingelheim.
Keeping stress to a minimum is important because research shows stress can quickly turn into equine gastric ulcer syndrome (EGUS), with one study showing horses can develop stomach ulcers in as few as five days.1
Follow these tips to help avoid creating stress in your horse:
Provide regular turnout.
Turnout provides horses with the opportunity to play, exercise and interact with other horses. Walking also increases gastrointestinal motility.
Stick to a consistent schedule.
Because they are creatures of habit, horses generally do better in an environment where there is routine.
Offer forage 24/7.
A horse’s stomach is producing acid continuously. To help buffer that acid, offer hay utilizing a slow feed hay net or feeder.
Observe and respond to social structure.
New horse in the barn? Or a long-time stall neighbor leaving the barn? Pay close attention to the other horses and their response. Horses have been known to become upset when the social structure changes.
Play Relax Trax in the barn.
Developed in conjunction with an animal sound behaviorist, Relax Trax is a track of music specially designed with the horse in mind. The rhythms and melodies featured in the track were selected for the listening comfort of the horse, including specific pitch, tone and frequencies. Studies show that playing music can help balance equine behavior because it helps mask outside sounds and vibrations, as well as provides a positive and relaxing effect.2
Relax Trax can be downloaded for free at https://equinerelaxtrax.buzzsprout.com/1835303/9061146-equine-relax-trax?t=0.
Use a Prevention Product.
When potentially stressful situations can’t be avoided, use an ulcer prevention product such as UlcerGardÒ (omeprazole). It’s the only ulcer preventative proven to be safe and effective by the FDA.
To learn more about EGUS prevention, visit
ULCERGARD IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION: ULCERGARD can be used in horses that weigh at least 600 lbs. Safety in pregnant mares has not been determined. Not for use in humans. Keep this and all medications out of the reach of children. In case of ingestion, contact a physician.
1McClure SR, Carithers DS, Gross SJ, Murray MJ. Gastric ulcer development in horses in a simulated show or training environment. J Am Vet Med Assoc 2005;227(5):775-777.
2Kedzierski W, Janczarek I, Stachurska A, Wilk I. Massage or music meant to be relaxing, result in lowering salivary cortisol concentration in race horses. Pferdeheilkunde Equine Medicine 2017;33(2):146-151. https://doi.org/10.21836/pem20170206.
Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health
The lives of animals and humans are interconnected in deep and complex ways. We know that when animals are healthy, humans are healthier too. Across the globe, our 9,700 employees are dedicated to delivering value through innovation, thus enhancing the well-being of both.
Respect for animals, humans and the environment guides us every day. We develop solutions and provide services to protect animals from disease and pain. We support our customers in taking care of the health of their animals and protect our communities against life- and society-threatening diseases.
Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health is the second largest animal health business in the world, with net sales of $4.7 billion (4.1 billion euros) in 2020 and presence in more than 150 countries.
Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health has a significant presence in the United States, with more than 3,100 employees in places that include Georgia, Missouri, Iowa, New Jersey and Puerto Rico. To learn more visit www.bi-animalhealth.com, www.facebook.com/BoehringerAHUS or www.twitter.com/Boehringer_AH.
Making new and better medicines for humans and animals is at the heart of what we do. Our mission is to create breakthrough therapies that change lives. Since its founding in 1885, Boehringer Ingelheim has been independent and family owned. We have the freedom to pursue our long-term vision, looking ahead to identify the health challenges of the future and targeting those areas of need where we can do the most good.
As a world-leading, research-driven pharmaceutical company, with around 52,000 employees, we create value through innovation daily for our three business areas: Human Pharma, Animal Health, and Bipharmaceutical Contract Manufacturing.
In 2020, Boehringer Ingelheim achieved net sales of around $22.33 billion (19.57 billion euros). Our significant investment of over $4.2 billion (3.7 billion euros) in 2020 (18.9% of net sales) in R&D drives innovation, enabling the next generation of medicines that save lives and improve quality of life.
We realize more scientific opportunities by embracing the power of partnership and diversity of experts across the life-science community. By working together, we accelerate the delivery of the next medical breakthrough that will transform the lives of patients now, and in generations to come.
ULCERGARDÒ is a registered trademark of Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health USA Inc. Ó2022 Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health USA Inc., Duluth, GA. All rights reserved. US-EQU-0080-2022