Horse Health: The History of Horse Liniments

Horse liniments are a crucial part of horse health care. Horses work hard, whether it be for competition, work, or for regular everyday exercise. Veterinary liniments are great at reducing soreness, inflammation, and pain in the muscles of your hard-working horse. Their muscles can get sore or become inflamed from even light exercise. Without proper care, it can turn into a serious issue over time. Veterinary liniments are a fantastic way to take care of your horse’s aches and pains — but how did liniments evolve into what they are today? Today, we are going to take a look into liniments and their interesting history.

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Liniment Timeline

Liniments are only as advanced as they are today because of the hard work from various people that helped progress its rich history. Liniments and topical treatments have been used across dozens of cultures throughout history —peoples such as the Egyptians, Chinese, Romans, Greeks, Indians, and Native Americans all used liniments in some shape or form. All of the oils and topicals used by these cultures helped to shape modern liniments into what they are today.

Historical records are kept by people, so naturally, the history involves the use of liniments mostly with people. It's not a stretch to think that liniments were used for horse health and other animals’ health as well.

Sore No-More for horses was built by learning from the ideas and progress made from those who tried before us. For our horse health products at Arenus, click here.

~400 B.C.E.

Socrates was a Greek philosopher with countless volumes of text and information written by Plato about his life in ancient Greece. Socrates mentions the use of olive oil on multiple occasions and talks about it being used to reduce pain. He also talks about how Athenians in the gymnasium doing physical training rubbed olive oil on their skin to relieve their sore muscles.

~300 B.C.E.

Around 300 B.C.E, Alexander the Great wrote in his biography about using oils for battle. The oil was used to more quickly recover and heal from battles. Oils were believed to be “... bestowed on mankind by God as a refreshment of their labours.” (

While horses today don’t necessarily ride into battle, they work hard for us and deserve a refreshment for their labors as well. Find top-notch muscle relief for horses at Arenus.

~200 C.E.

Galen is a historical figure known for building the foundation for modern disciplines like psychology and medicine. In his many medical endeavors, Galen served as a doctor to gladiators in ancient Rome and heavily employed the use of oil when treating gladiators. Galen is said to have applied the oils at least twice a day before and after their daily physical activities. Most notably, in his records, he talks about how applying the olive oil “relaxes tension and softens the parts which have suffered in the more violent kinds of exertion.”

Around this time, the use of oil topically for pain relief gains traction. Because of this traction, different oils and various ingredients are explored.

Your horse works and plays just as hard as any gladiator; treat them as well as Galen treated his gladiators with veterinary liniment for your horse.

~1700 C.E.

Around this time is when snake oil becomes popular in China. In the U.S., snake oil is often synonymous with fake medicine, but snake oil actually possesses anti-inflammatory properties. Snake oil consists mostly of fat from the Chinese water snake and is notable in the history of liniments because its popularity spread to both England and the U.S.. The spread in popularity of snake oil pushed the topical pain relief industry forward across multiple countries and helped to develop liniments and ultimately modern horse liniments into what they are today.

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~1800 C.E.

In the 1800s, the topical pain relief market was rocketed forward by the invention of Tiger Balm. Once again, thanks to Chinese innovation, the evolution of liniment progressed. Once any product gains popularity, it’s naturally followed by competitors in the marketplace trying to make money from the same idea. This competition pushes development forward because people experiment with new ingredients and compounds in search of the best possible version of the product. In this case, people begin to experiment with liniments — which leads to ingredients like menthol and camphor becoming the base for many modern liniment formulas.

Modern Day (2019)

Today, liniment formulas have been fine-tuned; liniments can now address a plethora of symptoms quickly and effectively. Modern liniments are all built on the foundation of the hard work and time spent by the pioneers and cultures that came before. They each helped to evolve liniments, starting all the way back with Socrates and olive oil.

Liniments have now been widely accepted for animals like horses and dogs, too. For a trusted, proven liniment that is safe and effective for horse health and pain relief for horses, check out Sore No-More today!