George H. Dadd.

A practical treatise on the most obvious diseases peculiar to horses, together with direction for their most rational treatment; containing, also, some valuable information on the art of shoeing horses online

. (page 11 of 17)
Online LibraryGeorge H. DaddA practical treatise on the most obvious diseases peculiar to horses, together with direction for their most rational treatment; containing, also, some valuable information on the art of shoeing horses → online text (page 11 of 17)
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ance, our object should be to lessen inflammatory action, and thus
limit its development. Supposing it to arise from strain or overwork,
rest, cold water, refrigerating lotions, and bandage, are the most
rational means. Should it really occasion lameness, no bettercourse
can be pursued ; therefore, we are justified in resorting to it.

If the tumor becomes very large, so as to be, not only an eye-sore,
but also interfere with the action of the limb, an operation must
be resorted to, which can only be performed by a medical man. But
the reader must bear in mind that Splent cannot be cured ; yet the
horse may be relieved of the lameness.



There is a sort of irregular, or incomplete spavin, which may exist
without accompanying lameness. It is found just beneath the bones
composing the hock, in the form of a knotty tumor, technically called
exostosis ; in common language, a ^^Jack.^'' In such case the mech-
anism of the joint is not involved, hence, absence of lameness. But
the animal may from overwork, or sprain, become lame in a joint re-
mote from this; the owner or attendant not possessing the requisite
skill to discover the precise seat, finds a tumor at the point indicated,
and immediately pronounces the horse spavined, and this serves as
an excuse for adding to the poor brute's sufferings the torture of fire ;
during the rest which necessarily follows the application of the same,
the original lameness disappears, and this furnishes an illustration of
one of the boasted cures of spavin, which disease in reality never

Nature op Spayin. — In order to comprehend this, the reader


Bhould know, that the joints of the hock are composed of several
bones, two of which form the joint proper, the remainder, eight in
number, are concerned in the articulation and composition of the
same. Between each bone is inserted a cartilaginous cushion for the
purpose of warding off concussion, and thus preventing injury to the
bones, which would otherwise occur. These bones have all their
proper capsular membranes, which separate one from the other, mak-
ing tliem distinctive points. A synovial membrane pervading the
whole, furnishes sy?iouia, [^^ joint oiV^) which successfully guards
against friction.

Spavin generally originates in inflammation of the periosteal tis-
sues^ (membranes proper to all bones — their external covering,) or
else, in the ligamentary, or cartilaginous structures, contiguous, or
within the joints. A high grade of inflammatory action, pervading
for some time, causes absorption of the cartilages between the small
bones, they become consolidated and immovable. This cartilage
being changed into bone, cannot possibly be restored, and is there-
fore incurable.

Spavin having, in this manner, an internal origin, is not percepti-
ble ; consequently, some persons are unwilling to admit its existence
until they can both see and feel it. If it shall commence externally^
(on the inside of the hock) in the form of encrustation, termed exoS'
tosis, which is very often the case, all doubt is at an end. In plain lan-
guage, spavin consists in a loss of motion, between parts that were
once movable, and may exist with or without bony tumor.

If a student were asked the question. What constitutes a spavin ?
he would answer, " Anchylosis and exostosis of the tarsal (hock)
bones." Ask him if it can be cured, and he utters a decided "No."
He only mitigates the lameness.

The malady is similar to that occurring among children, known as
hip disease^ when the head of the thigh bone unites to the pelvis ;
and no one pretends, at least never succeeds, in effecting a radical
cure. But, as regards the horse, the disease is more complicated,
because a greater number of bones are involved ; yet in effect, the
disease is less serious, because it does not prevent flexion and exten-
sion of the joint proper.

In a very brief manner I have now considered the pathology or
nature of spavin, much interesting matter (and really valuable to
students) is necessarily omitted, in order to render the article brief
as possible.

Cause of Spavin. — Its pathology demonstrates inflammation of
one or more tissues proper to the point, which is produced by over-
work, sprain or concussion ; the tumor and transformation of the car-
tilages into bony substances, always being preceded by lameness,
indicates injuries of this character, yet they are not in all cases op-
erative ; for some of our truck horses, especially those used in shafts,
are often compelled to perform extraordinary feats of strength, that
would in ordinary horses induce ligamentary lameness, ultimately
resulting in spavin, yet they are remarkably free from it ; the reason
is, they are free from predisposition.

