'Healthy Happy Horses, Naturally' with Catherine Bird

Posts tagged ‘behaviour’

Essential oils for moving to a new home

Your horse will select his preferred essential oil by leaning forward toward the open bottle; he will show his lack of interest by simply turning his head away.

Your horse will select his preferred essential oil by leaning forward toward the open bottle; he will show his lack of interest by simply turning his head away.

Aromatherapy is the use of essential oils, pure plant extracts usually obtained by distillation, to assist your horse in maintaining a balanced physical body and emotional state of being. Horses are creatures of habit and enjoy a regular routine; when something comes along to disrupt this routine such as a move to a new farm, you can use the aromas from essential oils to assist make the transition gentle and welcoming for your horse.

Before introducing your horse to a new place, it is important to prepare it for him. I find horses are very sensitive to their environment so to make the environment welcoming you need to energetically cleanse his new home. If it is a stabling complex, often the previous occupants may have dumped their frustrations or other negative emotions when working with their own horses. This is simple to cleanse and the essential oil that helps clear away other peoples’ dropped negativity is eucalyptus. If you are able to do so without feeling uncomfortable, you can wash the walls of the stable down with water that contains a couple of drops of eucalyptus essential oil. If you are not sure of what the owners of the property may think of you if you do this, simply take a spray bottle with either a eucalyptus hydrosol or with water containing the eucalyptus essential oil and a dispersant, and spray the stable your horse will occupy with your intention to clear away any “junk” from any previous occupants.

When it comes to helping your horse with this adjustment, one of the most nurturing essential oils is sweet orange, from the peel of the fruit. If you picture the shape of an orange, it is inviting and bright and sunny, and what the scent does is create a space that feels like a warm motherly hug. It is a reassuring scent especially if offered to your horse when he needs a little extra special attention.

Juniper is useful for the horse that worries and finds change difficult to accept. It also assists the horse who is joining a new herd to a move into his rank in the pecking order. It is also for the horse who is always looking to his owner with the look of “Am I getting it right here?” or the horse with a crinkled look above the eye.

Frankincense will dispel any fear your horse may experience when you bring him to a new home. It can be useful if your horse, once moved, begins to shy at shadows when riding. It can also be used for clearing off past problems if you have had to move your horse from a “not so friendly” property. You can do a daily wipe of your horse for the first week. You simply place a couple of drops of frankincense on your hands and warm them together, then deliberately and slowly work over your horse from head to toe, sweeping away any bad feelings that may have been directed at him or you from the past.

For a young gelding who may need assurance, especially if he has been gelded recently before the move, ylang ylang will bring that assurance. For the young filly, clary sage can bring the same assurance. Lavender is the essential oil to help the horse who is brought into a stabling complex, when he has previously been a pastured or paddocked horse, adjust to a more frantic and active environment where there are people and horses about all the time. For the horse who has been stabled most of the time going to pasture, patchouli will help this horse not feel overwhelmed by the space.

It takes some intuition on your part to assist your new horse or a horse you are moving with. You can also offer a horse in this situation essential oils including mandarin if there is an element of frustration, sweet fennel if the move has been traumatic, geranium if anger has an expression, possibly Roman chamomile if you are moving a young horse and he is showing behaviour you would describe as a childish tantrum.

If your horse likes more than one of the suggested essential oils, you can blend them together for him into a carrier. As you are looking at this being his “comfort” scent for the day, add a 2.5 percent dilution to some aloe vera gel and apply where your horse is showing a physical stress. Sometimes when a horse is uncertain if his environment is secure, you will find his back will tighten. In this type of horse simply wipe your aloe vera containing the blend of essential oils along his back.

If your horse creases the top of his eye and looks heavy in the head while trying to mentally process the move, this application may be most appropriately applied to his poll. For the horse who has moved and left behind paddock mates he has been attached to, rose essential oil in jojoba oil applied to his chest will help with the grieving process and strengthen his sense of self while adjusting to his new home.

The key to selecting the best essential oils for your horse is to have a small selection and offer them to him on a daily basis. Each day during this transition period, his attraction to the essential oils will vary. For this reason it is best to make up any blends as each day dictates. Your horse will select his preferred essential oil by leaning forward toward the open bottle; he will show his lack of interest by simply turning his head away.

The benefit with using essential oils when moving is you will benefit just as much as your horse when you use the essential oils to help him. Inhaling essential oils will work with both your limbic systems within the brain so that this move will become a pleasant memory, so that in the future if another move has to be faced, you will be able to recall the “good” memories to assist you again.

