Valerian root is one of the most widely used herbal nervines for calming horses. When correctly applied and dosed, it can relieve anxiety and excitability without reducing the horse’s mental faculties or their physical ability to perform. Indeed, some experiments have shown that valerian actually increases coordination and concentration abilities.
Whilst valerian should not be treated as a quick-fix, silver bullet for a horse’s nervous problems, it can be helpful for treating issues which have a stress-related origin. Some ailments which can respond to valerian (often in conjunction with other herbs) are ulcers, some colics, constipation, muscle spasms (both gut and skeletal), flatulence and bronchial conditions. It has also been used to treat rheumatism, and as part of herbal mixtures to treat tying up and stringhalt. It is reputed to discourage some intestinal parasites.