92. Myth or Real? Aromatherapy may be beneficial to reduce stress in horses that are being hauled.

Answer: Real

In a recent issue of “The Modern Equine Veterinarian”, a small article caught my eye. It was entitled “Stop, and Smell the Lavender”. Liking lavender myself, I was intrigued by this title.
Researchers at Albion College in Michigan wanted to know if horses, like humans, would
benefit from inhaling certain scents known to reduce stress. Kylie Heitman, a student at the college, observed 8 horses across two trips in horse trailers. The horses in this study were hauled for 15 minutes for two trips. In one trip, they were exposed to an air diffusion of lavender oil and in the other trip, they received an air diffusion of distilled water. Heart rate and cortisol levels were measured before and after each horse’s hauling. Post-transport cortisol levels were significantly lower when the horses were exposed to lavender when compared to the distilled water. A small decrease in the post-hauling heart rate was
observed with the lavender diffusion but this was not found to be statistically significant
when compared to the distilled water diffusion. These results suggest that more study into
lavender as another means for stress reduction in hauled or performance horses is
warranted. These results were reported at a meeting of the American Physiological Society
but are as yet, to my knowledge, unpublished.

Source: The Modern Equine Veterinarian, Issue 5/2017, p. 10.

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