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Managing Stress in Your Horse


Reducing stress and anxiety in your horse...


As a prey animal, the horse is a creature of flight and will naturally be reactive to unfamiliar sights and sounds around them, despite evolution and domestication. Most horses will generally adapt to their surroundings quickly, as they learn that something they were stressed by, is no longer a threat and therefore their stress response will no longer occur.

The way one horse reacts to stressors will be different to the next horse, as they all have their different, individual personalities. However, this means that some horses do not adapt to new situations as quickly as others.


Chronic stress

Due to the physical and physiological stresses caused be intense training, management and competition, performance horses are often those most susceptible to chronic stress. Long term stress is often regarded as a chronic problem because the hormones released into the body as a result of stress can start to have a negative impact on systems within the body, effecting the digestive and immune system and may lead to fatigue and bad behaviour.

Stress is often measured in a research setting by looking at a horse’s cortisol levels. In response to stress, the adrenal glands within the horse’s body release cortisol. This is a natural stress hormone in animals that can have negative effects on body tissues, including a reduction in the rate of transfer of glucose from the blood stream to muscle tissues and supressing the immune and renal function.



Symptoms of stress

Similarly to humans, the signs of stress can vary greatly between horses. However, often these will include:

Further information on identifying stress in your horse can be found here.


Managing behaviour:

  • Firstly, it is important to rule out pain as a cause for stress or bad behaviour. It is often helpful to have a full health check carried out by your vet to ensure your horse isn’t in pain.
  • Try to identify the specific signs you are seeing and then consider all the management factors that may cause stress in your horse.
  • If it’s just a case that your horse is feeling fresh after a lack or turnout or exercise, generally the simple solution is to provide more turnout and consistent work.
  • Horse’s thrive on routine so try to stick to a manageable routine every day.
  • Ensure your horse has time just to be a horse! This means let him have some down time with his companions and a chance to relax.
  • A balanced, high fibre diet is important. Ensure your horse always has access to fresh water and good quality forage. Behavioural problems are likely to develop when the horse is fed limited forage and an excess of calories.
  • Provide a calmer, such as Feedmark’s Steady-Up to aid concentration in the fizzy or anxious horse.


How can a calmer help?

Today, some horse owners opt to use a calming supplement if they feel their horse’s sensitivity is excessive. Feedmark’s Steady-Up has been scientifically formulated and adapted over the years to deliver the right concentration of calming ingredients to promote quiet, sensible behaviour.

Magnesium is a macromineral that is essential within the horse’s diet to maintain normal nerve and muscle function, as well as maintaining the production of protein and DNA. It is commonly seen in calming supplements due to its role in nerve excitability and muscle contraction. The Cornell University carried out a study and found that the horse needs approximately 5mg of magnesium every day to carry out normal body functions.

Scientists found that when 10g of magnesium was added to a high fibre diet, this reduced the horse’s average reaction speed by more than a third. Without supplementation of magnesium, the horses’ mean response speed was 5.3 meters per second, however with the supplement, it slowed to 3.1 meters per second.



Steady-Up is a unique formulation balancing two types of magnesium with B vitamins to optimise correct nerve impulses and function, the probiotic Yeast to help to maintain a healthy hind gut during stressful periods, and the herbs Chamomile and Lemon Balm. These herbs have been specifically chosen for the calming and soothing effects on the nervous system. Chamomile is commonly used as a relaxant and has been seen to be effective in both nervous and muscular cases, while Lemon Balm contains volatile oils that have been shown to have soothing effects within the body.


Steady-Up is the natural choice to help keep your horse calm, order your tub here today.