Ever experimented with calming products for your horse? You know, all those pastes, powders, gels and essential oil products that claim to relax your horse in stressful situations?
I have tried a bunch of different over-the-counter equine calming products over the years. Sometimes I thought they might have helped take the edge off a particular horse’s nerves. Might have. Maybe. But I always later changed my mind.
Unfortunately, I never found a product that I was truly convinced worked well or consistently enough to justify its price or continued use.
I actually suspect working on myself- like working on managing my nerves, increasing my focus, improving my riding aids- is likely the best calming product available.
That said, I keep seeing articles about how lavender has consistently shown to have calming effects on horses according to scientific studies.
Lavender also has insect repellent properties. Do an online search. You can easily find fly sprays (and home-made fly spray recipes) that contain lavender oil.
I figure that if my wearing lavender products around horses might have a positive impact, whether calming or insect repelling, why not wear it? If I am using soaps, lotions, hand sanitizers and the like anyways, why not have them lavender infused?
Unfortunately for me, lavender isn’t actually my favorite scent. But I do sometimes find or have been gifted products that don’t bother me that much. The photo accompanying this post shows the lavender-scented products I currently have in my possession.
One product that I would highly recommend that I don’t use currently, but have in the past, are the products from Annie Oakley. These are quality products that are not tested on animals. While their range of products have expanded over the years, they still do make lavender products specifically for horses and riders. How fun is that.
Go to https://www.annieoakley.com/product/131/calming-lavender-journeys-training-essentials to see their gift set that includes their muzzle rub oil and ranch & stall spray. The products are pricey, as are many essential oil products, but I recall that they lasted a long time. For disclosure purposes, The Backyard Horse Blog has no affiliation with Annie Oakley. My recommendation is uncompensated and unsolicited.
Please note that if you compete in horse shows, lavender (either ingested or absorbed through the skin) is a prohibited substance with the USEF and FEI. Ingestion or absorption may result in a positive drug test (yes, lavender is edible in certain forms).
Interestingly though, if a horse inhales the scent of lavender, it does not result in a positive test. In fact, one enterprising equestrian created a product that riders can attach to their bridles that releases the smell of lavender. She had this product approved for use by the USEF, the FEI, USDF, and AQHA. Read more about her business HorseScents at
Remember that it is up to each competitor to do their due diligence in making sure they do not use a prohibitive substance according to their own show organization rules.
As with any scent or product, you may want to check to see if your horse actually likes the smell of what you are using. If you have never seen a horse display scent preferences, it may surprise you that horses can communicate when they do or don’t like a certain smell.
Heather Wallace of The Timid Rider blog made a video at one time that shows her offering two different horses sniffs of multiple essential oils. I was fascinated watching the horses’ reactions.
In general, if a horse liked a scent, they would turn their head and prick their ears or stand calmly with their body arced towards the scent. If a horse didn’t find the scent to their tastes/was indifferent, they would either show no interest whatsoever or move their head or entire body away from the scent.
Now I watch for these reactions in my own horses when using a new product. I must say that Shiloh in general seems to like the lavender scent much more than Bear. Bear usually stands there looking unimpressed while Shiloh will often linger with his nose over whatever lavender product I show him.
Finally, if you are interested in reading more about lavender and its calming effects on horses, here are some resource links for you to explore (FYI- the first two links reference the same more recent study, but the third resource link references a study conducted almost ten years ago).