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Focus supplements and techniques for horses can help to improve performance. Supplements for horse focus can ensure horses are cool, calm, and collected. Meanwhile, focus techniques can transform a training session or performance in the competition environment. But how can riders get the most out of focus supplements and techniques for horses?
There are plenty of focus supplements for horses on the market, many aiming to calm and cool nervous horses down.
Calmer horses perform and learn better. This because a hormone produced during stress, called cortisol, reduces the ability to recall information and form new memories. In addition, a nervous horse often holds a lot of tension in their muscles. Prolonged muscle tension can cause the build-up of painful and potentially harmful waste products, as well as reduce functionality.
Therefore, to improve focus in horses, owners should look out for a calming combination of ingredients, including;
Magnesium plays an important part in nerve function. As a calmer, the addition of magnesium may help to control firing of nerves fibres, reducing signs and feelings of nervousness and excitability. Research suggests that high doses of magnesium in horses slowed down reaction time, possibly evidencing an effect on nerve firing. Therefore, adding magnesium could help bring focus back to the rider, instead of distractions within the surroundings.
In addition, providing adequate magnesium in the diet may help aid activation of muscles and prevent fatigue. This could help maintain focus throughout more physically challenging sessions.
As horses have a limited ability to store magnesium, this means problems due to deficiency are likely to manifest quickly. Therefore, a dose of the mineral is needed every single day for optimal focus benefits!
Calcium is not a calmer on its own but is essential in the stressed horse’s diet.
During stressful periods and high intensity work, the horse’s body needs more calcium as significant losses incur through sweating.
Calcium is important, not only bone health, but for the contraction of muscle too. Without sufficient calcium, horses may fatigue quickly and focus levels drop. This can cause performance errors and put both horse and rider in danger.
In addition, when feeding magnesium, it is important to feed calcium alongside as magnesium can interfere will calcium balance. This will also result in an increased likelihood of bone problems and can un-do work of feeding for hoof health.
The National Research Council’s Nutrient Requirements of Horses recommends that all horses weighing 500kg should consume at least 20g of calcium per day. This requirement increases according to exercise levels.
Fenugreek can help alleviate the effects that stress has on the body. A recent study showed that infrequently exercised horses who were supplemented with fenugreek had reduced post-exercise lactate concentrations.
Lactate is produced during energy breakdown, with build-ups of the product causing muscle soreness and damage. Therefore, fenugreek may be useful to prevent pain which can cause distraction and impact focus.
Transitions are a great way to get horses listening, when riding or when on the lunge.Transitions are most effective when various types and gaits are used. For example, using a combination of progressive and direct transitions can ensure horse’s do not begin to predict the rider’s next move.
Rein back can be complete during riding or whilst on the lunge.
Rein-back is a simple exercise consisting of a horse walking backward, their feet moving in diagonal pairs.
This exercise can be particularly useful to control forward-thinking horses. Speed can easily get out of control during ridden and groundwork, compromising balance and therefore the quality of the horse’s work. Therefore, using rein-back is the perfect way to get a horse in tune to the concept that leg commands don’t just mean ‘go forward’.
Not only does this exercise get a horse listening to the rider, it can also help to engage the hindquarters. This reduces loading of weight onto the forehand and helps to create an uphill stride. In addition, with more hindlimb engagement, the further under the body the horses' legs will swing, lifting the back and causing the horse’s abdominal muscles to work harder. This can have great benefits for top line muscle development too!
Incorporating poles into a ridden or groundwork sessions is another great way to help increase a horse’s focus during a training session.
Pole work can help to develop the horse’s awareness of their limbs and ease of movement. Studies have shown pole work to increase lower limb range of motion and symmetry in lifting of the fore and hind limb. Therefore, pole work is perfect for promoting even muscle development and making sure horse's are focused on obstacles they need to tackle.
Pole work also helps to increase hip flexion and therefore hindquarter engagement. This means that rider’s can simplify commands as the poles encourage propulsion from behind. This can further aid horses’ focus.