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June 2017 by Cristina Wilkins, Editor-in-Chief, Horses and People Magazine

Although studies suggest that inhaling certain scents may reduce stress in humans, aromatherapy is relatively unexplored in veterinary medicine.

But, new research presented at the American Physiological Society (APS) annual meeting at Experimental Biology 2017 in Chicago, United States, raises the question of whether aromatherapy may be beneficial to horses as well.

Although a routine part of the life of many performance horses, transport always causes a certain amount of stress to the animals. The loud noises, confined spaces and constant movement, combined with arriving at unfamiliar territories, cause an increase in heart rate and levels of the stress hormone - cortisol. Higher stress levels may then result in hyper-reactive behaviours and poor performance.