There’s nothing worse than riding a horse that is having a complete melt-down on the trail or in the show ring. A change in your horse’s diet can be part of a management plan to encourage calmer nerves and help him focus.
A horse’s body strives for a balance of glucose (a simple sugar) in the blood. After a meal, the concentration of blood glucose, a primary energy source, rises. In order to bring glucose levels back to normal after a meal, insulin is released by the pancreas. Insulin tells the body to store the extra glucose in the muscle and liver. Meals high in sugar and starch keep glucose levels elevated for a longer period of time after the horse has finished eating. The hormone cortisol, sometimes known as the “stress hormone,” can also increase blood glucose concentration. Cortisol increases naturally in response to a stressor, such as exercise or something scary on the trail as part of the horse’s “fight or flight” response, giving the horse a burst of energy to do work or to flee the potential danger.
In order to evaluate and support your horse’s quiet behavior with nutrition, be sure to look at the amount of sugar and starch in the total diet of your horse, including the grain and forage from both hay and pasture. Horses do need sugar and starch in their diet for normal everyday metabolism, but a small reduction may help reduce excitability and reactiveness.
Meals with high fat concentration (8-10%) and controlled starch and sugar (below 20%) can help keep blood glucose levels from spiking too high while supporting consistent behavior. If your horse consumes a grain concentrate, break the ration up into smaller, more frequent meals (at least two-three meals per day).
For performance horses or a hard-keeper, try a product with higher levels of fat and fiber, such as EQ8™ Gut Health, EQ8 Senior, SAFE 'N EASY™ Performance, SAFE 'N EASY Senior, CADENCE™, CADENCE Ultra, TRIFECTA™, or adding a fat supplement such as ULTIMATE FINISH™ 25, 40, 100.
If you have questions about your horse's diet and behavior, contact us today.