The Senses: Smell Copy
Horses take in far more information about their environment through smell than do people. Olfactory senses allow horses to differentiate types of grasses and forage as they graze and smell the approach of predators. Smell helps to identify members of the herd (particularly the mare and foal) and plays a key role in breeding. Most importantly, the horse relies on its keen sense of smell to recognize potential threats in their environment, such as the smell of predators or smells they have associated in the past with bad experiences.
Keep in mind, if a horse is showing an interest in smelling something (including you), allowing her time to do so may help her settle down. Consider the possibility that perfumes, or even shampoos or other source of artificial scent on you may have an impact on the horse. Remember, the horse is more sensitive to smell than you are, so the source of the horse’s interest may not be immediately apparent to you.
Finally, many horses do respond very well to aromatherapy or the use of essential oils. Be aware however, that even a small amount of aroma may overwhelm a horse. Because of their heightened sensitivity a little can go a long way. Furthermore, just because a scent may be appealing or elicit a certain response from you, do not assume your horse will share your taste. Always provide the horse with the option to move away from a scent they find unappealing or have just had enough of. Be very careful when using essential oils topically as they can irritate or even blister the skin. Do not apply oils or scents without some knowledge or training about their use and effect. We strongly recommend thorough training in the specific uses of essential oils before using them as part of your massage.