If you’re not familiar with witch hazel, it can be a wonderful thing to add to your grooming/vet kit at the barn. Witch hazel is a natural astringent made from the bark and leaves of the witch hazel plant, and since it contains tannins (thanks, Web MD), it’s great for cleaning and healing in a variety of ways.
Even better, it’s super cheap, can be found in any grocery store, pharmacy, Target, etc., and can take the place of more expensive horse care solutions. It is a clear liquid, and (to my nose, at least) has a light, fresh scent.
We’ve compiled a few tried-and-true ways to use this wonder-solution below:
1) Hair Regrowth: If your horse gets a spur mark, or otherwise has hair removed involuntarily, apply witch hazel to the bald spot. It helps get the hair to grow back in its original color, not white. (Thanks to HJU contributor Sue van der Linden for this tip.)
2) Crud-be-gone: You know that cruddy stuff that you discover in your horses’ ears after you clip them? Or the gooey stuff that sometimes accumulates where they sweat? Put some witch hazel on a cotton ball and gently swab it out.
3) Natural Liniment: This is in the same vein as #3, but witch hazel can be added to a bucket of water to act as a natural liniment. Once again, this applies to humans and horses alike! I personally have soaked in a bath with a little witch hazel after a long day of riding, and it was soothing for my muscles and made my skin feel soft. For the horses, adding water and witch hazel to a bucket of liniment is a great way to stretch your expensive liniment without reducing its effects.
4) Stain Remover: There are some stain removers for horses that you can buy at the tack shop, but for a horse that laid in the wrong spot in his stall the night before a show, I’ve found that witch hazel works great. And, while straight rubbing alcohol will also get rid of stains, witch hazel won’t dry out the hair and skin as much, and is a bit gentler on the horses.
5) Bumps, Bites and Bruises: This tip is great for horses and humans alike. Witch hazel is great for healing bruises and bug bites. Dab it onto bug bites and it will help stop the bleeding and keep the bite from itching. For bruises, soak a small washcloth and hold it on the bruise for about 10 minutes at least once a day. If you can stick the soaked washcloth in the fridge beforehand, even better. Witch hazel has natural anti inflammatory properties, so it’s great for bumps, bites and bruises.