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

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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 15 of 17)
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the annular ligament, at the back part of the knee, contracts, and
then we have a genuine case of "sprung knee," an unnecessary
disease, a permanent eye-sore, and the animal is ever afterwards
unsound ; unless, by the operation of tendinotomy, and the feet being
put into a proper shape by a sensible shoeing smith, the animal is able
to perform ordinary horse labor; or, in other words, is able to per-
form the "ordinary duties of an ordinary horse." Dr. Cuming, a
very experienced man in the art of shoeing horses, thus discourses
on the evils of lengthy toes :


" Another evil, resulting from the length at which the toes are
commonly left, is interfering. The horse, finding the long projection
in front of his foot as so much leverage, acting to his disadvantage,
gradually gets into a habit of shifting it, by raising himself from one
or the other of the quarters. This is still more the case when, in
addition to the long toe left on the hoof, a small round knob of steel
is set into the point of the shoe, as if in contempt of all that nature
teaches. With these absurd contrivances placed between his weight
and the ground which supports it, it is next to impossible for a horse
to raise himself evenly upward and forward, and hence the number
that one way or another interfere. If in raising his weight from the
ground, the pressure be upon the inside quarter of the foot, then the
thick part of the pastern is thrown inward, in the way of being
struck by the upper edge of the hoof of the other side. If the cant
be the other way, aad the outside quarter raise the weight, the inside
edge of the shoe is thrown round and upward, and he runs the risk of
cutting with it the opposite leg. Even when the horse, from having
a naturally good gait, escapes both these evils, still he is not free
from trouble caused by this shape of shoe.

*' The fore foot of the horse, as nature makes it, has no such pro-
jection in front and downward, as that which the smiths here give
it, but rather the reverse. The sole surface at the toe is commonly
broken off and notched back at the middle, so that the pressure,
when the foot strikes the ground or the animal is raising his weight,
is distributed over the whole front of the foot. In accordance with
this, the coffin bone, which fills the internal cavity of the hoof, has
the same turned-up and notched-back form. In England, France,
and on the Continent of Europe generally, wherever Veterinary
Schools exist, and scientific attention is given to shoeing, this natu-
ral form of the foot is more or less followed in the shape of the shoe,
and the animal has preserved to him, along with the protection from
wear which the shoe gives, the position of tread for which nature
has constructed the other mechanical arrangements of his organs of
motion. Why it is not so here is perhaps partially due to the use of
butteris for cleaning out the foot "when it is shod, as it is impossible
with this antiquated instrument to bring the hoof to the proper shape
in all its parts ; but it is more due to want of study on the part of
those who shoe, of the structure of the foot, its uses, and the rela-
tion existing between it and the other motive organs, the bones, ten-
dons, and ligaments of the limbs.


The reader is, probably, well aware that great diversity of opinion
exists among men regarding the be^Jt method of applying shoes to
horses' feet, yet it is my belief that the best system is that which is
calculated to preserve the natural function, position, and action of
the feet, and adopts that kind of shoe which affords the most protec-
tion, yet allows the frog to come in contact with the ground on which
the animal stands or travels over.

No specific rule can obtain in the general art of shoeing, for the
simple reason that the feet differ very much under the conditions of
health and disease ; hence, a certain form of shoe well adapted to


meet the requirements of one condition, might prove positively inju-
rious in another, as is often the case.

It is generally understood that the hoof is sufficiently elastic to
guard against the jar and concussion which occurs every time th^
feet are planted on the ground. This elasticity, as observed in a
healthy and unfettered hoof, occurs in downward and backward
directions. It is scarcely perceptible, yet wisely is it so ordained, for
if there was much expansibility, or lateral motion to the hoof, it
would prove ruinous to the foot, and the chances of securing a shoe
to the same, without positive injury, would be very small.

It is evident that nature has provided for some slight action of this
kind, for the hoof is left open at the heels, between which is inter-
posed a soft, elastic substance, known as the frog, which allows of
the motions alluded to. Had the intention been otherwise, the hoof
might have presented itself in the form of a hollow cylinder.

