Feeds for Hot, Nervous, Fizzy, Excitable, Temperament in horses
Horses that are stressed, excitable or nervous can be difficult and even dangerous to ride and handle. What causes a horse to be ‘'fizzy" or hot'? Is a "cool" diet the answer for excitable equines?
One of the major causes of excitable, hot behaviour is overfeeding with high energy, highly digestible "hot" feeds, or more particularly, high NSC feeds. Feeding "cool" (low NSC) feeds has been shown to be effective in calming nervous horses
The Stance Equine Feeding System outlines several low NSC feeds. These feeds include
- CoolFibre contains a low NSC (7%), high level of digestible fibre, which can be used to dilute the energy content of the diet.
- CoolStance contains <12% NSC, which reduces the amount of fermentable sugars. CoolStance contains 8% oil, and digestible fibre, which provides non NSC energy for performance.
- GoStance contains 23% NSC, and has been formulated to provide a balanced supply digestible energy for "fast" energy and "endurance" energy. GoStance is for high activity horses including dressage, racing, harness, polo, polocrosse, eventing and endurance.
- CoolStance and PowerStance contain medium chain triglycerides (MCT) in the coconut oil
Causes of Excitable Temperament.
Various factors can contribute to excitability in horses. Diets high in sugar and starch (NSC) - found in some pastures, feeds and cereal grains are the major cause of hot, excitable horses. Overfeeding and under work are some of the main causes of hot behaviour.
Housing conditions and level of exercise also affects temperament and behaviour of horses. When confined to stables, yards and paddocks, exercise and mental stimulation are limited; horses become bored, sometimes causing vices, excitable and even aggressive behaviour. Exposure to stressful situations and inappropriate training techniques can further exacerbate the problem.
Numerous supplements are available that claim to have calmative actions, and contain the amino acid Tryptophan .
Better dietary design is a practical way of managing equine excitability. Feed to the exercise level of the horse, and don't overfeed. Due to the association between high grain (high NSC) diets and hot behaviour, feeding low grain diets is one of the secrets to success. If the diet simply contains too much NSC energy, it should be modified so that horses' energy needs are met but not exceeded. Be really honest with yourself about this, and only feed for the level of work the horse is actually doing, and not for the workload you aspire to. Diets should be formulated to contain less than 20% NSC, and grain should be replaced with stabilised oil. Remember the treats...they also contain high levels of energy!
Nutrition of the Modern Horse
Calmatives for Horses: A Review of L tryptophan