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but to diminish the jar upon the foot and leg during work. I have been in the habit of practising this method constantly during frosty weather, when the ground has been very hard, and have found it very beneficial. Indeed I am of opinion that it is a plan deserving of adoption with all horses and at all times. If the sole of the foot be tender, it should of course be protected by leather or some other substance; but where this is not the case, it will be sufficient to allow the leather only to cover the shoe, particularly if any disease of the frog require any remedial applications.
A good judge of the shape of a horse's foot will often discover that it
may be materially altered by care and attention to shoeing. The generality of blacksmiths will invariably drive eight nails into each shoe, and thus two of them, which may very readily and advantageously be dispensed with, must be driven so near the heel as to diminish its power of expansion, and give rise to contraction of that part. Again, a person not much in the habit of examining a horse's feet may consider some of them extremely ill-shaped from their excessive length; whereas a more acute observer will possibly remark that a great portion of the length results from a redundance of horn having been left at the toema fault of the smith, which throws down many a horse-and, on ordering this part to be shortened, it is no uncommon thing to see a farrier knock off at one blow three quarters of an inch of horn, which should never have been suffered to acquire that length. Thus then, by the study of these and other points of the horse, does a scientific man acquire experience which may be worth to him a great deal—for there is nothing where knowledge will go farther than in the purchase of a horse-since a really good one will always meet with a ready sale should you wish to part with him, whereas a brute may hang on your hands for ever, and be a daily source of discomfort to you into the bargain. I would recommend every man who wants to acquire a good idea of the proper formation of a horse's foot, to attend for some time at the forge of a shoeing-smith in full business, and then, for a few gallons of beer distributed
may pick up certain wrinkles that may afterwards repay him a thousand fold for his expenditure. The different modes of shoeing horses will also enable him, on perceiving any peculiarity in the formation of a horse's shoe, to discover the reason why he has been shod in a manner differing from that usually adopted; and this is a point of considerable importance, for some defects in the action of a horse, as cutting either before or behind, and forging, or striking the heel of the fore with the toe of the hind foot, may be either remedied, or at any rate diminished, by careful attention to shoeing. Thus a horse that cuts will be found to have the hoof left slightly projecting over the shoe on the inside, and perhaps made thicker on one side than on the other; and if he have this fault in a great degree, there may be but one or two nails driven into the foot on the inner portion of the shoe, and an extra one on the outer to hold it on. When this is perceived, be sure that something wrong about the foot or action of the horse either actually exists or has existed. The paucity or total want of nails in any part of a shoe where they are usually placed may also arise from the horse having been pricked in that part, or from his having bruised his foot from having been ridden without a shoe, or from quittor, or, in
short, from anything causing tenderness of the part, and therefore should immediately arouse the suspicions of a purchaser. Bar shoes also denote the presence of tenderness in some part, probably from bad corns or sand cracks ; and indeed every deviation from the common mode of shoeing must have been occasioned by either peculiar formation of the foot, as where a flat-footed horse is shod with very broad shoes to protect the soleby faulty action, as in the case of speedy and other cuts-or by accidents, such as pricks, bruises, the application of a too hot shoe, and the like.
Leaving the examination of the body for the present, it may be as well to proceed to that of the hind legs and feet. With regard to the latter, all the observations which have been made respecting the fore feet will equally apply to the hind, though it may be remarked en passant that they are far less frequently diseased than the fore feet, owing possibly to the action of the fore being generally higher than that of the hind legs.
The defects which I have already noticed in my enumeration of those of the fore legs under the heads of splents, wind-galls, strains of the back sinews, enlargements from blows, &c., will also be found to exist in the legs of the hind parts ; but here splents are much more seldom met with than before. A horse, as I have already said, may cut behind about the fetlock joint, but no such thing as a speedy-cut is here to be met with. To make up, however, for this, there are found two or three diseases about the hock-joint, which I shall now proceed to notice. These are, blood-spavins, bone-spavins, curbs, thorough-pins, capped-hocks, and cracked or greasy heels.