The parts within the hoof known as the laminse, or leaves^ articu-
late with each other, and the extent of their articulation is that of
the joint contraction and expansion of the hoof, modified, of course,
under the influence of partial or complete pressure while traveling
on the road.

Now, in order to favor this physiological action of the foot, the
nails must not be inserted any nearer the heels than the safety of the
shoe requires ; for should the shoe be nailed all around^ as the say-
ing is, the hoof, at its solar border, is fettered ; hence, the action of
articulation cannot occur, and the horse soon becomes lame. Three
nails on the inside and five on the outside, are all that are needed to
secure the shoe to the foot ; provided, however, the nail heads be
countersunk, and the points well clinched ; if they are not, the shoe
becomes loose, in consequence of the nails being driven upwards by
repeated blows on their heads as the horse travels on hard roads and
unyielding pavements.

If possible, the frog should be allowed to come in contact with
the ground, for it acts as a pad, and very much lessens jar or con-
cussion, w^hich otherwise must necessarily occur ; it thus becomes a
wall of defense, and the nature of the ground over which the crea-
ture travels, determines the form, character and endurance of the

Thus, in the unshod colt we usually, in a healthy foot, find the frog
well formed, prominent, and callous ; this is the result of the stimu-
lating hard knocks it receives when traveling on hard roads. On
the other hand, should we examine some animals' feet after they
have been long submitted to the evils of domestication, which
includes faulty shoeing, we shall find that the frog is often imperfect,
both in function and structure.

I would not have the reader infer from these remarks that the
blacksmith is always blameable for loss of frog, &c., for in the win-
ter season calks seem to be necessary, and, under such circum-
stances, it is almost impossible to bring the frog in contact with the
ground ; hence, it may deteriorate. Then again, there are various
diseases of the foot which interfere with the integrity of the frog as
well as that of other parts which enter into the composition of a
horse's foot.




There are several reasons why large portions of the frog should
not be removed, and I will briefly allude to some of them. In the
healthy frog there is a solid wedge-like portion of horn, extending
from the cleft to the point of the same ; it lies directly under that
small, yet very important bone, known as the " navicular" — which
signifies boat-shape — and this bone, its region and contiguous tissues,
often become the seat of a very painful disease know^n as navicular-
thritis — inflammation of the parts. This disease often arises — so say
the authorities — in consequence of removing the bulbous prolonga-
tion termed the anterior point and bulb of the frog, the function of
which is to protect, to a certain extent, this bone, and the sensitive
parts connected with it, and to shield them from the injuries which
might otherwise occur when the animal is made to travel fast over
hard and uneven roads.

A very distinguished physiologist has asserted that when once this
bulbous enlargement is cut off*, it can never be reproduced, and thus
this peculiar bulbous enlargement is seldom found in a horse's foot
after he has been pared and shod. This enlargement or thickening
of horny substance in the frog not only protects the navicular region,
but it also shields the coffin joint, yet there is no part of the sole
which receives such a thorough paring as this.

The bulb of the toe once removed, nature causes augmented secre-
tion of horny substance to make up for the loss of this bulb ; this
secretion is often very abundant, but nature is no match against
knife and butteris — the faster the horn grows, the better chance is
there for those who feel disposed to cut and whittle it at every sub-
sequent shoeing ; then the secretory function soon becomes impaired,
and we find that the part finally becomes inelastic and brittle.

The frog, as a whole, is that cushion-like substance, which, by
coming in contact with the ground prevents jar and concussion, not
only to the sensitive tissues within the hoof, but to the joints above ;
— in fact, by the same means, some jar or concussion, which might
otherwise occur to the whole body, is lessened.

The frog is a part which is developed in the same ratio with other
parts of the hoof, provided the parts are in a healthy condition, and
thus the integrity of the whole is preserved ; the frog, therefore,
serving as a part of the basis of the animal structure, cannot be re-
moved with impunity.

The reader is probably aware that if the frog be cut away, so that
nothing but the shoe comes in contact with the earth, the body of
the animal has little, if any, solar support; hence arises strain of
the laminoe, and finally descent of the sole.

