Horse calming through the use of a completely natural chelated calcium is beginning to change the mindset of the horse calming industry. Getting the best performance from your horse involves a whole range of different things. Up to now nutritional inputs to performance have mostly dealt with preventing or treating physical problems - like poor joint or muscle function and/or supplying protein and energy in the best possible forms. Such issues are very real, but, up to now, the most important organ in the body – the brain – has been largely ignored.
Nutritional brain support has leaned towards dampening down perceived problems with horse calming nutrients like tryptophan, magnesium and calming herbs. Where diets are deficient in these nutrients products like these work well – though they can be overdone and effectively sedate the horse.
Recent work now strongly suggests that inadequate calcium is actually three times more common than magnesium deficiency and impacts strongly on brain function. Strangely it even seems to occur with horses grazing calcium rich soils like limestone, which says something about the poor bio-availability of calcium carbonate. In fact trials indicate that only a tiny number of horses fed calcium carbonate supplements show improved behaviour and those probably all have acidity related digestive problems.
Chelated calcium is far more effective and can have a profound, positive influence on brain function. These effects do not sedate and only help the horse’s brain to work as nature intended. The result is horses that are less distracted and less tense in dressage. In the show jumping phase they make split second judgments better so helping them to adjust stride length - and they listen to their riders better so maintain rhythm instead of speeding up and flattening. Across country better judgment brings improved safety with horses more likely to respect their rider as well as coping better deciding exactly how to negotiate an obstacle. Finally, horses with adequate bio-available calcium in their diets are far more receptive to schooling so can progress faster and further up the levels.
Sceptics may say that the level of calcium a horse needs is well understood. But actually the science is primarily based on rickets prevention (not brain function) and used calcium sources with low bio-availability such as limestone. Chelated calcium sources seem to be profoundly beneficial to behaviour and performance and should have the added bonus of improved skeletal strength.
The role of calcium in the brain is well understood (see box) but its effect on horse behaviour has not been well studied until recently. Early trials and market place experience suggest that somewhere between 75 and 90% of competition horses could benefit.
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