The blog-o-sphere has been abuzz with reviews of Absorbine Botanicals Natural Herbal Liniment, a new product from the makers of ShowSheen, UltraShield, and Hooflex.
While I was happy to be selected as a blogger reviewer (who says no to free test products?), I wasn't especially gung-ho for this product. I've tried using liniment on Hemie a few times and he did not like it at all. So I was prepared to give 'em a shot for purposes of this review and then give the rest of the bottles away.
The herbal liniment comes in 2 forms: concentrated liquid body rinse, and massage foam.
The smell is pleasant. Not overwhelmingly powerful, but strong enough to be aromatherapeutic. It's made with 12 different extracts/oils, but I mostly smelled the arnica. A friend mostly smelled lavender. Let's just say it smells like plants.
Both bottle designs are thoughtful. The foam pump head has to be rotated open and closed, so no accidental messes. The body rinse has a squeeze opening (like a ketchup bottle) which also would prevent accidental messes, and the hook cover cap is easy to grab out of a bucket or hang in your bath area.
I used the Body Rinse after hosing Hemie off on a warm afternoon following a solid jump ride. There's lines on the side of the bottle indicating how much concentrate you should use. Of course I accidentally squeezed twice as much out. Oops. Plus I was guesstimating how much a gallon of water looks like in a bucket. If you properly measure the water and carefully squeeze the bottle, you'll get the full 24 gallons out of this concentrate. If you're a little haphazard at bathtime like me, it will be more like 12 to 16 gallons.
After hosing the sweat off, I used a bath glove to rub the liniment water all over his body, especially his legs and his back. The topical cooling sensation was mild, which was nice. Neither Hemie or I like the tingly sensation you get with other liniment products. Applying this liniment encouraged me to rub/wipe him more thoughtfully and thoroughly, rather than my normal quick scrub down. I scraped it off and put him away. His coat dried a bit quicker than normal, and left him shiny and soft and smelling nice.
|My horse hides in bushes sometimes.|
In the evenings I generally don't hose Hemie off unless he really needs it. So the Massage Foam comes in handy following weekday after-work rides. I pumped the foam into my palm and let Hemie take a good whiff. He found it mildly interesting; not offensive, not especially exciting. Which is good - you don't want them trying to lick it.
The cooling sensation was even more mild than the body rinse. I massaged it into his back, from the withers to the loins, and then down his barrel covering all the saddle sweat stains. Hemie LOVED it. He stretched out his neck and head like a dog. I also massaged some into his legs.
|"Oh yeah...that's the spot"|
The massage foam did not make a noticeable difference in coat shininess or softness by the next night, which is good since I don't want him slippery at the saddle area. He does roll daily so its possible it did improve his coat but wore off by the evening.
Overall I'd say both herbal liniment products are a slam dunk. They will last long enough to give you good value (pricing is $15 - $20 per bottle depending on where you buy), and most importantly its a product that encourages you to get more hands-on with your horse and focus on their muscles. The body rinse got a permanent place in my bath bucket, and the foam got a home in my grooming tote - I plan on using both regularly.
But don't just take my word for it. Here's a handy list of other blogger reviews:
Equestrian at Hart
A Collection of Madcap Escapades
Horse Junkies United
Plus did I miss one from Niamh of Life of Riley?
On a related note, following Sprinkler Bandit's recent post with great comments, let's ask: why use liniment in the first place?
From Wikipedia: Liniments are typically sold to relieve pain and stiffness, such as from sore muscles or arthritis. ... Liniments are commonly used on horses following exercise, applied either by rubbing on full-strength, especially on the legs; or applied in a diluted form, usually added to a bucket of water and sponged on the body. They are also useful in hot weather to help cool down a horse after working, the alcohol cooling through rapid evaporation, and counter-irritant oils dilating capillaries in the skin, increasing the amount of blood releasing heat from the body.
Rapid evaporation and increasing blood flow, thereby reducing body temperature. Interesting. I haven't been a big liniment user, but after trying this product and researching the whys and hows of liniment, I think it's worth a permanent spot in my grooming bag.