Strain, or sprain of the laminse, and descent of the sole, is followed
by structural alterations of tissues and parts within the hoof, and
then the animal is said to be " foundered" — ruined in the feet.

When preparing the foot in view of applying the shoe, it may be
proper to remove just about as much of loose and rough portions of
frog as the animal might be supposed to wear off", provided he were
not shod ; and yet, according to the testimony of eminent surgeons,
this is not always good policy, for these ragged and uncouth looking


parts usually serve as a protection to new formations beneath, and
should not be removed until the latter are perfected.

I am aware that the frog looks better when pared, but a healthy
condition of the parts does not consist altogether in good looks, and
the same reasoning also applies to the body of the animal ; there are
many fine looking horses in this city, yet many of them, in conse-
quence of hereditary predisposition and insidious disease, may bo
next to death's door. We get a very handsome looking hoof and
frog, by means of knife, butteris and rasp, but I defy any man to
preserve their integrity and keep them healthy by such instruments.

There was a time when the practice of cutting away the frog was
recommended by surgeons themselves, so that the smiths who now,
in good Mth, practice it, are not always blameable. One author,
whose work I have perused, endeavors to smooth the matter over as
follows : " The frog oifers so little resistance to the knife, and pre-
sents such an even surface, so clean and nice, and cuts so easy, that
it requires more philosophy than many smiths possess to resist the
temptation to slice it away, despite a knowledge, in some instances,
that it w^ould be far w^iser to let the frog alone."

One of the most distinguished cavalry surgeons to the British
army says, that he never allows a knife or butteris to touch the frog,
for the simple reason that a long experience has shown conclusively
that the frog possesses, under certain circumstances, less reproduc-
tive powders than some other parts of the hoof, and the individual
alluded to has had horses in his possession for more than five years,
v^jjiose frogs never scraped acquaintance with a knife or anything of
the sort.

The reader may desire to know how the frog is to disencumber
itself of its ragged and apparently superfluous surfaces ; if so, I
answer that nature has provided a means, which is a process of cast-
ing off or sloughing, and ^vhen this does occur, a new growth is seen
beneath it, a smaller frog is visible, yet it is an entire one, and soon
acquires magnitude in ratio with its connections.

Among some persons an idea prevails that a hoof should be circu-
lar. This is a great mistake, for on examination of a colt's foot we
find that the segment of a circle is more apparent on the outside of
the hoof; on the inside, from the toe to the heel, we have less curve.

This appears to be a wise arrangement, as there is less liability to
strike the inner angle of the hoof against the opposite limb ; there-
fore I infer that any attempts by means of knife and rasp to make
the inner margin of the hoof describe the segment of a circle, is
contrary to the intention of nature, and injurious to the feet.


Hot shoes, as they are often applied, tend to carbonize the sole
and crust, increase the temperature of the foot or feet, and thus, for
the time being, induce functional derangement of the plantar system ;
and if the horse be the subject of an inflammatory diathesis, or at
all predisposed to disease of the feet, of an acute character, the hot
shoe may possibly — and it often does — operate as an exciting cause
to develop a latent affection.

In view of giving the wo7i-professionaI reader some idea of the
anatomy of the parts, that he may exercise his own judgment in the


premises, I offer the following : By means of a microscope, we
detect on the inside of the hoof^ — superior and inferior parts — a vast
number of perforations, resembling the net-work of a seive ; these
are termed " plantar porosities." In contact with these parts are the
sensitive tissues, composed of slender fibres or filaments, termed
papillae — nipple — highly organized structures, consisting of cellular,
venous, arterial and nervous tissues. Supposing that we use a mi-
croscope which magnifies 250 times, or diameters, each papillary
arrangement appears of the size of four twenty-fifths of an inch, and
they are to be found throughout the entire circumference of the fleshy
sole ; the papillie are in contiguity with the porosities, and their func-
tion is to secrete the equivalents of organization, and thus maintain
the integrity of the feet.

