by Miriam Altman, M.S.
Those of us who compete in equine sports understand that a good, competitive horse is a top level athlete; they are subjected to the same strains, sprains, tight muscles, sore backs and overall discomfort as their human counterparts. To keep our horses feeling their best, we often incorporate (or at least try) all remedies available—from joint injections to liniments and poultices. But, when it comes to topicals, do you know what they are really doing?
Liniments have been around for a long time and are well-accepted within the equine world. They have cooling properties which help to relieve inflammation, aches, pains and stiffness. Traditionally, they have been formulated with alcohol which provides rapid, evaporative cooling on the surface of the skin. Counterirritant oils are added to provide vasodilatation (dilation of the blood vessels) which increases the amount of blood available to be cooled.