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Treating Horses with Essential Oils

Treating Horses with Essential Oils

Horses respond extremely well to essential oils.  However, for their great size and weight, they require an application of just a few drops to keep them healthy or to heal an ailment.  Remember, essential oils are not like liniments that we might slather over ourselves or our animals; instead, they are the intense distillation of a plant’s essences, making them potent and powerful.  And, because they are therapeutic grade, the oils are safe to use.  The key is how to use the oils.

Nothing substitutes for a good diet and exercise.  In the past those factors may have been sufficient for horses on the range, as they could seek out herbs, grasses, vegetables, flowers, or tree bark to eat or roll in as a supplement to their diet or to maintain their well-being.  Now, of course, they no longer are free to roam; the restrictions of a pasture and stall preclude their seeking out natural remedies for themselves.

Thus, it becomes our mandate to care for their physical, mental, and emotional needs.  Certainly, a bruise, arthritis, or ulcer can be healed with pharmaceuticals, salves, and ointments.  However, essential oils also can support a horse’s physical issues, and without the side effects, allergic reactions, or expense.  In fact, the health benefits of using pure essential oils include protecting the body, boosting the immune system, revitalizing the mind, and influencing mood.

Essential oils can also help with emotional issues, perhaps even better than any medication, if there even are some that you’d want to use.  For example, a traumatic experience, loss or change of ownership, move, or injury can send your steed into a depression just as devastating as we might experience ourselves.  Horses are extremely sensitive creatures, after all.  They often even pick up on our moods and emotions and mirror them back at us.

No oil or treatment substitutes for regular care from a qualified veterinarian, either.  The goal here is NOT to displace routine care, but to enhance and support it.  Essential oils can be invaluable aids on a daily basis to supplement and support the immune system or to help a horse through its life cycle.  Then, too, they are wonderful for the issues that arise for every horse owner.

Oils can be placed on treats, in the food, or in the waterpail.  They can be rubbed onto the coat or placed on chakras (the vital energy points on the body); they can also be rubbed onto a specific spot, such as the pasterns or coronet bands.  They can even be used in the animal’s “energy field,” the area an inch or two around the body.  The key is to use a little (3 to 5 drops) and to choose judiciously which oil to use.

For a healthy horse, you might consider administering a few drops of Immune Strength on a regular basis (perhaps every other day) to support its overall well-being.  A horse that’s stressed or injured might require twice daily treatments of Immune Strength (to stabilize it), along with specific oils for the situation it’s experiencing.  Remember, however, essential oils are a supplement to regular health care and veterinary treatments, not a substitute!

Here are a few suggestions for some oils to use for common situations.

  • Arthritis Plus is great for arthritis and strains; rub this onto joints (remember, 3 to 5 drops for the entire horse, not per joint!).
  • Horses standingRelieve Me helps painful areas or sore joints; rub where needed (remember, 3 to 5 drops for the entire horse, not per joint!).
  • Peppermint not only is a great treat that horses love, but it is also great for gastric upsets; put 3-4 drops on treats.  It can also be used to cool an overheated horse after a workout or especially muggy weather; in this case, hose the horse down well, then apply 5-8 drops on a damp sponge and wipe the horse down completely.  (Riders, on a hot, muggy day, try dampening a cloth or towel, rubbing about 3 drops onto it, then wrapping the cloth around your neck; you’ll find it helps keep you cooler.)
  • Tummy Rub is excellent for stomach ulcers and gastric distress; put 3-4 drops in the food or on treats on a regular basis.
  • Focusing is fantastic for young horses, nervous ones, or performance horses.  Apply a few drops (3-5) both to yourself and to the horse’s chest and neck before a workout or performance to effectively “key into” one another.
  • Aligning is excellent for a horse that’s stressed healthwise or emotionally; put 3-4 drops in the food or on treats on a regular basis or rub it onto the horse’s body. 
  • Breathe Ease is wonderful for stuffy sinuses and allergy season.  Have the horse sniff 3-4 drops from your hand, then rub onto the horse’s sinus passages and beneath the ears and onto the neck.  (Be careful not to overwhelm your horse by applying the oil directly to its nostrils or muzzle—they have very sensitive olfactory nerves!)
  • Tranquility or Lavender are great for calming nerves and easing stress.  If a horse gets anxious loading onto the trailer or before a performance, apply a few drops (3-5) both to yourself and to the horse’s chest and neck before a workout or performance.

Oh, be sure to let the horse sniff the oil either from the bottle or off your hands (but keep the tip of the bottle from touching skin—yours or the horse’s—to maintain its purity).  They’ll be curious about what you’re applying, but that also is a great way to transmit the oils through the blood/brain barrier via the nasal passages.

Finally, you can apply more than one oil at a time; just please be judicious.  Try not to use more than three oils at any one time.  And DO NOT mix the oils; apply each one separately.  That way the benefits of each oil are optimized.

Keep checking in; more write-ups are forthcoming.  Those that follow will focus on specific equine conditions and strategies for effective

And finally,

What have you used with your horses? How do you like to treat them with essential oils. Please share in the comment section at the bottom of the page.

Two horses at fence

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About nsheheen

Nancy Sheheen is a certified practitioner in Healing Touch for Animals.
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