Q: My friend's 26-year-old gelding has turned into a stallion! Major stallion behavior. She is looking for herbs to calm him down or at least suppress the testosterone. Do you have any suggestions?
A: It is always best to consult your veterinarian as he/she is in a position to diagnose your horse. If it were my horse who couldn't "settle down mentally" or who had physical angst causing nervousness and excitability, I'd consider my feed choice (no sweet feeds), make sure he had plenty of regular exercise, and would assume he is "feeling his oats" (so to speak), having difficulty because of his anticipation. Horses need an outlet for anticipation, excitement and adrenaline.
Herbs are easy to administer and not real expensive: Chamomile, vervain, poppy (corn poppy-not opium), valerian, skullcap (great for tension, nervous stress and hysteria) and lavender - these are all good choices to relax the nerves (also called nervine relaxants). They are known for relieving tension caused by excitability (might be competition, change, stress, etc; with your case an over-anxious gelding acting like a stud). I'd stay away from conventional sedatives that can cause the horse to act lethargic (like he's in a drunken stupor) even to the point of losing his faculties. They literally deaden the horse’s nervous system. Some herbs will relax the gut, peripheral muscles and nerves, acting as a general whole body calming without really causing him to lose his senses.
If you want something ready to buy, Equilite (1-800-942-5483) makes a couple of excellent formulas:
RELAX – Valerian Root (for restless nervous conditions), Chamomile (for restlessness, stress and tension), Hops (to calm and soothe the nerves, restlessness, calms excessive sexual desires and nervous conditions), Wood Betony (calms nerves, used for pain, anxiety, hyperactivity), Passion Flower (relieves nerve pain, promotes rest, used for hysteria, can be hypnotic).
VALERIAN FREE - Blue Vervain (nervine and sedative).
RELAX HER - The ingredients are great for either male or female. Black Cohash (safe sedative, CNS tonic, hormone support), Wild Lettuce (nervous disorders).
I'd also consider #20 KEEP COOL by Silver Lining. It already contains 3 of the herbs I already mentioned (chamomile, skullcap and valerian) but in addition it has: Black Cohosh (whose main use is for nerves/hyperactivity/anxiety), Burdock (also used for nervous conditions), Catnip (used for hysteria, mental illness, tension, stress and nervous conditions), Echinacea (great for the prostate gland), Hawthorne (Stress Relief), Hops (to calm and soothe the nerves, calms excessive sexual desires and nervous conditions), Lobelia (another nerve relaxant, but also great for hyperactivity; actually a very powerful relaxant but in lower quantity as in this formula it is effective, but not excessive), and Mistletoe (great to quiet excitement and nervous conditions).
There are other routes to take, such as aromatherapy (for a quick distraction). Let me know if you need more ideas to relieve his stress (and yours).