Three Herbs to Calm Healthy Horses

We associate "healthy as a horse" with someone in good health or physical condition. While we aspire to be as healthy as our equine companions, what makes a horse healthy? If you work closely with horses, you know it takes a lot of work to keep a horse in good physical condition. Regular exercise, good diet, trips to the vet and plenty of time in the open pasture are just a few things that help keep a horse’s body in good shape, but is there a way to help a horse’s mind?

Horse health has been studied for centuries as they were an essential part of farming, transportation, warfare and other endeavors of evolving society. However, horse mental health has not been as thoroughly examined. While it may be easier to detect an equine’s physical disease or affliction, it can be challenging to see when one of the herd is suffering from anxiety or stress. A survey of caregivers found that even those who work closely with horses daily can have difficulty identifying the subtle signs of horse anxiety or stress.

Whether you raise horses for competition or as a hobby, you may be able to keep your steeds steady by helping reduce feelings of anxiety or stress through herbs.


Horses are empathetic creatures of prey, meaning they are highly sensitive to their surroundings and the feelings of those who work with them each day. Their empathetic nature is why equine therapy is gaining popularity and why it is so effective—It’s also why we should evaluate equine mental health. There are several reasons that a horse may be dealing with anxiety or stress, including the following:

  • Trailer loading or transport is a common cause of stress for many animals, including horses (particularly farm horses). Research on trailer loading stress in horses has shown that “problem loaders” show a significant increase in cortisol and heart rate during loading. Without proper horse training, a horse’s stress can cause injury to itself or its handlers.
  • Noisy or crowded barns are particularly stress-inducing for horses. As a prey species, they are highly sensitive and reactive to loud noises that they perceive as threatening. The term noise anxiety was coined to describe overreactions to loud noises that could cause potential harm to horses or their handlers.
  • Performance anxiety is a result of a horse’s empathetic nature. Whether it is at its first competition or working with a new rider, show horses can adopt the emotions of other beings.
Horse standing by a trailer

Horse behavior is a key indicator of whether the equine is undergoing stress. When your horse is experiencing anxiety from one of these causes or something else entirely, it’s a great idea to look for the following signs:

  • A "stress face" - The "stress face" is something that you may see in a movie when a horse is spooked. If a horse flares its nostrils, widely opens its eyes or tightens its mouth, it is experiencing stress.
  • Eye fluttering - A horse’s eyes are a good indicator of stress. When the horse is dealing with a stressful situation, it may begin to blink less and have rapid half-blinks where the eyelids don’t fully close.
  • Stall weaving - Stall weaving is a repetitive, abnormal behavior where a horse will shift its weight between its forelegs and sway back and forth within the stall. Weaving is usually caused by large amounts of time in the stall but can also result from other stressors.

There are many causes and signs of stress in a horse’s behavior. If your horse displays abnormal behavior and you are unsure of the cause, it’s best to contact a trusted veterinarian as soon as possible. If you notice that your horse is experiencing stress, ask your vet about a few herbs that may have a calming effect on it.


Three Natural Calming Herbs That Can Support a Horse’s Mental Health

  • Lavender image Lavender
    Lavender is an amazingly versatile herb in terms of practical uses, so it’s no surprise to see its use here. This member of the mint family is known for its calming abilities and wonderful scent. Lavender aromatherapy is an excellent way to help reduce stress in horses. One study in the Journal of Equine Veterinary Science found that horses exposed to lavender aromatherapy before being loaded into a trailer had lower cortisol (stress hormone) levels than horses who did not. Massages with lavender oil can also help calm a horse’s anxiety.
  • Valerian Root image Valerian Root
    Valerian root is known for its calming and sedative effects on people and animals. While research is limited, some evidence points to valerian’s potential ability to increase gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), an inhibitory neurotransmitter, in the brain, blocking stimuli that may cause stress. Valerian root powder can be added to a horse’s feed or taken orally to improve horse behavior and mental health.
  • Passion Flower image Passion Flower
    Similar to valerian root, passion flower has been used as a sleep aid and to help reduce feelings of anxiety or stress. Passion flowers can offer relaxing effects to anxious or stressed horses. This herb can be given to a horse orally.

    For both passion flower and valerian root, it’s best to consult with a veterinarian who is experienced in practicing "integrative" holistic care for proper dosage and administration. It’s also important to consult with your veterinarian before giving your horse herbs if it is currently on medication.


Herbs have the potential to aid in the training of anxious horses. With their natural calming properties, certain herbs can gently soothe the nerves of equine companions, creating a more receptive state for learning. By incorporating herbs into their regimen, trainers can establish an environment that fosters relaxation and attentiveness, ultimately leading to more effective and harmonious training sessions. Horse training also has the potential to improve horse anxiety for the future and prevent stress in everyday situations.

If you are dedicated to providing horses, pets and other livestock with products to improve their quality of life, herbal offerings may help you get a leg up on your competition. One market analysis report revealed that the demand for herbal and non-GMO pet supplements is expected to grow 7.60% CAGR between 2022 and 2028. Adding herbal offerings to your product lineup could help you meet the needs of horse trainers, owners, and caretakers who want natural horse calming supplements.


If you want to boost your horse-care product lineup, you can explore an expansive catalog of quality herbs on our website. Pay less for high-quality herbs and help your valued customers better care for their trusted steeds.

Want to find great herbs for your dogs, cats or other beloved companions? Visit our Pet and Animal page to discover our lineup of animal-friendly products.

Disclaimer: Information and statements about the products on this site have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. You should not use the information contained herein for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or for prescribing any medication. We recommend that you consult with a qualified veterinarian or horse care specialist before using any herbal products.