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.
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