The Nervous Horse - McDowell's Herbal Treatments


Horses can become quite nervous before competing. They can anticipate 'bad things' and lo and behold 'bad things' happen. After being on the mix for a week or so you can slowly begin to re-introduce your horse to the situation that triggers the nervousness, a little at a time so try just leading him around shows for a while and then think about riding.

I have a four part program that works to strengthen the nervous system itself:

1. The Perform-A-Calm formulation nourishes and strengthens the nervous system, allowing you to break into habit patterns and essentially supports re-training. This is given over a course of 3 months or more during which time you introduce your horse to all sorts of new experiences and include exposures to the situations it has problems with randomly throughout the re-training period. This will break into habits and resolve them.

2. The Travel Trauma Mix that contains rescue remedy more comprehensive in that it will assist them to calm down quickly and safely without allowing a situation to spiral out of control and into a stress induced colic or worse. This is really the one to carry for emergencies and is given before, during and after a trip for a horse which reacts badly. The former is to use to get rid of the problem and is given daily as a course.

3. For the actual show day we have a Nervous Episodes Mix, that is begun 48 hours prior to the event. This would be run in conjunction with the nervous rehabilitation for your horses.

4. There is also a homeopathic remedy called Bach Flower-Rescue Remedy. It is available in health food stores and even some chemists. It's great for shock, fright, panic and such and is a great addition to the first aid cupboard for humans and animals. It will stop the panic spiral that you get into and can be used before exams, when you have had an accident, argument or fright. Use a couple of drops in your mouth or for animals just pull out the lower lip and put on a few drops or a squirt. It will work instantly and last about 20-30 minutes so. In times of trauma it can be given frequently for as long as required.

In addition you can also add some Chamomile tea to the feed. 2 dessert spoons of Chamomile flowers to 1 litre of boiling water. 1/2 in the morning feed the rest at night each day. Chamomile is a great calmer and will also soothe the gut if stressed.

Most horses only require 1-2 courses of this mix with perhaps a repeat 12 months down the track.

At home include some chamomile tea in the horse's feed. This is an excellent calmer for horses that are quite gut reactive in their nervousness, e.g. loose manure, colicky, etc. Add 4-6 teabags or 3-4 dessertspoons of the dried flowers to 1 litre of boiling water. Allow to cool and use half for the morning feed and half for the evening feed. This can be given as an ongoing supplement and is also very good for the coat.

You could also include some brewers yeast in the feed that is an excellent source of B vitamins.

It is also a good idea to have a qualified equine massage therapist or chiropractor to check out the horse structurally to make sure all is in balance and to also have your saddle fit checked.


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McDowell's staff Herbalists can not diagnose your disease or illness. What they can do is offer a herbal program to assist with healing, after you have had advice from your doctor or specialist. If you have unexplained pain or symptoms, seek medical advice.

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