Show season is here, which means it's time to start preparing your horse for the demands of competition, if you haven't already done so. Besides the obvious need to primp and preen your horse, it is important to think about internally preparing it with appropriate supplementation for support through the season.

Showing and competition pressure, together with increased travel and new environments, produces heightened nerves and flightiness which can affect your horse’s performance and health. To counter this, forward-thinking is essential. Perhaps you and your horse have seen many show seasons and have a fail-safe routine for preparing that you are confident in. If this is your first season, there are many things to bear in mind in the lead up to competition day.

The most important is preparing your horse on the inside. Unlike cats and dogs that can often be soothed simply by a familiar presence, horses are flight animals and thus a lot harder to manage. Undue stress can also suppress the immune system, making your horse more susceptible to illness. This is a particular concern anyway, as proximity to other horses during competition increases the chance of your animal becoming ill.

Immunity is always an issue when entering your horse into a show and respiratory tract infections and allergies are common.

Echinacea is a great herbal supplement for strengthening your equine’s immune system and also supporting the lungs and improving blood quality, helping horses to perform at their best.

The herb is often added to general supplements as a daily dose and can promote long-term benefits - protecting against seasonal colds and infections, for one. VioVet stocks a range of immunity boosting products and formulas, a handful of which are listed below.

Hilton Herbs Equimmune – an immunity formula for horses with a high Echinacea Purpurea Root content, helping to support the body’s defences year-round. Great for use with competition season approaching.

Global Herbs ImmuPlus – a potent preparation that supports internal defences and repair, containing Echinacea, Ginseng and other calming agents. The formula can be given year-round but is particularly effective during convalescence and before and after vaccinations when defences need reinforcing.

Equine America Emune – in times of stress when the immune system is suppressed, the health of our horses is compromised. Equine America offers a tailored preparation for the immune support of horses during show season, containing a blend of beneficial Echinacea and Astragalus herbs (for its anti-viral, anti-ageing properties).

The earlier supplements are given, the better, and with show season just around the corner they are worth giving some thought to. Horses are still susceptible to nerves just as we are and can anticipate something new on the horizon. This can often lead to show nerves and signs of distress and discomfort.

Like humans, some of us are more disposed to anxiety and stress than others, and this is no different in the equine world. If your horse shows signs of distress on competition day, it is a little late to try and rectify it. Supplementing your horse’s feed prior to show season will gradually introduce support to its system, helping to soothe its mind and prepare the body for heightened performance pressure.

VioVet stocks a number of calming supplements, including Horse First Relax Me, Equine America Magnitude and Zylkene. To view our full range, click here.

Various other aspects of health come into play, such as digestive, respiratory and general health before, during and after show season. There are numerous supplements on the market and sometimes it can be difficult knowing which one to choose. General supplements that are formulated to manage the dietary deficiences commonly encountered, enhance performance, and provide digestive and respiratory support, are great all-rounders and can be used in the lead up to competition season.

While specific preparations (i.e. for immunity, calming, joint care, and performance) are good with show season approaching, general supplements are worthwhile year-round. VioVet sells a range of high-quality general supplements. To view the full range, click here.

Equitop Myoplast - a "pharmaceutical grade" dietary supplement, containing a concentrated blend of essential and non-essential animo acids and iron for the internal support and nourishment of competition horses. The preparation is popular amongst equestrians whose horses undergo intensive competition training, and is both safe and effective for regular use. Equitop Myoplast is also shown to improve and re-build lean muscle in horses that have been stabled or laid-up for a while.

If your horse feels fit and healthy it will be confident and perform at its best. If your horse feels confident and you can vouch for its welfare leading up to competition (in terms of supplementation, health checks and grooming) then you will feel confident and perform at your best.

Feel free to comment below and/or contact me directly: [email protected]

Written by: Hannah