Horse Calming Supplements 101: Tips for Low-Stress Strides

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Calm, Cool and Collected​

Horses are perplexing creatures. Some seem unflappable, while others are easily spooked by things like shadows and plastic bags. If your horse leans more towards “flight” in scary situations (like mine does), a calming supplement may be just what the doctor ordered to help your horse calm down and focus.

There are lots of calming aids available, including feeds (to minimize sugars and starch), supplements (created from ‘natural’ elements like vitamins and minerals), and medicines (chemical formulas designed to treat anxiety, available by prescription only).

If all other methods have failed to take the edge off your horse (adjusting feed, forage, and turnout), then a calming supplement could be worth trying.

Always check with your veterinarian before starting your horse on any new supplements.

Calming supplements can come in pastes, powders, and pellets, and can be used either daily or for stressful events (like medical procedures, trailering, or shows).

We’ve provided a solid list of supplement options if you’re not sure where to start (not all supplements will work for all horses, so don’t be afraid to try several out if one doesn’t work).

feed pan with supplements mixed in

Equine feed supplements fed in a warm mash (Blue & Moon Burros)

Calming Supplements Defined​

A calming supplement should help your tense, anxious, or stressed horse calm down. Both calming supplements and calming drugs can achieve this effect, so let’s discuss the differences.

The Difference Between a Drug and a Supplement​

Supplements are extensions of nutrients (like vitamins and minerals), whereas medicines are chemically formulated to treat or cure a disease.

Administration: Some drugs can only be administered by a licensed veterinarian. Supplements can be administered by just about anyone.

Paste supplements may be a bit more challenging, depending on the horse!

Availability: You’ll have to work with your vet to get medications, or drugs, like Banamine, Bute, and Dormosedan gel. You can order supplements online or pick them up at your local feed store.

Claims: Supplements don’t have to prove their claims are true; medicines do.

Regulation: Supplements aren’t regulated (they’re considered safe until proven otherwise). Medicine is, and often has to go through rigorous testing before it’s made available.

bay horse in western bridle

Source: Canva

Reasons to Use a Calming Supplement​

Calming supplements should be used only after other methods to encourage calmness in your horse have been exhausted. These things include:


  • Diet could be part of the reason your horse is so excitable. Make sure they’re not getting more feed than they need (most owners overestimate their horse’s activity level). Also, it can help to switch to a low NSC feed (low in sugars and starch).


  • Is your horse getting enough access to grass or hay? Horses were designed to graze for 20 hours a day, so if your horse only eats grass/hay for 1-2 hours a day, it could be creating stress on their GI tracks.

Stall vs. Turnout

  • Horses were built for near-continuous motion. It helps keep them fit and reduces stress. Too much stall time can lead to boredom and increased excitability.

Physical Ailments

  • Pain can often be confused with stress or anxiety-related behaviors. Have your vet look at your horse to rule out pain (vision problems, back pain, and untrimmed teeth can all create skittish behavior).
If you’ve checked all the above items off your list, and your horse is still anxious, it may be time to consider a calming supplement.

Some horses may benefit from a calming supplement all the time, while others may only need one for certain occasions, like farrier visits, trailering, or at horse shows.

feed supplement shelf in tack room

Photo Cred: Blue & Moon Burros

Calming Supplement vs. Sedative​

There’s a big difference between a calming supplement (which is designed to take the edge off) and a sedative (which slows the horse’s nervous system).

Sedatives should be reserved for medical procedures (dental work or veterinary treatment, like injections). Your horse will often become sleepy, droop his head, and have to be monitored for several hours until the effects wear off.

There are strict rules around sedatives in competitions, so be careful not to sedate your horse too close to a show.

Be aware that some calming supplements may have ingredients that are restricted, as well, so check with your regulating body before starting your horse on anything.

A Word of Caution​

Approach calming pastes, feeds, and supplements with a healthy dose of skepticism! Check with your vet to ensure they are appropriate for your horse and won’t cause any harm.

person riding bay horse

Source: Canva

Types of Calming Supplements​

Calming supplements come in several forms and can utilize several different ingredients. Magnesium is one of the popular ingredients (and is competition-friendly). Some supplements use herbs, others don’t.