The blood-spavin (or as it is sometimes called bog-spavin) is a puffy elastic tumor on the inside of the hock: it is, in fact, neither more nor less than a wind-gall of the part, but situated under the large vein which runs up the inside of the leg, and which, being compressed by this enlargement, no longer allows the blood to flow freely through it. This impediment to the circulation not only increases the size of the tumor, but occasions a general torpor, and swelling in a slight degree of the limb in some cases, which offers an obstacle to its free action, and gives rise to very serious and incurable lameness. Should the enlargement be in its infancy, I would still recommend you not to have anything to do with any horse afflicted with this disease, unless he be destined for slow work; for much exertion will infallibly cause the tumor to increase, and with it of course the lameness attendant on it. .
A bone-spavin is an increased growth of bone at the lower and most prominent part of the inside of the hock-joint. The well-formed hock gradually tapers down so as to unite almost imperceptibly with the soft parts; but where a spavin exists, after passing your hand over the inside of the hock from above downwards, you will find a slight prominence at the most depending point, or rather your fingers will pass somewhat abruptly down a sort of ledge formed by the enlarged bone. When you think
you feel this, examine both hocks from behind, and look narrowly if they be of an equal size. It may happen that there may be a spavin in each ; but this is not so frequently the case that you will be likely to meet with them both until you are competent to detect them ; if so, you will be unlucky. When you are pretty sure you have detected a
spavin, let the horse be first walked gently, and afterwards trotted with a loose rein, and if he go stiffly on the suspected leg, you may be tolerably certain that your conjecture is right.
I would not advise any one to purchase a spavined horse for quick work, unless he were in every other respect very good, and his price low. In this case, as the firing iron will often effect a cure,
be bought on speculation and the operation tried. A horse with bonespavin should always be examined before he is exercised, for the stiffness which even a small spavin will occasion goes off after he has been at work some time, and he might then be considered sound.
This apparent freedom from lameness is, however, deceitful; for exertion only increases the inflammation of the part, and the tendency to deposit bony matter; and, when the horse has been allowed to rest for some time, he comes out lamer than ever.
A curb is situated some inches below the hock, and is ao enlargement of the ligamentous bands of the part. On viewing the leg sideways, you will perceive a gradual bowing out in this situation, and, if it be large or inflamed, lameness will be the result. Pass your hand over it, and if it feel hot and tender, you may set it down as the cause of the lameness of the leg, if there be any. Now, if you have an opportunity of buying a good horse at a moderate sum on account of his being lame from a curb, you may do so without fear, for it is a complaint which will often yield to cold lotions, followed by stimulating liniments and blisters; and, should these fail, a hot iron run lightly over the part will, nine times out of ten, effect a lasting cure, and leave but little blemish : moreover the marks of cautery for this complaint seldom diminish the real value of a horse much, and you will thus be well mounted at little expense.
A thorough-pin is a soft-rounded swelling of greater or less dimensions, occurring just under the strong tendon which unites with the cap of the hock. It generally protrudes on both sides, and will swell out first on this side, then on that, with the motion of the horse. Occasionally where the coverings of the tumor yield more readily in one direction than another, it will protrude principally in that part. Its nature is similar to a wind-gall, and it is usually productive of some stiffness in the leg until exercise have produced absorption of the fluid it contains. Many people think a thorough-pin of but little consequence; but, for my own part, I do not like them by any means, although I have known many horses of great value that have had them—one in particular, belonging to a friend of mine, for which a horse-dealer offered nearly two hundred guineas. A thorough-pin of tolerable size, in my opinion, materially detracts from the value of the best horse in other respects that can be met with. There is no cure for it that can be depended on, and hard work will generally cause it to become larger.
As for capped-hocks, they are scarcely to be called a complaint, and are of no consequence whatever, except they be very large and unsightly, or are produced by kicking. They consist of a swelling on the very point of the hock; and as this is a part which is very liable to come in contact with the bar of a gig or carriage when a horse sets to kicking, their presence should excite the suspicion of a purchaser who is looking for a harness horse. The dealer of course has his story. His man
struck him with a pitchfork (not an unfrequent practice with an illtempered groom), or a horse kicked him, or a bar fell on him," &c. As I have already more than once remarked, pay no heed whatever to the account of an interested person, who will not stick at trifles to palm a vicious horse on you, but have him put in harness, and if he should kick there can be no mistake about the cause of his capped hocks ; but if, on the other hand, he should happen to be in an amiable temper, look for the other signs of a vicious brute (respecting which I shall have something to say by and bye), and take notice if there be any reluctance shewn to harness him, or any particular precautions used in putting him to.
