'Healthy Happy Horses, Naturally' with Catherine Bird

Posts tagged ‘essential oils’

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

Each horse needs a unique approach

How you approach the management of your horse’s health depends very much on individual filters. Every situation requires individual assessment.

For example, I may get two requests for a supportive program for a horse with laminitis.

Horse 1 is in extreme pain and under the care of veterinarian as well as a hoofcare specialist. The herbs I suggest to support the healing process need to complement and not be in opposition to the prescribed veterinary care. To philosophically insist that all veterinary prescriptions be ceased and the horse wholly rely on herbs and essential oils could challenge the owner’s mental wellbeing, and the owner’s stress would undermine the effectiveness of the program I am asking them to adhere to. For this horse it is best to work with what is in place.

Horse 2 may have chronic laminitis that the owner has been managing but needs advice on a sudden acute flare up of the condition. With this owner, as they have a higher level of trust in natural therapies so supporting them rely on herbs with the caveat that they have their veterinarian on standby if required, is empowering for them. For this owner to be completely reliant on pharmaceutical drugs for recovery could cause distress and their concerns could block the effectiveness of both the drugs and herbs.

Drugs and herbs do not need to be exclusive of the other, and the best approach on the day is the one that supports both the horse and owner in a way they can experience the least amount of stress and feel safe in their decisions.

In some countries, owners will not have a choice. It is legislation that determines who can assist the horse.

With ongoing chronic issues such as arthritic joints, herbs and essential oils, homeopathics and bodywork are much easier on the horse and body systems. Then if there is an injury or a painful flare up of the condition your veterinarian can intervene and once the nasty aspects are manageable again you can resume ‘naturally’. This is having the best of both approaches.

The same occurs with parasites. Over the years we have overused or used the wrong worming products. No single approach can guarantee you the best coverage with parasite management. However, sensible practices can limit the reliance on drugs. Using herbs that make the gut less hospitable to worms, then checking the worm count before worming helps in reducing the frequency you worm and to select the most effective product, when needed.

Stomach ulcers can be managed with natural products but if a stressful event causes a flare up a return to the proprietary product the horse has previously been responsive to can help restore a balance and then herbal maintenance can resume mending and strengthening. Using nervine you are supporting and strengthening the nervous system so that the horse is less and less reactive the stressors, and with time the gut is less irritated and you no longer need the herbs or the products.

Endocrine issues can be difficult to work with as once the horse is on a pharmaceutical product that regulates reproductive cycles or endocrine diseases, the herbs that would be appropriate could clash within the body with these medications and these are medications that need veterinarian supervision if discontinuing. The pharmaceutical approach is not completely exclusive as to what herbs you can use to support secondary issues, but you have to be very careful what herbs you do choose.

With the competition horse prohibited substances and the possibility of herbs and essential oils testing positive or being deemed unsportsmanlike, the competitor has to rely on substances that have a defined withholding period so as not to be disciplined or affect their professional reputation. With herbs available information is anecdotal not reliable, and even with available drugs the studies have been conducted on small numbers of horses, but at least documented for veterinarians to rely on.

Pharmaceutical companies are investing less in acute relief and focusing on the chronic conditions where they get more of a financial return for their research dollar. Bacterial strains becoming resistant to current antibiotics and fewer new antibiotic products being developed means strengthening the immune system with herbs is a sensible approach for both human and horse.

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Simple ‘preventatives’ can assist. One favourite for horses is to attach an Aromawearable tag to their collar so that they inhale immune system enhancing or digestive essential oils with their evening feed. Or for the nervous agitated horse travelling home with a tag impregnated with calming aromatherapy. Both options have the horse more settled and less vulnerable to physical issues.

 

It is a juggle between which approaches to take, what is important to remember is that both are appropriate if you understand and consider all options so that you can sensibly decide what is best with you and your horse.

Positive aromatherapy responses from horses

After a recent visit to a regular centre in Wyee – I received this photo from the human that belongs to Girsh.

Girsh - smiling for the camera during a positive response to his essential oils during a recent aromatherapy session.

Girsh – smiling for the camera during a positive response to his essential oils during a recent aromatherapy session.

When first discovering essential oils for use with horses, it can be tricky deciding if your horse likes an aroma – hopefully from the archives of a class session I presented at Orange TAFE in 2007 you will gain some insights. Even on a day where it had snowed the day before, we were able to elicit a variety of responses that will help the reader see a sample of what could be expected.

Orange TAFE on a very cold July in 2007:

Yes please

Yes please

 

 

 

Ideally, the essential oil bottle is held a little further from the nostril and wafted across both nostrils.

 

Moving the uncapped bottle away from our ‘Maybe’ friend would help to determine if he really likes the aroma – if he stretches further forward – take that as a positive.

Maybe

Maybe

May I have some more

May I have some more

With the “May I have some more response” – this is a good distance to hold the bottle from the nostril.

 

Some horses will just hang out with the aroma – you will notice a softening of the eye, and often appearing zoned out.

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Ahhhhhh I like this one

I'm back for more

I’m back for more

 

 

 

Just be careful that your horse does not try to grab hold of the bottle in his mouth.

 

 

 

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

 

Essential Oils For the Young Ones

From freefoto.com

From freefoto.com

When using aromatherapy with foals, I have used them comfortably from one week old in my practice. I like the idea of allowing them to bond with their mother before introducing them to the foals olfactory nervous system, and then after that I have I have safely used them both for the scent reaction in their behavioural centres as well as physical application to muscle issues from the ‘trauma of birth’.

My main rule of thumb if you are applying essential oils to a young horse, stick strictly to your 2.5% dilution, moreso as to not irritate their sensitive skin, and to also keep in mind they are smaller so what enters the body will circulate more quickly and you don’t want to give their liver or kidneys any surprises to filter.

If you are not sure if you should apply essential oils to your foal, ask him or her. They will be curious about the scent than an older horse, but the odd one will make him breath more intently or turn away quickly. As they have a shorter attention span, make your selection simple, and limit it to offering no more than 6 essential oils in a session.

Some essential oils I have found useful with foals:

Roman Chamomile

some foals come into this world with shoulder soreness, especially if they have had an assisted birth. Chamomile on its own in a nice carrier like aloe gel or jojoba oil to the deep cranial pectoral muscle (just foreward of the scapula where the neck joins the shoulder) will help with the sort of muscle spasms I have encountered with these foals.

Sweet Orange

these essential oil is from the peel of the orange. It is useful when a foal has been orphaned or is having trouble bonding with its mother. The scent of the orange gives the impression on the limbic system of that of a warm motherly hug. It is very welcoming and helps the animal inhaling it to open up to its emotional environment.

Lavender

older horses don’t often choose this essential oil. However young foals find it calming, especially when they are encountering the sudden influc of new sights and sounds around the farm. Particularly useful for the shy foal who appears a bit overwhelmed by his new environment.