The porosities alluded to are the inlets, outlets, commencements,
and terminations of the agglutinated hollow tubes — numbering many
thousands — which collectively compose the wall and base of the
hoof. Into these hollow tubes are prolongations. The latter are
heated, burnt, or altered in structure, when brought in contact with
a red-hot shoe ; hence, the function of the same must necessarily be

In the criist, or wall of the foot, the tubular arrangement is some-
what perpendicular. They insidiously increase in length, in a down-
ward and forward direction, which gives length to tlic hoof. In the
sole, the tubes are horizontal, which explains the multiplication of
the same, and the inodus operandi of the physiological or natural
thickening of the sole.

The tubes of the crust and sole are usually considered as continuous";
consequently, if we cut or pare in the region of their junction, we
not only open their canals, but weaken their bond of union ; and in
such cases we must expect dislocation of the laminae, which is equiv-
alent to descent of sole, known as ''flat, or convex feet."

Hence, a red-hot shoe applied to the living tissues of a healthy
fbot, must, necessarily, contract the calibre of the porosities with
which it is brought in contact, and impair the function of the same.

The reader is probably aware that moist heat does tend to relax
all tissues of the animal economy, and that the reverse is the case
when heat alone is applied ; for example, a dry floor, or a stall floor,
strewed with saw dust, a dry sandy beach, all abstract moisture from
moist bodies ; yet a heated shoe is a more direct absorber of moist-
ure than either of the above, and must, necessarily, communicate an
undue amount of caloric to the parts. By this method, the foot is
not only carbonized, but afebrile ov inflammatory condition is inau-

In view of sustaining the latter proposition, I introduce the follow-
ing evidence from a report on the subject made by a distinguished
professor of the veterinary art, a resident of France. By a series
of experiments he discovered that the hoof and the sole were con-
ductors of caloric ; that the conductile power of the crust was infe-
rior to that of the sole, (yet the latter often gets a pretty essential
burning whenever a horse is brought to be shod), the very part that
ought not to be burned. He found, also, that it is not before the
lapse of four or five minutes after combustion that the thermometer
indicates the highest degree of heat to the foot. Also, that the


thinner the crust is, the more heat becomes transmitted to the inter-
nal parts.

Having thus assured himself of the hoof's conducting power, his
next object was to ascertain the amount of heat transmitted to the
sensitive tissues. The facts are as follo^vs :

From twelve experiments made on feet, in view of throwino- light
on a subject hitherto considered as dark, the following are the re-
sults :

^irst. That the ordinary shoe, heated to cherry redness, and
applied to a horny sole of an inch in thickness, and kept burning for
one mmute, the carbonized portion not being obliterated in "paring
out the foot," has transmitted from three to four degrees of caloric
to the villo-papillary and reticular tissue.

Second. That the greatest amount of caloric transmitted in these
experiments, was felt, according to the thermometer, between the
fourth and sixth minute from the application of the heated shoe.
^ Third. That the sole, pared to the thickness of one-third of an
inch, giving under the pressure of the thumb, and the iron kept burn-
ing upon it for half a minute, exhibited the villo-papilljB destroyed
by the caloric.

Fourth. That when the sole had but one-eighth of an inch in
thickness, and readily bent under the thumb, when the heated shoe
was held upon it, burning for half a minute, both its villo- papillae
and the surface of the reticular tissues were destroyed by the caloric.

From other twelve experiments, performed with the shoe heated
to black redness, the following facts were gleaned :

First. The shoe being applied to the sole upon which the burnt
mark still remained, it was found to transmit in the same time more
caloric to the living tissues than the iron at 2l. cherry red heat.

Second. The dull heated iron, the thickness of the sole being the
same, caused a more lively and deeper burn than the bright heated

Third.^ These experiments confirm what was said by the elder
Lafosse, in 1858, viz., that it was not the bright heated iron which
oftenest occasioned the burning of the fleshy sole, but rather the
iron brought to a dull or obscure heat.

