Aromatherapy for horses

Aromatherapy is the use of essential oils to improve the emotional, and in turn the physical wellness of the animal being treated.

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Essential oils are concentrated medicines extracted by distillation from herbs, flowers, gums, fruits, seeds and roots. The distillation process changes the chemical composition of the oil, resulting in a very concentrated and powerful remedy.

Each essential oil has its own qualities, healing and balancing various disturbances of the body and mind. If horses are left in their natural habitat they will seek out the correct plant or herb to help restore their health. I owned a horse that would do anything for peppermints. Offered the choice between a peppermint sweet or the essential oil, he would choose the oil almost every time.

A good sniff

Essential oils are one of the few substances that can pass through the skin into the bloodstream. Since essential oils evaporate, they can also be inhaled, affecting the emotional centre of the brain. Horses have a very well-developed sense of smell. This influences their sexual behaviour and helps them select food and medicine, to bond mother and foal and to identify specific locations. Horses know how to smell essential oils correctly, first with one nostril, connected to one side of the brain, and then, if still interested, with the other. A horse can also tell for itself if an oil is beneficial: if the aroma offers no therapeutic value, the horse will turn away.

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Wounds that do not need veterinary attention can be treated with essential oils (any wound over 3cm should be seen by a veterinarian). Tea-tree oil is a natural antibiotic and contains four constituents found nowhere else in nature. It is highly antiseptic, antifungal and antiviral. Apply tea-tree oil blended with aloe vera gel to the wound, or use a compress soaked in tea-tree oil solution. The wound should be dressed twice a day until there are signs of healing. Once the wound is dry and there are no signs of oozing, lavender can be applied. Always consult a professional before applying any oils. – Kim Dyson


Contact Kim Dyson on 082 888 6511.