One of the things I admire most about horses is that they’re incredible athletes, and that’s why I chose a career with racehorses. Like all athletes, horses suffer from muscle pain, stiffness, and even swelling after an intense workout, and one way I like to help them recover from exercise is by rubbing them in liniment.
If you want to know all about liniments and how to choose one, I’ll tell you exactly how to find the best horse liniment for your needs below.
In this guide, you can learn:
- The function and purpose of horse liniment
- How to choose the best horse liniment
- The best horse liniments on the market
- How to use horse liniment
Bottom Line Up Front
My overall top choice in horse liniment is the Absorbine Veterinary Liquid Liniment. Absorbine is a trusted brand in the equestrian world, and their liquid liniment is one of the most effective ones on the market. I love this product because it provides instant relief from stiffness, swelling, and pain, and you can use it as a bracing wash, a wound cleaner, or as a soothing massage lotion.
My Top Choice in Liniment – At A Glance
Before we get into all the details about horse liniment, I’ll give you a quick overview of my favorite ones on the market:
- Absorbine Veterinary Liquid Liniment – This is the best liquid liniment on the market. I love it because it’s versatile and highly effective, and you can use it as a topical treatment for minor wounds.
- Sore No More – This is a fantastic liniment spray made from natural ingredients, including witch hazel and lavender, so it’s perfect for horses with sensitive skin.
- Vita Flex Thermoflex – I love this gel from Vita Flex because it is fast-acting, long-lasting, and easy to apply. It works deep into the muscles and brings instant relief to horses with aching muscles.
What is Horse Liniment?
Horse liniment is an age-old remedy of medicinal oils and herbs which helps soothe a horse’s muscles after exercise. It usually comes in liquid or gel, which you apply directly to the skin, and you can find it in equestrian barns around the world.
Horse liniments are similar to human post-workout creams and lotions – they evaporate quickly, cool down inflamed tissue, and increase blood flow to the area. Cooling down after exercise is vital to horses because if they don’t, the excessive heat can damage cells and cause long-term issues.
The benefits of liniment are:
- It’s easier than icing or hosing to cool a horse down after exercise.
- It can help with swelling and pain and improve circulation.
- You can use it to help muscles loosen up pre-workout.
- It can help ease the symptoms of arthritis.
- It can help soothe a horse’s legs during transport.
- It soothes muscles and helps horses to recover after exercise.
- Some liniments are also antiseptics which you can use to clean injuries.
Liniment won’t heal severe injuries, and you should never use it in place of veterinary care.
How Do You Use Liniment on Horses?
Liniment is incredibly versatile, and you can put it on a horse several ways. You can bath them in it, massage it into their skin and use it as a topical treatment.
Some owners use liniment routinely after every workout, while others only use it after an intense session or when their horse needs it. Never use it on open wounds unless it clearly says it’s suitable to do so on the bottle, and always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
Here are the most common ways to use liniment on a horse:
- As a Body Wash– You can use liquid liniment diluted with water to give your horse a soothing bath after a workout. This procedure is also known as bracing.
- Under Leg Wraps – Many owners like to put liniment under wraps on their horse’s legs to help with the heating effects. You must use breathable wraps – if you don’t, it can burn their skin. Not all liniments are suitable for leg wraps, so always check the manufacturer’s guidelines.
- As A Topical Treatment – You can massage gel or liquid liniment directly into muscles and joints. Some are also antiseptics, so you can use them as a topical treatment to disinfect wounds and hooves.
How I Choose The Best Horse Liniment
The main things I consider when I choose a liniment are the ingredients, what I want to use it for, and the application method. Horses are as individual as their owners, and you can’t choose a liniment with a one size fits all approach.
Below, I’ll talk you through the critical things to consider when you choose horse liniment.
#1 – The Ingredients
The main active ingredients in horse liniments are counter-irritants, which Increase blood flow to the muscles and tissues and reduce heat. Menthol and alcohol are the common main ingredients in liniment because they evaporate quickly. Be careful with menthol or camphor-based liniments – they mildly irritate the skin and aren’t ideal for wraps.
Some liniments contain coat conditioners which makes them ideal for shows, and some contain antiseptics such as iodine, so you can use them to clean minor wounds. Liniments also usually contain a mix of fragrant, natural oils with medicinal properties.
