Liniments for horses


There are definitely a few things to know about liniments for horses. Liniment is the general term for a lotion, potion, or topical application designed to relieve pain.


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Horse liniments are soothing or counter-irritating.


  • Liniments that are counter-irritating work by irritating the skin so that the capillaries and superficial vessels are opened.  This allows more blood flow and warmth to the area.


  • Liniments can be great in helping with lots of things for horses. Muscle soreness, chronic (long-term) issues your horse may have in his joints, and even bug bites may benefit from liniments. Some liniments for horses are even good for adding a bit of shine to your horse’s coat.



Some liniments are gels, some are sprays.


When to use liniments


  • Typically, you would apply a liniment to your horse after exercise. Liniments come in many forms, like sprays, lotions, and even thicker ointments.


  • Spray liniments are the easiest to use, point and go! With lotions and ointments, you will definitely want to rub them into your horse’s muscles. This doubles as a nice massage after work.


  • If you are using liniments on your horse’s tendons below the hock and/or knee, you can use a quilt and a standing wrap over the liniment if need be. Some liniments can be sponged on, these are great to combine with a rinse-off after exercise.



A few more things to know about liniments.



  • Many of them contain substances that will test positive under USEF guidelines when given intravenously, intramuscularly, subcutaneously, and also orally.


  • Camphor, oil of rosemary, and oil of thyme are all examples of such ingredients. But, you are using a liniment on your horse’s skin, so there is usually no association of a positive test result with topical use. The exception is capsaicin, a counter-irritant that is prohibited for use topically within seven days of an event under USEF rules and regulations. FEI, USEF, and AQHA rules usually change yearly, so check the latest bulletins just in case. Your Vet may be able to help you, also.


  • You should also consult your veterinarian if your horse has a new or acute injury. Generally speaking, new injuries are better treated with ice, save the heat-producing liniments for chronic conditions and muscle soreness. When in doubt, ask your Veterinarian!



Make note of cautionary statements on the bottle – and make sure not to use it on a place where your horse rubs his eyes or nose – in which case, use under leg wraps or a place your horse can’t reach.





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