Do you remember that time you went to groom your horse, and his legs were stocked up, or he had some swelling that suddenly appeared out of nowhere? At night check, everything was fine. Then, suddenly it’s not. Let’s face it; horses are amazing but incredibly delicate creatures prone to silly accidents. Even a minor scrape can become brutally swollen and infected. We’ve all been there.
If you are like me, you know you have something on hand to help, but upon searching fruitlessly throughout the barn or tack box, you can’t find it anywhere. Is there even a product on the market designed solely to reduce inflammation?
Yes, there is because I make one. But today you can make a topical anti-inflammatory product that is safe for horses. When I began working with essential oils it was to fill a void in the market for my own use. I didn’t want to add chemicals to my animal if I didn’t need to. Myself, my animals and my children became guinea pigs while I experimented with ingredients and compositions. I found some oils were more effective than others, while some popular oils tended to react poorly with equines.
Soon, I found a combination of ingredients that worked quickly and efficiently for relieving pain and swelling topically. My pony and my bodywork clients tend to agree, so now I keep my Essentials Anti-Inflammatory on hand in my tack box and with my bodywork equipment for easy access.
My products are handmade and not available in major retail outlets. So I want to help you to make your product at home.
About the Essential Oils
An essential oil is a liquid that is generally distilled (most frequently by steam or water) from the leaves, stems, flowers, bark, roots, or other elements of a plant. Essential oils are concentrated. When working with animals, it is necessary to dilute them because they are incredibly powerful.
Essential oils cross the blood-brain barrier, therefore using them topically can be absorbed into the bloodstream and affect the entire body from the inside out. More, because they are natural, the body welcomes them and absorbs them more readily rather than fighting off chemicals with an immune reaction.
There are a variety of essential oils noted to reduce inflammation and, as a result, relieve pain. These oils have either warming or cooling properties, but all have pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory capabilities.
Cooling properties are best for reducing inflammation and drawing away swelling. Not only does it feel relieving but also as an excellent side benefit, you can use this same product to cool your horse in the summer after a bath!
- Peppermint (cooling)
- Eucalyptus (cooling)
- Sandalwood (cooling)
- Lemongrass (cooling)
Warming oils tend to provide more relief to sore muscles by warming the muscle and providing pain relief as they tend to have anti-spasmodic capabilities. For horses in heavy work, these tend to be more beneficial.
- Thyme (warming)
- Frankincense (warming)
- Marjoram (warming)
- Clove (warming)
- Bergamot (warming)
Where to Buy Essential Oils
Do not buy your essential oils from the grocery store. Only use oils that have undergone a rigorous vetting process and received a Certified Therapeutic Grade stamp.
You will find there are many essential oil products are on the market today. It’s hard to narrow down and decide which way to go.
I am a Wellness Advocate for doTerra, and buy from them at wholesale. Here are are a few companies with good reputations and quality.
Always buy organic and therapeutic grade oils from whichever brand you choose.
Make Your Own Topical Anti-Inflammatory
You will need:
- One 4oz BPA free container with a fine mist sprayer.
- Carrier oil such as Fractionated Coconut Oil, Almond Oil, or Arnica.
- 10-15 drops essential oils.
Use a funnel to add the oil to your container, filling approximately ⅔ to ¾ of the way. Then add the oil or oils of your choice to create a blend. Peppermint and eucalyptus are perhaps the most common oils on the market because of their power and adaptability. Hint: you can also use them to repel most insects naturally.
Or let your horse choose! Horses are extremely sensitive to all things, especially smell. Bring a variety of the above oils. Bring them out one by one and offer from a distance. If your horse turns away or sneezes, it probably isn’t the right oil for them. But, if they move closer and inhale, open their mouths and lift their lips in a Flehmen response, or try to mouth, then you have a hit on your hands.
Make sure to label your container and shake well to blend. Always shake before using and keep at room temperature. Apply topically to the point of swelling or inflammation but never directly rub the area of inflammation. Always circle the area or in case of legs above and below.
Heather Wallace is a certified Equine Sports Massage Therapist and Canine Sports Massage Therapist holistically improving the lives of animals throughout New Jersey at Animal Bodywork & Aromatherapy. She is a regular contributor for Horse Illustrated on horse care and wellness. Follow her animalbodywork.com or on Facebook and Instagram @animalbodyworknj.
She is also the award-winning author of non-fiction titles Confessions of a Timid Rider and Girl Forward: A Tale of One Woman’s Unlikely Adventure in Mongolia and blogger at The Timid Rider. Follow her on social media @timidrider or at timidrider.com.