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 2 of 17)
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the thyriod region twice daily. Under the above mode of treat-
ment I have found that recovery is not only soon accomplished but


The best method of reducing scrotal hernia in the uncastrated
colt, is to cast the horse by means of the hobbles, and when on its
back, the animal is to be kept in that position, while, by means of

* Hernia is from a Greek word which signifies a breach, from its protrusion out of its place — a
rupture. 'When tlie hernia tumor 13 easily put back into the abdomen, ih is called reducible hernia.
The symptoms of a reducible hernia are not very violent ; the horse will paw with his fore extremi-
ties, hangs his head, looks silently at his flank, and appears to suffer from constant, yet not very
active pain ; on the affected side the scrotal bag will appear cold.


the hand and fingers, the bowel is kneaded back again into the
abdominal cavity. Should the bowel or intestine not return readily,
a tackle, double and. single block with a small rope^ must be fixed to
a beam above the posterior part of the animal; then hook the sin^^le
block into the hind hobbles, and raise the posterior parts from fhe
ground ; this sends the contents of the abdomen forwards, towards
the diaphragm, and the imprisoned intestine usually recedes into
proper position. Sliould the bowel not return, after a fair trial, the
animal may be aetherized ; while administering the aether, however,
the patient should be released from the tackle, and hoisted again
when in a state of etherization; after this the hernia is easily

Should, however, the case be a bad one, in consequence of a lapse
of considerable time since the period of the accident, or from the
presence of a portion of bowel distended with gas, forming a tumor
of considerable magnitude, the operator must proceed to%pen the
scrotum and tunioa vaginalis^ and should a portion of bowel present
itself, much distended with gas, the bowel may be punctured in
several places with the point of a fine needle; these punctures will
allow the gas to escape, and the volume of the intestine is so reduced
that k. usually returns, without any trouble, into its proper cavity.
Having reduced the hernia, the wooden clamps are to be placed on
the spermatic cord and secured; the testicle is then to be severed
from the cord.

A case may now and then occur, which precludes the possibility
of a return of tlie intestine, after the above fashion, in consequence
of a thickened state of the walls of the gut ; in such a case we have
to enlarge the inguinal rin^ with a probe-pointed bistourie, and after
the bowel has returned into the abdomen, castration must be per-
formed as just described.

/Shall we remove both testicles f I usually invite the owner of the
horse to decide this question ; at the same time inform him that the
animal, unless a very valuable one, had better be completely emas-
culated. The loss of one testicle will not very seriously impair his
powers as a sire' of progeny ; therefore, if the subject of this loss
be of good blood or stock, it is better to let the unaffected testicle
remain, for, as the old saying is, "blood will tell,"


"fevers generally tend to their own cure.*'

Mann,^ and several other authors of the modern school, contend,
that " The principal treatment that is necessary in disorders of this
kind, is, to let nature have * lair play.' If the purest air is sup-
plied, the most perfect cleanliness is scrupulously observed, and
nothing is given or done that can continue the oppression of the
system, nature soon rights herself The excretoiy organs, step by
step, expel the offending matter fi-om the blood, and the balance of
health is gradually restored. The low diet, the quiet, and other
valuable measures directed by medical science, all have the object


in view, in the first place, of removing or withholding such influence
as would oppose nature in its beneficent work; and, in the second
place, of aiding its operations, so far as this can be done, by artifi-
cial appliances. Every one ought to understand this, in order that
he may be prepared to yield intelligent and eflSeient obedience to
medical suggestions and directions, in case of being placed in posi-
tions in which such may be required."

The above are very excellent directions, and if fully carried out
in the treatment of the various diseases of the inferior orders of
creation, would probably save the lives of many valuable animals
that are constantly dying from the practice of a system of meddle-
some medication, and from the unwarrantable use of drugs that are
either injurious or actively poisonous in their character.


Cramp, as it occurs in horses, is usually confined to the muscles
and tendons which flex the limb. The following case will illus-
trate my treatment:

Case of Cramp, or Spasm. — I was requested, a short time ago,
to visit a horse, said to be the subject of " stifle lameness." The
patient, a gray gelding, aged eight years, was put up at the stable,
on the evening preceding my visit, apparently in perfect health ;
early in the morning, ere I was called, the " feeder" observed that
the horse was incapable of moving the near hind limb, and it
appeared to be, as I was informed, " as^ifi" as a crowbar."

