As equestrians, we always strive to provide the best care for our horses, ensuring their well-being and peak performance. While there are numerous methods and supplements available to support their health and performance, one natural option that has gained popularity is the use of essential oils. Derived from plants, essential oils can offer a wide range of benefits for both humans and animals alike. In this blog post, we'll delve into the world of essential oils for equestrians, exploring how these natural remedies can enhance the performance and aid in the recovery of our beloved equine partners.
1. Understanding Essential Oils
Before diving into the specific benefits of essential oils for horses, let's start by understanding what essential oils are. Essential oils are concentrated plant extracts that capture the beneficial properties of various botanicals. They are obtained through processes such as steam distillation or cold-press extraction, resulting in highly potent and aromatic substances. Did you know that it takes an average of 75 lemons to produce one 15 ml bottle of lemon essential oil! Each essential oil possesses unique chemical compounds that contribute to its specific wellness effects.
2. Promoting Relaxation and Reducing Tension
One of the key benefits of essential oils for horses is their ability to promote relaxation and reduce tension. Equestrian activities can be demanding and stressful for our equine companions, leading to tension and unease. Essential oils such as lavender, chamomile, cedarwood, and vetiver are known for their calming properties. By wearing these essential oils as a perfume, we can become a walking diffuser promoting calmness and relaxation. Horses are a partnership and we are half of the equation, so anything we can do to keep our emotions in check and on the positive side will support our horses. We can also diffuse these essential oils in the barn and even apply them topically. To dive more in depth on using essential oils to help calm you and your horse, click HERE.
3. Supporting Respiratory Health
Maintaining healthy respiratory function is crucial for the performance and overall well-being of horses. Essential oils like eucalyptus, peppermint, and tea tree have been studied for their possible expectorant and decongestant properties, making them an ideal choice to support the respiratory system. This study supports the inhalation of eucalyptus in "reducing airway inflammatory parameters". Inhalation of these essential oils may help maintain healthy airways and enhance breathing capacity, ultimately benefiting the horse's performance during intense workouts or competitions.
4. Enhancing Focus and Mental Clarity
Achieving optimal focus and mental clarity is vital for both the rider and the horse in equestrian disciplines. Certain essential oils, such as rosemary, lemon, and frankincense, are known for their ability to enhance cognitive function and promote alertness. These clinical trial results, published on PubMed.gov, found that "rosemary produced a significant enhancement of performance for overall quality of memory and secondary memory factors". By incorporating these essential oils into grooming routines or using them during training sessions, we can help our horses maintain focus and concentration. As riders, a sharp mind can help improve our performance and memory for dressage tests or obstacle courses! An easy way to incorporate this is by making a roller bottle. Then, you can roll a small amount onto your hand when grooming and offer it to your horse. Next, you can apply the leftovers to the back of your neck. For a step by step guide to making a roller ball, click HERE.
5. Supporting Muscle Recovery and Joint Health
The physical demands placed on horses during training and competition can lead to muscle soreness and joint discomfort. Essential oils like peppermint, copaiba, helichrysum, and wintergreen possess properties that can aid in muscle recovery and support joint health. Topical application of these oils, either through massage or liniments, can help alleviate discomfort, reduce tension, and support the horse's recovery process. This study, found on PubMed.gov, concluded "that the anti-inflammatory activity of Helichrysum italicum can be explained by multiple effects, including inflammatory enzyme inhibition, free-radical scavenging activity and corticoid-like effects."
This randomized controlled trial, on PubMed.gov, reports that "Peppermint and its active ingredient menthol have long been used for the treatment of various pain conditions including headache." One of my favorite things to do for my horse after a workout is to rinse them with a peppermint brace. This is cooling and refreshing and may soothe fatigued muscles. For the recipe and other easy ways to use peppermint oil, click HERE.
6. Ensuring Safety and Proper Usage
While essential oils offer numerous benefits, it is crucial to prioritize the safety of our horses. Here are a few important considerations when using essential oils:
a. Quality: Choose high-quality, pure and premium essential oils from reputable sources to ensure their potency and effectiveness. (If you're curious about where I source my essential oils, I highly recommend joining me on a journey with Young Living™. Their unwavering commitment to quality, sustainability, and purity through their Seed To Seal™ process makes them my top choice.)
b. Dilution: Essential oils should be properly diluted before application to avoid skin irritation or sensitization. Using carrier oils such as coconut oil or jojoba oil for dilution, as well as incorporating the essential oil into natural products, will minimize potential sensitivities. It's always best to operate with the "less is more" mentality and observe your horse closely for any negative reactions. If any are noticed, usually the application of more carrier oil is sufficient to reduce the reaction.
c. Patch Testing: Before applying any essential oil to a larger area, perform a patch test on a small area of the horse's skin to check for any adverse reactions.
d. Professional Guidance: Consult with a holistic veterinarian familiar with essential oils or equine aromatherapist for personalized advice and guidance on essential oil usage, especially if your horse has any pre-existing health conditions.
It is important to note:
When participating in competitive events, you will want to exercise caution when using essential oils topically, as certain governing bodies may impose regulations on their usage. To avoid potential issues, a simple and effective alternative is to harness the benefits of essential oils through inhalation only. Inhaling the aromatic compounds of essential oils, without topical use, will still positively impact mood, focus, and overall well-being. In fact, this study, found on PubMed.gov, found that "lavender oil inhalation decreases pain levels of children." Simply inhale from the bottle, allow your horse to inhale from the bottle, then you can wear topically as a perfume. When you are wearing the essential oil as a perfume, your horse will benefit from the aroma as well. You and your horse can experience the effects of essential oils without the need for direct skin application, ensuring compliance with regulations and promoting a healthy competitive spirit.
Incorporating essential oils into the equestrian routine can be a natural and effective way to enhance the performance and aid in the recovery of horses. From promoting relaxation to supporting respiratory health, enhancing focus, and aiding in muscle recovery, essential oils offer a wide range of benefits.
However, it is essential to prioritize the safety and well-being of our equine partners by using high-quality oils, proper dilution, and seeking professional guidance when needed.
By embracing the power of nature through essential oils, equestrians can create a harmonious and supportive environment for their horses, leading to improved performance, enhanced well-being, and a deeper connection between rider and horse.
Ready to take your knowledge of essential oils and horses to the next level? Dive deep into the world of essential oils and horses with my beginner course, "Oily Horse Intro." Gain a thorough understanding of what essential oils are, where and when to use them, how to apply them effectively, and why they are beneficial for your equine companion.
Don't miss out on this opportunity to become a confident and knowledgeable essential oil user.