*' A notion has generally passed current among persons engao'ed
in the art of shoeing, that if the burnt part of the sole be pared
away, by means of the ordinary tools (knife and butteris), immedi-
ately after the application of the hot shoe, the burn is obliterated,
with its effects at the same time. I found this, however, by placing
my hand upon the burnt spot, and by testing it with a thermometer,
not to be correct ; and I further demonstrated its fallacy by direct

The reader will now perceive that the danger apprehended as the
result of hot shoeing, is not entirely groundless ; neither do the
effects of the same exist only in a fertile imagination, as some writers
have asserted, but there is often more truth than poetry in the matter.

Unfortunately we have a vast amount of book knowledge on shoe-
ing, which often passes current as the result of scientific investiga-
tion-; yet, in my opinion, the horse and its owner would have been
better off had such works never been written.

Some smiths contend that it is necessary to apply hot shoes in


order to " ascertain the hearings^'' or rather to discover the uneven
parts which necessarily occur as the result of faulty paring. Now
I contend that a good workman, with proper tools at command, can
make an even surface ; hence, a good workman has no reasonable
excuse for the unnecessary application of reel -hot shoes. In fact the
application of the same either shows that the smith is wedded to
the errors of our forefathers, or else is deficient in skill. Now, if
this be true, every holiest smith who understands his business, should
try to dispense with hot shoeing, and consider the practice as one of
the barbarisms of the ancients, whose policy it was "never to forget
what they had learned, and never to learn anything new.'''*

Some smiths, I am informed, merely apply the heated shoe for the
purpose of carbonizing, and thus softening the sole and crust of the
hoof so that it can be easily pared. This, I think, is a very lame
excuse, for in most cases too much of the same is removed, and thus
the horse has *' tender feet."

If the above is true, then it appears that the intelligent and pro-
gressive smith of the present day has no rational excuse for the
application of heated shoes ; and he who acts according to the dic-
tates of reason and humanity, is sure to secure a good business, and
the thanks of an intelligent community will be his reward.

In offering the above remarks on the practice and principles of
shoeing, I have no desire to scold or find fault with the honest smith,

" Whose brow is often wet with honest sweat,"

for it is a well known fact that lameness in horses is often attributed
to faulty shoeing, when such is not the case. For example, a horse
has recently been shod and become suddenly lame ; this lameness
may be obscure, so that its owner cannot determine its location, and
he jumps at the conclusion that the lameness has its origin in faulty
shoeing, when the reverse is the case — the animal being lame in the
shoulder instead of the foot.


The best plan for shoeing horses with quarter-crack and toe-cracK,
is as follows : Before operating on the foot or applying the shoe, the
foot should be poulticed with linseed or slippery elm ; the poultice to
remain on the parts for a period of at least tAvelve hours. The object
in applying a poultice is to soften the hoof and abate any irritation
or lameness which may exist ; then by means of a crooked end of a
drawing knife, all extraneous matter is to be removed from the crack
or fissure; a fine gimlet, corresponding to the size of the clinch
(which is a round shoe nail), is then to be sent through the hoof di-
rectly across the crack, taking care not to get too deep a hold, for
fear of wounding the sensitive tissues which lie in contact with the
inner part of the hoof; the nail or rivet is now to be sent through
the gimlet hole — across the crack — and by means of hammer and
pincers it must be well clinched ; then the projecting heads are to be
rasped off. The hoof is now to be cut through across the crack,
close up to the coronet, and thereby all communication between the
new growth and the fissure, or crack, is effectually cut of

When the crack is quite extensive it may be necessary to insert


more than one rivet. So soon as the process of riveting is com-
pleted, the crack or fissure may be dressed with a small quantity of
strong spirits of hartshorn, then bind a piece of tape firmly around
the foot, and keep the latter cool by frequent spongings of cold wa-
ter. A bar-shoe, affording equal pressure around the crust and frog,
is to be applied ; two nails on the inside and three on the outside, as
I'emote from the heels as possible. This form of shoe is, under the
above circumstances, the best that can be aj^plied ; yet, in case of
quarter-crack, perhaps a plain shoe, applied so as to bear upon the
heel under the crack, may answer better than the bar-shoe.

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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 15 of 17)