A Liniment Primer

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It’s the height of competition season; some horse owners may be tempted to use liniments to soothe your horse’s sore legs and back. But are these potions worth the money?

Remember first that liniments are a therapy, not a cure. Just like aspirin, liniments are analgesics, which means that, while they may provide temporary pain relief and feel quite good on sore muscles, their effect is rarely permanent. Some can help reduce swelling, which aids healing, but doesn’t actually heal the injured or stressed muscle.

Liniments come in several categories. Heating and cooling liniments are the most common and are determined by the ingredients. They are most often made with herbal compounds and can be quite helpful for horses with chronic arthritis, or to cool down legs and muscles after strenuous exercise. One warning: some liniments can burn the skin so make sure you read the label carefully and rinse it off thoroughly.

While liniments can help a horse feel better in the short term, there’s really no substitute for a proper warm-up and cool down, especially in extremely hot or cold weather.