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Has anyone tried aromatherapy for horses? Does it work?

(10 Posts)
N0tinmylife Mon 03-Dec-12 11:52:19

Hi, as some of you know, from me previously banging on about it, I have had my horse for 6 months or so now. He is mostly lovely, but he does have some issues.

When I first got him he would not stand to be mounted, to start with he would canter off if there was no one holding him when I got on. He has got a lot better, to the point where he will now stand quietly at a mounting block, without anyone holding him, and let me get on, so far so good.

Today however I managed to fall off yet again, blush while having a jumping lesson. The fall itself was just one of those things, horse stopped, I didn't, but he was absolutely terrified when I tried to get back on. It took me about 15 minutes to calm him down enough for me to get on, and he was shaking, he was so scared.

From his reaction I suspect something has happened to him in the past, when being mounted, which he has not forgotten. My instructor suggested aromatherapy could help him with this, so my question is has anyone tried this, and does it actually work?

Zazzles007 Tue 04-Dec-12 00:18:08

Hmmm, I haven't tried aromatherapy on a horse, but I do use aromatherapy on myself. I use lavender to help clear my mind, and it really helps with that.

Apparently the way to do aromatherapy on horse is to get 2-3 different ones, and put a drop or so on your hand and let the horse smell them (one by one of course). The one which the horse shows the most interest in is the one you should use. No idea if it works, but I can imagine that it can.

I would also recommend reschooling your horse every single time you ride. The horse needs to be shown that mounting is not a scary thing, and that he doesn't need to feel threatened when being mounted. This would mean taking things slowly when you mount, patting and praising him when he does things in a calm manner, and not letting yourself get upset when he gets upset as he will feed off your emotions. The horse will start to learn that you won't hurt him when he's being mounted. Consistency is key.

Hope this helps.

Thistledew Tue 04-Dec-12 09:17:06

I have used aromatherapy with horses to some success. One horse was not keen on having his hind feet shod and was noticeably calmer after we found an oil for him. We also used to use Rescue Remedy with good results.

It is amazing to see the horses selecting the oil they need. The way I did it was to get a good range of oils, then uncap two at a time and hold one in each hand to offer them to the horse. It is probably safer as has been suggested to put a few drops on your hand but then you have to wash your hands if you offer a third selection. I found a way of holding the bottle so it was completely enclosed in my fist so there was no chance of the horse grabbing the bottle, which they often try to do when they find the oil they want.

I then put a few drops on a piece of fabric wrapped around the nose band of the head collar for an hour or so.

N0tinmylife Tue 04-Dec-12 13:44:42

Thanks for the replies, it sounds like there is something in it, so I may give it a go. I rode him again this morning, and he let me get on with no problems, which was a relief, at least we have not gone too far backwards!

Pixel Tue 04-Dec-12 18:01:34

I don't know anything about aromatherapy but from what you say about your horse being scared after you fell off I wonder if in the past someone has lost their temper in a similar situation in the past and given him a thrashing?

Ponyofdoom Tue 04-Dec-12 23:28:17

The aromatherapy sounds like b*llocks to me, I would save your money and use it for more lessons. Someone falling off is unsurprisingly unnerving for the horse and yes it might have been whacked by someone previously, so time and patience and building up trust together are needed. It takes a year to bond with a new horse it is said and that is about right in my experience.

Zazzles007 Wed 05-Dec-12 04:11:21

Wow pony, did you mean to come into N0t's thread and shit all over her question? How lovely. hmm

N0t, I think that if you want to get 2-3 different oils for your horse and give them a go, then you should. With an animal who can't speak and tell you what it thinks, its all trial and error anyway. There is also a study from the University of Southampton which shows a positive effect of oils on horses compared to a placebo.

The effects of aromatherapy oil on the behaviour of stabled horses

Hope this helps.

N0tinmylife Wed 05-Dec-12 11:54:17

Pixel I think you are probably right, he was certainly behaving as if he expected a whack!

Pony, thanks for that, have you tried aromatherapy and found it doesn't work? I am keeping an open mind. I will be carrying on with the lessons, and doing all the usual stuff, but I don't want to rule out something that might help in addition to that.

Thanks for the link Zazzles, I'll have a look.

Pixel Wed 05-Dec-12 17:06:13

Can't do any harm to try can it hopefully and it might be interesting.

I'm a lot more open-minded about these things having seen the effect acupuncture is having on my sister's pony. It's a bit early to tell what effect it is having on his arthritis (effect cumulative apparently) but after a treatment he looks exactly like dhorse does after the vet gives him a heavy dose of sedative. It's very odd how something similar to a few bits of fuse wire can do that!

Also, have you thought of trying one of the 'calmer' supplements in his feed?

Thistledew Wed 05-Dec-12 17:33:14

Based on my experiences, I would suggest Rescue Remedy for when your horse gets himself in a tizz. Some horses love it and will happily lick a dropper-full out of your hand. If he is not keen on it then rubbing some around his nostrils should help.

It is great stuff, as well as dosing me and my pony with the stuff, my mum once revived my hamster with one drop when it was comatose after being stuck in a humane mousetrap for the weekend.

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