Can Horses Benefit from Aromatherapy?
We know that essential oils have some fantastic health and healing properties for people, and over time we are discovering that certain oils can also benefit animals too. Some animals have very sensitive bodies, and we must exercise extreme caution if we even use oils in the same room as them, cats being the most sensitive and dogs not reacting well to some of the oils. But new research suggests that we should be using one oil in particular around horses which is an area most people might not have considered.
Lavender has an excellent reputation and a myriad of uses. It is an oil that has natural antibacterial properties and the one oil that can be applied neat to human skin as an emergency first aid for burns. Coming from Africa or the Mediterranean, lavender is toxic when ingested, so care needs to be taken, but when used correctly the benefits are massive. The smell of lavender has a soporific effect on the brain and is often recommended for those who cannot sleep. It has a reputation for being able to help with anxiety and depression so is an excellent oil for use in a diffuser if a member of the family is suffering. Using an electric diffuser that will automatically switch off when the water runs out is a great way to use lavender to combat sleep issues as it can be safely left on in the bedroom, and will simply shut down when it finishes. Although the oil would be toxic if swallowed, lavender can be prepared directly from the plant into a tea, and this tea can assist those who suffer from digestive distress, including vomiting, gas, nausea and upset stomach.
So How Can Lavender Help Horses?
Horses are known to be quite nervy animals, and as humans, we tend to ask a lot of them. Horses are asked to wear lots of saddle equipment, loaded into horse boxes, have their feet looked at, seeing a vet, being bathed and groomed and more. It is little wonder that they can sometimes get stressed, and of course, this is not good for the horse or the owner. Ann Baldwin, who is a professor of physiology and psychology at the University of Arizona in America, was part of a study that looked at using lavender around horses. Using the scent of lavender, the researchers looked at the effect of heart rate during this time. It was evident that the smell of lavender was indeed working on the horses as the heart rate studies confirmed that they were more relaxed. There are also a number of behaviours that are associated with a horse being relaxed, such a lowering their necks and chewing and licking. The horses in the study were observed displaying these behaviours more when the lavender was near them. This could be an interesting experiment for anyone who has a nervous horse as lavender is safe to diffuse around the stables, and you may find that your horse is calmer and less stressed.