The effects of aromatherapy oil on the behaviour of stabled horses.

Glover, Christine and Goodwin, Deborah, (2006) The effects of aromatherapy oil on the behaviour of stabled horses. Mendl, M., Burman, O.H.P., Butterworth, A., Harris, M.J., Held, S.D.E., Jones, S.M., Littin, K.E., Main, D.C.J., Nicol, C.J., Parker, R.M.A., Paul, E.S., Richards, G., Sherwin, C.M., Statham, P.T.E, Toscano, M.J. and Warriss, P.D (eds.) In Proceedings of the 40th International Congress of ISAE. ISAE Scientific Committee 2006 for the Organising Committee of the 40th ISAE Congress. 1 pp, p.149.


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These two replicated trials investigated the behavioural effects of aromatherapy oils on 12 stabled horses, divided into three groups according to stable design. In trial 1, 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 construct a mean attractiveness order for the 12 oils. The three most attractive oils, Rose (Rosa damascena), Roman Chamomile (Anthemis nobilis) and Peppermint (Mentha piperita) were used in trial 2. In trial 2, these three 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. Freidman's analysis showed a significant effect of treatment on duration of movement (P<0.05, df 3, 2 9.92) and standing alert (P<0.05, df 3, 2 9.01), while differences in dozing behaviour approached significance (P<0.1, df 3, 2 6.36). Wilcoxon Signed Ranks Tests for treatment differences found that Rose (P<0.05, Z -3.242) and Roman Chamomile (P<0.05, Z -2.462) resulted in a significant reduction in movement behaviours. Differences between Peppermint and the control were not significant. Using Freidman's analysis a significant difference was found between the three groups in mean duration of behaviours (P<0.005, df 2, 2 11.31), suggesting that stable design influences equine behavioural responses to aromatherapy oils. In these short-term trials the horses demonstrated increased attraction to Peppermint, Rose and Roman Chamomile aromatherapy oils. Rose and Roman Chamomile oils resulted in behaviour suggesting increased relaxation. Published studies have shown the stimulating effects of Peppermint oil on dogs, however this study did not demonstrate similar effects in horses.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Venue - Dates: 40th International Congress of ISAE, 2006-08-08 - 2006-08-12
Related URLs:
Subjects: Q Science > QL Zoology
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
ePrint ID: 63492
Date :
Date Event
20 July 2006Published
Date Deposited: 15 Oct 2008
Last Modified: 16 Apr 2017 17:24
Further Information:Google Scholar

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