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THE EFFECT OF AROMATHERAPY OILS ON THE BEHAVIOUR OF STABLED HORSES Christine Glover, Deborah Goodwin School of Psychology, University of Southampton, UK.

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Presentation on theme: "THE EFFECT OF AROMATHERAPY OILS ON THE BEHAVIOUR OF STABLED HORSES Christine Glover, Deborah Goodwin School of Psychology, University of Southampton, UK."— Presentation transcript:

1 THE EFFECT OF AROMATHERAPY OILS ON THE BEHAVIOUR OF STABLED HORSES Christine Glover, Deborah Goodwin School of Psychology, University of Southampton, UK. METHODS These 2 replicated trials investigated the behavioural effects of aromatherapy oils on 12 stabled horses, divided into 3 groups according to stable design. TRIAL I In trial I, 12 aromatherapy oils were separately presented as drops of oil on wooden blocks. Behaviour was videoed and the mean duration of olfactory investigation of the blocks used to assess attractiveness of the 12 oils. The three oils with longest duration of olfactory investigation were used in trial 2: Rose (Rosa damascena), Roman Chamomile (Anthemis nobilis) Peppermint (Mentha piperita) TRIAL II In trial II, these oils and Sunflower oil as a control, were each presented individually for five days. On days 1, 3 and 5 behaviour was recorded for 30 minutes using wall-mounted video cameras. Data was harvested from tapes according to a nine mutually exclusive behaviour ethogram using the Observer v.5 package and analysed using SPSS v.12. INTRODUCTION Aromatherapy is becoming increasingly popular as a complimentary therapy for treating physical and behavioural problems in animals. Such oils are used to promote relaxation in animals housed in stressful conditions (Graham et al., 2004). Traditional equine management practices can create an environment that some horses find stressful (McGreevy et al., 1995). This study aimed to investigate the effects of aromatherapy oils on behaviour of stabled horses. Fig 1. Group Mean Duration of Oral Investigation of Wooden Blocks Trial I results found that the three most attractive aromatherapy oils were, Rose, Roman Chamomile and Peppermint. Discussion The results from trial I showed that the horses found some of the aromatherapy oils more attractive than others (Fig 1). Further study involving paired preference tests is suggested to further investigate equine preferences for different aromatherapy oils. In trial II, no significant difference was found between the duration of the nine behaviour patterns recorded on days 1, 3 or 5 of trial II, suggesting that the horses did not habituate to these odours. Rose and Roman Chamomile are thought to produce a calming effect upon mood (Umezu, 2000 Williams, 1992). The results of trial II (Fig 2), suggest that both Rose and Roman Chamomile do produce a relaxing effect upon horses resulting in less movement and standing alert behaviour. Peppermint oil is generally thought to have a stimulating effect upon behaviour (Umezu et al., 2001). The results from trial II suggest that Peppermint does not produce a stimulating effect upon the behaviour of stabled horses. However, Peppermint was the last oil to be presented in trial II, so the observed results may be due to the carry-over effects of previously calming oils. Limitations of this study included the small sample size, and its short duration, as equine aromatherapy treatments are normally of 2 weeks duration (Faith, 2002). Further study is required to observe if the effects of these oils becomes more pronounced with increased exposure to the fragrances. Conclusion In this short-term trial the horses demonstrated increased attraction to Peppermint, Rose and Roman Chamomile aromatherapy oils. Rose and Roman Chamomile oils resulted in behaviour suggesting increased relaxation. This study did not demonstrate any stimulating effects of Peppermint oil on behaviour of horses. Significant differences were found between the behaviour of the horses housed in the three different types of stable. References Faith, C., (2002), ‘Essential Oils for Horses’. J.A. Allen, Clerkenwell House, London. pp Graham, L., Wells, D.L. & Hepper, P.G., (2005), ‘The Influence of Olfactory Stimulation on the Behaviour of Dogs Housed in a Rescue Shelter’. Applied Animal Behaviour Science. Volume 91 (1-2): McGreevy, P.D., Cripps, P.J., French, N.P., Greene, L.E. & Nicol, C.J., (1995), ‘Management Factors Associated with Stereotypic and Redirected Behaviour in the Thoroughbred Horse’. Equine Veterinary Journal, 27 (2): Umezu, T., (2000), ‘Behavioural Effects of Plant-derived Essential Oils in the Geller Type Conflict Test in Mice’. Japanese Journal of Pharmacology, 83 (2): Umezu, T., Sakata, A. & Ito, H., (2001), ‘Ambulation-promoting Effects of Peppermint Oil and Identification of its Active Constituents’. Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behaviour, 69 (3-4): Williams, R.A., (1992), ‘The Effect of Olfactory Stimulation on Fluency, Vividness of Imagery and Associated Mood: A Preliminary Study’. British Journal of Medical Psychology, 63 (2): Fig 2. Difference Between Treatments in Mean Duration of Behaviour Patterns Friedman’s test was used to analyse the main effects of treatment, and showed a significant effect of treatment on duration of movement ( X 2 = 9.9, df = 3 P<0.05 ) and standing alert ( X 2 = 9.0, df = 3 P<0.05 ). There were no significant effects of treatment on duration of other observed variables, though the difference in duration of dozing approached significance ( X 2 = 7.4, df = 3 P <0.1 ). Wilcoxon signed ranks tests were used to compare treatment effect. Fig 3. Mean Duration of Movement Behaviour Friedman’s test indicated a significant difference between the three groups ( X 2 = 11.3, df = 2 P < ) in mean duration of the nine behaviours. Results


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