Many riders and trainers have resorted to the use of chemical sedatives and tranquilizers to calm their horses, but not only are these products often illegal to use in competitive situations, they can damage the horse’s overall health and well-being.
Judiciously used herbs are a far better alternative for treating the nervous horse, as they often effect a permanent change in temperament, and many are ‘legal’ for competition.
Herbs nourish, strengthen and rebalance the nervous system so that once an anxious horse calms down he no longer reacts to things around him. The actions of sedatives and tranquilizers on the horse’s nervous system are completely different, as they simply block nervous system responses for as long as the drug remains in the horse’s system. This is why they are a ‘one-time fix’ instead of an overall cure.
In a nervous horse, a tranquilizer will dull his reactions and make him physically unable to jump around. The right herb will mean the nervous horse will no longer want to jump around.
In dealing with nervous disorders, there are no ‘magic’ quick fixes. In treating a horse that has a nervous temperament, it’s very important to look at the horse’s whole history – both health and past experiences – such as training, traumas, etc. This gives us the information to combine herbs and other treatments – such as homeopathy, nutrition, and perhaps even a change in training regime or routine – to bring the horse’s whole metabolism back into balance.
Treating the whole horse rather than a specific nervous disorder is important because there is a very close relationship between how a nervous system reacts and responds, and how the horse’s whole metabolism functions.
For example, an imbalance or nervous system disorder can affect the horse’s digestive efficiency, thyroid balance, liver function, spleen function, respiratory efficiency, blood quality, and immunity to infection. These aspects of the horse’s metabolism must all be brought into balance in order for a treatment of serious nervous system problems to be truly effective and long lasting. This is where the advice of a professional herbalist is invaluable in prescribing a comprehensive treatment for each individual case.