It’s a well-known fact that horses, really are not the most predictable of beasts; one minute, they are cool as cucumbers, the next minute, you’re hanging on for dear life whilst being catapulted around the school after your trusty steed has seen a ‘Killer Leaf’. But what’s all the fuss about calmers? Do they actually work? Or is it more of a placebo effect?
Here at Blue Chip, we have spent years developing our range of calmers, using the highest quality ingredients to ensure peace or mind for both horse and rider when stressful situations arrive and we have seen some real success stories which have resulted from using our products.
But how do you know what type of calmer to go for, when to use it and how to feed it? Basically, it is more or less a trial or error situation to find which one your horse responds to best, but here are five common questions we get asked on a daily basis that may help you to choose the correct one and get the most chilled out horse on the yard!
1. What type of Calmers are available?
Calmers are available most commonly in either a liquid or powdered form, however, Blue Chip has developed the Super Concentrated Calming Balancer, which incorporates all the active ingredients of our award winning Karma liquid into a top quality feed balancer so you can ensure they are getting all the benefits of a calmer at the same time as feeding a 100% natural, nutritionally balanced diet.
Liquid calmers are water based and therefore enter the bloodstream faster than their powdered equivalents which have to be absorbed in the gut at a slower rate. Both liquid and powdered calmers require a period of loading, which is usually the feeding of a double dose for around a five day period to allow the active ingredients to become present in the body, before being dropped back to a normal dose.
Calmers can be fed continuously all year round if your horse is easily stressed, or prior to events or periods that may cause anxiety or behavioural changes
2. What are the active ingredients in a Calmer?
Most calmers contain varying qualities of Magnesium and L-Tryptophan, however, Blue Chip incorporates them in their most bioavailable forms so that they are most effective in their action. Magnesium is well known for its calming properties and as we include it in a water soluble form, it is quickly absorbed into the bloodstream, along with L-Tryptophan, which is an amino acid that provides the building blocks for serotonin, a hormone produced by the brain that helps to keep the horse in a settled, relaxed state.
Another effective calming ingredient found in Blue Chip Karma include Vitamin C, which is included in a highly soluble fruit-derived form and acts as an antioxidant that helps to mop up free radicals, protecting the body from damaged caused as a result of oxidative stress from exercise and anxiety inducing situations.
3. When would my horse benefit from a Calmer?
Has your horse got an all-round anxious personality? Is he easily stressed by changes in routine or alterations to diet and environment? If so, he may benefit from the inclusion of a calmer all year round, just to ‘take the edge off’ a touch and help him to be more relaxed in his general persona. This is so easy to do when feeding the Blue Chip Super Concentrated Calming Balancer as it provides the calming benefits of magnesium and L-Tryptohan alongside specifically tailored levels of vitamins, minerals and nutrients to help your nervous horse thrive and gain both condition and confidence daily.
Other horses may only require a calmer in certain situations, for example, is he easily stressed when travelling or in a competition environment but usually laid back at home? If this is the case, an instant calmer such as the Blue Chip Applecalm or Carrotcalm may prove useful as this provides a concentrated dose of our top qualify calming ingredients in one, easy to feed shot that only needs administering an hour before you require its effects – perfect when you need a last minute helping hand!
4. Does feeding a Calmer improve my horse’s condition?
Yes! In humans, when a person is stressed, they may lose weight, look run down and feel miserable, and the same applies to our four legged friends! Horses have very sensitive digestive systems and as stress and digestion are symbiotically related, which means that when your horse is stressed they will see a reduction in their digestive ability, so it is a really important factor to consider. By feeding a calmer to improve your horse’s well-being and general outlook on life, you can be sure that you are benefiting him from the inside out, as a reduction in stress leads to improved gut motility and nutrient absorption as blood flow is diverted to the digestive system, rather than to the muscles ready for the ‘flight’ response that is typically seen in horses and ponies.
5. Are there any ways that I can improve the effectiveness of my calmer by changing my horse’s routine?
Environment plays a big part in achieving that much desired calm, happy horse we all crave, so you can make small, gradual changes to help them cope and deal with situations better over time. Here are a few easy ways you could help to improve your horse’s environment through stressful periods:
Box Rest – long periods or stabling can induce both boredom and anxiety, so introduce stable toys, plenty of forage and do not neglect the importance of grooming and spending time with your horse. Be gentle and calm around him – horses detect the slightest change in mood!
Travelling – Administer an instant calming paste such as Blue Chip Applecalm and practice loading and unloading with plenty of rewards and then slowly build up to short journeys to boost your horse’s confidence. If they have had a bad experience before, they can take a long time to be reassured that yes, everything is going to be ok!
Competitions – The competition environment can be overwhelming for some horses as the confines of a packed arena can make them nervous. Administer your calmer well before the event and try at home to ensure you ride with other people frequently and show your horse there is nothing to be afraid of. Take baby steps – horse don’t like being thrown into the deep end, so even if it means a few trips out just to ride around the collecting ring, everything is a learning curve and will prove beneficial in the long run after your horse has grown in confidence
So, we hope that we have been able to clear up some common calming misconceptions so that you can locate the laid-back Larry that lies within your equine partner this winter. Calmers are very effective when used correctly in conjunction with a calm, relaxed environment, which together can really help your horse on the way to a stress-free happy life that he deserves to lead
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