Diseases in horses' feet

Every person may see, upon turning up the bottom of a horse's foot, an angular projection pointing towards the toe, termed the frog and its bars, the remainder or hollow part being technically termed the sole, though the entire bottom of the foot might better receive this name. It is certain, however, that "the frog and sole" require pressure--a congenial kind of pressure without concussion--that shall cause the sensible, inside, or quick-sole to perform its functions of absorbing the serous particles secreted or deposited therein by the blood vessels. If the frog and its bars are permitted to remain in such a state as to reach the ground, wherever the sod happens to be soft or yielding the hollow part of the sole receives its due proportion of pressure laterally, and the whole sole or surface of the foot is thereby kept in health.

Every veterinarian of sense will perceive the necessity of keeping the heels apart, yet although the immediate cause of their contracting is so universally known and recognized, the injudicious method (to call it by no harsher name) of paring away the frog and sole, which prevents the bars from ever touching the ground, is still continued to an alarming extent.

So much for prevention. When disease comes on, which may be accelerated by two other species of mismanagement, another course is usually followed not less injudicious than the first mentioned original cause of all the mischief.

Horses' hoofs are of two distinct kinds or shape, the one being oval, hard, dark-colored and thick, the other round, palish, and thin in the wall or crust of the hoof. The first has a different kind of frog from the latter, this being broad, thick and soft, whilst the oval hoof has a frog that is long, acute and hard. The rags, which hard work and frequent shoeing occasion on the horny hoof of the round foot, produce ragged frogs also, both being thus pared away to make a fair bottom to receive the shoe (burning hot!), the whole support is so far reduced, and the sensible sole coming much nearer the ground, becomes tender and liable to those painful concussions which bring on lameness--principally of the fore feet. Contraction of those kinds of heels which belong to the cart-horse, and pommice-foot, are the consequences.

The oval foot pertains to the saddle-horse, the hunter, and bit of blood-kind whose bold projecting frogs the farriers remove, and these being compelled to perform long and painful journeys ever starting or going off with the same leading leg, and continuing the same throughout, lameness is contracted in that foot, which none can account for, nor even find out whereabout it may be seated. Applications of "the oyals" (that egrerious compound of folly, ignorance and brutality), follow the first appearance of lameness, and are made alike to the shoulder, the leg and the sole, under the various pretences of rheumatism, strain in the shoulder, and founder. The real cause, however, is not thought of, much less removed, but, on the contrary, the evil is usually augmented by removing the shoe and drawing the sole to the quick nearly in search of suppositious corns, surbatings, etc.--pretended remedies that were never known to cure, but which might have been all prevented by the simplest precautions imaginable. These are:

1st. Let the frog and sole acquire their natural thickness

2d. Lead off sometimes with one leg, sometimes with the other.

3d. Stuff the hollow of the hoofs (all four of them) with cow-dung, or tar ointment, changing it entirely once a day. In every case it is advisable that he be worked moderately, for it is useless to talk to the owners of horses about giving the afflicted animal an entire holiday at grass.

Should the proprietor of the beast be a sordid customer; the farrier can expect no fee for such simple advice as is here given, so he must procure a phialful of water, and putting therein a little saltpetre and a little coloring matter, to be either mixed with the stuffing, or to wash the sole clean daily, though the remedy will do as well (nearly) without such addition. A more efficacious auxiliary will he found in procuring a patch of clay, to be kneaded on the ground, on which the animal (which is worth so much trouble) may be allowed to stand, and if a small patch be made for each foot, the horse himself will prove their value (in most cases) by feeling for them as it were, and showing by his manner how gratified he is at the coldness they afford to his heated toes. Herein it must be observed that stuffing with clay is not recommended, this being one of the numerous blunders of those farriers who, having found the benefit of any application or remedy, push it to a ridiculous extremity.

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