You may need to experiment to find the supplement that works best for your horse.


Calming supplements come in several forms.

  • Paste
  • Powder
  • Pellet
  • Extruded

“Feed” vs. “Supplement” vs. “Medicine”​

With all the products available, it can be hard to know which to choose or in what way the product will affect your horse.

Calming feed example: Purina WellSolve L/S is a great choice if you’re looking to help your horse chill out. It’s low NSC (low in sugar and starch), molasses-free, and provides highly digestible fibers (a slow-release source of energy that won’t spike insulin).

Purina Wellsolve Low Starch Pellets
$72.85 ($0.09 / Fl Oz)
Purina Wellsolve Low Starch Pellets
Click to see it at Amazon
02/16/2024 07:24 am GMT

Calming supplement example: Many horse owners love Quiessence, and for good reason. This pelleted supplement uses magnesium and chromium to relax your horse by supporting his nervous system. It’s competition-safe, and the dose is easily adjustable based on your horse’s needs.

Quiessence (Large-14 lbs)
Quiessence (Large-14 lbs)
Click to see it at Amazon
02/16/2024 07:29 am GMT

Calming medicine example: One of the most well-known calming medicines for horses is ACE (acepromazine). Available by prescription only, it’s used for light sedation situations (like vets, farriers, dentists, or prolonged stall rest).

Note: Horses should not be worked or ridden while on ACE.

two feed pans with feed and treats in them

Warm mash used to feed supplements to donkeys. Source: Blue & Moon Burros

Common Horse Calming Products​

Here are some of our favorite calming products for your horse.

SmartPak SmartCalm Pellets​

These herb-free pellets are designed to support your horse’s nervous system. The main ingredients include magnesium, taurine, inositol, and thiamine.

Chief Rookie Aside: I recently started my jumping pony on this supplement and am excited to see how it works!

Form: Pelleted supplement


  • Takes effect quickly
  • Can give to performance horses (no illegal ingredients)
  • Easy to give (just add to feed)


  • Not all horses like pellets
  • May not work as desired in very hot or very anxious horses

Where to buy:

MagRestore by Performance Equine Nutrition​

MagRestore was designed with maximum bioavailability in mind, meaning this formula is easy for your horse to digest and benefit from.

Form: Pelleted supplement


  • Easy on your horse’s GI track
  • Can adjust dose easily based on size/workload
  • Made from two forms of magnesium


  • Takes 1-4 weeks to see a change

Where to buy:

Perfect Prep EQ Pro Chill Calming Paste​

This paste is fast-acting and long-lasting, making it a sound choice for owners with horses who get nervous when trailering or at shows.

Form: Paste


  • Starts working within 2 hours
  • Great for show horses (no prohibited substances)
  • Can give every 6 hours (if needed) to maintain calm during events


  • Can be difficult to administer
  • May need multiple doses (starting the night before)

Where to buy:

Mare Magic​

Many mare owners swear this calming supplement is magic, but we know it’s just a great formula made with raspberry leaf extract.

Mare Magic 32 oz
Mare Magic 32 oz
Click to see it at Amazon
02/16/2024 07:24 am GMT

Form: Supplement


  • Great for mares who get attitudes when they cycle
  • Works great on geldings
  • Highly palatable


  • Needs to be used daily, year-round, for the best results

Where to buy: Amazon

Farnam Quietex II Calming Supplement​

Quietex II is a great choice if you’re looking to help your horse be calm and focused. A combination of six powerful ingredients, including magnesium and l-tryptophan, decreases stress without causing drowsiness.

Farnam Quietex II Calming Supplement

Farnam® Quietex™ II helps to keep horses calm, focused, composed, and aware in stressful situations. Its unique combination of seven all-natural active, stress-relieving ingredients works in two hours without causing drowsiness, and without drugs. It is excellent for heavy training, performance activities, competition*, racing, and trailering.