It is a fact, well known to the profession, that many spavined
horses labor under either local or constitutional predisposition.


Local predisposition is determined by a short-pointed hock,
lengthy cannonU^^^ ^^P^'ig^^t pasterns This is the kind of hock
that is most subject to strain, in backing heavy loads, and concussion,
while jrallopino:, or trotting fast on hard pavements.

Constitutional predisposition exists m 5r.6 J, and is inherited
from Hire or dam. A spavined mare transmits the disease of which
we have evidence in colts that have never been hrohe. But m the
maioritv of cases, spavins are indirectly transmitted m the form of
Tweak, frai^ile, bony structure, which is prone to throw out osseous
(bonv) effusion. Such animals are often termed overgrown, from
the fict that their frames have outgrown their strength ; consequent-
Iv they are unable to bear heavy burthens, without strain or injury
to the joints The bones of horses predisposed to ossific^ efusion, in
the form of sp>avin, splint ^nd. ringbone, are remarkably light, porous
and brittle; Ind on inspecting the same, we wonder how they have
suDDorted even the carcass of the animal. , , ^ , ^

The reader has probably noticed in cattle large bony tumors under
the iaw, called osteosarcoma, which finally end in caries, (<^leath of
the bone,) and others, located on the hock and on various par s o the
shaft bones ; these appearing without any apparent cause, illustrate
what I meaA by ossific diathesis, or constitutional predisposition

We may safely conclude, therefore, that spavm originates from
predisposing and exciting causes, acting conjointly, or otherwise.

Symptoms of SPAvm.-These vary according to the nature and
intensity of the attack; yet there are some, always present, so that
a man o^f ordinary obsmwation can readily discover the sea. of the

^^ Th^T^Vs^ is, heat and tenderness on the inside of the hock.

Secondly. Lability to flex the hock with perfect freedom, the act
beinTaccompanied with a sort of - catching up r or sprmg-halt
motiSn. Spring-halt is a remarkable feature of spavin, and it has
been noticed by several writers, Shakspeare, for example, thus

refers to it :

" One would take it,
Tbat never saw them pace before, the spavin
And spring-halt reigned among 'em."
Thirdhi The animal starts stiff and lame, ''planting'" his toe on
the ground, rather than the heels; he improves, however, after a

^"^""Foulmu. The above symptoms connected with a tumor on the
inside of a hock, in the /egion of the small ^ar.a bones, exclude
aTdoubt. Yet the tumor, as I have just observed, is not necessary
to make out a case of what is technically called vnter-articular

Tbeatmeot of Sfx^m.-Nomanean possibly succeed in airing
smvin We may palliate-relieve lameness-and hasten anchylosis
S^;int:) and^ilnder the .abject useful for certam purposes birt
tVere will always exist a certain amount of stiffness about the jomt
Xch is considered unsoundness, and a hard trot will often induce

''in::UlZ::Z spavin, we borrow an illustration from Nature
-the best and wisest of doctors-she strengthens a weak jomt, by


making it solid and unyielding, and this must be our object in its

Medical men always have this object in view, viz., to produce
anchylosis, to hasten ossific effusion, and render the sensitive tissues

In the early or inflammatory stage, rest, and cooling lotions are
indicated. In the latter stage, counter irritants, such as prepara-
tions of cantharides, &c., are generally resorted to.

The reader, if he be in any way interested in the welfare of
"livestock," will probably appreciate the value of correct informa-
tion regarding the nature and cause of the disease. For in the first
place, it aims a death blow at ignorance, quackery, and cruelty,
practiced very frequently under the guise of science ; between
which, however, there exists less affinity than between oil and

In the next place, it enables him to adopt preventives, by which the
chances of disease are lessened.

It teaches him that physical defects are as certainly transmitted
as good points, and although bad qualities are not always directly/
transmitted, yet the day of reckoning appears in a future generation,
just as surely as like begets like.

The most popular remedy, now in use, for the treatment of Spavin,
is the acetate of cantharides. The American Magnetic Liniment,
manufactured by Messrs. Lord & Smith, of this city, is also a very
excellent remedy for the treatment of both Splent and Spavin.


