It is often said that, as prey animals, horses are supposed be be nervous and spooky. It is our contention that a spooky horse is more likely to run into the jaws of a predator than to avoid one.
Instead horses should be able to assess risk quickly and efficiently. Horses that can do this well are far less likely to be spooked by a butterfly, dressage white boards or show jumping flowers.
Highly nervous horses often have poor appetites so struggle to gain weight and build muscle. They are prone to stereotypical behaviour like box walking, weaving and crib biting. And they are far more likely to get
digestive disorders, other illnesses or suffer injuries.
Because calcium does not dampen brain function (excessive doses of magnesium can) it does not 'sedate' the horse. Instead the horse's brain works as nature
Your horse's natural personality my be quite different from what you see now
Below are some examples of how VCAL
helps horses participating in various different disciplines:
Photo: Claire Spelling
Whatever training method you use, if the horse's brain isn't working properly, your success will be limited. It is such a shame if this limitation is caused by a simple nutritional
VCAL helps horses to concentrate so makes them more receptive to whatever training you are doing.
Claire Spelling was using Parelli techniques on
Scoobie but was struggling to get a consistent outline for some simple dressage moves. She seemed to have reached a ceiling and couldn't progress any further. But when VCAL was
introduced to his diet he bcame far more receptive and now he is improving at a rapid rate.
Scoobie has also turned from a rather nervous horse into a genuinely inquisitive one.
Highlighting that what you think is your horse's natural personality may not be quite right.
Hacking can present enormous problems with
some horses. Every scary object is new and horses that are nervous and spooky can be very dangerous. VCAL can reduce the spookiness and help horses to evaluate their
surroundings better. With appropriate training from the rider many horses become much calmer.
Photo: Jan Milne
You may think that calcium deficiency would show up most in the dressage phase. But actually we believe that show jumping is the better indicator. Watch any intro or novice event and 90% of the horses will get stronger
and flatter as they go round the show jumping course. The other 10% are either ridden by VERY experienced riders or are getting VCAL in their diet. Surprisingly this ratio doesn't
change very much even at 4* level.
There is a lot going on for a horse in the show jumping arena. Scary fillers and flowers, flags and an absence of other horses. Most pump
too much adrenalin and stop listening to their riders. The result is lack of rhythm, slow turning, poor times and unnecessary poles down. Some horses lose their ability to judge
the distance and height of fences which results in refusals or fences down. THIS HAPPENS EVEN TO OTHERWISE SENSIBLE HORSES!
Some have such great natural talent they still get round OK but their ability to move up the
grades is limited by this behaviour. VCAL makes them more trainable and improves their concentration during competition.
In the dressage phase the spookiest horses
can misbehave quite badly. But even sensible horses get tense and perform below their very best. This is hardly surprising as, again, they are being taken away from their 'herd' and
asked to do a number of difficult manouvres.
While VCAL won't turn a lousy dressage horse into a champion it can improve scores so much that it is in striking distance of the
leaders before the jumping phases.
Most event horses love cross country. But the judgment issues that affect show jumping are magnified with fixed fences and exacerbated
by fatigue. Now poor judgment doesn't just mean more penalties it is a major contributor to potentially dangerous accidents. We beleive that, in a few years time, proper calcium supplementation with VCAL will be recognised as a major contributor to cross country safety by substantially reducing the number of horse judgment errors.
There is plenty of anecdotal evidence that horses on V
CAL make better judgments and are more able to adjust stride length than those without it. Certainly they are more trainable in all aspects of eventing and they
tend to be far more relaxed (or less nervous). Such horses seem to cruise round the cross country course effortlessly. Despite looking quite slow they turn fast, accelerate and collect when needed and actually finish
comfortably in the time. By wasting less energy cross country, at CCI's, they have more chance of performing the final show jumping phase without penalty.
It is difficult to imagine an equestrian discipline where the horse's ability to concentrate is more important than in dressage. Yet we constantly see horses that are stressed by their
environment, distracted by other horses, white boards, flower pots, flags, judges or just their riders aids.
Whilst to date most of the dressage horses that have been given VCAL
would be regarded as 'difficult' experience tells us that even sensible horses become less tense and more focussed when the calcium available to the brain is adequate.
The training benefits are enormous as we raise the level at which a horse becomes stressed by difficult new work. So its comfort zone and learning zone are both expanded. Trainers
who always push their horses well out of their comfort zone will not see any benefit as the adrenalin produced in response will overwhelm the brain. But the vast majority of people will see significant training and
performance benefits with VCAL.
Photo: Jessie Ambridge
Precision, rhythm, concentration and control. Show jumping horses have to make split second judgments and alterations. They can't
afford to be distracted by objects on the course, the crowd, flags and banners. They must listen to their rider and translate their aids into carefully implemented actions. This is all
much harder if the brain isn't working optimally.
Horses that fail to listen to their riders can become strong and flat greatly increasing the risk of having fences down. Such horses also
struggle to turn fast enough to make good times.
VCAL overcomes these issues by reducing distractibility and improving concentration. Horses are easier to school to change stride
length and remain balanced.
VCAL has had relatively little exposure to the racing world. However where it has been used it helps horses remain calm before the
race without distracting from their actual performance. Reduced sweating and far less energy wasted before the start means the race is started with a full tank of fuel.
Horses used for carriage driving have just the same nutritional needs as those used for other disciplines.
In some ways their ability to concentrate is
even more important as the communication between horse and driver is less intimate than with riding horses.
A small number of carriage drivers have used VCAL
technology with great success. Many more could benefit.
Few would doubt that both lactating mares
and growing foals have high demands for calcium. The problem is that most breeding horses are handled far less than riding horses and any behavioural problems are difficult to
see. Yet these are important formative years for the minds and personalities of young horses.
VCAL makes excellent nutrition for the brain
but it is also excellent for milk production and bone development. So it makes the perfect ingredient for mare and foal products.
Hunting must be one of the most exciting
environments for horses and ponies. VCAL has been shown to help keep hunting horses calm without impairing their judgment.
Showing is another very exciting (or stressful) environment for horses. Lots going on, strangers around (sometimes strangers riding them) and lots of excitement.
A calm head and a high level of obedience is required. VCAL is perfect.
VCAL is being successfully used on a number of horses competeing in this exciting sport.
Developed in the UK VCAL has not been exposed to Western riding techniques. But we know it will work. Please feel free to contact us.
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