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Monsters in the Ring


It’s a crisp fall afternoon, and you’ve been looking forward to your ride all day. You saddle up your horse, start to warm up, and on your third pass around the ring, your horse becomes convinced there’s a monster behind the mounting block. Then when you pick up the canter, he acts as though there’s a goblin outside the gate. There may be something going on with your horse that you can’t see, but chances are monsters aren’t to blame. Match your horse to one of the “monstrous behaviors” below to discover what’s really going on — and how you can help.


Distracted by Devious Doers

Monstrous behavior:
Your horse is occasionally edgy and tense. At times he has trouble focusing, as if there’s an invisible creature whispering in his ear.

Banish the beast:
Nervousness can be a clinical sign of magnesium deficiency, so a supplement that provides this key macro mineral, like Quiessence, can support a healthy nervous system, helping your horse to feel focused and at ease.



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Under a Seasonal Spell

Monstrous behavior:
Your horse is pleasant all summer long, but once the weather turns cool, he transforms into a monster.

Banish the beast:
For many horses, workload and turnout time decrease during the fall and winter, but their grain stays the same. Since they’re not burning as many calories or having as much mental stimulation, this can be a recipe for a “crazy”
horse! Talk with your barn manager or trainer about an appropriate way to adjust your horse’s diet and management program so that it is optimal for the seasonal changes to his routine.


She’s been Bewitched

Monstrous behavior:
One minute you have a sweet, loving mare, and the next she’s flying across the ring acting like the Wicked Witch of the West.

Banish the beast:
The right herbal supplement can help balance your mare’s hormones, which may help with her mood swings. Look for ingredients like raspberry leaf and chaste berry to support normal hormone levels, as well as chamomile and passion flower to help maintain a calm disposition.

SmartMare® Harmony Pellets

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(526 reviews)


Tormented by Terrible Terrors

Monstrous behavior:
Your horse is a bundle of nerves, spooking at invisible ghosts and goblins around every turn.
Banish the beast:
Horses that are spooky, unfocused, and tense may have a dietary deficiency that could be partly to blame for their nervous behavior (not ghosts or goblins). SmartCalm Ultra Pellets contain magnesium, vitamin B1 and other nutrients the body needs to have a normal, balanced nervous system. It also provides tryptophan, an essential amino acid that supports feelings of wellbeing and contentment.

SmartCalm® Ultra Pellets

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(1426 reviews)

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7 comments on “Monsters in the Ring
  1. Connie says:

    Hi – I have a 15 year old OTTB. He’s a great horse, not too flighty for a TB but every now and then he’ll spook at something. I decided to try him on the SmartCalm Ultra pellets since I trail ride him. He’s been on them for over a month and I think I’m noticing a difference in his overall demeanor.

    I noticed this especially lately. He had his stifles injected and unfortunately I’ve been traveling during most of his recovery time. I just spent a few days with him and couldn’t help but notice that even though he’s been on stall rest with only short walks, he seemed calmer than usual. I’d like to continue him on the SmartCalm (I think) but being that I know little about horse nutrition in general, I just want to make sure I’m not upsetting his balance of nutrients.

    He gets grained 2x day/hay 3x/day and although he’s usually let out for a few hours most days, the pasture is a little sparse. I walk the yard with him – where the grass is of better quality – when I have time.

    Is there anything about this product I should be wary of? Are there telltale signs if he’s getting too much of a “good” thing? Any suggestions you can share?

    Thank you!

