I’ve seen a change in my horse’s attitude since starting him on supplements and I wanted your take on it. Could a joint, digestive, hoof, or coat supplement make him difficult to handle or feisty? He’s never acted this way before and I’m worried that he’s reacting to an ingredient. Should I stop his SmartPaks? – BH from Argyle, TX
Your safety and the safety of your horse comes first, as well as the safety of other people and horses around you. However if you feel like there’s no danger to you, him, or others, before cancelling your next supplement shipment (and potentially not providing your horse with the support he needs to be his healthiest and offer you his maximum level of performance), ask yourself these questions:
- Have I changed barns recently, especially to a different state or part of the country?
- Has his turnout schedule or buddies changed (e.g. he’s been in for a week due to weather)
- Has the barn changed brands or increased grain?
- Am I working my horse less than usual because of work, family, travel?
- Have I changed trainers?
- Did the behavior occur when I took him away from the barn to a lesson, clinic, or show?
- Has the weather changed recently, like from hot to cold, dry to rainy, or calm to windy?
- Did my horse have an injury requiring stall rest or at least a reduction in exercise?
These are examples of common situations we hear about that could lead to a personality or behavior change in a horse. Our advice is three-fold:
- Work with your veterinarian to rule out any medical issues that could explain the change in behavior
- Work with your trainer to identify any changes in his exercise that may be contributing
- Work with your barn manager to ferret out feed, turnout, or other changes that could be having an influence.
Can I share with you my favorite customer story about an attitude change? A horse owner called because her horses were on supplements and one of them was suddenly acting out of character on trail rides (anxious, nervous, and spooky). Later in the conversation it was revealed that she had run into a BEAR on this particular path with this particular horse so now he has become apprehensive about starting down that trail again!
Here’s hoping you DO find something simple in your horse’s daily life that is causing him stress and that it’s NOT a large, man-eating grizzly!