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The History of Absorbine

Posted by Animal Care Team on
The History of Absorbine

W.F.Young, Inc., makers of Absorbine, was established in 1892. Absorbine Veterinary Liniment, W.F.Y.’s first product, was invented by Mary Ida and Wilbur F. Young. The two were living in Connecticut just before the turn of last the century. Wilbur delivered cargo with a wagon and a team of horses. Mary Ida was an avid horse enthusiast and cared for all of their horses. Wilbur’s team of horses would get tired after long days of pulling freight and often would be too sore the next day to pull cargo as effectively.

The History of Absorbine

Wilbur F. Young and his team

In those days, if a horse had stiffness or soreness, a common procedure was to “blister” the skin using an acidic or otherwise caustic agent. The blistered skin would cause blood to flood the area, speeding recovery of the muscles and connective tissues underneath. This was a harsh measure and often very uncomfortable for the horse. It would also necessitate two to three days of recovery. Mary Ida and Wilbur disapproved of this practice. Mary Ida decided there must be a smarter, more humane way. She then took special care to formulate a time honored blend of aromatic and essential oils that remain a family secret to this day. They named it Absorbine Liniment.

The History of Absorbine

Wilbur started using it on his team and bringing cases with him to sell on his route. People loved it because it was humane, and also because it eliminated the two to three days that it took to recover from the blistering. People could now just apply Absorbine Liniment and relieve pain in fatigued muscles and joints, without the down time from blistering.


Soft tissue management has always been a major use of liniment, but Absorbine soon became known as a medicine chest in a bottle because it has powerful antiseptic properties that help prevent bacterial and fungal infections. Farmers learned that Absorbine helped to prevent rain-rot, summer itch, tail itch and minor skin infections that are common in horses. There is a recipe right on the bottle for making a body wash for your horse that refreshes, disinfects and washes away sweat and grime from hard working horses. The product caught on quickly, and the business grew. Today, Absorbine Veterinary Liniment is sold online, in tack shops across America and around the world in the classic ochre colored bottle.

The combined effect of our liniment and the act of rubbing it onto the horse by hand creates a special synergy. The physical action of the rubbing accelerates the blood flow even more, helping the body heal itself. As an added benefit, when you rub down the horse, you are touching every part of the legs, observing any bumps, heat, swelling etc. This proven hands-on style of horse management is practiced by farriers and horse health experts around the world. They know the best way to treat any ailment is to know about it early, before it causes a domino effect on the horses health.

The History of Absorbine

Applying Absorbine By Hand

After Absorbine became widely available across America, farmers realized that the same liniment that helped their horses also helped their own aches and pains. Seeing the need, Wilbur and Mary Ida’s son Wilbur II suggested a version for people. In 1903 Absorbine Jr. was introduced, named after Wilbur Jr.

The History of Absorbine
Like Absorbine Veterinary Liniment, Absorbine Jr. helps the body heal itself by increasing blood flow to the affected area. It has the same analgesic properties as the veterinary liniment. It works great to relieve the itch caused by athlete’s foot. W.F. Young, Inc. actually coined the phrase “athlete’s foot”. Absorbine Jr. is now widely available at major mass-retailers and smaller pharmacies and stores. Update: In 2012, W. F. Young divested the “Absorbine Jr.” brand in order to re-focus on our Absorbine animal care products. Absorbine Jr. for people will still be made available by the new owners at the same major retailers as before.

Absorbine has also kept our dogs and other pets in mind when developing and testing new products. Many of the equine formulas are approved for dogs. Over it’s history, Absorbine Absorbine has developed products especially for caring for pets. Our newest Absorbine Pet products can be found at

Absorbine was invented because of the compassion for animals that Wilbur and Mary Ida Young felt. They believed that although animals were a “means to an end” for most people, they also needed to be treated humanely in return for all of their hard work. A happy healthy horse or dog is going to work more efficiently and require less care. The old saying is still true– an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!

Today we carry on these same values. We believe that every product must be conceived with the animal’s health and wellbeing in mind. From our Hooflex Hoof Conditioner to Absorbine Veterinary Liniment and Gel to our UltraShield EX fly repellents, legendary ShowSheen grooming products and breakout innovations like Silver Honey Wound Care, your animal’s wellbeing is and always has been our first mission.

The History of Absorbine Mary Ida's Suffolk Horse

Mary Ida’s Suffolk Horse 1916

Absorbine, Hooflex, UltraShield and ShowSheen are registered trademarks of W.F. Young, Inc.

Absorbine Jr. is a registered trademark of Clarion Brands, Inc.

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