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thesugarlady

Anxiety Medication For Horses

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So, if you've seen my messages on the training boards, some of you know I'm dealing with a horse who becomes VERY anxious VERY quickly and VERY easily. He just seems to mentally overload himself, then check out mentally.

I just called the vet, and am expecting a call tomorrow morning so that we can discuss options, but in the mean time, can anybody give me any experience with anti-anxiety medicine for horses?

Cost is another question. I'm willing to try medicine at this point, if it doesn't cause me to go broke.

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Before you go that route, have you tried the Calm and Cool?

Calm & Cool

I used to give it to Blue starting 4 weeks before we went on a week long trail ride for his anxiety. He would get anxious and quit eating and drinking away from home. Would cause himself to tie-up. It worked wonderfully for him.

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Hmmmmmmm, at this point, I'm game for ANYTHING that doesn't cause harm.

I even had him on magnesium, after doing some research, I didn't notice much difference, but I think that only works if the horse is short on magnesium to begin with.

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Sure there is anxiety medication for horses -- it's called Ace Promazine. I use it pretty frequently for some things. From the way your horse rides (obedient but just wanting to cover more ground), I am sure it would work very well.

Now, before everyone jumps down my throat, let me explain how and when I use it and explain what it will and won't do.

It is quite simply a tranquilizer and works on a horse's brain just like most anti-anxiety drugs do for people. To use it for this, you want to give a horse only 1/2 to 3/4 cc at the most and give it orally about 30 minutes beofre you plan of riding. A full dose, when a Vet uses it as a tranqualizer, is usually 4 or 5 cc for a 1000 to 1200# horse.

It is not going to help you 'train' your horse, but will slow down his mind and his feet for about 4 hours. I use it on some of my fast walking trail horses. It will relax them just enough that they quit walking up of the horse in front of them. The danger of them carrying a green, inexerienced rider on the heels of the horse in front of them creats a much greater risk of them being kicked. If I direct he rider to "Keep a horse length between you and the horse in front of you", they just pull incesantly on the reins and get the horse on the muscle even worse. So, it is very simple to give the horse 1/2 cc of Ace and it will ride slower and more relaxed.

I have done this with a horse now and then for over 30 years and have never had a adverse result. At that low dose the horse does not stumble or drag its feet. It is just a lettle less ambitious and is happy going a little bit slower that it ordinarily does.

Most of the cutting and reining trainers do the same thing with 'flighty' horses with 'big motors' rather than cripple them by having to ride them for hours before a big class. It is perfectly legal in the NCHA and NRHA.

Some horses just have bigger motors than others. Some horses are 'workaholics'. They are a lot happier with a tiny bit of ACE than they are with a rider pulling on them non-stop.

We get full (30cc) bottles from our Vet. He has no problem at all with us giving small doses to slow some horses down. He also thinks it is a lot better than anything else to keep a horse from getting itself or its rider kicked. He said he know several QH and TB race trainers that do the same thing for the first few rides on a really flighty race colt. Since we only ride horses we raise, I just don't have any horses that I am afraid will bolt or get me or them hurt, so I have never used it for training.

If you use it orally, you have to give it 30 minutes before you start exercising or riding her. It a horse is already hot or excited, it can eiither have an adverse effect or no effect at all. You will have to get it from your Vet and get his blessing. [Any Vet around here would give their blessing. I don't know about the ones where you live.]

There are other drugs out there like Resurpine (long acting) and Dermosodan (short acting), but I don't like either. They are very expensive and I think they are less predictable for riding horses than good ole ACE. ACE costs about $.40 a dose to give it at the low dose we use. Run this past your Vet.

One other thing I would like to mention is that it is very difficult to ride a gaited horse with walk / trot horses. One is always running off too fast or the other one beats a rider to death constantly playing 'catch-up'. We have tried riding them together thinking the gaited horse would help out riders with bad backs and other physical problems, but it created more problems than it helped and we got rid of the gaited ones. The OETRA (Oklahoma Equestrian Trail Riders Assoc.) splits up trail rides so that a group of gaited horse riders rides together and the walk / trot riders ride together.

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Thank you Cheri for the wonderful information. As much as I don't like the idea of using drugs as a crutch, I think that this would be something that could possibly help our situation. At least it would balance the gap in hubby's riding skills and Buck's anxiety issues.

I'm training my mare for a trail obstacle challenge at the end of this month, and I have a lot of obstacles set up for practice. Matt would love to practice and play with my obstacles for fun, but Buck starts to become unglued just walking near them. Could using the ace make him a little less reluctant. to go near and through some of them?

This would help our "acts great on a trail ride, but becomes a nut at home" problem.

Also, would using this during training sessions help him gain confidence with the obstacles, and maybe hopefully develope a better habit of dealing with new things, or would this just be a band aid, only keeping him calm when in use?

As for riding with a gaited horse, I used to think that was a lot of hoopla, until hubby got one, and OMG, you aren't kidding. Thank goodness I don't really like to plod along the trail. I'm more of a fast trotter, loper on the trail. (Always being mindful and respectful of others on the trail of course.) So trotting after the gaited horse doesn't bother me too much, except when Chicky starts to watch Buck for her cue to speed up, instead of waiting on me. Fortunately, that doesn't happen that often, and I slow her back down and make her wait on my command.

