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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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  • Ashley Smith on

    I have a dog that has been suffering with stiffness and pain around the shoulder area for several months that gets worse if she runs even a short distance or walks more than a couple of miles on the leash, however improves if we keep her at home for a couple of days. This is almost certainly due to an injury sustained at some point while running.

    X-Rays have shown she has no arthritis, dislocation or broken bones so it seems likely the problem is related to muscle ligaments or tendons and my bet is on the latter after all this time.

    She has been on Seraquin for months and undergone more than a dozen sessions of physiotherapy and hydrotherapy, which all helps to some extent but the problem never seems to entirely go away. The physio has identified a point between the armpit and triceps as the source of the pain but it definitely isn’t cured yet.

    Feeling rather frustrated I suddenly thought about horse liniment, so I ordered some Absorbine Liquid Embrocation, which is said to be for horse or dog tendons. Are there any best practices for the application and is there anything else you can suggest that may help?

    The dog is still only 5 years old and a natural born athlete that would run all day before this injury but she just isn’t enjoying life the way she used to. She seems to suffer worst following sudden stops or changes in direction so chasing after balls or sticks is sadly impossible.



  • Ashley on

    Thanks for the super fast reply Sean.

    It’s a tricky balance knowing if it’s safe yet to increase walking distances and you just hope that further damage isn’t being done despite the pain being masked.

    For the time being I think we’ll stick with the current plan using Absorbine three times a day for at least another couple of months and then see if she shows any negative signs as we slowly decrease the amount. If that works OK we can perhaps start slowly running again but keep applying the Absorbine for a while as a precaution. Does that make sense? I’ve heard that it can take a good 8 months of gentle exercise to properly heal a badly damaged tendon.

  • Ashley on

    We’ve been using the Absorbine now since the middle of June but the clear improvement came a few weeks ago when we moved to applying Absorbine 3 times a day. Once about 30 minutes before her first walk in the morning, then again around mid-afternoon and finally in the evening after her second walk.

    Following this procedure her improvement was dramatic and immediately obvious with any signs of stiffness or limping reduced by a good 90%, despite covering around 5 miles day now on the lead.

    We tried the ice a couple of times early on when she was stiff after exercise but she clearly doesn’t like it, however adopting this system with 3 applications a day is working brilliantly.

    My two questions really are if the Absorbine is actually helping to heal the tendon or is it merely masking the pain? Also is there any kind of time limit when we should stop using the product?

    Due to the longevity of her condition we are still not allowing her to run free yet in the hope this will allow the healing process to fully settle but we’ve now been on gentle walks since early April. The sudden improvement with Absorbine when applied 3 times a day was remarkable though.

  • Ashley on

    Thanks for your guidance Sean. The dog is an English Staffordshire Bull Terrier and she has a very fine short coat, so there is no difficulty at all reaching that area with the Absorbine, though any amount effectively soaks the area.

    I’ve only just read your reply but I’ve been applying the Absorbine once in the morning so far before exercise and I’ve noticed significantly less limping afterwards if we stick to two normal walks a day on the leash. She might look a bit stiff later for a few steps after resting but nothing too drastic.

    My impression is that the heat from the Absorbine is helping to reduce the risk of further damage during exercise, which is half the battle because we’ve been caught in a vicious circle here for months.

    I’ve taken note of your points and I’m hoping that we can now see a full recovery in time if we can override her natural instinct to race as soon as she feels better by keeping her on the leash outdoors for the next few months.

    On a side note we have so far seen three vets and a physiotherapist that have cost us over $2500 in charges so far and I’m rather disappointed that it didn’t occur to any of them to suggest something like Absorbine to help with the healing. The next step they were recommending was an MRI scan…



  • Anonymous on

    Absorbine has been trusted for so many generations! I have been a user since 1975 and first used it on my mosquito bites!

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