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Equine Aromatherapy: For Dressage Horses and Equine Athletes

beautiful girl with white horse

Equine aromatherapy is becoming accepted as a viable complimentary means of care, along with massage, chiropractic, acupressure, homeopathy, magnetic therapy, and therapeutic touch for horses.

In fact, there has been positive research correlating the use of essential oils to evoke specific responses in horses as evidenced by this research report published in the Journal of Equine Veterinary Science. So it reasons that equine aromatherapy can be encouraged in some situations. Most of my experience has been with dressage horses. This article outlines how aromatherapy can be used for the dressage horse.

Dressage involves close cooperation between horse and rider; Equine aromatherapy creates balance and clarity

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. Equine 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.

Essential oils and their use with and for horses

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.

girl with pretty white horse
horses can get real benefit from aromatherapy

Horse aromatherapy

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.

Equine aromatherapy requires consideration of many factors just like it would for human beings.

Sherie Vermeer

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.

Essential oils for your horse grooming kit

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.

Equine Aromatherapy: in conclusion

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 of equine aromatherapy 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. You can see related information I have formulated on my work caring for foals.

32 thoughts on “Equine Aromatherapy: For Dressage Horses and Equine Athletes

  1. Hello, can you please post some more information on this topic? I would like to read more.

  2. Yes I am working on another article about Essential oils and dressage horses. I am also working on one about my experience with hunter/jumpers and with therapy horses working with disabled and special needs children using aromatherapy. should some of this done by the end of the month of july

  3. I wish I had known about essential oils and their benefits when I had my mare. I feel she would of benefited. Thanks for the read

  4. I’ll have to send this to my sister for her horses at college

  5. My friend owns 4 dressage horses, and he’d be interested in equine aromatherapy for his horses.

  6. I didn’t know essential oils could be beneficial for horses. Good info!

  7. I really needed to know this, thanks

  8. I didn’t realize there were these kinds of benefits to aromatherapy. thanks for the info!

  9. Definitely going to have to give these a try!

  10. I had no idea about horse aromatherapy, very interesting

  11. Great information

  12. I also become calmer, more focused and systemically balanced. Thanks

  13. thanks for the info

  14. My cousin would really be interested in Equine Aromatheropy she works with horses

  15. great article

  16. Interesting. Great tips.

  17. I’m sure horses would love interesting smells of aromatherapy.

  18. This is new to me. Certainly takes aromatherapy to a new level.

  19. Essential oils have so many benefits!!

  20. oh this is all wonderful

  21. I had no idea about horse aromatherapy or dressage.

  22. I never thought about aromatherapy but it makes total sense now!

  23. Aromatherapy can be so impactful for people, it’s amazing that there is now information about using it for horses too!

  24. Great article, great info, thanks.

  25. Thanks a lot.

  26. I had no idea aromatherapy could be used this way!

  27. Essential oils are beneficial to us and I’m not surprised that they could also benefit horses

  28. thats interesting

  29. Absolutely amazing article 😊

  30. Never knew you could use essentail oils for horses. Very interesting!

  31. Essential oils help me, not surprised that they can help horses, too.

  32. This is really interesting – I have used some aromotherapy myself and with my kids but never thought about it for horses in these applications.

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