The lovely scent of this flower seems to relax and soothe horses.
An anxious and nervous horse isn’t fun to be around. They can actually make YOU uncomfortable and on edge! No one wants to get stepped on or throw from a reactive horse. You definitely want to address the issue from the start. Essential oils may be the solution to your problem.
In particular, lavender has been known to have a soothing effect on both horses and humans alike. This has been scientifically proven! Ultimately, you’ll want to address the root cause of your horse’s uneasiness. Essential oils can definitely support your horse through the process though.
The Benefits of Lavender
The heavenly scent of lavender can be found in perfumes, massage oils, and lotions. Many people enjoy the smell, but don’t think much more about it. In actuality, lavender is very helpful in reducing stress. That’s for humans, horses, and pets!
- Reduces anxiety and stress
- Eases frustration
- Soothes tired muscles
- Helps with inflammation
- Prevents scarring
- Useful with scratches and mud fever
- Tick and mosquito repellent
- Relieves itchy skin
Those are just a few benefits of lavender for horses. It has anti-bacterial, antibiotic and antiseptic properties! Your holistic vet will be able to address your horse’s particular needs and offer some guidance. Lavender can be applied directly to the skin, inhaled or even internally consumed in a few cases.
A research study performed at the University of Arizona monitored the heart rates and heart rate variability of nine dressage horses. They were led to a diffuser containing lavender. Each was monitored for 21 minutes- seven before the diffuser, seven during, and seven after they were led away.
“The heart rate didn’t change; what changed was the parasympathetic component of heart rate variability,” Baldwin explained. “One of the parameters of heart rate variability is RMSSD, and that represents parasympathetic input, which is the relaxation part of the autonomic nervous system. If RMSSD goes up, that indicates the horse is relaxed. We found that when the horses were sniffing the lavender, RMSSD significantly increased compared to baseline.”
The horses’ behavior also shifted. They lowered their heads and licked and chewed while inhaling the lavender. The study was performed with water vapor and chamomile, but neither had the same calming effect. It was noted that the biggest changes were while the horse directly inhaled the lavender. The results were not long lasting.
How to Use Lavender
If you’re interested in using lavender for its calming properties, then your horse will need to smell the essential oil. This can be through a diffuser or smelling a few drops from your hand or a cloth. Make sure the area is well ventilated. Your horse will turn their head away if they’re not interested in the essential oil. The oils should be high-quality therapeutic grade.
Lavender can also be used topically to ease muscle pain and spasms. You may want to use a carrier oil with the lavender to avoid any reactions.
It’s important to figure out why your horse is stressed. In some cases, you can remove the stressor and your horse will calm down. Other times, these events can’t be avoided. This can include a farrier visit and trailer ride. Lavender can be very helpful in taking the edge off in these unavoidable situations.