On making an examination of the body of the animal, he
appeared to be in perfect health ; yet he was unable to raise the
limb, in the slightest degree, from the stable floor. The case was
accordingly diagnosed as cramp of the flexors.

Treatment. — The body and lower parts of the limbs were
clothed with blankets and flannel bandages, and the afiected limb
was diligently rubbed for half an hour with a portion of the follow-
ing liniment :

Oil of Cedar 1 ounce.

Sulphuric ^ther 2 ounces.

Proof Spirit 1 pint.

In the course of a few hours after the first application, the diffi-
culty had entirely disappeared.

The owner informed me that the horse had, on the day prior to
the attack, been exposed to a cold and continuous rain storm, and
probably this operated as the exciting cause of the spasm.


Stringlialt is probably a disease of the nervous system, and
seems to aff'ect the muscles of the hind extremities through the


nerves of involuntary motion. Persons who have dissected ani-
mals which were once the subjects of stringhalt, declare that they
found pressure on the posterior portion of the spinal column.

I have noticed that many horses, the subjects of commencing
spavin, have stringhalt when they start. This may be occasioned
by irritation on the nerve which passes over the hock.

Medicine has but little if any power over this disease, yet,^ if
the reader wishes to try the effects of the same, I would advise
the use of stimulating liniment, to be applied over the region of the
back, and inside of the thighs, and let the animal have a couple of
drachms of asafoetida every day for a week or more. Most vete-
rinary surgeons contend that stringhalt is incurable. In France the
action of a stringhalt horse is (on the dancing-master prmciple) con-
sidered rather graceful than otherwise; so that if any of the readers
of this work happen to have a horse the subject of stringhalt which
they cannot <5ure, they had better ship him to France.


Megrims, in the horse, is supposed to be analogous to epilepsy in
,man. A horse the subject of this affection is apt to appear dull and
stupid when at work, and will, at a later period in the stage of the
malady, be seized with a sudden fit, and drop down in the shafts ;
at other times will gallop forwards and run head foremost into any
obstacle which happens to be in his way ; he soon after goes into
convulsions and becomes insensible.

A horse subject to this malady is never safe to drive, and conse-
quently is almost worthless ; indeed, when attacked, his recovery is
never certain, for he often dies in convulsions.

Treatment. — Bathe the head constantly with cold water, and
apply spirits of ammonia to his nostrils ; should the case be a cura-
ble one, the animal will soon rise, when he must be led, cautiously,
to the stable. Then administer the following:

Powdered Golden Seal 1 ounce.

Mandrake 1 "

Ginger 2 *'

Carbonate of Soda 1 "

Divide into ten parts, and give one, night and morning,, in a few


Animals most subject to this affection, have a short thick neck
and l)ulky forehead ; the disease is one of the most formidable with
which we have to contend, as it often ends in frenzy ; sometimes,
however, dropsy of the brain sets in, at others, rupture of a blood
vessel takes place — in either case, death is very apt to ensue.


Symptoms. — The animal soems to have no control over itself^ and
will dash about in the most violent manner, and disregards all the
owner's commands ; the membranes of the eyes are very hisjhly
injected, and the pulse is full and active. In short, the animal
apj)ears in a state of madness.

Treatment. — The only way in which we can be of o.ny service,
in a case of this character, is to use the lancet freely until the ])atient
is prosti'ated, then give half an ounce of pulverized nitre, and ton
o-rains of aconite root every half hour, until symptoms of iniprovo-
ment take place ; in the meantime, injections, composed of hot
water, soap and salt, should be thrown into the rectum. Tonics
should be resorted to, as soon as the patient shows symptoms of


The usual forms of staggers which occur among horses in this part
of the country, are Stomach Staggers and Sleepy Staggers ; in the
first case, the animal is usually the subject of over distention of the
stomach, and, when urged to move, staggers like a drunken man j in
the latter case, the function of the stomach is paralyzed^ and the
animal is somnolent or sleepy.

