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Pleun Broeren
11 maart 2024 Reading time 2 minutes

Stress in horses: tips for more relaxation

Of course, we all want the best for our horses but, sometimes, it is impossible to
avoid stress or a stressful situation. Read more about stress here, how to recognise
the signs and what you can do to help your horse relax more.

What is stress?

Stress is a state of psychological tension and pressure and stems from a situation of
unpredictability and uncontrollability. In horses, as in humans, we know two different forms of
stress: acute and chronic stress. Acute stress is short-term; in particular, it is the body's
rapid response to a 'dangerous' situation. Chronic stress is long-term and can even be
detrimental to your horse's health in the long run.

Recognising stress signals in horses

There are several signals horses give off the moment they experience stress. There is a
difference between acute and chronic stress. With acute stress, the moment your horse is
startled or finds itself in an unknown 'dangerous' situation, your horse will naturally want to
flee; after all, horses are flight animals. You will also notice that the heart rate and breathing
become higher which may cause your horse to sweat and tremble. Thirdly, your horse may
start defacating (sometimes even diarrhoea) or urinating more often.
Horses that experience chronic stress are often lean and more likely to suffer from stomach
ulcers. In addition, long-term stress can also manifest itself in barn vices, such as weaving,
air sucking and cot biting. Performing these stable vices produces endorphins which have a
calming and narcotic effect.

Tips to reduce stress in horses


  • Sufficient roughage

The more a horse chews, the better it is. So make sure your horse has plenty of roughage
available when he is stressed, preferably unlimited. Also at night! If you fear your horse will
get too fat, use a hay net with small holes or a slow feeder. Besides reducing stress,
chewing on roughage is also healthy for the stomach and digestion.


  • Free movement

In the wild, a horse moves day and night. This is different from an hour's workout with you.
Quiet free movement is important for his health. Grazing is the most pleasant way for a
horse to encourage this. If that is not possible, a dry paddock or a large walking stable is an
alternative. To prevent your horse from standing in a corner, you can offer roughage in
different places.


  • Social contact

A horse is a herd animal. Contact with conspecifics is very important to him. If he is denied
this, it can cause stress.

Supplements for nervous and tense horses

Besides satisfying a horse's basic needs (roughage, free exercise and contact with
conspecifics), you can provide extra support for relaxation with a supplement for stressed
and nervous horses. Some horses are naturally sensitive and easily stressed and benefit
from structural support. For these horses, Pavo NervControl can provide a solution. But
there are also horses that only find unfamiliar or unexpected situations (very) stressful. Think
for instance of a visit to the farrier, dentist or vet. Also an outside ride, going to a competition,
training on a strange terrain or even windy weather can cause some horses stress to a
greater or lesser extent. Pavo BeChill works quickly (within half an hour to two hours) and
has been specially developed to ‘take the edge off’ in occasional situations, without making
your horse sleepy.

Pavo BeChill vs Pavo NervControl

  Pavo BeChill Pavo NervControl
Application For occasional stressful situations For generally stressed or nervous horses
Effect Instant effect Long-term effect, for structural support
Form Liquid Small pellets

Magnesium reduces stress in horses

Magnesium is an important ingredient when it comes to reducing stress in horses.
Magnesium makes your horse more resistant to stress. This works both ways: the moment
the body is exposed to stress, it consumes extra magnesium. On the other hand, a
magnesium deficiency makes the body more susceptible to stress. This increases the
magnesium deficiency even more and you end up in a vicious circle. Furthermore, a horse
cannot produce magnesium itself. It is therefore important that, especially for stress-sensitive
horses, there is always enough magnesium in the feed. Both Pavo NervControl and Pavo
contain, amongst other things, magnesium to make your horse more resistant to
stress (in certain situations).

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