Farnam Quietex II Calming Supplement
Buy Now

Form: Paste


  • Perfect for long trailer rides
  • Takes 1-2 hours to take effect
  • Can help decrease spookiness


  • May not be legal for competitions
  • Can be difficult to administer

Where to buy: State Line Tack

Zylkene Equine Behavior Support by Vetoquinol​

This non-drowsy, rigorously tested formula, which contains Alpha-Casozepine, can help keep your horse calm and focused without the negative effects of sedatives or tranquilizers.

Vetoquinol Zylkene Equine Behavior Support
$160.99 ($95.83 / Ounce)
Vetoquinol Zylkene Equine Behavior Support
Click to see it at Amazon
02/16/2024 07:24 am GMT

Form: Powder


  • Hypoallergenic
  • Palatable
  • Competition legal


  • Expensive if needed daily

Where to buy: Amazon

Frequently Asked Questions​

Q: What is the best calming paste for performance horses?​

Perfect Prep EQ Pro Chill Calming Paste is a common calming paste used in performance horses, especially at horse shows. This product has been around for quite awhile and is trusted by exhibitors, trainers, and owners alike.

Q: Does calming paste work on horses?​

This depends on the paste and your horse. Some owners swear by pastes, others have found them lacking. If you think you need one, be sure to test several days (or weeks) before the event in question.

Q: What is the best calming medicine for horses?​

Magnesium. It’s an essential macronutrient that all horses need, and studies have shown that magnesium deficiencies can lead to anxious behavior. You can also look for thiamine, B vitamins, chasteberry, raspberry leaf extract, and alpha-casozepine.

Q: What is the best calming feed for horses?​

Look for low NSC (low in sugar and starch) options, like Kalm ‘N EZ by Tribute or Strategy Healthy Edge by Purina. Focusing on a forage-based diet (hay, grass) can also help.

Q: What is the best calming paste for horses with anxiety?​

A few good paste options include Perfect Prep Gold, EQUI+Calm Paste, and SmartCalm Ultra.

Q: How long does calming paste for horses last?​

Depending on the paste and the dose, it can take 1-4 hours to see maximum impact, and the effects can last for 6-18 hours.

Q: Does magnesium oxide calm horses?​

It can! If your horse is magnesium deficient, magnesium oxide can help calm him.

Q: What is the paste to sedate a horse?​

Dormosedan gel is a paste that is administered under the horse’s tongue for sedation. It is helpful for horse owners who may need to sedate a horse before a veterinary exam, farrier visit, or in order to safely perform activities like clipping on a nervous, reactive horse. Sometimes abbreviated to “dorm gel” this product is not available over the counter—you’ll need to get it from your veterinarian.

Note: Always use gloves!

woman administering dorm gel to donkey

Administering Dormosedan gel to Moon before his first hoof trim. Source: Blue & Moon Burros

Q: How long does it take for horse calmer to work?​

An FDA-approved drug like Dormosedan gel can work in 30-60 minutes. Some supplements ingested orally may take weeks to work. Other calming agents may never work, either because they aren’t quite the right fit for that particular animal, or they may just be ineffective in general.

Note: Always use gloves!

Q: Can you give Prozac to equines?​

Yes! Prozac has been helpful in treating anxious behaviors, especially for horses on stall rest. This article explains how the drug works and what research has been done with equines.

Rookie Real Life:

Content manager Susanna tried Prozac for her adopted BLM (Bureau of Land Management) donkey, Blue, who exhibited nervous, reactive behaviors. After discussing his behaviors (and lack of training progress), her vet suggested trying Prozac. Blue received daily dosages of the drug, fed with a warm hay pellet mash, for three months. Unfortunately, Prozac didn’t seem to work for Blue, so his dosage was gradually reduced before discontinuing administration.

Parting Thoughts​

When changes in diet, exercise, and turnout aren’t enough, a calming supplement can work wonders to help get your horse relaxed and focused again.

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