The usual exciting causes of smch affections are, overfeeding and
want of proper exercise, yet it may arise from hard work when the
animal is the subject of an over-distended stomacli.

Treatment. — Both the above affections may be treated as follows :
Give the patient six ounces of table salt, one ounce of ginger, in half
a pint of hot water. Then dissolve half a pound of Glauber salts
in hot water and throw the same into the rectum. In the course of
a couple of hours the dose may be repeated. The diet should consist
of sloppy bran mashes, well seasoned with salt.


In olden times, Grease or Scratches, and cracked heels, were not
only very prevalent but very formidable affections. Before veterin-
ary surgr-ons were employed in the British army, many thousands
of valuable horses were condemned as useless for active service in
consequence of the prevalence of that loathsome affection known as.
inveterate Grease ; but now in consequence of the presence of vete-
rinary surgeons and the consequent imj^'oved system of manage-
ment in camp and stable, Grease is almost unknown. Most vete-
rinary writers contend that Grease almost always arises from im-
proper management of the horse, yet I have seen it occur in horses
that were well cared for and properly treated. The truth is, some
horses are predisposed to affections of the skin of the heels and the
sebaceous glands of the same, and although cleanliness and good
management may stave off an attack for a long while, yet when the


system abounds in morbific matter tbe same is very apt to gravitate
towards the heels — they being most remote from the centre of circu-
lation — inducing inflammation of the skin of the heels, distension of
the sebaceous glands, and a stinking and unhealthy deposit on the
surface, and a purulent discharge through ulcerated cracks : this
constitutes Grease.

It is contended by Mr. Blain and others, that " Grease has local
weakness for a cause. As fluids press, not in proportion to their
diameter, but to the height of their column, the venous blood
must find some difliculty in its ascent. Debility is therefore more
felt in the distended vessels remote from the influence of the heart,
under which circumstance the efiects productive of Grease necessa-
rily ensue."

Some horses are constantly the subjects of swelled legs, and if
the heels happen to be accidentally abraded, the latter often operates
as the exciting cause of a very formidable afl*ection of the heels.
Associated with the swelled legs is a scurfiness of the skin beneath
the fetlock ; these conditions, together with the fact that the animal
is of the lymphatic temperament, (gray color,) are sure indications
that a predisposition to maladies of the above character is present.
Having such horses under our care, the chief object should be to
ward off an attack, by dietetic and hygienic measures ; too much
washing of the heels without drying them by rubbing, is just about
as bad as if the filth was allowed to remain ; the practice chills the
part by a process of slow evaporation, and the result is local con-
gestion, &G.

I propose to illustrate, for the benefit of the reader, the treatment
of Grease :

July 15th. Was requested to see a gray gelding, the property of
the Transfer Company of St. Louis. On arrival I found him to be
a large, flabbily organized creature, having a large amount of loose
tissue under the skin. I found that there was a bad odor arising
from some ulcerations and exudations about the heels and sides of
the same ; intermediate of the ulcers were dry horny scabs, the hair
about the parts pointing straight out; the heel was excessively ten-
der, quite vascular, and blood escaped from its vessels. The mo-
ment a hand was placed upon the locality, the animal would catch
up the limb and appear to suflfer much pain.

TrExVtment. — In the first place I had the parts well cleansed with
5oap and water ; then after wiping the parts dry, they were wetted
three times daily with a portion of the following solution :

Nitrate of Potass (Saltpetre) 3 ounces.

Water , 1 pint.

Glycerine 4 ounces.

Every time the solution was applied, the parts were dusted with
pulverized charcoal; this charcoal completely covering the abraded
parts, and being a good antiseptic, had a very excellent efiect in ex-
cluding atmospheric air and in correcting the fetid odor.

I administered as an alterative to correct the morbid habit, twenty
grains of iodide of potass ; four drachms of sulphur ; two drachms
of powdered sassafras bark ; one drachm of gentian ; these were


mixed in food, and the same quantity was given daring a period of
four days, and the dressings were also continued.

