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The Equine Apothecary: Aromatherapy Toolkit

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Aromatherapy is a safe, non-invasive, powerful way of healing mind and body, both for us and our animals. Because horses respond so well to essential oils, every horse owner and serious rider should have an aromatherapy toolkit to tend to everything from arthritis to depression in their equine partner. Of course, with thousands of essential oils – some of them very costly – available, it can be difficult to know just what oils a toolkit should include. Despite the wide range of options, horse owners can heal both their horse and themselves with just a small collection of single oils, blends, and diffusion options; it doesn’t have to cost a lot, and the effects can be extraordinary.

Single Oils And Blends

Essential oils work best in blends, since the synergistic effect makes good use of their various properties and offsets any potential weaknesses. Blends also prevent one scent from becoming too overwhelming, particular for sensitive horses. Still, it is important to have a few single oils at hand, both for their individual effect and for making your own blends if necessary. The most important oils for treating your horse are lavender, tea tree, bergamot, ginger, and rosemary. If you’re interested in expanding your collection, other key oils are vetiver, frankincense, black pepper, and blue chamomile. These oils each have different effects, and by using them on their own or blended together, it’s possible to deal with most minor problems safely and effectively.

Of course, it’s also important to have well-made blends at hand. These may contain useful oils which are too costly or rare to have on their own, and blends created by an experienced aromatherapist will have the most useful amounts of each oil already mixed. For most horse owners, the important blends are ones for wound-healing, sore muscles, and stress reduction. If your horse has any specific ailments, blends for these are also useful.

When To Use Aromatherapy

Although aromatherapy is a useful tool in taking care of our horses, it works best in conjunction with both alternative and traditional medicine. Just as we take precautions for own well-being, it is also critical that we do the same for our animal partners. Be sure to keep their insurance plan current, particularly if they already have any health problems, as aromatherapy can only reach so far. Some plans allow for pre-existing conditions while others require the purchase of additional coverage, so look through your insurance options carefully before deciding on a plan. As with humans, regular check-ups and seeking out advice in the event of new symptoms will help catch any problems. In fact, it’s best to use yourself as an example when deciding whether a situation calls for aromatherapy alone. For instance, you might use essential oils as a way to treat the symptoms of arthritis, but would likely see a medical professional to be diagnosed and to rule out other possible causes. Likewise, a short period of muscle pain after exercise can be safely treated at home, but long-term pain or pain without an easy explanation should be examined to discover the reason for it.

Aromatherapy can still be used in conjunction with traditional medicine, and it is often easier to decide which oils to use once the cause is determined. Some problems can be eliminated using alternative medicine like aromatherapy, but others require intervention to be used alongside the healing oils.

Using Essential Oils

Alongside your blends (which will likely already be diluted and ready for use as a spray or rub), it’s also important to have ways of applying and using your single essential oils. Luckily, this is an easy process, and certain inexpensive items are all many people need in order to treat their horse. A fine misting bottle, glycerine, and a carrier oil of some kind will all do the trick nicely, though some owners may want to invest in a nebulizing diffuser.

Sprays are useful for a variety of ailments, both physical and mental, and a few drops of glycerine alongside the oils will allow them to disperse more easily before using. (Spray bottles should be dark glass, as essential oils can eat through plastic and are degraded by light.) Nebulizing diffusers do much the same thing as spraying the air, but more effectively – particles are small enough to be absorbed quickly through inhalation, and the diffusing action suspends them in the air for longer. Most oils can be used as carriers, but jojoba and coconut oil are particularly useful, as jojoba (actually a liquid wax) mimics the natural sebum of the skin, and coconut oil has potent anti-fungal properties. Coconut oil is also solid at room temperature, which can make using it easier and less messy, but also means that it should be gently warmed before any essential oils are added in order to disperse them properly.

Aromatherapy is a powerful tool for any devoted horse owner, and picking up the essentials can be both easy and cost-effective. However, be warned: once you begin, you may find your collection expanding as you discover the many uses of true essential oils.

Author: Julie Tobin – For Horse Whispers. July 2013

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