Images of horses in the evening, who may be spooky with fireworks.
Bonfire night fireworks can make horses jump and spook.

I was standing in the forest poo-picking. The herd was some way off, on another part of the land. When the first firework went off, there was an immediate response from the horses. They regrouped. Agitation rippled through the herd. My horse sense told me to move the barrow from where I was, in the middle of the forest track and put it beside the fence on one side. I stood still, watching the horses. Another bang. Another whoosh. At this point, the horses grouped into one entity and took off at a gallop. They reached where I had been standing about half a minute later, ten of them galloping full tilt toward the top of the forest. I silently thanked my intuition. I am sure they had beamed me a message to stand clear because they were getting ready to bolt.

Fireworks are frightening for many animals who do not enjoy this annual commotion as many humans do. One reason, I am quite sure, is that they have no idea what is going on, and so cannot prepare themselves. In my own case, I would talk to my animals. Prepare them for the festive night, so they know that there are going to be bangs and whooshes. let them know the skies may be lit up too!

Beyond talking to your animals, one thing we can do is prepare some essential oils. Certain oils have calming properties. Here I want to speak about four, that may be beneficial for your horses, in preparation for the 5th of November. These are: Rose Otto, Violet Leaf, Frankincense, and Valerian

Four oils that can be of help

Rose Otto: this oil has nurturing properties
Violet Leaf: is helpful when anticipating a fearful event
Frankincense: helps with fear, noise sensitivity, stress-related breathing issues
Valerian: has anxiolytic and sedative properties

Rose Otto

Rose Otto (Rosa Damascena) is helpful in a variety of situations. These include anger management and with animals that bite. The oil is helpful in hormone balancing. The oil can help in cases of trauma, when one is dealing with painful memories that come from the past. During fireworks, Rose Otto can help as a tranquilizer. It calms but does not sedate. In humans, Rose oil can reduce adrenaline levels by a third. It helps to reduce the fear mediated by adrenoreceptors. The oil activates the parasympathetic system. This reduces the amount of adrenaline flowing in the body. Adrenalin is naturally produced in the fight-or-flight response. As the fireworks go off, so Rose Otto will help the horses feel less anxious.

Violet Leaf

Violet Leaf is often used when an animal changes environment. It can help if an animal anticipates a fearful event. Violet leaf can be an expensive oil so it is important to buy from a trusted seller. This oil is very helpful for animals who are edgy, and who spook. It is helpful for the vet dentists’ visit, but has other uses. It helps with fireworks, or other occasions with loud and unpredictable noises. The oil is appropriate for animals that have a fear of pain. For animals to be transported to see the vet, this oil can also be helpful. It is appropriate for horses that are unhappy about traveling in the trailer. This oil brings feelings of calm, of confidence, and can also help with settling in a new home, along with Neroli.


Frankincense essential oil is helpful in times of stress, fear, panic. It is especially good in cases of sensitivity to noise. The name derives from the Latin. Frank c. 1300, “free, liberal, generous.” Incense: late 13c., “gum or other substance producing a sweet smell when burned.” This comes from the Old French encens (12c.). Also from Late Latin incensum “burnt incense,” or that which is burnt,.” Past participle of Latin incendere “set on fire”.

This essential oil is particularly helpful to frightened animals. As opposed to those who are highly strung. Valerian, Rose and Frankincense are often used in cases of sensitivity to noise.


Valerian can act as a sedative and muscle relaxant. The oil is extracted from the root, and has been extensively researched due to its sedative action. Valerian is regarded as a “general” anxiolytic and sedative because it affects many neural circuits. The principal constituents are kessane and valerenic acid. The plant’s sedative properties facilitate sleep through the process of relaxation. The oil contains GABA, which helps to inhibit excitatory neurons. Valerenic acid in fact inhibits an enzyme that normally degrades GABA. As such, Valerian is in essence a GABA enhancer.

Use with horses

When I use essential oils, I hold the oil open, a good arm’s distance from the horse, so that he or she can sniff if they are interested. Sometimes they will come to sniff closer, sometimes not. Offering the horse the choice to sniff or not is important and respectful. Whilst kinesiology and other holistic practices treat the horse and not the condition, it is nonetheless helpful to have a few choice oils in one’s tack room, just in case. In my own practice, I would ask each individual horse what they wanted, and they might choose just one of these oils. Either way, it is helpful to have this reflex, and know that you have bottles of the requisite oils.

Quality is important, and if you are in the UK, I recommend “Natural Equine” which supplies high-quality oils for equestrians. Oils are sold in packs on the website so you will have to write to ask about the purchase of individual oils.


I hope this article has been helpful. Many other articles about plants and horses appear on my blog. They are also linked to my Professional Facebook Page. If there is a plant or issue that you would like me to write about, please get in touch via Contacts.

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