I am grateful for social media. I probably spend more time on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter than other women by age. But as an equestrian blogger that comes with the territory.
One of the benefits of social media is meeting other equestrian bloggers around the world. I communicate with equestrians throughout the US, Canada, Ireland, England, and many more countries. Through one of my Facebook groups, I met Lindsey Rains of Alta Mira Horsemanship. She was intrigued by how I use aromatherapy with equine sports massage in my practice at Bridle & Bone Wellness and asked me to write a guest post for her readers.
Thank you Lindsey for the chance to talk about this important topic for holistic equine wellness!
What is Aromatherapy?
Aromatherapy is the use of essential oils as an inhalant, topically, or internally to stimulate the body’s natural healing processes. This method of natural, holistic wellness has been used for thousands of years on humans and animals alike.
Keep in mind that the pharmaceutical industry did not start until the turn of the 20th century. Until then all of our medicines were plant-based.
“The first medicinal drugs came from natural sources and existed in the form of herbs, plants, roots, vines and fungi. Until the mid-nineteenth century nature’s pharmaceuticals were all that were available to relieve man’s pain and suffering….” Jones AW Drug Test Anal. 2011 Jun;3(6):337-44. doi: 10.1002/dta.301.
Aromatherapy is a a natural approach to health that is not necessarily a replacement to modern medical methods. The use of aromatherapy has limited side effects if used properly, with knowledge and caution.
Benefits of Aromatherapy
Depending on the plant used, each essential oil has different properties that range from antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, and more. Some essential oils have multiple benefits, like lavender that make it so popular. It smells beautiful and yet has a number of uses. In fact, lavender is considered the most versatile of all oils.
- Clean scrapes
- Reduce itch for insect bites
- Reduce nausea
- Relieve allergies
And many more…..
There are numerous benefits of using essential oils with animals. Some of the benefits include: repel insects; reduce anxiety; strengthen immune system; reduce inflammation; speed wound healing; increase energy; improve digestion; relieve pain; increase circulation.
Aromatherapy and Animals
Zoopharmacognosy is a term describing the behavior of animals to self-medicate by choosing plants, soils, or insects to prevent or reduce harmful toxins or symptoms. While the reality of this is debated by some, it is a working theory that is often used in herbal medicine and holistic wellness. To read more about the debate, you may find this article by The SkeptVet interesting.
Additionally, there was a very helpful article published by Tonya Wilhelm recently from Raising Your Pets Naturally that discusses this phenomenon.
Using Essential Oils with Massage
Those of you who have received massage yourselves, know the benefits of using a massage oil. In general because of their hair, horses do not need this to reduce friction. However, a massage blend can be customized to help the horse relax, relieve stiffness, and even reduce swelling. Using such a blend can heighten the effects of sports massage and create an even deeper release of tension.
Recently, I wrote a post on my blog, Bridle & Bone, about a therapeutic horse that I work with. This horse is a very “thinking” horse and has trouble relaxing. I’ve been working with him for a few months now and while I was able to relieve tension, he really did not relax fully. That is, until I used my massage blend. This blend was customized for relaxation. I asked him to inhale it and within seconds his head dropped. With a little on my hands I then proceeded to massage him as usual.
Horse Receives Massage (VIDEO)
The addition of the essential oils boosted the massage and allowed him to finally relax, as a result releasing more tension. He fell asleep and didn’t move even after I left his stall. You can read the details in my post, Building Trust in an Anxious Horse.
Essential Oils and Horses
Horses are very sensitive animals, as we all know and can be highly susceptible to aromatherapy if used correctly.
In our practice at Bridle & Bone Wellness I bring a variety of essential oils and signature products that have been customized to benefit most horses and dogs. If the owners choose aromatherapy with the massage, I introduce a few oils that I believe the animal would be interested in, and allow them to make the decision based on reading their behavior.
If the owner prefers to use a blend instead of individual oils they can choose from a selection of our signature products formulated for horses and dogs. We also sell these customized blends through our store and ship domestically throughout the US. This way the owners have aromatherapy products available to them without the guess work.
I must caution you that while there are amazing benefits with using essential oils with animals, you should only do so with caution and much research. A Beginner’s Guide to Essential Oils with Animals lists some of the more popular oils to use with horses. Be aware, however, that some essential oils should not be used in certain situations. While Melaleuca (Tea Tree Oil) is listed and is beneficial to many animals, many horses have skin sensitivity and as a result should not use this oil. It is always a good idea to seek a professional’s advice.*
More, never use undiluted oils on horses unless directed to do so by a professional. If you are unfamiliar with the use of essential oils using a ready-made aromatherapy product is a safer alternative. With any new product, use only a small amount at first to determine whether your animal responds positively.
In the end, essential oils can aid your horse and promote self healing if used correctly. When you combine aromatherapy with sports massage you can create amazing, super boosted results.
Are you interested in learning more about equine massage and aromatherapy? Follow my blog (www.bridleandbone.com/blog) or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Disclaimer: I am not a veterinarian or medical professional. At Bridle & Bone Wellness LLC I use aromatherapy topically or as an inhalant, never ingested. If you are concerned for your animals health please contact your veterinarian.
About the writer: Heather Wallace of Monmouth County, New Jersey is a certified equine and canine sports massage therapist and equestrian & canine blogger at Bridle & Bone. She is an adult amateur equestrian in unrequited loved with an OTTB and has two rescue dogs, Gonzo and Beau.