Study: Lavender Can Lead to Calmer Horses

Researchers found significant signs of stress reduction when horses inhaled lavender essential oil from a diffuser compared to water vapor and chamomile.
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lavender calms horses
Researchers found significant signs of stress reduction when horses inhaled lavender essential oil from a diffuser compared to water vapor and chamomile. | Photo: iStock

How many ways can you think of to stress out a horse? Trailering, bathing, clipping, vet visits, hoof trims, bridling, saddling—the possibilities are endless. However, the options owners have to help their horses stay calm are not. Researchers at the University of Arizona (UA) have determined, however, that owners might have a new tool to help manage equine stress, and it’s as simple as a sniff. A sniff of lavender, that is.

In a study recently published in the Journal of Equine Veterinary Science, researchers found significant signs of stress reduction in horses that inhaled lavender from a diffuser. The study was conducted by Isabelle Chea, a then-undergraduate honors student at the UA, and Ann Baldwin, PhD, UA professor of physiology and psychology.

“Horses can be under a lot of stress, so I was interested in seeing if aromatherapy could help in reducing stress,” said Chea, who had never been around horses before taking Baldwin’s course, Physiology of Mind Body Interactions, at UA in Tucson

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