This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace professional veterinary care.

First published Volume 4 Issue 3 – 2002 Natural Horse Magazine

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Energizing Oils – essential oils for the unambitious

Do I have to?

Do I have to?

Well, this could be a delicate topic, as no horse really likes to be referred to as a plodder, or worse still – stubborn, resistant, possibly even lazy! Now, it is important that you make sure there is no physical reason for your horse being called one of these names. Perhaps his muscles are not able to do what you want, or, as in the case of George, you may find a medical problem – my mate here had a bladder stone, and no matter how many essential oils we would have used before the discovery we would have had a very resistant horse with anyone on his back.

Essential oils provide a gentle way to give our equine friends a little push along, to save us squeezing until our legs just seem to have no more squeeze in them. The scent molecule is underestimated in its ability to have an effect on how our horses “think” and “feel”. This tiny entity registers with the cilia in the nasal passages and this sends impulses to the brain where we can stimulate the mind and body, or calm the body. The limbic system reads the impulses and then the hypothalamus gland sends a myriad of messages to the whole body and its glands. It is believed to even communicate to every cell in the body when it instructs the release of neurochemicals, which then have the body wake up, or slow down.

So let’s look at essential oils that will help motivate the “unambitious” horse.

Basil for its amphoteric action

Basil essential oil is one that can bring focus to the mind. Sometimes a horse can be perceived as being lazy, where he is really having trouble comprehending what you are asking of him. You need to get clearer in your asking, as well as helping his mind tune into your way of communicating. Amphoteric,
from Greek amphoteros, “each of two”, from ampho, “both”, means basil will either relax or stimulate the mind and body. This is often an early choice when working with an unambitious horse, as sometimes it is not necessarily in need of stimulation, but more a need to have some focus amongst too much stimulation.

Bergamot to uplift

Bergamot is one of the essential oils we get from citrus plants. It is expressed from the peel of the plant and can be the trigger for photosensitivity, so it is best not to apply to the skin if your horse will be exposed to strong sunlight. However it is a wonderful winter time essential oil to waft under the nose of your horse – if he is a bit tentative during the colder weather, Bergamot will ease these anxieties and help him move forward with confidence.

Grapefruit to brighten

Not every horse is able to be paddocked 24 hours a day, and in some countries where land is limited and performance horses need to be stabled most of the day, grapefruit is the essential oil to bring a little sunshine into their lives. Before morning feeds for these horses, it will help lift their spirits, improve their digestion and have them a little more giving when asked to work.

Frankincense if the horse is recovering from illness

Frankincense was once one of our most highly valued commodities, many battles fought over the land it was cultivated on. The religious connection in raising the soul and cleansing the spirit can also assist a horse who is reluctant to return to ridden work after an illness or spell due to the need to recuperate from surgery or injury. Frankincense is used to assist with rejuvenation and this is useful when the unambitious horse needs to be freshened up.

Rosemary is one of the most stimulating

Rosemary is one of the most stimulating essential oils available to non-aromatherapists, and will assist in lifting your horse out of any lethargic state of being. A sprig of rosemary is often worn in remembrance of soldiers who have fallen at war – “Lest we Forget” – r for rosemary, r for remembrance – so it will also help your horse remember his cues. Be careful as most rosemary essential oils contain camphor and this is a prohibited substance on most show circuits.

Ginger to spice things up

At the beginning of the 1900’s racehorses used to be “gingered” (by rudely placing some ginger root into their, ummmm, anus). The stewards would sniff under the tail of the winners to determine if this had happened. Ginger is a warming essential oil and will wake up the senses if you waft this essential oil under your unambitious horse’s nostrils.

The Horse’s Olfactory System

In the case of stimulating and invigorating essential oils, the locus ceruleus is the part of the brain triggered which releases noradrenaline. Other essential oils that will have some relationship here include cardamom, juniper, lemongrass, lemon and peppermint.

The compelling power of odours on the psyche has been recognised since the earliest of times Aromatic woods, gums and herbs were burnt in ancient temples to drive out evil spirits who had often been perceived in making those around them tired and lethargic. An ancient Egyptian perfume was said to “lull to sleep”, while the Ancient Greeks documented certain odours to improve mental alertness and concentration.

The Romani gypsies across Europe would often rub herbs together to release the scent under a horse’s nose to have a desired effect.

