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Aromatherapy for Horses: New Fad or Helpful Aid?

Would your horse benefit from an essential oil massage?

I was watching RFD-TV the other night and “The Horse Show” came on. The weekly program contains all sorts of information for horse owners and the topics vary, so it’s nice to watch on occasion.

The host was talking to a woman and I was half listening for a while as I worked on my laptop, then the subject caught my attention. I heard a few key phrases like “essential oils” and “relaxation,” so I looked from my computer screen to the television and there was a woman with her hands practically up the nose of the horse on the screen. She was rubbing and massaging the nostrils and muzzle of the animal, and he did indeed seem relaxed.

The woman talked about the horse showing signs of relaxation by “dropping his head and the licking and chewing” he displayed. As she continued to rub quite vigorously, she said it was “aromatherapy” for horses. I know my face was screwed into a huge question mark. “Did I just hear that correctly? Aromatherapy for horses, really?”

My thoughts came out of my mouth aloud and my husband asked, “What in the world are you watching?” I did not answer him because I rarely watch television and it is merely noise in the background while I do other things, so he didn’t really expect an answer. 

Surely they were talking about something else. Maybe I heard it wrong? As I focused on what they were actually saying, it became very clear that indeed they were discussing aromatherapy for horses.  OK, I had to pay attention, as this was an unusual topic for the average horse owner. 

I know some women that believe in the power of essential oils. I personally have no idea what that even means. “Essential” to who or what? Essential for some purpose? I am clueless. With allergies and scent sensitivity, I do not use or enjoy scented candles, perfumes or anything of the sort, so that whole concept is strange to me. Now it appears to be becoming more popular for horse owners as well? I have to imagine that most of those horse owners are probably women. 

I have never heard a man talk about aromatherapy or scented candles and I honestly laugh even thinking about any man rubbing essential oils into his horse’s nose. I am not discriminatory—I laughed at the woman on television doing this to her horse.   

She did mention that some horses may be sensitive or may not enjoy aromatherapy at first. Shoot, I can’t imagine my chemically frigid Cricket letting me rub her face with smelly stuff vigorously. My mustang does not like any chemicals at all. From hoof goo to fly spray, Show Sheen to shampoo, she tolerates me putting these things on her, and they make her more comfortable, but to rub her face for an extended period and have her enjoy it? I doubt that would ever happen – ever. 

Do I think aromatherapy may have benefits for some horses? Probably. Like I said there are many women that enjoy that sort of thing, so there are most likely horses that would as well. Everyone is an individual, even our horses, and if you think your horse may enjoy or benefit aromatherapy, there are essential oils made just for them.

Check it out and share your experiences with us here on Patch in the future if you try it.

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