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Flight or Flight Response in Horses

2nd March 2017

Horses are often confronted with stressful situations though many they can withstand naturally.

However, stress tolerance levels vary and, once exceeded, behavioural changes or even health problems may be the result.

Zylkene for Horses is one such treatment and can help with anxiety and phobia in many everyday situations.

Zylkene for Horses

There are many stressful situations that make horse owners decide to consult their veterinarian and seek treatment.


A stress response to an anticipated event: your horse shivers seeing a trailer parked by a barn.

Stress is experienced long before the travel. This can lead to “burn out” and exhaustion which may result in poor performance during a competition.


An exaggerated response to a non-dangerous event, for example horses afraid of flapping tapes and ribbons.

This triggers a sudden “fight or flight” response, which can be dangerous for both the horse and rider.

Reactions to stress

By natural instinct, a horse will try to escape as a first reaction to increased levels of danger/stress.

When escape is not an option, stress hormone (cortisol) levels rise and exhibit negative consequences to the horse’s health.

If the situation persists long enough, bad habits are created and negative behaviours become engraved.

Horses become difficult to work with, their performance is decreased because energy is used up on fear, rather than exercise or focus, and all this results in a poor quality relationship with the rider or handler.

How to help a stressed horse

First consult with your veterinarian to find out if a medical reason is the cause of the change in behaviour.

Your veterinarian will be able to discuss management options in terms of training, environmental changes and nutritional support.

Did you know that stress in a horse can lead to a number of ailments, including;

  • Poor performance and lack of focus
  • Increased risk to a rider
  • Decrease in horse-owner bond and pleasure from riding
  • Resale or abandonment or of a horse
  • Increased risk of injuries during transport, or when moving to a new facility
  • Failure of stable rest and re-injury during rehabilitation
  • Increased risk to veterinarian and farrier
  • Gastric ulceration
  • Higher incidence of tying-up in predisposed horses
  • Laminitis, especially in high stress horses treated with corticosteroids
  • Decrease in mare fertility


Zylkene Equine supports your horse

Zylkene Equine is a natural product derived from milk protein casein, with calming properties for short or long term use.

Zylkene for horses helps keep animals calm without drowsiness; no sedative or tranquilising effects

It also helps your horse overcome difficult or stressful situations by supporting a change from negative to positive behaviour; it contributes to the animal’s ability to focus and learn

Zylkene is well accepted by horses; it is a highly palatable apple flavoured powder and has no known side effects

  • Can be used in conjunction with other therapies
  • Can be given to pregnant and lactating mares
  • Zylkene for horses is lactose and preservative free
  • Zylkene is sold through licensed veterinary surgeons

Dosage and administration of Zylkene for horses

Zylkene Equine is easy to administer as a top dress on feed, or diluted in water.

Feeding directions

Thoroughly mix the contents of the pre-measured packet(s) with a small amount of feed

Dampen feed prior to mixing if necessary.

The recommended daily amount should be given in one intake (can also be diluted in water and syringed directly into mouth)

  • Bodyweight  = <500kg: 1-2 sachets a day
  • Bodyweight  = >500kg: 2-4 sachets a day

Short term use:

Begin adding to feed once daily approximately 3 days prior to stressful event – farrier, transport, dental work. Continue as needed.

Long term use:

  • Suggested period 2 to 4 weeks, once a day
  • Modify as necessary
  • Extend as required

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