Zen equine calming pastes from BioStar

Zen: Customize Your Horse’s Calm

There are many calming supplements and pastes that address stress in horses. Quite a few use ingredients like Vitamin B-1 (thiamin), magnesium, L-tryptophan, and inositol. These calming ingredients can be effective, which is why they are so popular. But none address the fact that not all horses respond to stress in the same way.

A recent study has highlighted that there are two fundamental coping mechanisms in horses:

The Externalizer

Externalizers make it very clear that they are stressed. This horse copes with stress by expressing his/her anxiety with obvious displays: stall walking, weaving, cribbing, heightened reactivity when ridden, excessive spooking, tension, and lack of focus. The externalizer horse copes with stress with outward behaviors. This horse acts like an overactive child or the proverbial drama queen.

The Internalizer

These horses internalize their stress. They can act withdrawn, show reduced response to touch or increased fear reaction to a normally un-scary object. These horses may be hard to get eye contact with, or they may stand at the back of their stalls for extended periods of time. They can be unwilling or reluctant to learn new training exercises. The internalizer horse copes with stress by withdrawing; if they were human, they would be in bed hiding under the covers. Horses that are internalizers can be difficult to recognize because they are not as obvious as the externalizer.

The brain/gut/adrenal axis

Stress is the body’s biological defense against danger: the fight or flight response. Humans and animals could not survive without it. When a stressor is perceived, the body releases cortisol and adrenaline. In scientific terms the stress response system is known as the HPA axis (hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis). When stress is interpreted a small area in the brain known as the hypothalamus sends a message to the pituitary gland to release ACTH, that then tells the adrenal gland to secrete cortisol and adrenaline. The stomach pumps more acid. A specific neurotransmitter, norepinephrine or noradrenaline, coupled with adrenaline are responsible for surges in energy, and shifts blood to the muscles to enhance the flight response.

Short bursts of stress, such as when a horse sees a scary new object for the first time, is normal.  Generally, the horse reacts, investigates, then relaxes.

Prolonged stress, however, can alter immune system responses.  Prolonged stress can affect gut motility, nutrient absorption, and the innate immune system.  Increased stomach acid production can lead to ulceration. The horse handles their stress by either internalizing or externalizing, as a coping mechanism.

Management of stress and anxiety needs to address the brain/gut/adrenal axis to be truly effective. How we address this axis depends on whether the horse is an externalizer under stress or an internalizer.

BioStar’s Zen paste formulas

For the first time, riders, trainers, and owners can address their horses’ stress with BioStar’s specific paste formulas that target the external or internal coping mechanisms of horses. Our Zen paste formulas, unique among horse calming supplements, give you the nutritional components to precisely address your horses’ stress.

It begins with a mushroom

Red Reishi mushroom is called the “essence of immortality” in Traditional Chinese Medicine, and used for over 2000 years. The Taoists and monks call it a “Shen tonic,” meaning nourishing to the spirit.  Reishi is classified in western medicine as an adaptogen, capable of helping the body return to a balanced state and homeostasis by supporting the endocrine, circulatory, and glandular body systems.

Reishi supports cognitive activity and focus, provides beta glucans for immune support and improves adrenocortical functions, thus minimizing stress.

Reishi addresses the brain/adrenal axis, helping to regulate the body and brain’s response to stress.

In our search for the highest quality Reishi, we discovered that many Reishi mushroom extracts are grown on sterile cereal grains, thus increasing the starch content. The higher the starch content, the lower the amount of important active compounds. BioStar’s Red Reishi mushrooms are grown on tree logs, not on cereal grains or rice. 

Our Red Reishi mushroom is full-spectrum, meaning mycelium, mushroom, and spores.  The mushroom is dual-extracted to break down the cell wall, which can be difficult to digest.  This ensures higher bioavailability of the mushroom compounds.  The Red Reishi mushrooms that BioStar uses are cultivated and extracted in the homeland of Traditional Chinese Medicine.  The mushrooms are grown in natural lighting and fresh air.  They are grown without agricultural chemicals and are USDA certified Organic.

Red Reishi Mushroom

Red Reishi Mushroom

Support for the GI tract:
Micro-crystalized aloe, also known as Medical Grade Aloe, is able to coat and protect the GI tract, which is important for horses under stress, as the intestinal mucosa is vulnerable to acid irritation.


Support for the brain:Sunflower
Sunflower lecithin (non-GMO) provides choline, the precursor to acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter involved in learning and memory.


Zen calming supplements come in three different formulas

Zen-X Calming Paste | BioStar US

BioStar’s Zen-X paste is for the externalizer. Casein protein provides Tryptophan for the synthesis of serotonin for relaxation. Amino-acid-chelated Magnesium plays a key role in muscle relaxation and electrolyte-water balance.

Zen-X Active Ingredients: for the externalizer
Organic dual-extracted red reishi mushroom
Micro-crystalized Aloe (Top Grade)
Sunflower Lecithin (non-GMO)
Casein (Bovine Milk Protein)
Amino Acid Chelated Magnesium


Zen-Max equine calming supplement from BioStar

BioStar’s Zen-Max paste is for the externalizer who has a more extreme response to stress.  It provides Rhodiola rosea, an Ayurvedic adaptogen for stress and focus, plus extra red reishi and bovine milk protein for calm and balance.

Zen-Max Ingredients: for the Extra-Externalizer
Rhodiola rosea in both powder and extract forms
Organic dual-extracted red reishi mushroom
Micro-crystalized aloe (Top Grade)
Sunflower Lecithin (non-GMO)
Casein (Bovine Milk Protein)
Amino Acid Chelated Magnesium

In-Zen Calming Paste | BioStar US

BioStar’s In-Zen paste is for the internalizer.  It provides Indian Ginseng, an Ayurvedic rasayana (rejuvenation) plant, helps regulate cortisol, and supports the brain-adrenal axis.

In-Zen Ingredients: for the internalizer
Organic dual-extracted red reishi mushroom
Micro-crystalized aloe (Top Grade)
Sunflower Lecithin (non-GMO)
Tulsi (also known as Holy Basil)

Calming supplements that are tested and proven

Our Zen formulas went through a beta trial on horses at one of the most stressful competition venues in the world: The Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington, Florida.  Used on over 30 horses from hunters, jumpers, to dressage horses, the Zen paste formulas proved effective and beneficial: maintaining a focused attitude but with cool energy to perform well.

Now you can take the guesswork out of what calmer to use.  Just ask yourself: is my horse an externalizer under stress or an internalizer? 

Zen Calming Paste Syringes | BioStar US

BioStar’s formulas are designed to address common situational stress with real, whole ingredients that can help maintain healthy brain function, normal stress hormone levels, and promote well-being of both mind and body.



Tigger Montague | BioStar USAbout the Author: With over 30 years experience in the equine and human supplement industry, Tigger Montague knows nutrition from the synthetic side as well as the whole food side. She started BioStar US in 2006 with formulas she created in her kitchen.  Before she started the company, she was an avid rider and competitor with eventing and show jumping, until she got hooked on dressage in the late 1980’s.  She has competed on horses she’s owned and trained all the way from training level to Grand Prix.



Budzynska, M. Stress Reactivity and Coping in Horse Adaptation to Environment. Journal of Equine Veterinary Science. Aug. 2017. Vol 34 pp. 935-941

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