Here’s a list of the most common natural oils in horse liniment:
- Sassafras oil
- Witch hazel
- Spike oil
#2 – The Usage
Each liniment is slightly different when it comes to using them. If you want an all-around one which you can also use on wounds, for example, choose an antiseptic one. Some liniments are potent and aren’t suitable for frequent use, so if you want to use the product several times a day, make sure it’s designed for regular use.
If you use a lot of liniment, it’s worth investing in a large bottle, but if you want one on hand to use now and then, a small bottle is fine. Finally, if you want to use it with leg wraps, make sure it’s suitable for the job – some liniments can burn a horse if you leave it under wraps.
#3 – The Application Method
Horse liniments are available in liquids, gels, and sprays, so choose an application method according to your preference and needs.
- Spray Liniment – Spray is super convenient and easy to use. It’s good to use on hard to reach areas and is easy to apply when you’re on the move.
- Gel Liniment – Gel is easy to use because you have more control over the application and is the best way to apply liniment as a topical treatment.
- Liquid Liniment – This can be a bit messy but is fantastic for massaging into your horse’s muscles. Liquid liniment is the best product to make a soothing body wash for your horse.
The Best Horse Liniment On The Market
Now you know what to look for in a horse liniment, the next stage is choosing one suitable for you and your horse’s needs. With so many to choose from, selecting liniment can be time-consuming with no guarantee you’ll make the right choice. So, to help you choose the correct horse liniment, below, I’ve listed the best ones on the market
#1 – The Best Liquid Horse Liniments
This liquid liniment from Absorbine is a topical antiseptic and analgesic – so you can use it on open wounds and your horse’s feet. The main ingredient is menthol, and it also contains iodine and calendula, echinacea, and wormwood extracts.
I like to use Absorbine on my horses as a bracer to reduce heat and inflammation after exercise and to relieve arthritic horses. Some people have been using this product for over 50 years, and it has solid customer reviews.
- Perfect for bracing
- Topical antiseptic – you can use it on wounds.
- Lots of people don’t like the smell, and it lingers on your hands
Bigeloil liquid liniment is from Absorbine and is designed for racehorses, so it’s the best product for working horses. The main ingredients are menthol and alcohol. It also contains juniper berry oil, and the smell isn’t too overpowering,
I love Bigeloil because it’s fast-acting, effective, economical, and versatile – you can use it as a wash, on minor wounds, under leg wraps, and to help relieve pain and stiffness in arthritic horses.
- You can use it under leg wraps
- Smells pleasant
- You can use it on minor wounds
- It may irritate horses with sensitive skin
Corona from Manna Pro is a fantastic liquid liniment that reduces soreness, stiffness, and swelling in joints. The main ingredients are menthol and eucalyptus, which stimulate circulation, and camphor oil. I like Manna Pro Corona because it’s thick, easy to use, and doesn’t leave a messy residue on the coat. It’s an economical product you can also use on dogs.
- Good for regular use
- You can use it under wraps
- Not as powerful as other liniments
#2 – The Best Gel Liniments
Absorbine has been producing high-quality equine care products since 1892 and are leaders in the industry. This veterinary gel is a fast-acting analgesic, and it contains menthol, spearmint, calendula, echinacea, and wormwood extract.
I love this product because it’s easy to apply and penetrates deep for targeted relief, so it’s fantastic for arthritic horses. I also like it because you can use it pre and post-workout and with leg wraps.
- Pleasant minty smell
- It may irritate horses with sensitive skin
Farnham are brand leaders in equestrian care, and I love their Vetrolin liniment gel because it’s fast-acting and long-lasting. It brings instant relief to horses after a heavy workout and effectively reduces swelling, pain, and stiffness.
Vetrolin is easy to apply, works deep into the muscles, and promotes blood flow. The main ingredient is menthol, and it also contains hydraulic acid to nourish the coat and make it shine.
- Leaves the coat looking healthy and shiny
- Not suitable for leg wraps
Thermaflex from Vita Flex is a fantastic liniment gel that provides instant cooling for working horses and long-lasting relief from pain, stiffness, and swelling. It works deep into the muscles and uses counter-irritants to promote circulation.
The main active ingredient is menthol, and it also contains calendula, cajeput, and rosemary extracts. Thermaflex is a potent product, so I always use gloves when I apply it because I have sensitive skin.
