Everything Else Everything else More... Training

Vanquishing the “Arena Ghost Family”… a Calmer which really REALLY Works.

My arena at home has a hedge down 1 side, and despite being turned out regularly on the arena, my best horse Daisy had decided that the hedge contained a large and especially terrifying resident family of Ghosts.
I used to refer to them as dragons, but I never saw any dragon droppings, fire damage, disturbed undergrowth, etc. So, either the dragons are microscopic, or the Totally Terrifying Things are in fact Ghosts – visible only to Daisy, and utterly horrifying. I suspect they rattle chains, threaten to eat horses alive, and go “Boo” all the time.

Screen shot 2014-10-06 at 20.04.45

A typical spook at nothing. I’ve given up being annoyed about the spooks, that only makes her even worse!

At times her fear was so strong that she would gasp and hold her breath, and tense up from her ears to her hooves, if asked to go within ten metres of the hedge. I wish I was joking. Ten metres.
It is utterly impossible to get any even half-reasonable work out of a horse behaving like that! It has severely hampered our progress this year, to put it mildly. There’s only so much ‘dressage’ you can do out hacking, at some point we needed to do some circles! And of course, the first two parts of the ‘Scales of Training’ are Relaxation and Rhythm, so if you have neither, you can’t really accomplish anything much. Very frustrating.

I had a couple of memorable dressage lessons (or attempts at them) in the 10m x 60m part of the arena. We literally could not go near the hedge. Obviously, 60 x 10 is not the ideal size for working a horse properly and successfully…

I am neither a novice nor a total pushover. I tried all the usual things. Daisy was led along that side, ridden back and forth along there (for 40 minutes some days), even fed there. Reassured, pushed and kicked and made to go near it (which just made her tenser and tenser)… but nothing worked.
If there had been a family of lions hiding in the undergrowth, she probably couldn’t have been any more scared. We did get some quite impressive piaffe and passage, and also the odd levade and capriole, when I insisted she stay near the hedge and she could barely cope with it, but unfortunately the chances of judges being impressed with that level of Haute Ecole at BE100 level are fairly low.

I am not much of a fan of calmers for event horses. I want my horses to be totally ‘on the ball’ and able to react instantly if I make a mistake, particularly cross-country. However, this was getting ridiculous, I just wasn’t able to work her properly in my arena. I tried various Calmers on her, with no luck. Nothing seemed to work.
Then I remembered a particular Calm Mix which I organised as a Tried and Tested for ERA (the Event Riders Association) a couple of years ago. All the testers reported very good results. It is made in South Africa by The Herbal Horse Products, which was set up by a lady who studied Biochemistry and Zoology, and who worked in the pharmaceutical industry for many years, and also in the S.A. National Horseracing Authority’s drug testing lab. These formulations are not mixed on top of the kitchen table with a wooden spoon, put it that way!

I contacted the lady, Beryl Shuttleworth, and explained my problem, and got some of their Calm Mix to try.

It was a revelation, pretty much overnight. Daisy still feels like a clever, reactive horse, but it is as if her hyperactive imagination has been disengaged. She feels totally normal to ride in every other way, just as bright, but she isn’t actively looking for things to spook at, in the arena or out hacking. A few days ago we started our schooling session by walking along the track beside the hedge, on the buckle end, without a look or any tension whatsoever. This then proceeded to be the best session we have had all year, with a relaxed, happy, rideable horse who I could actually DO something useful with! The relief is indescribable… it is very difficult to stay relaxed and positive on a horse who is behaving like a total idiot for no apparent reason, every single time… Now, finally, we are making real progress.

Screen shot 2014-10-07 at 14.55.53

I would recommend Calm Mix to anyone whose horse is spooky and overreactive. The active ingredients include:

Inositol (a B vitamin and natural antidepressant)

Thiamine (Vitamin B1 – which has been found to have a calming effect in horses)

Magnesium in a bioavailable form (amino acid chelate)

Tryptophan (a precursor to Serotonin, the ‘happiness chemical’)

and herbs such as Gotu Kola (reduces the startle reflex).

 

One of the best things about it is that it can be used daily, or just at events when the horse might be particularly tense – it doesn’t need a loading dose, the effects are noticed very quickly.

I was so impressed by the results that when Beryl said that she was looking for Agents here in the U.K., and would also be interested in some Sponsorship of a rider, I jumped at the chance. I really believe in these products.

They have an introductory offer on at the moment. So, if anyone wants to try any of their products (Calm Mix, Farrier’s Mix, Ultimate Mix, Itch Mix) then the first pack is available at 50% off, as a trial. One per customer. Please note, offer ends 31 October 2014 at midnight.The website is here, with full details of the products.
If anyone is interested in the 50% discount offer, please use the discount code

seeitworks-kerry ” (without inverted commas).

The Calm Mix really has been a revelation for me and my mare, so this is a heartfelt and genuine recommendation.

About the author

Kerry

3 Comments

  • Possibly a stupid question, but is this likely to work on a “typical” spooky warmblood, only if given before the “spooky” event?

    My dumbblood will spot something scary, goggle at it, and then be suprised when there is a jump in front of her!

  • Vicky, it definitely takes the edge off their imagination, in my experience. I took my mare for a SJ lesson a week ago and things she would normally have goggled at, she gave a 10% goggle/spook not 100%, if that makes sense. So, still bright and reactive, but not ridiculously so and not actively ‘looking for trouble’. The 10% version of the spook/goggle is easy to deal with, just a brief glance or tiny hesitation/reaction, as opposed to the full-on “OH MY GOSH” overreaction, I think!
    Hope that helps.