    • SmartPak SmartPak says:

      Hi Connie, thank you for asking! We’re thrilled to hear that your horse is doing well on the SmartCalm Ultra Pellets! Rest assured that the amount of the ingredients found in SmartCalm Ultra Pellets are designed to complement a horse’s complete and balanced diet. It sounds like your horse is on a comprehensive nutrition program, which is great! The additional nutrients found in this supplement, such as magnesium and B-vitamins, are excellent for supporting a balanced disposition and should be perfectly fine in addition to your horse’s regular nutrition program. – SmartPaker Casey

  2. TD says:

    I have a very athletic young Trekkener that I have been working through this very thing. I have used several products over the past year. I switched him to Adeptus Allay a few months back and am very happy with the results. It has the Magnesium and also herbs to help with stomach acids. But and I have to say that the best change in him has taken place since I have been using Ear-balls and an Ear Bonnet. Sometimes just the bonnet. It brings him back “inside his body” instead of looking and hearing everything else. Yesterday I rode him outside in the wind and rain without the bonnet so he is really learning to be better. Give it a try…I think you will like the results.

  3. I also have a Trekner and was having problems with him being out of his skin so to speek. But I don’t ride him very much because of the weather conditions and now I also don’t have a indoor arena to ride in. So my question is does a person have to give grain to a horse that isn’t being used that much? Could I just give him good hay and minerals of free choice instead? Thank you ,Chris

    • SmartPak SmartPak says:

      Hi Chris, thanks for asking! Developing a nutrition program that makes sense for your horse’s situation can be tricky, but I think we have some tips and some additional resources that can help. I’m going to assume that your horse is maintaining a healthy body condition on his ration of hay alone, and in cases like that, it makes sense that he would not need additional calories from a fortified grain. However, the hay alone will not provide the full spectrum of vitamins and minerals, and the best way to make sure he gets those nutrients in the correct amounts every day is by using a product like a ration balancer or a multivitamin. I’ve included some additional articles that talk about nutrition in even greater detail. I hope that’s helpful! – SmartPaker Casey

      Is Your Horse’s Diet Coming Up Short?
      Building a Better Diet:

    • Jessica S says:

      Hi Chris,

      I’d agree with Casey. When I first discovered ration balancers, I decided to switch my horses off of grain completely. With some research, I found that horses don’t need grain, and in the wild, horses don’t eat grain anyway. As a person who prefers to keep her horses as natural as possible (the way nature intended), I figured this would be better for them, plus grain was pricey and I was going through grain pretty quickly, what with feeding 3 horses. My horses are getting pretty much free-choice hay as they are on a dry lot (which I need because my retired mare had foundered badly many years ago and can’t be on a grass pasture. My Mini can’t be on pasture either or he’ll become way too fat, and he’s already on the chunky side.) (The “herd” is outside 24/7 with a shed for shelter, again because it’s healthier than being stall-kept, which they hate anyway.) So I’m using 2 bales of hay (about 45-lb bales) a day (no alfalfa), along with my favorite ration balancer (ADM Alliance Stay Strong Mineral Pellets, a brand which I first learned about through my favorite clinician Clinton Anderson). My horses never looked better – in good weight; healthy, shiny coats; good feet (no shoes – my natural trimmer loves their feet); and they aren’t spooky. A 40 lb bag of the ADM lasts me almost a month! Compared to a 50 lb bag of sweet feed which lasted about a week, maybe slightly longer. My feed costs have gone down. My 2 mares get a full cup twice a day and my Mini gets about 5 pellets 2x a day (he’s a li’l piggy!). As a bonus, the ADM smells like apples and the horses love it! Plus the pellets are soft, easy to chew and digest. Give it a try! (Just remember to make any feed changes gradually, about a week’s time, to avoid digestive upsets.)

  4. Trina says:

    I have a six year old Standardbred mare whom recently started spooking at everything, she seems like she is alway on “high alert.” This is not her normal behavior. She had two bouts of what seemed to be colic so we had her to the vet and they found she had a very large follicle on her ovary. She was checked twice and the follicle seems to be decreasing in size and her behavior is getting a little better, but she still seems edgy and spooky. Her blood work was normal. She has always been a very easy going mare, up for anything and has been a been there done that kind of horse. I’ve tried a couple different calming supplements but they do not seem to work. I’m not sure if the follicle on the ovary is causing the different behavior or another issue?? Any suggestions?

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