On the fifth day the animal had very much improved, stood fair
on the foot, and seemed to sulTer but very little pain ; the limb was
somewhat swollen, partly from want of use, and otherwise from a
slight effusion into the cellular tissue. I discontinued the medicine
and ordered the following mixture to be appUed twice daily :*

PyroligneousAcid, | ^^„^, ^,,3.

After each application the charcoal was reapplied.

At the end of about fifteen days the animal was well, with the
exception of some enlargement and induration which time alone
could remedy.

This plan of treatment would probably prove successful in all
curable cases of Grease, Cracked Heels, Scratches, &c., and I ad-
vise the reader to try it whenever such cases occur ; the patient,
however, should be kept on a light diet — green feed in summer and
carrots in winter — and a moderate supply of oats and hay.


Myalgia signifies muscular pain and stiffness.

St. Louis, July 26. I was this day called to examine a colt, the
property of Mr. P., of this city. The owner informed me the colt
was put in a flour wagon with a pair of mules, this being the first
time he ever was driven ; he was worked hard all that day, and on
being taken out, and while he was under great heat, and completely
tired out, was allowed to drink freely of water. The next morning
my attention being called to him, I proceeded to examine him.

I found the pulse small and wiry, and in a state of exhaustion.
Respirations somewhat accelerated upon backing him out of the
stall ; he moved very stiff and with clifiiculty, seemingly in consid-
erable pain. The back was arched, bringing the feet in close prox-
imity ; these were very hot, the animal being very unwilling to move.

Diagnosis. — Myalgia, or muscular pain.

Treatment. — Gave by drench :

Iodide Potass 2 drachms.

Tincture of Golden Seal 7 "

Rubbed his legs with the following:

Indian Hemp, ) ^ ^^^ ^^^^^
Chloroform, ) ^ ^

July 27. Called again to see the patient and found him somewhat
improved, and not in so much pain. The stiffness had in considera-
ble degree disappeared. Ordered his legs to be rubbed wi^h the same

The Magnetic Lotion, prepared by Lord & Smitli, is an excellent remedy for this complaint.


preparation -which was applied yesterday morning, then gave, by

drench ;

Prickly Ash Bark 5 drachms.

Golden Seal 5 "

Iodide Potass 1 "

July 28. Called to see my patient this morning, and found him
rapidly improvhig. His walk was much firmer and his general ap-
pearance livelier. I did not consider his legs needed any further
medical application, but I gave a drench composed of —

Golden Seal 4 drachms.

Iodide Potass 1 "

July 29. I found such a decided improvement this morning that
I felt it necessary to suspend further medical treatment, and informed
the owner that by turning him out to grass he would ultimately*

Remarks. — Myalgia is a very prevalent disease among horses, yet
it is often confounded with pleurodyna, founder, rheumatism, &g.
In view of giving the reader some idea of the cause and nature of
Myalgia, I propose to make a few extracts from a lecture lately de-
livered by Thomas Inman, M.D., of the Royal Infirmary, Liverpool:

" My attention has been drawn very forcibly, of late, to the sub-
ject of the muscles, and the frequency with which they are painfully
affected in the human subject. It is clear that they are affected
much in the same way in the horse and other animals.

*' If any man undergoes an excessive amount of physical exertion,
and especially if he be unaccustomed to it, or if he has been the
victim of cramp, we know that on the next day he complains of
stiffness and soreness in those parts of the body which have been
most exercised. Experience tells us that this stiffness lasts for about
four or five days, but that it goes off on the first day as the indi-
vidual is again warmed to his work, and comes on again as soon as
he is cool.

*' There is every reason to believe that excessive or long protract-
ed exertion will produce a bad effect upon a healthy and strong
muscle ; it is equally certain that a similar result will be produced
in a weakly and unhealthy muscle by a very slight exertion, because
that exertion, though seemingly small, is excessive.

" If any man or horse die of tetanus, we may ascertain readily
the physical effects produced on their muscles, by excessive and
prolonged involuntary contraction. The muscles of a tetanic patient
are pale looking, fishy, bloodless, spott'ed, &c.