We have all individually been influenced by a perfume, for better or worse.

Essential Oils are not for the competition circuit

These are just examples of how you can use essential oils to “wake-up” your equine companion. However, you do have to respect ‘where your horse is at’ when you do this. Always have your veterinarian check your horse for any other medical reasons as to why your horse may have become lazy. Are you making his training and time with you interesting enough for him as well? Don’t forget to have some fun time with your horse and really enjoy your time together.

If your horse has a career as a race horse or is on the show circuit, do not breech any codes of conduct or competition rules. These ideas are to assist you with training and spending time with your horse; they are not to be used to stimulate your horse during competitions nor are they to be used when a horse is exhausted from not being prepared adequately for such a competition.

Along with rosemary, other essential oils such as peppermint and eucalyptus are stimulating but also contain camphor. Some associations list these as prohibited substances and will test for their presence because they can be used to screen the presence of other banned drugs. However if another competitor reports you using these essential oils at a competition you may find yourself being called before a committee for disciplinary action, and in some of these cases, testing is not required.

To get your desired results

Simply take the time to offer your horse a selection of any of the essential oils listed. Don’t push the bottle up his nostril, simply waft each bottle about six inches away from his nose. He will be able to assess if this is an essential oil that will help him with his lack of ambition. If it is, he will lean towards the bottle, deepen his breathing, and maybe even give you a flehmen response by curling his top lip to trap as much of the essential oil in his nasal cavity as he can.

He may decide the essential oil you offer him is not to his liking. If this happens he will turn his head away or even try to walk away from you.

Note each of his responses and this will also give you a guide as to why your horse may be a bit lazy to your requests. Also note how his choice changes each time you spend time with him, as his responses will not always be the same each time. He may have a strong attraction to one essential oil for a week or so; other days he may change his choice on an hourly basis.

The more you explore these responses, the more you will begin to understand your own horse’s individual needs, and your own relationship will take on a fuller dimension. Over time you will find your horse will become a more willing companion as this develops further.

First published Natural Horse Magazine Volume 5 Issue 3 – 2003 written by Catherine Bird

 

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Does your horse like your scent?

Aaaahhhh

When you first start offering essential oils to your horse, it may not be clear what the preferences are.

With younger horses they may look like they are interested in every bottle you waft under their nose, you may find the only indicator is the strength of breath they take to get more of the scent they like.

The horse in this pic got me very excited when he dropped his tongue out at the bottle. However his handler stated he did this all the time, be it when being groomed, riding or just ‘because’. He was clear though with his likes and dislikes and would turn away from the ones he disliked.

Other horses may indicate their preference by stepping forward for the essential oil they prefer. Older less expressive horses may simply lean forward.

The more time you take and not rush the selection, the better you become at picking up the subtle signs. It may be the look in the eye changes, the horse choose his favourite by not moving away from one particular essential oil.

The sign I always enjoy is the flehman where the horse curls his top lip and lifts his head to capture the scent. Even then, some horses will do this with nearly all the scents I offer so to determine a preference I may reoffer and find he then only selects a few, or I offer one essential oil that is quite different to see if he truly like the first selection.

Remember not to offer too many in one session, eventually he can become overpowered and switch off to what you are trying to achieve.

Sometimes you will have very demonstrative selections, other times you need to read more subtle signs. The key with either type of response is to watch closely at the way the horse responds and see if you can pick a pattern. The overly demonstrative can be just as hard to decide on his preferred scent as the one who may only slightly flare one nostrils as he hangs his head over the bottle.

Grapefruit is a refreshing and uplifting scent for this time of year, be you in the warm Australian sunshine for Christmas or experiencing the wet in England or the cold in the US at the moment. If your horse is unsettled by your current weather conditions anywhere, Sweet Orange will give them a reassuring hug. For those in colder climates, a waft of Ginger will help warm them from within. For those in the Southern Hemisphere Peppermint can help cool an overheated horse experiencing the stifling effects of a heatwave.

All these scents just need to be wafted under the nostrils from the bottle, no need to physically apply for these purposes.

Frankincense is always appropriate at this time leading up to New Year, helping you release the stress of the past year from you and your horse by warming a few drops in the palm of your hand and wiping your own and their auric field with that intent. It helps start the new year with a cleaner slate and open you up to what the spiritual aspects of the year to come may have to offer.

 

written by Catherine Bird