In Honor of Opening Day at the Del Mar Racetrack
Essential Oils: A Horses Pre-Race Ritual
Essential oils are a tool that can be very beneficial as part of you and your horse’s pre-race ritual. Here’s a little scientific explanation as to why: As we inhale scents, a physiological reaction via the olfactory nervous system occurs. The olfactory system suggests to the hypothalamus gland to instruct the body to release neurochemicals that can make us feel happy, euphoric, calm, stimulated, or focused. Now how does this relate to a horse? A horse actually operates on what we refer to as the “old brain” or the limbic system and their sense of smell is extremely keen (much more than a human). The limbic system is linked to memories and emotions, thus governing certain responses such as flight or fight. By accessing this response with aromas, we bypass the conscious mind and eliminate the flight or fight response before it becomes dangerous for your horse. While the use of aromas does not eliminate the need for good training or positive reinforcement techniques, it works to ease pre-race blocks in your horse that you have previously found difficult to overcome.
The Best Essential Oils for a Horse
Basil works to sharpen the mind and help keep you and your horse focused on the task at hand.
Bergamot is perfect in dealing with nerves as it eases anxieties and pre-event jitters.
Traditionally the tantrum remedy for small children, chamomile gives patience, peace and calms the mind. However, it should be noted that it is also a sedative and unless your horse is in a serious refusal stage, do not use it.
Works to create a “bush” feel in the stables if they have to be confined for long periods of time. Eucalyptus freshens up a non-ideal environment.
Often referred to as the “fear” essential oil, frankincense works to alleviate fear and calm you and your horses heart rate before a race or competition.
Lemongrass helps a horse retain their learning, so it can become a huge asset in training and reinforcement techniques.
How to Use Essential Oils with Your Horse
First and foremost, a horse’s skin is much more sensitive than a humans and essential oils should never be applied directly to their skin. That being said, there are several techniques in which you and your horse can utilize essential oils in both training and pre-competition. Waft an oil in front of your horses nose and choose the one in which it gravitates towards. Once you and your horse have chosen the essential oil, drop a few drops onto your palm and rub your hands together to create warmth. Then allow your horse to smell your palm (do not allow them to lick it) until they have had enough. Depending on the oil used, you will notice varying positive effects on your horse. Don’t forget, your horse will be the best guide in leading you towards the essential oil that will help it most.
If you are visiting San Diego for a day at the Del Mar Races, be sure to stop in Tijon Fragrance Lab and Boutique located at 7853 Herschel Ave. La Jolla CA 92037 and create your very own custom fragrance. You can also purchase the oils discussed in this article. Everything mentioned above has the same effects on humans as it does on horses. So come in to distress, have fun and learn a few things.