Symptoms. — The animal is feverish, his pulse is quick ; he strains
when urinating, has a straddling gait, and the urine is high colored,
sometimes tinged with blood ; when slight pressure is made over the
region of the kidneys, the animal manifests symptoms of pain.

Trea-tment. — Feed the patient lightly, and give him one wine-
glass full of fluid extract of buchu, night and morning.


This disease proceeds from a disease located in the mucous mem-
brane of the kidneys and urinary passage. Occasionally the dis-
ease results from plethora, but is often brought on by the action of

Treatment. — Give the patient twice, daily, a wine-glass of fluid
extract of buchu, in a pint of infusion of slippery elm.



Suppression of the urine is often the result of spasm of the urethra,
and usually disappears soon after the exhibition of the following :

Sweet Spirits of Nitre 1^ ounces.

Powdered Gum Asafoetida 2 drachms.

Syrup 2 ounces.

Mix ; and drench the patient with the same. The dose may be
repeated at the expiration of one hour, if necessary.

In cases of flatulent and spasmodic colic, the animal is often una-
ble to urinate. In this event, the catlieter should be introduced, and
the urine drawn off.

Enemas of warm water thrown into the rectum, often tend to
relax spasm, and favor the evacuation of the accumulated urine.


In this affection it will be noticed that the horse passes a va s
quantity of urine, out of all proportion to the quantity of water
drank ; the stall floor is continually wet, and the animal is usually
very thirsty. The cause of this disease, in the horse, is rather

Tkeatment. — Give the patient one wine-glassfull of fluid extract
of buchu, and to each dose add ten grains of iodide of potass.
Some change in diet will be necessary, and it should be of the very
best quality. I sometimes use fluid extract of styllingia instead of

I find that carrots have a very good effect on animals suffering
from diabetes.


In a disease of this character the urine is loaded with albumen, is
thick and clear, and if a portion of it be submitted to the action of
heat, it coagulates like the white of an egg.

Treatment. — Prepare the following ;

Fluid Extract of Buchu 8 ounces.

Chlorate of Potass 1 "

Tincture of Sassafras Bark 4 "

Mix. Dose : one ounce night and morning.


It is often noticed that horses pass urine of a thick and turbid
character. This is occasioned by a morbid condition of the body,
and is sometimes an effort on the part of nature to rid the system of
morbilc material.


The discharge of morbid urine generally tends to the restoration
of health, and the treatment necessary is, to give the patient some
medicme of an alterative and tonic character. The following is an
example :

Powdered Golden Seal 4 ounces.

Iodide of Potass .... 2 "

Powdered Poplar Bark 6 "

Mix. Divide into twelve parts, and give one every night in the.
food, or in a bran mash.

If the above medicine cannot be obtained, the American Magnetic
Horse Powders may be substituted. (See last page).


Navicular disease consists of deep-seated injury within the hoof,
often involving the navicular or shuttle bone. The injury may arise
from sprain, contraction of posterior walls of the hoof, from puncture
of the sole, from an ulcerated state of the bone, and may be the
sequel of laminitis.

The principal symptoms of navicular disease are, acute lameness;
the foot is pointed forward when the animal is at rest; and when
traveling he takes short steps, and is unsteady in his gait.

Treatment. — Should the hoof be contracted, the quarters are to
be rasped quite' thin, so as to remove the pressure from the sensitive
parts. The following preparation is then to be applied to the heel*
until they are well blistered :

Powdered Spanish Flies 4 drachms.

Raw Linseed Oil 6 ounces.

Mix. Apply by means of a sponge, and keep the hoof lubricated
* V^VitJi neatsfoot oil.

It must be remembered, however, that the blister is not to be
applied to the heel until the inflammatory process has subsided ;
while there is perceptible heat and fever in the foot it must be bathed
often with cold water.

A horse lame from navicular disease must be excused from duty,
and it may take many months to restore the animal to usefulness.


Walnut Leaves 4 ounces.

Lobelia Leaves 4 "

Boiling Water 1 gallon.

Let the mixture stand until cool ; then express the fluid through
cotton cloth, and add four ounces of the tincture of aloes.

Directions. Apply a small quantity of this compound, daily, to
the surface of the body, by means of a sponge.




Plantain Leaves {plantago major) 4 ounces.

