In the wild horses are able to travel miles and miles to forage for the correct plants to keep their body systems in balance. Their strong sense of smell and inner vigilance allows them to determine which plants they need to eat. Domesticated animals are limited in their foraging and therefore depend completely on their people to provide nutrition, and care for their needs. It is sometimes difficult to determine what they need, so we do what we feel is best based on the knowledge available, and the advice of our vet. Aromatherapy provides another too to help use manage our horses basic needs and health.
Many companies offer grooming products that have botanical ingredients which may have some aromatherapy benefits. But buyer beware as “Aromatherapy” is a buzz word in many products today from dish detergent to baby wipes, and smelling like a flower doesn’t always equate to “Aromatherapy”. As horse owners and consumers, it is our responsibility to educate ourselves on what we are purchasing and why.
Some of the products for horses, dogs and people proudly proclaim “ALL NATURAL” implying that it is somehow safer or healthier. Really? What about poison Ivy? It is all natural! Arsenic is all natural, but do you want to spray it on your horse, or inhale it as you spray? Yet many horse owners by fly sprays with the all natural active ingredient PYRETHRINS, derived from a flowering plant, which is a known neurotoxin.
When choosing natural horse care products read the labels and if you still have questions regarding the effectiveness or safety of the ingredients, don’t hesitate to contact the manufacturer. Some ingredients that have sweet sounding names, like Penny royal, are not so innocent. Yes it is a good ingredient for controlling flying insects however it can be abortive. I always encourage people to contact me with any questions.
Before proceeding with natural botanical horse care products test the products for any allergic reactions on a small area. It is a good idea to let your horse smell the new products before you use them. You will get a really good idea by their reactions to the smell how it they will receive the product. Another benefit to using aromatherapy grooming products is the calming effect. A horse that is calm and has less anxiety will tend to be more focused and both the horse and rider will have a more enjoyable experience
There are some basic, oils to start your own barn aromatherapy kit . Be sure to test for sensitivity.by applying a small diluted amount and checking for reaction and always allow your horse to choose which oil to use by offering a drop on your hand for the horse to smell. Never use any essential oils internally. They are for external use only.
· Lavender: Known to have anti-inflammatory , anti-microbial, anti spasmodic, anti-depression , analgesic and calming properties Great for burns and minor scrapes
· Peppermint: Known to have decongestant, pain relieving and cooling properties always dilute as it can cause some sensitivity. Great for spraying in the barn for horses on stall rest or who may suffer from heaves
· Tea tree: Known to work well with Lavender with many of the same properties including anti-fungal applications.
· Sweet Orange: uplifting, anti depressant and anti-inflammatory properties. Also will help with the depression of horses that are on stall rest and helps with confidence.
· Patchouli: Calming and soothing to skin especially when mixed with witch hazel extract.
· Witch Hazel is great for bruises, swelling, under leg wraps, and as a natural tonic and cleanser for the skin and coat.
Aromatherapy and essential oils are a wonderful and enjoyable way to pamper your horse and enhance the special bond between horse and rider.
*all posts are copywrited
If you would like to quote or re-post the article please show credit to Sherie Vermeer and Equi-Spa providing a link to www.equispa.com/blog thank you.
The Dressage Horse and Equine Aromatherapy
Aromatherapy is becoming accepted as a viable complimentary means of care, along with massage, chiropractic, acupressure, homeopathy, magnetic therapy, and therapeutic touch, for humans and animals alike. Most of my experience has been with dressage horses. This article outlines how aromatherapy can be used for the dressage horse.
Dressage is a complex sport that is not only physically demanding, it also relies on the mental conditioning of the horse and rider team. It takes years of training for a horse and rider team to reach their peak, in performance and competition, compared to other equine athletes. Aromatherapy can assist the dressage athlete. Aromatherapy is a perfect resource for helping keep these horses in balance, as Essential Oils work on many levels helping the body balance physically, mentally and emotionally .