But even when he's just walking, he's covering more ground than our little plod along walk.

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I have a gelding that is aggressive and I put him on calm b. Made by dac(feeddac.com) We had a mare at my old barn that we put on it to and she was a different horse! She coliced all the time and since shes been on it shes been fine...we realized later that every time but once she "coliced" when her owner came out to ride...it was never severe just mild gas colic so instead of being ridden she was pampered and babied! Smart girl! She was a bad loader so before we all moved to another facility they doubled her dose for a few days and she was laying down in the middle of the pasture which she never did. I love the stuff and I tell everyone about it! My horse is still mildly aggressive but not half as bad as he was when I got him! Sorry for the rambling its nearing my bedtime! Hope this helps!

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It is not going to jurt a horse in any way. But, it is not going to replace training. I think you can do the obsticle schooling without it. I used to train a lot of Arabians and they can be really high strung. I never needed medication to train them. I just stayed very quiet and calm when I rode them, kept them busy and I tried to keep from pulling on both reins at the same time until they were very well trained.

Well, I guess I look at the limited use of drugs differently than a lot of people do. If it helps the horse, I don't consider it bad. Why should it be any different for them than it is for people. My husband takes anti-depressants and blood pressure medicine. They make him feel better and function better than he does without them. I take medication for my arthritis. It allows me to ride and function a lot more than if I crawled into a corner and was in I too much pain to move, let alone ride.

I know the purists think you should give nothing to a horse like this. But, from the horse's standpoint, don't you think he would be happier if he was not filled with so much anxiety that he was one move from a total break-down. I'll bet he would ask you to 'pass the bottle'.

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LOL Good point. I'm learning to let go of a lot of my "purist" ideas on training and riding here. I have to learn that there are good uses for a lot of things.

Take for instance the running martingale and the mouth closer I now use in our training. Well, I use the mouth closer. hubby rides with the running martingale. I was opposed to both, but I was apposed to what I'd seen people abusing them, not using them correctly. I have since learned that on certain occasions, if used properly, they are great tools for training.

Perhaps we could try to obstacle training after a long, quick paced trail ride. I did notice that when I was going back to the truck to get my camera so hubby could video me riding inbetween two long narrow stacks of hay bales, that hubby was attempting to ride Buck through the same stacks that I had just ridden through. I also saw him go halfway through, then back out. When I got back up to him, i immediately noted the actions, and asked if it was his decision to back out or Buck's. He said that it was his, they were getting stuck and he didn't want the saddle getting damaged.

That impressed the heck out of me, seeing as how we've tried getting him to do similar things at home, and Buck just gets so wild eyed and goofy if you bring him anywere near an obstacle.

So how the heck do I wear the horse's butt down on 23 acres?

BTW...I'm convinced. When the vet calls me back tomorrow, I'll run your suggestion by him. Pass the bottle please. [Jump]

When you're on the ground, not riding him, he really is a sweet, doe eyed guy, and he loves to be around you, sometimes. Just when he sees a bridle in your hand, that's when you see the "hyperness"

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Hey maybe you should try some Mare's Magic it is a natural product that aids in anxiety, calmness, etc. For a small bag it cost 16 dollars. It works for geldings and mares and it works wonders. Put it this way I have a friend who has an Arabian who is very hot. After a couple days of using this she went to her first horse show and was calm, this is not something this mare ever does. You give two full scoops to your horse 1X a day in his food. It looks like leafy green plants, I believe it is raspberry leaves. I give it to my gelding in training, it really has helped take the edge off. I recommend it for anyone.

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Melatonin works, also. Ask your vet about dosage. Comes in pill form, very inexpensive.

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You have stumbled on to what we do for introducing anything new -- do it at the end of a long ride.

That is what I have done for too many years to remember -- probably 45 or so. If I am going to start 'logging' a horse or throwing a lariiat off of one, I will do it at the end of a long ride.

When you do new things that you know might scare a horse when that horse is fresh, he will react with fear. Then, that becomes his response every time he is presented with the same situation. It may take years for him to get 100% over it. But, If you present him with the new scary siituation at the end of a long ride, there is a good chance that it will not upset him at all. Then, it won't be a big deal when he is fresh.

Years ago when I first started training, I loaded up a pretty green 3 year old that had come off of the race track and took him to the county fair arena so I could ride him in a different place. When I got there, the local round-up club was having a practice roping. I thought, "well, since I"m here, I'll just ride around and let him get used to all of the noise and stuff". WROMG!!! The sound of the chute opening and seeing the horses break out and run after the steers blew his mind. He went to leaping and jumping, ran sideways, ran into a fence with me and bloodied my leg. He sweat out and shook like a leaf and became a total basket case. I was months getting him to where I could take him some place like that and was set back weeks in the rest of my training, even at home.

I learned a lesson from that experience. From that day on, I tried to set up hores for success. I started introducing new things after a long ride and not at the beginning when they are fresh.

