The Emotional Equine: Using Essential Oils
In my previous blog post of “The Emotional Equine” series, I discussed the power of smell, briefly touched on equine emotions and emotional wellness, and a few other things! At the end of my previous post, I left you all with a little cliffhanger! I’m back to fill you all in, and with a special guest as well.
Today, we are diving into the topic of essential oils. I have invited Anne Dolin, Principal and Essential Oiler of The Infused Equestrian, to provide her expertise on this topic. For those of you who are not yet familiar with The Infused Equestrian, let me give you the lowdown before we get into it.
The Infused Equestrian is a wellness brand, that offers products for both the horse and rider. Anne Dolin, founded the company out of a need for a healthy, oil infused products for her equestrian daughter and horse. It’s not just about performance and riding, but an overall wellness, and life adjustment for the horse and the rider. I love that all The Infused Equestrian products are formulated with therapeutic-grade essential oils, locally sourced, natural, organic ingredients. Not only am I supporting a small business, but a variety of other small businesses in Chicagoland! This post is not sponsored either. I truly love the brand, the work they do, and the lovely people behind the brand. We are just aiming to spread the wealth of knowledge with you all!
Back to the essential oils, let’s talk about a few of the wonderful benefits!
Emotionally: Essential oils can start to help us, and our animals, safely release negative emotions such as fear, stress, anxiety, anger, irritation… They can also aid in discouraging negative patterns by re-anchoring healthy patterns. Oils act as a physical tool to promote cortical thickening. Oils can help our horses, and even ourselves, “re-program” the unconscious patterning that is creating challenges!
Physically: Essential oils can be used as a great topical treatment for animals and people! It is important to use them correctly, to ensure you are using them safely and getting the proper benefits out of them. Essential oils likely won’t serve as a cure, but they will greatly support many treatments for various conditions, and more common challenges with immunity, digestion, congestion, circulation, body pain / aches, nausea, headaches / migraines, and more.
“When using topically, apply a drop or two directly onto the horse’s body near the poll or on the ribs. Never start out using an essential oil near their eyes or ears. If they don’t like the smell, it will be more “in their face”. You can also put a couple of drops on your hands, then massage the oil into his coat. This is the way that I like to use essential oils. The horse’s hair will eventually absorb the oil into his body. A few drops of therapeutic quality oils will go a long way – don’t overuse the oil in expectation of seeking a more significant response.” – Anne Dolin, Founder of The Infused Equestrian
How To Introduce Essential Oils to Your Horse
“It’s important to use grade-A essential oils. Grade-A oils are the essential oils that are pure and contain nothing else (no additives, no impurities, etc…). The grade of essential oil will make a huge difference in the reaction and success you’ll have for yourself and your horse.
Determining how your horse “likes” an essential oil is easy…and fun! First, offer the oil in your hand, put 2 drops of oil in your left hand (the giving hand) and rub your hands together to create warmth. Offer the horse your hands and determine which nostril they use to inhale and smell. If the horse turns away completely, they are having a negative reaction, much like a human would experience when they smell something they don’t like! If he initially inhales and smells with his right nostril, he is fulfilling a physical need. Conversely, if he inhales with the left nostril, it’s an emotional need. You may start to see him licking at first, then; maybe a yawn or two, pawing, farting and pooping. These are all common, positive, reactions. Stressed out horses may benefit from Frankincense and generally like the grounding feeling that it embodies. Marjoram is also a great oil – distribute some in your hand and rub all over his shoulders and withers. Massage into his muscles. The deep relaxing sensation it provides is soothing after a ride.
Remember, keep it simple. Start with a single oil, not a blend of oils, there’s no need to over-complicate the horses’ brain – especially if you are new to using oils with your equine partner!” — Anne Dolin, The Infused Equestrian.
Determine what the oil needs to be used for.
“This is where the education piece occurs! If your horse feels “off” or sore, he might benefit from some oils that are menthol-like. There isn’t menthol in them, but much like a liniment, these oils will penetrate the muscles and make recovery quicker. These oils include but are not limited to; eucalyptus, ginger, cypress, peppermint, spearmint, and more. If a horse is tentative or stressed during or before a ride, you may think about what essential oils you would like to use to ease yourself. Sometimes, applying essential oils to yourself can help your horse – he feels your body relax and will catch a whiff of the oil from your body mixed with your scent and that may relax him too. If your horse isn’t competing through USEF or FEI, lavender may be helpful for calming the horse. If the horse responds favourably towards an essential oil – don’t stop using it! Use once daily until you see the problem correct itself or change. As the issues correct themselves in the favourable direction you want, then stop using the oil. If the problem persists, don’t rule out a vet visit.” — Anne Dolin, The Infused Equestrian.
Apply the oil, where needed.
Depending on the issue that you are working with, it’s best to apply the oils prior to any kind of work – including when you are tacking up your horse, creating a bond, or when you are grazing it after working. If you are applying topically, the best places for emotional oils are near the liver, where we store all our fear, anger, and stress, and on the withers. Offer your hands for them to smell aromatically. If the horse is feeling stressed or senses your stress prior to a show or work, spend some quiet time after being tacked up and connect with your horse. Again, using lavender under a USEF or FEI show is banned, as it is a calming agent. An alternative grounding or tree oil like Cypress and/or Cedarwood are safe choices to help calm horse and rider.” — Anne Dolin, The Infused Equestrian.
Find a blend that works best for your horse.
“We love to work with horses and discover what essential oils they need, since they can’t tell us directly! Putting the pieces of the puzzle together is what drives our education. With Covid-19, it’s been hard for me to stay away from barns and not work with the horses and owners. The Infused Equestrian is always open to collaborating and creating roll-ons for the rider and the horse, even if they are not riding related! If you’re local to us in the Chicagoland area, we will come to the barn for a consultation. We also do consultations over the phone, where we listen to the history of the horse and rider and diagnose how we can help.” — Anne Dolin, The Infused Equestrian.
Essential oils can be used in a variety of ways to benefit both the horse and the rider. Anne Dolin added that, “The bond you’ll create using essential oils with your equine partner is amazing and provides a manner of communication and learning from one another that will last a lifetime”. I can attest to this being true in my situation. If you have been following my journey with Forrest on Instagram, you’ll know there was a brief period of time where we were struggling. From about November to February, I was feeling disconnected from him. Our lessons were productive, but not in the way I wanted. They weren’t calm, quiet, and positive. There was a lot of tension, pressure, and at times I felt like I was making him do something he didn’t want to do. After the three months of distance due to Covid-19, I was really concerned. Not only about riding, but our relationship overall. However, the break did us a lot of good. Our bond and relationship is better than ever, and so are our rides. I have been using a few of The Infused Equestrian’s rollerball blends for both myself and Forrest the past month or so, and I have seen an immense improvement and shift in his mood, behaviours, and general wellbeing! I definitely recommend giving Aromatherapy and essential oils a try, even if your horse does not struggle with overwhelm, anxiety, stress, etc… They are beneficial for anyone, and everyone. It’s just a matter of finding the right blend for you and your animals.
I hope that you learned something new from this blog post. Be sure to check out my IGTV video “Introducing essential oils to Forrest”, where I first introduced some essential oil blends to Forrest about a month ago. You can see for yourself how big of a difference essential oils make in a horse’s mood and behaviour.
Until next time my friends! Tally-ho!