Calm from the Inside Out: The Effect of Fight or Flight Explained


As part of our month focusing on calming products and the mysteries surrounding them, this week, we are looking at how using a calmer can help reduce the effects of the fight or flight response and improve his condition by promoting the efficiency of his digestive system.

It is a well-known fact that stress and digestion are symbiotically related, which means that one directly influences the other. For example, when your horse is stressed, the following physical processes occur within their body to prepare them for the ‘fight or flight’ response which is a natural reaction that has evolved with them over time in the wild:

  • The senses sharpen – pupils dilate to allow for a wider field of vision
  • The hypothalamus stimulates the adrenal cortex to release noradrenaline and adrenaline into the
    When a horse prepares to flee a site of danger, their body must be prepared to perform the 'fight or flight' response

    When a horse prepares to flee a site of danger, their body must be prepared to perform the ‘fight or flight’ response

    bloodstream which influences heart rate and blood pressure

  • Arteries constrict so that blood is transported at a higher velocity to muscles that need it under greater pressure
  • Veins dilate to allow a greater rate of flow of blood to the heart and lungs for re-oxygenation
  • The respiratory system opens up to allow more air through the nostrils, down the windpipe and into the lungs to allow for greater levels of gas exchange to occur whilst preparing to flee
  • Fat from adipose tissue and glucose in the liver is metabolised to provide instant energy sources during the response
  • Blood vessels to the kidney and digestive system are constricted, essentially reducing their ability to function correctly as during the response they are not essential. Also, saliva production is reduced as a result

It is this last point that is highly important when thinking about how stress can affect your horse’s condition as a result of his digestion. If he is constantly on edge, there will always be an element of compromised digestion as there is not going to be the blood flow required to this huge organ to facilitate the levels of nutrient exchange our horses need to remain happy, healthy and in excellent condition.

So How Can a Blue Chip Calmer Help?

To help provide a calmer outlook for our horses, the inclusion of a calmer can be a very cost effective, easy way to help them chill out and make the most of the diet that we provide them with, rather than wasting it on nervous energy.

As mentioned before in our previous feeding features, the L-Tryptophan included is a precursor for the anti-stress hormone Serotonin, and is incorporated to replenish the levels in the brain that are left

It is physically exerting to supply the muscles with enough energy to flee

It is very physically exerting to supply the muscles with enough energy to flee

diminished as a result of the ‘flight or fight’ response. This is because when the horse is preparing to flee a sight of danger, the gut uses large levels of Serotonin to expel blood through vessels to the muscles in the limbs which can compromise digestive ability. By restoring these levels of Serotonin by providing additional L-Tryptophan, gut function can remain efficient and the brain can start to produce the ‘feel-good hormone’ your horse needs to remain cool, calm and collected!

Magnesium is also included due to its close relationship with Calcium and their highly important role in muscle contraction and relaxation. Calcium is required by the horse for the process of muscle contraction and once the contraction is finished, Magnesium floods the cell and forces the Calcium out, helping the muscle to return to its relaxed state. When there is not enough Magnesium in the cell, Calcium can leak back in causing a stimulatory effect and the muscle cannot completely relax, putting the body into a continually stressed state. Also, low Magnesium concentrations make nerve endings hypersensitive, which as a result, exacerbate pain and noise, heightening your horse’s senses unnecessarily.

It is really important to include the correct levels of Magnesium in your horse’s diet as it is such a useful mineral that holds so many benefits when fed. It can also for example, act as a buffer in the stomach to help raise the pH of stomach acids so that damage to the stomach lining in the form of ulceration does not occur; a condition which is commonly associated with stress and anxiety.

To ensure that your horse is obtaining the correct levels of these two highly important dietary components, alongside the levels of vitamins, minerals and nutrients that they need on a daily basis to thrive, feed the new Super Concentrated Calming Balancer. It provides all the benefits of a calmer alongside a high quality source of protein and a probiotic to boost nutrient absorption in the gut where they need it most, by promoting a healthy bacterial balance.

Remember, a horse that is healthy on the inside will be healthy on the outside so take all the steps you can to provide them with quality ingredients that will help them gain and maintain condition and therefore a calmer outlook on life.

The post Calm from the Inside Out: The Effect of Fight or Flight Explained appeared first on Blue Chip Feed | Horse Supplements & Horse Feed Balancers.