- Fast acting
- Not suitable for wraps
- This product is runny for a gel
#3 – The Best Spray Liniments
Dr. Milts spray is an effective veterinary-approved product that contains all natural ingredients – it doesn’t heat or cool down muscles with artificial chemicals – instead, it works on the causes of swelling during exercise, such as magnesium deficiency. The main active ingredient is menthol, and it also contains soothing Epsom salts, magnesium, witch hazel, arnica, wintergreen, and peppermint.
I love this spray because it’s easy to use and doesn’t leave the coat sticky or greasy. It smells lovely and soothes and relaxes horses, so it’s fantastic to use during transport. You can also use it as a foot soak or to help relieve pain in arthritic horses.
- All natural ingredients
- Approved for use in humans
- It’s not as fast acting as other liniments
Sore no more is a highly effective herbal liniment for horses, recommended by veterinarians. I love this spray because it’s gentle, so it’s a fantastic product for horses with sensitive skin, and you can safely use it with leg wraps. The main ingredient is witch hazel, and it also contains arnica, rosemary, and lavender to help soothe aches and pains.
I like to use this spray before and after exercise to stimulate blood flow, and to relax and soothe my horse’s muscles. It’s safe for regular use and doesn’t leave an oily or greasy residue on the coat.
- You can use it with wraps
- It has a pleasant smell
- You must be careful with the spray top – it’s a bit delicate and breaks easily.
Farnam is a brand you can trust – they’re leaders in the world of equine care with over 75 years of experience, and Vetrolin is one of the most effective equine liniments on the market. The main ingredient is ethanol, and it also contains five aromatic essential oils, cedarwood, rosemary, thyme, and sassafras oil.
Vetrolin is a heating liniment – it stimulates circulation and relieves muscle soreness and stiffness – it also reduces swelling and helps with pain relief. This is a fantastic spray-on liniment that’s easy to apply, and the bottle sprays at any angle.
- Smells pleasant
- Leaves the coat soft and shiny
- The bottle and sprayer are delicate, so you must use and store them carefully.
My Top Choice and Conclusion
To give my horse the best relief from soreness after exercise, I always use the Veterinary Liniment from Absorbine. This is a high-quality product that has provided muscle relief to horses for decades. Absorbine is a brand you can trust, and this is one of the most effective liniments on the market.
Horse liniment is a must for any owner, especially if you have an athletic horse that works out a lot. A good liniment will help ease the stress on your horse’s joints and muscles after riding, and it can help protect their legs against stress during transport.
To get the best from the product, choose the most suitable one for your needs and never use it in place of veterinary care. If your horse has ongoing or severe muscle pain and discomfort, seek professional advice.
Best Horse Liniment Guide: FAQs
Answer: Many humans use horse liniment for their aching muscles and joints and claim it brings long-lasting relief, but there’s no guarantee about its safety, so they use it at their own risk. The FDA doesn’t test horse liniment, so it’s impossible to tell if it has any long-term risks to humans.
Answer: Liniment is a fantastic way to help relieve the symptoms of arthritis in horses. It penetrates deep into their muscles and has a heating effect which can help alleviate joint pain and stiffness, and many vets prescribe it as treatment. Always follow veterinary advice when you use it to treat a horse with arthritis.
Answer: There are many ways to put liniment on a horse – it usually comes in spray, gel, or liquid form. You can apply it directly to the skin as a topical treatment, use it in a soothing body wash, or leave it under leg wraps to help cool a horse down after exercise. Never use it on open wounds unless it says it’s safe to do so on the bottle, and never use it on membranous areas like the nose and mouth.
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- Rains, Lindsey. “When, Why, and How to Use Liniment on Horses.” Horse Rookie, 26 Jan. 2021, horserookie.com/why-use-horse-liniment/#:%7E:text=What%20are%20horse%20liniments%3F,liniment%20as%20a%20preventative%20measure.
- Seabaugh, Katie. “Post-Workout Leg Care.” Equus Magazine, 28 Feb. 2022, equusmagazine.com/horse-care/postworkout-leg-care-27648.
- ThealovesLondon. “Can You Wrap over Absorbine Liniment?” The Horse Forum, 9 Dec. 2012, www.horseforum.com/threads/can-you-wrap-over-absorbine-liniment.146049.
- “What Are Horse Liniments and Poultices | Horseman’s Report.” Horse Health Products, www.horsehealthproducts.com/horsemans-report/hoof-leg-care/liniments-or-poultices-whats-the-difference. Accessed 16 July 2022.