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

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Abstract

Equine calming products (ECPs) are often used by horse owners to alter or mitigate unwanted or dangerous behaviors in various situations. Little scientific research to date examines horse owners’ knowledge surrounding these products. The objective of this pilot survey was to determine horse owners’ use and perceptions of ECPs. For convenience, a survey was distributed to riding club members, livery yards, and riding instructors in the North of Scotland, UK, to ascertain the following information; the number of horse owners and caretakers who use an ECP, whether the product was considered to be effective, reasons for use and identification of the effective ingredient. Total response rate was 63% (n = 58); correctly completed questionnaires were received. Of the total respondents, 69% (n = 40) confirmed the use of an ECP and 82% would use them again, and 45% reporting regular use. Over half (59%) thought the calming effect was induced by magnesium, 9% thought the calming effect was induced by herbs, valerian, or tryptophan, and 32% did not know what ingredient had a possible calming effect. Of those using or having used an ECP, 40% felt that there was some positive effect, 30% were unsure as to whether there was any difference or not, 25% felt there was no difference, and 5% felt there was a negative effect on horse's behavior. A variety of reasons were given for using an ECP. The results suggest that horse owners are willing to use ECPs without underpinning knowledge of ingredients or scientific evidence of efficacy.

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