Judy Andrews of Taylor County, Florida has had a lifetime passion for horses and natural healing modalities, so it is no wonder that when she became an acupuncturist, the focus of her interest and skills was horses. Having been introduced to essential oils and realizing their potential and compatibility with acupuncture, when Judy began her practice she integrated essential oil therapy. She believes together they “increase the effectiveness” of each other and she has seen remarkable results with her patients.
[Editor’s note: Over the years, we have heard this from many acupuncturists.]
Essential oils can be used with horses in similar ways we use them with humans e.g. inhalation, massage and diffusion.
Inhalation: Place 1-2 drops of essential oil into the palm of your hands, rub together then hold your cupped hand under the horse’s nose. For acute emotional issues inhalation is a quick, easy and effective treatment option.
Massage & Topical application: ALWAYS dilute your essential oils in carrier oil before applying to skin. Use approximately 20 drops of essential oil to 2 oz of carrier (e.g. Fractionated Coconut Oil, Aloe Vera)
Horses, as with humans, have preferences and it is best to allow your horse to choose their essential oil; they will generally indicate to you what they need if you listen and observe. Offer the essential oil to them to smell. “If the horse has an imbalance in the physical sense, it will probably use its right nostril first. If the problem is more emotionally based, the horse will use its left nostril first. The right nostril is linked to the side of the brain, which governs the horse’s functions. The left nostril is linked to the right side of the brain, which governs the intuitive side. When we are working with horses we want them in their left-brain where they will be thinking not reacting instinctively, which they do if in their right-brain. If the horse is interested it will move the required nostril over the oil and inhale. If it is not interested the horse will move away.” Any essential oils that your horse turns away from put aside for that day. When using aromatherapy with animals or people it is always best to respect and trust the individuals desires and inner wisdom.
Judy finds orange essential oil to be one the most useful essential oils for horses. It can be used to:
- Ease sore muscles making it especially helpful for old horses who have sore muscles and arthritis in the bones.
- Gently removes toxins to help cleanse congested skin and encourages collagen formation.
- Ease anxiety and uplift the spirit, it is especially useful during times of stress.
- Perk up a horse who is bored.
- Calming and uplifting properties support old horses near the end of life.
Judy uses Orange, Sweet Citrus sinensis essential oil mixed with Aloe Vera (20-40 drops of essential oil to 2 oz of Aloe Vera) on her two 23 year old horses with pelvic problems. One horse has a rotated pelvis and the other horses’s pelvis is tipped forward; these conditions make trimming the back feet difficult. Applying the Orange essential oil and Aloe Vera mixture the day before a trim helps to ease discomfort and thus trimming is easier for both the horse and the handler.
More Essential Oils to help with common issues
Basil, ct. linalol Occimum basilicum: respiratory, muscle and emotional issues
Roman Chamomile Anthemis noblis: emotional, muscle and wound issues
Cypress Cupressus sempervirens: cardiovascular, muscle issues, and insect repellent
Frankincense Boswellia frereana: respiratory, emotional and wound issues
Geranium Pelargonium graveolens: emotional, wound, insect repellent
Juniper Juniperus communis: muscle, wounds, insect repellent
Lavender Lavandula angustifolia: muscles, wounds, emotional, cardiovascular
Tea Tree Melaleuca alternifolia: respiratory, itching, wounds, insect repellent
Yarrow Achillea millefolium: useful antidote to adverse reaction to other essential oils
Colic can be quite frightening for many horse owners; Judy’s protocol is to use Clary Sage Salvia sclarea, Marjoram Sweet Origanum majorana, Lavender Lavandula angustifolia, Peppermint Mentha piperita and Yarrow Achillea millefoliumon the soles of the feet.
- First clean the sole of each foot to remove any dirt or debris
- Keep the horse on cement if possible
- Put 3-5 drops neat (undiluted) of each of the oils mentioned on the sole of the foot. (Use one essential oil at a time; place 3-5 drops on one foot then move to the next foot using the same oil; continue until the same essential oil has been applied to each foot. When I return to the starting hoof, I stand for about 2-3 seconds and take several calming/centering breaths before starting repeating the process with the next oil. Repeat the process for each essential oil.) Usually I only use 3 of the oils mentioned above, mostly leaving off Lavender to use on the point of the ear as I massage that acupoint. I have an Arabian who will come up to me and drop his head asking for the ear massage when a new wave of pain begins. As soon as the pain subsides he moves away. I found, in my studies, several oils that would most likely work. The above mentioned ones have worked for me many times, so I continue to use them. Except Yarrow addition, which has become one of my favorites.
- Check with the horse to see if adding other oils such as Frankincense or Roman Chamomile are desired. Offer the essential oil to the horse to smell; if he turns away do not use the oil. Also, massage the tip of the ear with a small amount of the combined essential oils mixed in aloe vera or just use the Peppermint or Lavender diluted in aloe vera for pain. Be careful to avoid the eyes. In between essential oil treatments continue with “traditional” colic remedies.
- For most conditions always dilute essential oil prior to application.
- Do not allow undiluted essential oils to touch the horse’s nostrils, eyes or genital areas.
- If an essential oil does get near or in the eyes use carrier oil (any mild vegetable oil will work) on a clean cloth or tissue and gently dab the area.
- Do not use essential oils on foals; consult a qualified practitioner.
- Some essential oils are not safe to use with horses, all dilution information provided is specific to the essential oils listed above.
As with humans, dilution rates vary according to age, weight and health. Remember the principle of Less is More applies to animals too.
Judy is available for treatments in the Taylor County region in Florida. Judy can be reached at email@example.com
Additional Reading/Resources For Equine Aromatherapy and Massage:
A Healthy Horse the Natural Way by Catherine Bird
Essential Oils for Horses by Carole Faith
Aromatherapy for Horses by Caroline Ingraham
Holistic Aromatherapy for Animals by Kristen Leigh Bell
Article: Essential Oil Therapy for Horses by Gritman