How to use lemon essential oil for horses

Lemon with its uplifting and refreshing properties has many benefits for horses. These include overall health support, increased energy and mental focus, and as an effective cleaner for tack and equipment. Read on to find out how lemon's versatility can improve the lives of you and your horse. 

The Science

Species: citrus limon

Aromatic description: cheerful, clean, fresh

The chemical constituents: 
  • limonene, which is an alkene, is the most most prevalent -- cleansing internally and externally
  • beta-pinene, also an alkene, provides immune and respiratory support and can help reduce anxious feelings 
  • gamma-terpinene, another alkene, helps prevent against environmental threats

Where in the world: Most of the lemons used to make dōTERRA lemon oil are harvested sustainably on the island of Sicily from farmers who have been growing lemons of superior quality for generations. Some are also harvested from southern Brazil.

How it is made: The oil is produced by cold-pressing the peel. The peel is rolled to break open the sacs in which the oil is contained. Next, water is sprayed over the mixture, which is collected and then spun at a high speed to filter off the oil. It takes approximately 45 lemons to make 15mL of dōTERRA Lemon essential oil. A lemon tree produces on average 500-600 pounds of lemons per year. 

The research: 16252 published studies on citrus limon on PubMed as of March 2020.


Physical: Assists in detoxification, respiratory function, healthy immune responses, digestive discomfort, hoof health*

Emotional: Uplifting properties, sharpens attention/focus, great for flighty horses who run when scared

Other: Great at removing tree sap from any part of your horse, yourself or equipment. Add a couple drops to a carrier oil (we use fractionated coconut oil) and rub into sap until it dissipates. Lemon makes an excellent cleaner for tack, buckets and other surfaces. It also works to freshen and purify the air

How to use:

Lemon has GRAS status, which means it is commonly accepted to have a broad safety margin.

Internal support: You can use lemon internally in water or directly in the mouth for overall organ support and as a gentle detoxifier. For your horse, create a lip pocket by pulling out the lower lip and add 1-2 drops to this pocket. For yourself, just add 1-2 drops to your water bottle (ideally glass or stainless steel) and sip throughout the day. 

Diffusing lemon: If you have a diffuser, lemon in the barn will not only smell nice but also helps cleanse and purify the air.

Topical use: If you choose to use it topically, lemon is a photosensitive oil. This means that it can cause skin irritation if exposed to sunlight after application. Although this is rare in the case of applying to fur (like covering our skin with a fabric), you can avoid potential trouble by applying the oil to the underbelly of the horse. Remember only a couple drops are needed. If in doubt dilute with carrier oil.


Concentration booster
Apply one drop each of lemon and rosemary essential oils to the palm of your hand and allow your horse to inhale the aroma using both nostrils. Do the same for yourself and enjoy a focused and uplifting ride with your horse. 

Leather cleaner
Combine 1/4 cup fractionated coconut oil and 1/4 cup vinegar into a glass jar. Add 10 drops of lemon essential oil. Secure lid and shake before using. To use, apply to leather with a cloth or soft bristle tooth brush, lightly rubbing leather surface. Wipe clean with a polishing or microfibre cloth. 

Surface cleaner
Combine ½ cup white vinegar and ½ cup water into a spray bottle (either glass or PET 1 or 2). Add 15 drops of lemon essential oil. Secure spray top and shake before each use. Spray surface areas and wipe clean with a cloth.

Lemon is a staple in our barns and homes because it makes a cost effective yet incredibly powerful cleaner for people, horses and our surroundings. 

Do you have lemon essential oil on hand? Let us know your favourite use for it!

With love,

Amanda and Daniela 
Oils for Horses

P.S. You'll love our free eBook. Get it here
*these statements have not been evaluated by the FDA or Health Canada. Please consult a qualified veterinarian before using essential oils on your horse.

Melissa Shelton DVM, The Animal Desk Reference II Essential Oils for Animals (Melissa Shelton, September 2018)

Carole Faith, Essential Oils for Horses A Source Book for Practitioners and Owners (J. A. Allen, 2002)

Nayana Morag, Essential Oils for Animals (Off The Leash Press, 2011)

Peter Holmes LAc MH, Aromatica Volume 1 (Singing Dragon, 2016)

The Essential Life 6th Edition (Total Wellness Publishing, 2019)

Modern Essentials 8th Edition (Aroma Tools, 2016)

Advanced Oil Magic (Oil Magic Publishing, 2019)

dōTERRA, Essential Oil Specialist course 2020

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