Any equine athlete can benefit from therapeutic care after exercise. Soreness in the muscles, aching joints, and overall fatigue can make for stiff joints and tender horses. Liniments, and similarly braces and cooling gels, can help provide pain relief and help your horse recover from the stresses of his job. Some go so far as to help alleviate itchy skin and insect bites with antiseptic properties.
A horse liniment is a product designed to alleviate pain, reduce soreness, and help with a cooldown. The active ingredients work as counterirritants, triggering a horse's skin to increase the superficial blood flow to that area applied. The soothing effects result from evaporation of the ingredients, and will typically be followed up by a warming effect as superficial blood supplies ramp up and provide pain relief.
The common ingredients in liniments, such as camphor, menthol, and eucalyptus, create the cooling and warming sensations. There are typically other herbal ingredients, which also create a lovely aroma. Calendula, echinacea, and other herbal extracts are topical analgesics, reducing pain. Menthol and other essential oils add to the wonderful smells of liniments.
When choosing the best health care products for your horse, find liniments that are easily applied for your horse care needs. Liquids are easily sprayed on, and can specifically target an area. Liquids, such as the Sore No More line of products, spritz on with a spray nozzle. This is ideal for treating muscle soreness.
Gel or lotion liniments are another option, in which case you are actively rubbing in the liniment. Sometimes these are called gelotions, such as the Absorbine Veterinary Liniment Gel. You may find that your horse appreciates the gentle massage of using a gel product. This also allows you to gain valuable feedback from your horse about any sore muscles he may have. Gels also allow arthritis pain to be directly addressed by using them directly on hocks for joint pain. Bigeloil comes in both gel and liquid formulations to suit all horse's needs, as does Vetrolin.
Braces are another way to utilize a liniment. These liquids are generally diluted in water to be used as a body wash. You can easily target areas with a rinse, or choose to treat your horse's whole body. Some liniments are also available in shampoo form, like the Back on Track LimberUp Shampoo. These soothing treatments help your horse's blood flow and entire body.
If your horse's legs need attention, horse liniments can go under leg bandages and wraps. In this situation, the product acts as a poultice would, but without the mess of clay. Horse health starts at the ground up, and keeping those legs in top shape is critical.
Tips for using liniments:
Do a spot test on your horse first. Natural herbs might be overly irritating.
For muscle pain and overexertion, vigorous rubbing and massage help create more sensation and heat for your equine partner.
Joint pain and sore lower legs can be directly addressed. Before you wrap your horse, use the liniment for a few sessions to be sure there's no reaction.
Minor injuries and first aid situations should be addressed with the help of a veterinarian.
Each brand will have specific product information on its best uses.
Be mindful of any minor cuts your horse has. Liniments don't always feel great on wounds.
Use auto-ship for easy ordering.
Check with the USEF for interactions if your horse goes to shows.
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