" From the foregoing particulars it is evident that the muscles, in
their entirety, were frequently the seats of very severe suffering;
and experience showed that myalgio affections were far more com-
mon than had been supposed. But many patients had muscular
pains from doing the very same things that others had done without
experiencing anything disagreable, and many had- myalgia from
continuing to perform actions which they had been accustomed to
do all their lives. This had to be accounted for.

" A short consideration sufticed to state the matter thus : If . an
individual, whose muscles are strong, experience stiffness, pain and


Borencss, from doing double an amount of ordinary work, another,
whose muscles are only of half the average strength, will have a
similar result from doing his ordinary work.

"The deduction, then, was inevitable, that myalgic pains would
be common and severe in direct pi'oportion to the patient's debility.
But it is still necessary to demonstrate, that the muscles of various
individuals hnd vai'ying powers ; and still more important was it to
show that those of the same individual varied in power according
to circumstances."

By trials of strength, &c., the Lecturer showed, very conclusively,
the facts sought for.


Nicking Hoeses. — The EnoRsh method of nickino: horses is,
instead of inserting a knife and maldng a subcutaneous section of
the muscles of the tail^ known as the depressors, to make three
straight incisions at equal distances right across the tail ; by this
method the muscles of the tail are effectually or completely divided.
The first incision is usually made about two inches from the root of
the tail, and the other two at equal distances from the first, in a
direction towards the end of the tail.

The tail is then kept perpendicular, in the usual manner, by pnl-
lies. It is said that by this method a more graceful curvature of the
tail is secured, which I believe is a fact ; yet the operation is any-
thing but pleasant to the horse. It is one of the fashionable barba-
risms of civilization.

The English method of nicking, although the most unsightly
and barbarous, is still the safest, as there is less liability to locked
jaw. It is well known that locked jaw more frequently ensues from
a punctured wound, than a clean cut or incision. Yet when nick-
ing or pricking after the American fixshion, if care be taken to make
the orifice through the skin sufliciently large, so that the pus, after-
ward secreted, may escape, I think there is no danger. The danger
arises from imprisonment of pus by closure of the orifice in the
skin. In healthy subjects the orifice made through the skin will
often unite, in the course of a few hours ; then, should morbid mat-
ter accumulate within the substance of the tail, it burrows, forms
an abscess, or else becomes absorbed, producing locked jaw.
Therefore I would advise persons having pricked or nicked horses
under their care, to pay strict attention to such, and see that the
orifices are kept open, which may easily be done by occasionally
inserting the point of a penknife. The skin should be the last place
to heal. The healing ])rocess must be perfected in the interior first,
and lastly the skin. Should fungus or " proud flesh" appear, apply
powdered blood-root, burnt alum, or red precipitate.

When an abscess forms at the base of the tail after pricking,
apply a poultice of flaxseed; and when the tail is much inflamed
and swollen, it should be bathed frequently with acetic acid one
part, water seven parts ; mix.

When horses are nicked in warm weather, the tail should be
moistened with tincture of aloes ; this will keep off the flies.


•ersons who are not experts in the art of pricking, are apt to
ind, and sometimes completely sever the coccygeal arteries,



thereby causing an nnnecessary and dangerous hemorrhao-e. In
such cases, I should advise the operator to crowd into the orifice a
small piece of dry sponge ; this will arrest the hemorrhage, and at
the same time keep the divided ends of the muscles apart, so that
they cannot reunite; hence it is not necessary to put the tail into
pullips for some hours, or until bleeding has ceased ; when this is
the case, the sponge may be removed by means of a small pair of

The success in securing what is denominated a fashionable tail,
depends altogether on the skill of the operator, who must make a
complete division of the muscles beneath the tail only, whose action
is to coinp-ess and depress that useful appendage ; for should the
incision be made too high on the side of the tail, the curoators may
be partly t)r wholly severed; then the tail will ultimately diverge
laterally, or in stable language it will be said, " that the horse does
not carry his tail straight^ To remedy this, the curvator on the
opposite side must be divided ; then the tail has to be forcibly drawn
and kept in an opposite direction from the curved side, so as to pre-
vent the muscle from reuniting. In the course of a short time
granulations are thrown out from the surface of the divided ends of
the nniscle ; it then acquires length, and thus the tail becomes

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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 2 of 17)