Lobelia Leaves 2 "

Boiling Water 1 quart.

Directions. When the mixture becomes cool, bind a quantity of
the herb on the affected part, and give the animal, as a drench, four
or five ounces of the remaining fluid, every four hours.


Some curious experiments have been made at the Veterinary
School at Alfort, by order of the Minister of War, to ascertain the
endurance of horses — as in a beseiged town, for example. It appears
that a horse will live on water alone twenty-five days ; seventeen
days without eating or drinking; only five days, if fed but unwa-
tered; ten days if fed but insufficiently watered. A horse kept
without water for three days, drank 104 pounds of w^ater in three
minutes. It was found, too, that a horse taken after being fed and
kept in the active exercise of the " squadron school," completely
digested its "feed" in three hours; in the same time at the "con-
script's school," its food was two-thirds digested; and if kept per-
fectly quiet in a stable, digestion was scarcely commenced in three


This is a very formidable lameness, and also a very painful one,
and when a horse becomes the subject of it he should be immedi-
ately excused from duty, for every movement of the parts only ag-
gravates the difficulty. I have found the following liniment to be of
great value in the treatment of all recent sprains :

Olive Oil 1 pint.

Gum Camphor 2 ounces.

Laudanum 1 "

Sulphuric ^ther 4 "

Dissolve the camphor in the jether, then add the oil, and lastly the

In some cases Of severe sprain of the pastern, or fetlock, I have
known cold water bandages to have a very marked effect in moder-
ating the pain and inflammation of the parts.


The datura stramonium^ or thorn apple plant, is a very excellent
remedy, as an external application, for the treatment of muscular


pain, ligamentary lameness, sprain of the fetlock, &c. It is a rem-
edy of great efficacy in chronic pains and inflammatory tumors.
Fom- ounces of the plant to one pint of boiling water, are the pro-
portions. When cool, the parts are to be bathed often ; when prac-
ticable, a flannel is to be saturated with the fluid and bound on the
affected ^^arts ; the whole to be covered with oiled silk.


Horses require daily exercise in the open air, and can no more be
expected to exist without it than their owners. Exercise is an essen-
tial feature in stable management, and, like well-opportuned food,
tends alike to preserve the health of horses.

Daily exercise is necessary for all horses, unless they are sick ; it
assists and promotes a free circulation of the blood, determines mor-
bific matter to the surface, develops the muscular structure, creates
an appetite, improves the wind, and finally invigorates the whole
system. We cannot expect much of a horse that has not been habit-
uated to sufficient daily exercise ; while such as have been daily
exercised, and well managed, are capable not only of great exertion
and fatigue, but are ready and walling to do our bidding at any sea-
son. When an animal is over-worked, it renders the system very
susceptible to whatever morbid influences ma}'' be present, and im-
parts to the disease they may labor under, an unusual degree of
severity. The exhaustion produced by want of rest is equally dan-
gerous ; such horses are always among the first victims of disease,
and when attacked their treatment is embarrassing and unsatisfactory.


Carrots are very excellent ^^ fodder''' for horses that have been long
kept on highly carbonaceous food, and whose digestive organs may
be out of order in consequence of their constant activity in reducing
meal and oats into the elements of animal nutrition. With a fair
allow^ance of carrots, ground oats, and sweet hay, a horse will enjoy
good health and spirits, have a loose hide, shining coat, and healthy
lungs. A daily allowance of carrots should always be furnished
to horses, the subjects of indigestion ; whose food often runs
into fermentation, inducing diarrhoea, or a lax, washy state of the
bowels. Carrots furnish an acid called 2^6ctiCj which possesses the
curious property of gelatinizing the watery contents of the digestive
cavities. A few drops of this pectic acid will gelatinize both, and
when mixed with the juice of an orange, changes the same into jelly.
So that if the alvine discharges of a horse are watery, carrots can
be used as a valuable therapeutic agent, both in view of arresting
the same and restoring the tone of the stomach and bowels. By ex-
amining the excrement of a horse, fed in part on carrots, it W'ill be
found to contain no undigested hay nor oats, and therefore we may
safely infer that they promote digestion, so that by the constant use
of carrots, less quantities of hay and oats will suffice than when a


larger amount is consumed, and parted with, in an undigested state.
For fattening animals, carrots are exceedingly valuable. It will be
urged that carrots are not very nutritious — that may be ; still, if
they possess the property of gelatinizing the contents of the stomach
and bowels, they aid in the manufacture of fat out of other food,
which might otherwise pass out of the system.

