No science? No problem for horse owners when using calming products

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A study on the use of equine calming products in Scotland has indicated that horse owners appear willing to use such products without scientific evidence that they work.

Equine calming products are often used by owners to calm challenging or “unruly” horses. Diane Ross of the North Highland College, University of Highlands and Islands, Scotland, and Jayne Roberts of Equijay, Brisbane, Australia, conducted a study to investigate owners’ attitudes to such products.

The survey was distributed to horse owners in the north of Scotland.

Opinions varied on how respondents think calming products worked. More than half (59%) of those replying thought magnesium was responsible for the calming effect; 9% thought it was due to herbs, valerian or tryptophan and 32% did not know which of the ingredients were responsible.

Were owners’ satisfied that the calming products had the desired effect? A positive calming effect was reported by 48% of respondents; 30% were uncertain; 25% thought there was no effect; and 5% thought that rather than calming the horse they made their behaviour worse.

A variety of reasons were given for using an equine calming product.

“The results suggest that horse owners are willing to use ECPs without underpinning knowledge of ingredients or scientific evidence of efficacy,” the authors concluded.

Equine Calming Products: A short survey into their use, effect, and knowledge using a small sample of horse owners in the north of Scotland, UK. Ross DJ, Roberts JL. J Equine Vet Sci. (2018) 68:63-67. doi: 10.1016/j.jevs.2018.05.208

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