Aromatherapy utilizes Essential Oils, which are made up of compounds that are the reason plants have historically, been used for healing purposes. Aromatherapy is also becoming more common as a means of managing the well being of many high level equine athletes. I personally have had the pleasure of working with several of these wonderful horses and have witnessed positive results.
When I go to work on a horse, I take 2 blends with me. I offer the horse a chance to choose one of the 2 blends. It is very easy to determine the horse’s preference by their response. One of the blends, Shoe-Thyme, has oils which are blended to balance a horse that is emotionally stressed. The other, CMW, is to balance a horse that is physically stressed and holds tension in the muscles. I may offer a single oil to gain more insight on the horse’s present state. For instance, if the horse chooses Show-Thyme, I may offer ylang ylang which helps geldings with confidence, and mares needing hormonal balance. Or sweet orange which is a calming antidepressant for a horse that may be missing his pasture mates. If the horse chooses the CMW blend I may offer black pepper which has a slight analgesic effect and relaxes muscles. Another option is peppermint that is energizing and also helps with respiratory strength.
I proceed to use the chosen blend, allowing them to inhale, which is immediately absorbed into the system via the olfactory center in the brain and the circulatory system via the lungs. The horse responds by lowering his head or chewing or even closing his eyes. I use a combination of the essential oils and Acupressure, moving from the head, poll, crest, back, front legs and back legs on both sides. I usually work with them for about 30 to 40 minutes which includes soft massage, unblocking energy meridians and stretching exercises, specifically designed for dressage horses. I stretch out the tail to open and stretch the lower spine. I stretch out the shoulders and haunches. The essential oils are helpful as I work to keep the horse calm and to directly affect the muscle group and pressure points I am working on at the time.
Stallions are prominent in Dressage. This presents special challenges due to the number of mares and stallions there who need to be focused on their job and not mother nature. Some people have used a mentholated salve in the noses of stallions and mares to prevent them from smelling each other. This product is toxic if ingested and irritating to sensitive areas like noses. It melts and has an unpleasant taste if the horse licks it. There is a product available that works, is non toxic, and tastes sweet. It is made with Anais essential oils and beeswax. It gently blocks the smell center and also has a calming effect on the horse. As the beeswax melts it is pleasantly sweet to the horse.
Often I am asked for aromatherapy for the rider if they are experiencing tension as that could be transferred to the horse. I also try and teach the person responsible for grooming or riding the horse how to use the essential oil blends, and stretching exercises to use at home as it is very beneficial for schooling as well as the show ring.
The results are horses that are calmer, more focused and systemically balanced. Riders confirm this by relating stories of bigger more fluid movement and a more relaxed horse, and a positive experience for the rider.
We are absolutely thrilled with the New Look of Equi-Spa! Yes, wemiss some of the sparkle of the previous labels, and it was my horse jumping in the picture but…Oh..you didnt see the horse on the label? Well, that is one of the reasons why we upgraded. As much as we loved the sparkles and glitter, the labels were hard to read.
- In the process of creating a new look and branding of Equi-Spa we did rely on the feedback of some carefully chosen focus groups. One thing we learned was that our customers liked being able to recognize the different product by the different colors on the label. You will notice the new labels have different colors behind the picture at the top. The colors are softer and more organic looking which we believe reflects the essence of the Equi-Spa Products. You can still identify the product from across the barn.
- Sky Blue is Peppermint Summer Protection
- Ivory (used to be teal but too close to blue) is ShowCoat Conditioner
- Pale Pink is Grapefruit Coat Refresh
- Minty Green is Cool Muscle Wash Spray
- All the Not So Sweet Itch Products are Lavender
- The Sheath Cleaner and Lavender Cleansing Wash have gray back grounds
- Kiss a frog and Balm Labels did not change….yet.
Thank you for all your feedback, encouragement and continued support of Equi-Spa products. We look forward to Creating a larger presence in the Equine industry and leaving a smaller footprint on the planet.