Grand Meadows Cares Series: Is Your Horse Naughty or Nice?

by Nikki Alvin-Smith

As much as we love our horses there are times when they give us trial as well as tribulation.

The first time a horse offers up misbehavior is rarely the last, and figuring out whether the equine is being truly naughty and taking the route of least resistance or is experiencing a mental or physical health concern is not always straightforward.

Stressed horses create stressed riders and vice versa. The quick fix for some trainers is to opt for an antidote that can be administered to calm a horse quickly and effectively. The equine supplement market is stacked full of pastes and pellets that claim to resolve the issues of nervousness and anxiety in the horse. Trouble is, while the use of such products can have a positive affect short-term depending on the underlying cause of the errant behavior, the naughty horse suddenly made nice shouldn’t calm the horse owner’s level of anxiety in why the animal was behaving badly in the first place.

Any new unwanted behavior a horse exhibits should be treated with suspicion and a vet visit is likely a good first option before you dive into the medical cabinet for a calming supplement. There are obviously different degrees of negative equine behavior, ranging from the most dangerous like biting, kicking, rearing, bucking and bolting to pinning ears, grinding teeth or simply refusing to eat or stand still.

Equines that exhibit bad behavior when working under saddle should always be checked for saddle and bit fit, and a consult with a knowledgeable trainer can often reveal unintentional poor horsemanship habits either on the ground or in the saddle by the horse’s owner/rider as a cause for equine distress. Certain horse care routines can also add to the likelihood of a horse exhibiting bad behavior. Lack of exercise, too much grain in their diet, or change in routine or environment.

Key ingredients of magnesium, L-theanine and thiamine play essential roles in supporting horse’s mental health. A horse that offers a spook at every turn, or one that holds muscle tension and behaves nervously or an animal that simply finds it difficult to focus and stay relaxed is likely in need of rebalancing its nutrient uptake. But before you determine it’s time to add a liberal sprinkling of these to your horse’s diet have their levels measured, because random supplementation with any supplement makes little sense and can actually be a critical error.

As a professional trainer and competitor at FEI level I’ve seen horses bounced from competitions due to unfortunate incidents of adding a calming supplement to a horse’s diet that contains illegal calming ingredients. It is worth noting that the three key nutritional components mentioned above are all FEI legal and are exempt from FEI restrictions. If you participate in any rated competition then the nutrient based calming agents are your only option. But outside of that restriction, the calming supplements on offer are seemingly boundless.

The myriad of horse calming products available on the market can be a minefield to navigate for even the savviest of horse folks. Alongside nutrient based calmers, herbal formulations are often blended together to provide tonics to mitigate the naughty behavior of the horse. Herbal calmers commonly include chamomile, vervain and valerian, and an array of other herbs all theoretically beneficial for calming the anxious horse.

As the results of utilizing an equine calming product can take as long as 6 weeks to evaluate, there is no point in switching from one to another on a short-term basis. It is best both financially and emotionally to do your homework at the outset and make an educated choice before settling on one particular product.

Moody mares, miscreant stallions and grumpy geldings can all be treated successfully with the appropriate horse calming product that is administered after an accurate diagnosis of the cause for their particular issue. Use caution when it comes to treating mares and utilize expert advice from your veterinarian before jumping to conclusions about hormone imbalances.

Knowing when to use a horse calmer, how to use it and what ingredients to look for comes down to a good dose of common sense and a realistic approach as to how you can expect a product to perform. And even after you’ve sorted all that out, there is always the risk of not administering the correct quantity of the calmer or the horse avoiding its ingestion, or of an error occurring in following the right timeline for the product’s administration.

Another often overlooked variable is does the product you’ve so carefully selected actually include what it says it does in the amounts it claims and is the horse calming supplement cost efficient. Don’t forget to check for that NASC seal of approval before clicking that ‘add to cart’ button.

If you need help sorting through the horse calming supplement market, and most of us do, reach out to an expert. By watching this video fireside chat, you’ll invest several minutes of your time and learn more than many horse folks know about how, what and when to use a horse calming supplement with a frank and honest account from veteran supplement manufacturer, Nick Hartog.

Once you’ve figured out whether your horse is just being naughty, or more likely is just not able to be nice, (and with a bit of help you will), both you and your horse will sigh deeply with relief.

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 About Grand Meadows: Founded in 1989 by visionary Angela Slater, Grand Meadows is a leading horse health product and equine supplement manufacturer driven by the guiding principle of providing affordable, extremely high-quality science-backed horse products to help ensure horses look and feel their best.

For the past 35 years the company’s mission has been honored and developed further, by President Nick Hartog, who among other accomplishments is one of the founding members and current board member of the National Animal Supplement Council (NASC), an organization that has a profound impact on the safety, transparency, and legitimacy of the animal supplement industry.

Grand Meadow products are widely used and trusted across the entire horse community from Olympic medal winning competitors and successful horse racing trainers to backyard horse owners. Their equine supplements are highly regarded for their excellent quality resourced ingredients and completely accurate labelling and effective formulations. Learn more at

Grand Meadows, Orange, CA
Media Contact:
Tel: 607 434 4470

Photos are available on request.

About Nikki Alvin-Smith:
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Grand Prix Dressage
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