HELP FOR AN ANX­IOUS HORSE

EQUUS - - Eq Handson -

Some horses, like some peo­ple, are more anx­ious than oth­ers. Here are some tips for help­ing the per­pet­u­ally tense horse re­lax:

• Ex­er­cise him of­ten. Ac­tiv­ity won’t change a horse’s per­son­al­ity, but it will burn off en­ergy that may be feed­ing his ten­sion and re­ac­tiv­ity. An hour­long ride at least four days a week is ideal and will ben­e­fit him phys­i­cally as well as men­tally.

• Mind his diet. To avoid pro­vid­ing more en­ergy than your horse needs, give him only as much grain or con­cen­trates as are nec­es­sary to main­tain his weight; oth­er­wise, base his diet on a high-qual­ity hay.

• Ex­am­ine his en­vi­ron­ment. A busy barn, with lots of com­ings and go­ings, can set a sen­si­tive horse on edge. If mov­ing to a more laid-back fa­cil­ity isn’t an op­tion, try to cre­ate a smaller oa­sis of calm for your horse by find­ing him a pas­ture­mate he likes or per­haps re­lo­cat­ing him to a stall in the qui­etest part of the barn.

• Pro­vide more turnout. A horse on pas­ture will not only get more ex­er­cise but may also be­come ac­cli­mated to things that make him anx­ious. A horse who lives out­doors isn’t go­ing to mind the sight of wildlife, the rustling of leaves or other dis­trac­tions as much as a stall-kept an­i­mal.

• Con­sider sup­ple­ments. A va­ri­ety of herbal and pheromone-based prod­ucts de­signed to help calm anx­ious horses are avail­able. Con­sult with your vet­eri­nar­ian to see if any might be a good op­tion for your horse.

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