Today I will be discussing the use of Essential Oils and how it applies to use with horses; we will explore some of their histories, how you may have been misled by some information on their safe use, and even on how they work.
Essential Oils themselves have been around for hundreds of years and in today’s world more and more people are turning to their use for use on themselves and their animals and specifically the horse.
The use of these various oils within the equine industry has a somewhat limited historic time frame since it has only been started to be accepted within the last few years. It has been the acceptance of the use of Essential Oils that have allowed many new advances within specific equine-based protocols. We have been using our own proprietary Essential Oil Blends for over three years and have given us a better understanding of what to look for as well as how to relate to a specific need of your horse.
Getting back to the background of Essential Oils; each oil contains hundreds of compounds that have been found useful in many different ways to aid in specific problems. People have asked, “What will a certain Essential Oil do?”; well, the correct question should be “What do you want the Essential Oil to do?”. The truth of the matter is that an Essential Oil can and often does react differently for each individual or animal that it is introduced to. It is at this point that you must learn to trust your, or your animal’s, body’s reaction to the oil that is being presented. The important point to realize is that each individual oil is a mixture of compounds and that same oil is never a single organic compound. Remember, there is an old saying “The nose knows”.
So now that we have somewhat covered the way that people and animals respond to the use of these oils let’s look at how they actually work. As we now know, Essential Oils are compiled of many different compounds in a single oil and our bodies, as well as our animals, have comparative compounds that allow them to interact with the seven major organ systems, such as; the lymphatic system, the nervous system, the digestive system, and so on. What this reverts back to is analyzing the root of the problem and seeing what can be done to correct it; and not focusing on the symptom of the problem itself. If you are to focus on taking care of just one symptom will never take care of the root of the problem; the only results you will receive are additional symptoms. Essential Oils are known to be able to treat both the physical side and the emotional side of any problem that arises.
We continually stress that when working with horses and introducing them to the use of Essential Oils it always needs to be done through the use of “Aromatherapy” rather than any other method. We follow this path due to the fact that there are some Essential Oils that are not to be digested and it is always better to be overly cautious and not create a problem. The second reason that we stress this method is that many oils in their full strength can harm a horse’ skin since their skin is more sensitive than human skin. Horses, to safely use an Essential Oil that is applied topically need the oil to be diluted to only 2.5% factor of containing the actual oil or blend of oils; that is to say, that a “carrier” oil needs to be 97.5%. The Proprietary Essential Oil Blends that we use are diluted to the 2.5% ration and are safe to use topically as well as through the use of aromatherapy.
In fact, we have a video that shows how we introduce all the horses that we work with to our Proprietary Essential Oil Blends located at https://youtu.be/7s__Gikr7KM. This video both verbally explains and visually shows the process that we go through to introduce the oils to the horses that we work with.
Another important point to bring out is that there are no proteins in any Essential Oil, so there can be no allergic reaction to any of these oils. It is the proteins in various items that create an allergic reaction to that specific item.
In case you might be wondering how all this comes together and interacts; it is accomplished through basically one very small area of the brain. In fact, the area I am referring to is about the size and shape of an almond. That part of the brain is called the “Amygdala” which more or less is involved with your horse’s emotion. The emotion that is referred to here, when looking at the brain of the horse, based in fear and rage; this emotion is not feeling sad, being proud, or any other points that we experience. It is much more in the area of being primitive in nature as well as instinctive and reacts in that manner.
The Amygdala is part of the “limbic system” of the brain that does consist of this same primitive area. It is this system of the brain that leads to many of your horse’s unresolved issues and where they tend to be located. All of the factors that have affected them in the past, the ones that they could not understand or relate to are stored here and are brought forward from time to time. The reason that I bring this point forward is that this is one of the main and controlling areas of stress-production and it is the area that can be affected the most through the use of Essential Oils since this area is directly affected through the nasal passages. Stress produces fear and fear produces a flight response, so being able to relate to the true problem helps to both understand the root of the problem and give us a path to follow that will allow for correction of the problem.
Knowing all of this let’s look to the future and the role that Essential Oils can play within the entire scope of the Equine Industry over the next few years. I believe that the use of Essential Oils and the knowledge needed to use them correctly will expand greatly. There will also be greater acceptance of the use of these oils throughout the entire horse community and I base that on the fact that people are starting to understand that many of these oils is and has been used in many products that they acquire.
Let’s look at one simple product that have been marketed for decades, “Bengay” cream that has been used for years as a topical cream for relief of aches and pain. The main active ingredient is Methyl salicylate and the active ingredient in Wintergreen Essential Oil is methyl salicylate; the only difference is that Bengay contains 30% methyl salicylate and Wintergreen Essential Oil contains 99% methyl salicylate. This kind of information has opened the door for people to understand that they have been using the properties of many oils for years and not even knowing it. It has also shown that the abilities of these oils are proven and accepted, just not openly.
I have seen a true acceptance of the use of Essential Oils by the horses, if not by the owners in many cases. I have found that horses don’t lie, it will either work or it will not, it is that simple. That is what I base my prediction of the future growth of the use of these oils within the horse community, of course, there will be opposition, but opposition can be overcome with education and dedication. We will continue to work with the entire horse community to expand the use of Essential Oils and other alternative protocols; simply because we understand them and know that they work.