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Hmmmm, you've given me more to chew on. I guess I'd gotten kind of used to my unusually level headed mare. I can take her to something new, before riding her, and "tiring her out" and she'd be just fine, but she's quite different than most horses.

As for Buck, yeah, I see exactly what you mean. At the very least, it gives me hope. I'll try reworking his training around that new thought.

Update: I talked to my vet. Well, I haven't decided if he's my vet. I've gone to the same vet here for years, and the guy who used to own the practice is WONDERFUL, and a very knowledgable vet. I've never had cause to use the guy who bought his practice (nothing more than shots and floating, and he's not the one that does that), but so far, I've talked to him twice, and we're not seeing eye to eye on most things yet. I think I'm gonna shop around.

I talked to him this morning, and he wasn't gun-hoe on trying the ace. he said it only lasts 45 minutes or so. He said they inject it, and if given orally, it wouldn't do any good what so ever. But the more I pressed, I found out that he doesn't use Ace strait, they mix it, so he's never really had any experience with it straight. I wish I could remember what he mixed it with.

His suggestion was to try something called MAO. Says it usually lasts up to 2 weeks, and you have to administer it every few days or so, depending on the horse. he said it was an anti-psychotic that's used in humans, but it seems to be working in horses. When I asked him how it worked, he said "Well, I don't know how it works, I just know it seems to take the edge off most horses." he said the biggest side effect was diarriah. I told him that I'd like to research it on the web and talk to some people before deciding. He said that it wasn't going to kill or hurt my horse if that's what I was worried about.

I dunno, I'd appreciate somebody who's willing to spend more time answering my questions, like the guy who used to run the practice before.

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I have a horse that is so afraid of fireworks he will injure himself running from them. We live in a neighborhood and have lots of them twice a year. I put him on the Calm and Cool Pellets 2 times a day in his feed (He will eat them out of my hand too) and when fireworks go off at night he just stands and watches them. He is very alert and able to be ridden and handles as usual though. Works like a miracle for my horse. He is usually on it for a few weeks 2 times a year. They do not cost much either. 4 lb bucket is about $20 and last a good while.

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So this calm and cool, is it something I can only use on occassion, like before I know he's going to do something stressful, or can I keep him on it year round without any harmful long-term effects?

Hmmmm, mare's magic for geldings...I'll look into that as well. The only thing I'm concerned about is that, from what I read, a lot of those calming supplements only work if the horse is anxious because he's not getting enough of a vitamin. Of course, that's not to say, he might not be short on something.

I did already try feeding him magnesium for about 3 months, and I don't know if I saw that much of a difference.

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Boy, I think I would be hunting another Vet. This one has little or no knowledge of how ACE works.

Here is just some of the reference material I found on the net.info on Ace Promazine

Acepromazine is normally given by the intramuscular route, taking 30-45 minutes to take effect. It may also be given intravenously (taking only 15 minutes to take effect) or orally. Sedation usually lasts for 1-4 hours, although some horses may feel the effects for up to 24 hours. The standard dose is highly variable, depending upon effect, and is not authorised for use in horses intended for human consumption.

This is just part of whaat it says. They also make ACE tablets for dogs. I guarantee it works exactly the same whether given orally or by shot. They absorb it and it takes effect in 15 to 30 minutes.

Edited by Cheri Wolfe

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TSL - that vet was probably talking about mixing Ace and Rompum. When I worked security for Opryland Theme Park, that's what they would give a couple of the horses before parades. The two that got freaked out about all the noise and weird stuff.

Personally, I always thought they looked doped too. Sure they were more laid back, but I wouldn't have ridden them.

As far as I know, you can feed the Calm & Cool all the time if you want. Or you could just feed it while you are trying to retrain him, then take him off and see how he is.

ETA - As I said, I only fed it to Blue about 3 wks before the trail ride, during the trail ride, then weaned him off after we got home.

Edited by BB Blue

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I feed Calm and Cool for a few weeks at the time during fireworks season and also If we are expecting a really bad thunderstorm I will give a couple of doses before hand Like one that morning and one that night if the storm is coming at night,. Lightning freaks him sometimes and this helps him remain calm. So I use it here adn there as well . I have never used it long term say for monhts on end but it says you can on the bucket. And it must taste good cause my horse is picky and he eats a dose right out of my hand.

PS I tried the Quitex and Vita B1 crumbles (Since I have read that a Vitamin B deficiancy causes nervousness) and neither worked as well as the Calm and C.ool.

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My vet wanted me to use Fluphenazine, but I never did. I used Quietex once and it worked real well. I might have to try the Calm and Cool, especially if it works better than Quietex!

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I have to say that it depends on the horse as to which will work better. I've use both Calm and Cool and Quietex. I was particularly fond of Quietex because it rendered hubby's mare (aka: Super Witch) downright friendly.

Calm and Cool is tryptophan based and Quietex is Valerian based. I find that most horses seem to do better on one or the other. And unfortunately the only way to know is to try both a couple of times.

On Quietex hubby's mare was a love. On Calm and Cool she was freaked out and sweaty. Same situations, identical environments and the same workout. She just does better on valerian products.

Just FYI.

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