Five Ways To Use Witch Hazel In The Barn
If you’re not familiar with witch hazel, it can be a wonderful thing to add to your grooming kit at the barn. Witch hazel is a natural astringent made from the bark and leaves of the Hamamelis shrub, and since it contains tannins, it’s great for cleaning and healing in a variety of ways.
It’s an inexpensive solution that can be found in most grocery stores or pharmacies and can take the place of more expensive horse care solutions. It is a clear liquid that is composed of approximately 86% witch hazel and 14% alcohol. This is great for drying up oily skin but should be used with caution as it could also cause irritation to skin due to the drying effects. Because of the drying effects it is not recommended to use witch hazel to treat wounds as it can make wounds worse.
We’ve compiled a few tried-and-true ways to use this natural 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.
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: Witch hazel can be added to a bucket of water to act as a natural liniment. 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: 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. Witch hazel has natural anti inflammatory properties, so it’s great for bumps, bites and bruises. However, there’s no scientific evidence that this is a long term relief. Witch hazel, like alcohol, cools as it evaporates so there’s a bit of relief there. Long term itch relief can be found from your Veterinarian in the form of topical hydrocortisone creams and/or internal meds. 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.