It is said that the milk of a cow in mid-winter, fed on carrots, is
equal in flavor to that supplied from clover in summer, while the
butter made from such milk presents a rich orange color, and does
not taste, as some persons suppose, of the peculiar flavor of this veg-
etable. Two bushels of oats and one of carrots is better food for a
horse than three bushels of oats without carrots, and when the ani-
mal is used for light work only, the quantity of carrots may be

The reader must bear in mind, however, that animals, like our-
selves, have their peculiar idiosyncracies or susceptibilities — ^" what
is one man's food is another's poison" — and some might digest, and
thrive amazingly, on a given article of food, while an equal number
shall lose both flesh and spirits. There appears, however, to be
less objection to the judicious use of carrots than many other veg-
etables, both as regards horses and cattle.

If the reader happen to have what is termed a "s^'aZ^fed horse,
and the same shall be the subject of heaves^^'' (sometimes a symptom
of indigestion, only), let them take away the fine meal and substitute
carrots, and, my word for it, the horse will improve.


The liver of the horse is situated between the stomach and dia-
phragm, in what is known to anatomists as the epigastric and hypo-
chondriac regions; it is confined in this situation by means of what
are term.ed its ligaments, which are chronicled as five in number.
Anatomically divided, the liver is convex on its front or anterior sur-
face, concave on its back, or posterior, and has clefts which divide
it into three lobes of unequal size.

The chief mass of the liver is made up of cells, like many other
parts of the body ; and these cells are placed in the vicinity of the
terminations of the portal veins, from whence the former derive their

The liver has a covering, common to all the organs contained in
the cavity of the abdomen, known as the peritoneum, a beautifully
transparent membrane ; it plays an important function in the animal
economy, inasmuch as it furnishes the means necessary to guard
against friction, which would otherwise occur, to the utter ruin of
the contiguous parts.

It was formerly supposed that the function of the liver was merely
to eliminate bile from the venous blood, and thus it received the
appellation purifier — a purifying organ — but modern physiologists
have discovered that the blood itself is materially changed during
its circulation through the vessels of the liver ; for example, the liver


elaborates febrine from albumen, and fat from sugar, and sugar from
fat. The fact in relation to these agents, sugar and fat, is, they do
not materially differ in their chemical composition, only that one con-
tains a little more oxygen than the other ; and, from satisfactory
data, we are led to infer that the liver occasionally stores up fatty
matter, or sugar, for the day of adversity, or starvation day, so that
when the system has no other means of obtaining it the liver must
supply it, or yield up what it contains of fatty matter.

The circulation of the liver is a very interesting matter for the
investigation of amateurs and inquirers. The liver, like other organs
of the body, is supplied with arterial blood, from the great aorta,
for its own support and nourishment, and it also receives an immense
amount of venous blood from veins commencing in the gastro-intesti-
nal cavities, terminating in a vessel known as the vena porta3,OY "gate
vein." Portoe is derived from the Latin, which signifies "gate," or
" entrance." The vena portoe^ on entering the liver, ramifies in vari-
ous directions like the common arteries of the body, and ultimately
terminates in veins peculiar to the liver. Ilence, it will be perceived
that the venous blood, instead of being permitted to return directly
from the stomach and intestines to the heart, is compelled to complete
the circuit of circulation through the liver, and by this peculiar
arrangement the transformations alluded to are effected. The liver,
therefore, performs the double function of excretion and secretion y
secretes gall or " bile," and excretes carbon and hydrogen from the

the liver often becomes diseased in consequence of overfeeding ; it
is well known that the livers of men and animals can be artificially
enlarged, by cramming either with an unnecessary amount of food ;
favorite dishes are often prepared from the livers of geese artificially
enlarged, by stuffing the animal with food, and at the same time con-

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Online LibraryGeorge H. DaddA practical treatise on the most obvious diseases peculiar to horses, together with direction for their most rational treatment; containing, also, some valuable information on the art of shoeing horses → online text (page 11 of 17)