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[RC] Aroma Therapy (was:Suitability to become an endurance horse (was: Calm & Cool)) - k s swigart

Joe Long wrote:

(not me, his wife)
is into various alternative and homeopathic medicines,
"aromatherapy."  At a ride, she started waving this little
under Sanshra's nose at a vet check -- she said it would
calm him.  I
told her to not do that, it was in violation of the AERC
drug policy.
She objected that it was just natural herbs, and that the
aroma would
calm him.  I had to explain that it was still putting
substances into his bloodstream (via his nose and lungs),
and even
though it probably wouldn't "test" it was a violation of
both the
letter and the spirit of the AERC drug policy -- and to

I am not sure that this is totally accurate (but somebody in
the medical profession could probably let us know).

However, it is my understanding that if all that the
substance has is an aroma, then you probably aren't putting
anything into the blood stream.  If all the aroma is is an
odor (i.e. something that can be smelled), then it does not
have an effect on the nervous system by being absorbed
through the nasal linings and lungs into the blood stream,
but rather is a stimulation of the neurological sensors in
the nose.

In the same way that singing to your horse or making calming
noises stimulates the auditory sensors in the ears and may
have a soothing effect on your horse.

In the same way that stroking your horse on the neck
stimulates the tactile sensors in the skin and may have
soothing effect on your horse.

In the same way that distracting your horse's vision from
some scary monster in the next bush over and giving him you
to look at instead changes the stiumulus to the vision
sensors in the eyes and may have a soothing effect on your

None of these things puts any substance into the

I don't see anybody suggesting that talking to your horse or
touching your horse or getting your horse to look at you is
a contravention of the AERC drug rule, and, in fact are
probably ENCOURAGED as a method of soothing an excitable

So, unless I am wrong about how aromas are processed as a
sensory perception (or unless aroma therapy entails more
than just odor), I can't see how it would be a contravention
of the AERC drug rule.

Personally, I have never used aroma therapy (because it is
not something that I, not Joe's wife, am particularly IN
to), but I can definitely say that I will try to change the
odors that my horse is subjected to if they are having the
opposite effect (e.g. my stallion is excited by the aroma of
a mare in season).  So, if somebody wants to wave a bottle
of perfume under their horse's nose because it is a pleasing
odor and the horse likes it....

....well, I have lots of horses that like me to rub their
noses.  Which seems to me just a way of stimulating a
different sensory perception in virtually the same location.

So, unless perfume is considered a "device to manipulate or
stimulate accupressure or response points" and is therefore
forbidden under rule 13a (quoted below), I would have a hard
time in saying that it is against the AERC rules.

"13a. The use of additional therapies during competition
shall be prohibited. This shall include any invasive
procedures, (e.g.: acupuncture), manipulative procedures,
(e.g.: osseous manipulative procedures), the use of any
devices to manipulate or stimulate accupressure or response
points, (e.g.: Bioscans, laser lights, magnetic stimulation
devices etc)...."

And I must confess, I do use a few devices on my horses at
and during endurance rides which stimulates neurological
responses, improves circulation, relaxes the horse, etc.
These devices are called a curry comb, a body brush, and a
rub rag.  I don't know if I am stimulating accupressure
points (since I don't know enough about accupressure to know
where they are, but ignorance is no excuse, and I probably
am, and it is probably one of the reasons that it has such a
nice effect on the horse), but I have proceeded under the
assumption that this rule was not implemented to keep people
from grooming their horses, even if the reason for grooming
is not so much to make the horse's coat look nice (although
that is a nice side effect), but rather because it makes the
horse feel better to have their body brushed.

Certainly, a strict application of rule 13a prohibits
endurance riders from brushing their horses during the
competition, maybe is prohibits them from letting them smell
nice things too....I don't know.

But unless one REALLY reaches in the application of rule
13a, I can't imagine that letting your horse smell the
flowers (even if you brought the flowers along with you in a
bottle of perfume) is against the rules.

Orange County, Calif.


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