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It’s spring, and it’s not just our metabolism that’s waking up – the horses are also starting to enjoy themselves again. That’s good news for your retired horse, whose arthritis now troubles him less and who even dares to take a few trotting steps. However, if you have a younger horse with a spirited temperament, and springtime is exacerbating this, it can become unpleasant or even dangerous.

Horses typically don’t realise that a human is more fragile than their equine companion. Occasionally, during lunging, a horse may kick in the direction of the human out of sheer exuberance, or it might even rear while being led or ridden because it struggles to contain all its energy.

Reduce excess energy

There may be cases where you would like to reduce the temperamental peaks a little. There are various options available.

Naturally, it’s always preferable if horses can expend their excess energy through increased exercise. However, the pastures in most stables remain closed for good reasons, and not everyone has the time or opportunity to exercise their horse extensively, either under saddle or loose.

Various dried herbs and herbal tinctures
Herbs can be incorporated into horse feed to achieve a calming effect. © Adobe Stock / yanadjan

What is calming?

Herbal mixtures

One way to somewhat mitigate their behaviour is by providing them with herbs known for their calming effects. There are several natural remedies that can help temper a horse’s behaviour, ranging from the well-known valerian to hops, more commonly associated with beer brewing but also possessing calming properties. Herbs typically exhibit better efficacy when combined in mixtures rather than when administered individually. Various herbs also operate through distinct mechanisms within the body, and by using a mixture, you can address the issue from multiple angles, so to speak. An example of a good herbal mixture for this purpose is OKAPI Calming Herbs, which most horses also consume readily.


Hemp is also favoured for its high CBD content, known to have a calming effect on horses.
In this case, it’s essential to ensure that the entire CBD-rich hemp plant is processed, rather than just the press residue from hemp oil production commonly found in most hemp pellets. These residues have minimal calming effects and are instead high in fat and protein, potentially leading to weight gain.

CBD (cannabidiol) is the non-psychoactive compound found in hemp. Not only has it been demonstrated to have a pain-relieving effect, but studies on mice have also indicated its potential for anxiety relief and calming effects, although the precise mechanism of action remains incompletely understood. While authorisation for CBD oil as animal feed was withdrawn without justification, hemp may still be legally sold as animal feed at present. Hemp products are available from various manufacturers, but it’s important to ensure that mainly young leaves and flowers from female hemp plants are used, as these contain the highest CBD content.

The fruits of the hemp plant, hemp seeds or hemp nuts, contain up to 35% fat and are therefore often utilized as fatty acid supplements. However, their CBD content is not significant. Similarly, hemp oil pressed from hemp nuts or pellets, which are the residue from oil extraction, also contains practically no CBD. There are online shops where you can purchase loose hemp flowers and leaves, which can be infused and consumed as tea. Although somewhat more expensive than other hemp products, using hemp flowers and leaves requires much less per day due to their significantly higher active ingredient content compared to processing the whole plant, for example.

CBD products (oil, capsules) and hemp leaves, seeds on a table


However, there are also horses whose behaviour doesn’t typically reflect spring-like excitability, and even after becoming excited, they may not calm down easily. In these cases, the behaviour may be linked to either a magnesium deficiency or low serotonin levels in the brain. Magnesium and tryptophan (a precursor of serotonin, which is converted as needed) can be administered to counteract this and restore behavioural balance. While magnesium and tryptophan may not have the same overall calming effect as herbs or hemp, they can help horses calm down more quickly after excitement. You can get magnesium and typtophan combined, for example, as OKAPI Relax.

Administering brewer’s yeast should be avoided, as while it may have a sedative effect on many horses, it can adversely affect the environment of the large intestine and lead to dysbiosis (incorrect fermentation).

With a bit of soothing herbal support and a bit more exercise – the longer evenings and the warmer weather are finally inviting – we should all navigate our furry friends’ springtime excitement safely and well.

More on this topic: What for what? Calming Herbs vs. Relax