Using Essential Oils with Horses

A few years ago, I began using essential oils and used them mostly for relaxation and to freshen the air in our home, but they soon became one of my favorite remedies for almost everything! I have been slowly building my essential oil collection and have been gradually reducing the amount of store bought creams and medicines that I buy. We use them on ourselves, our grandchildren, our dogs, as well as our horses, as a natural remedy, and also to disinfect our home and stable!

Essential Oils are natural compounds derived from the seeds, roots, stems, bark, flowers and various other parts of plants. These oils that we capture to make the essential oils that we now know and love, are the oils that help protect the plant against insects and disease and they aid in pollination.                               

These precious oils have been used in medicine, beauty, hygiene and religious ceremonies for thousands of years. Today essential oils are becoming extremely popular and are used for massage, beauty and alternative medicine.

Horses in the wild have intuitively used plants for healing, and this intuition still guides them today. Horses are super responsive  to essential oils. Although, they are much larger than humans, they do not necessarily require any more essential oil use than the average human. You would want to use less for pregnant mares. The usual application for adult humans is 1 to 2 drops. 

 Essential oils can be applied three different ways, topically, aromatically and internally, and it is important they are therapeutic grade if you are using them topically or ingesting them.  

 Topically they are absorbed through the skin and go into our bloodstream very quickly. We use them in massage for our ourselves and our horses to produce calming effects and also as a natural disinfectant to heal skin irritations and wounds.

Using them aromatically (by inhaling)  helps sooth our emotional issues,  calms our nerves, and helps our horses as well.  When offering essential oils to horses, they will quickly let you know if they like it or not, as they will turn their heads if they don't want to be bothered with it, or begin inhaling and licking it if they do! They know what they need, so trust in them for that! Pay attention to which nostril the horse smells the oil from first. The left nostril is connected to the part of the brain that deals with emotions. The right nostril is connected to the physical side. If the horse uses both nostrils to smell, deal with the emotional issue before the physical.  Unless othewise stated, you should always dilute the oils with fractionated coconut oil, caster oil, or aloe vera gel. Offer the oils to your horse once or twice a day for three to ten days or until he no longer shows interest.

Essential oils can be taken as a dietary supplement to promote health and healing. While many of them are safe to ingest, some are not, so you need to be very careful when using them and get advice from a trained professional before deciding how to treat family or pets.

It is very important to purchase only 100% therapeutic grade essential oils and follow the directions carefully, on how to use them. Some of them may cause irritation if used directly on the skin, so it is best to use a carrier oil to apply them. I like to use coconut oil, but you can use olive oil, vegetable oil or sunflower oil, as well. I advise that anyone thinking about using these oils first be in touch with someone that is experienced in using them and never use them if you or your animals are pregnant. 

Essential oils can be used for numerous equine conditions.  For physical issues, you can dab the oil directly on the affected location.  For respiratory issues, dab on the chest and then let the horse inhale the oil.  For emotional issues, let them inhale the oil and you can dab it on their forehead or poll.  Here are some specific conditions and essential oils which can help to remedy them. Below is a list of ailments and the essential oils that are known to help with these issues:

  • Asthma, Bronchitis, Colic, Diarrhea, Fever, Heatstroke, Inflammation, Muscle Pain, Ulcers: Peppermint essential oil is useful to ease breathing and as a digestive aid. It can also be used as a cool down mist. Put 6 to 8 drops in 16 ozs of water and spray on horse, avoiding eyes and ears.
  • Bronchitis, Colds, Hoof Rot, Infections, MRSA, Ringworm, Strep, Staph: Oregano essential oil (this is an excellent antibiotic and can be used to decontaminate trailers and stables. Mix 5 drops of Oregano oil with 24 oz. water. It is a very HOT oil and always needs to be diluted.  For foot abcesses, add 2 drops of oregano oil to Epsom salts and put the salts into warm water and mix. Soak the foot for 15 to 20 minutes. This mix can also be used in a wrap.
  • Nervousness/ Anxiety: Valerian and Lavender essential oils.
  • Hormone Imbalance (Mare issues): Clary Sage and Geranium essential oils.
  • Muscle Spasms: Basil, Lavender, Marjoram essential oils.
  • Sore/ Overused Muscles: Eucalyptus, Balsam Fir, Lavender essential oils.
  • Scratches/ Greasy Heal: Tea Tree, Lemongrass, Myrtle, Lavender essential oils.
  • Rain Rot: Tea tree, Lemongrass, Geranium essential oils.
  • Sarcoid: On Guard Protective Blend, Tea Tree, Oregano essential oils.
  • Thrush: On Guard Protective Blend, Tea Tree, Thyme, essential oils.  You can place undiluted oils directly on the frog for severe cases, or soak cotton balls and tape them on or put on a hoof boot for 24 hours.
  • Abscesses: Tea Tree, Oregano, On Guard Protective Blend, Lavender essential oils.  Make a foot soak using selected oils, Epsom salt and warm water.  Soak for at least 20 minutes to encourage the abscess to open and drain.
  • Sheath Cleaning: On Guard Protective Blend, Myrrh, and Rosemary essential oils.  Add a few drops of On Guard oil to KY jelly or a mild cleanser.  Then add 1/2 gallon of water to clean the inside of the sheath. (On Guard oil is also recommended for swelling in the sheath.)  To clean the outer part of the sheath, add about 5 drops of Myrrh and Rosemary oil to pure grade vegetable oil. 
  • Essential oils are also great to use as fly spray. Here is a recipe for you to try! It feels a lot better spraying this on our horses than a can full of chemicals!
  •  2 cups white vinegar                                       
  • 4-7 parts water
  • 1 part Citronella or Eucalyptus oil

Important Note:  Avoid getting drops in the eyes, ears and nose of human and horse. Always consult your veterinarian if your horse has a serious condition.  Essential oils are not meant to be a substitute for responsible veterinary care. 

Feel free to contact us if you are interested in learning more about essential oils.