Greasy and cracked heels may be immediately detected by the swelling which accompanies them, by the roughness of the hair covering the affected part, and by the exudation which oozes from it. I have purposely omitted to say anything respecting cracked heels while speaking of the fore-legs, because this complaint occurs in almost every case behind. The reason of this is, that the hind feet being the farthest removed from the heart, the circulation of the blood is carried on there more sluggishly than elsewhere, and congestion is consequently more liable to ensue. A cracked heel presents always one and sometimes more fissures just in the bend of the foot behind the pastern or fetlock, from which escapes a stinking and tenacious discharge. Occasionally the whole leg swells, and a considerable portion of it is involved in the disease, presenting an almost ulcerated surface, the ichor from which is extremely offensive. Very high living with little work will often engender this state; but it not unfrequently proceeds from a directly opposite cause, or is the result of constitutional habit of body. Thus, an ill-bred, gummy, sluggish brute is generally the subject of grease, and the complaint in such an animal is eradicated with great difficulty; therefore never buy a horse of this description; but a well-bred horse with cracked heels is not to be rejected on that account if he can be had for a certain sum, as a cracked heel may be cured by attention and
Poultices while there is inflammation, moderate diet, and cleanliness are requisite ; and afterwards some astringent lotion, with good hand rubbing night and morning, and a neatly-applied bandage, will set all right. Cracks in the heels are commonly produced by neglect. A horse in cold weather comes home hot and fatigued, and his groom immediately, to save himself trouble, sluices his legs over with cold water, nor takes the trouble to dry them. He is then led into a warm stable ; excessive reaction comes on; the part swells, and is painful; and eventually the distended vessels relieve themselves by discharging the fluid of which I have spoken. The reverse of this, or want of action in the part, will produce a similar result. Ulcers make their appearance about the heels, which are extremely difficult in some instances to heal on account of the constant motion of these parts ; but for all this I would not reject a good horse because he happened to have cracked heels, for a cure will eventually be effected. I should not omit to mention that this disease occasions lameness, and that, in some instances, to a very considerable degree. It is a singular fact, that, if a horse have one white heel, that one will be affected sooner than any other, thus shewing that (as in almost every animal) white is a tender color,
There is also another complaint generally affecting the hind legs which must not be passed over in silence. This is called “ string. halt,” and consists of an increased action of one or both legs, which in trotting are suddenly, and as it were convulsively, drawn up towards the belly. The origin of this complaint is no doubt situated in the nerves supplying some of the muscles of the leg. Either there is a deficiency of nervous power in the muscles that extend the leg, or an irritation of the nerves supplying those whose action is to bend it. The principal seat of the injury has been said to exist in the spinal marrow, and there is no reason why such should not be the case in some instances ; but the result might be the same were any portion of the nerves of the hind legs, springing from this source, in a diseased state.
As, however, I do not pretend in these remarks to enter upon the causes and cure of those diseases to which the horse is liable, I shall content myself with pointing out the effects of disease without inquiring into its origin. String-halt then may be said to be a convulsive action of one or more legs, and is hardly to be overlooked by a tyro in horsedealing where only one leg is affected : the action of this leg will be so totally different from that of the other, that it must immediately strike the most casual observer.
This complaint is almost invariably confined to the hind-legs, and, for my own part, I have never in my life noticed it, except on two occasions, to occur before. These were in the case of a brewer's horse, which I saw several years ago in a dray, lifting one fore leg as high again as the other, and battering the ground with it at a tremendous rate ; and I have since remarked a thorough-bred horse with similar action of one fore leg, with this curious exception, that it only occurred now and then—for instance, for five or ten paces in walking a few hundred yards. When both hind legs are slightly and similarly affected with string-halt
, a horse has the appearance of having particularly good action behind; and as a dealer will not fail to be loud in his praises of this peculiar style of going, a raw hand may very readily be made to admire what is really a fault. If, however, the question should be asked whether he has not string-halt, the answer is ready cut and dried : “ Yes, Sir, I should think he has-string-halt in all four legs; for I never sees a hoss that can pick 'em up like him. Vy, Sir, I'll bet a wager as I'll make him pick his teeth with his fore feet if I takes him up
with the curb.” Now as a horse with string-halt behind, and that can “pick his teeth” with his fore legs, must have pretty high action (which by the bye is very generally admired), his sale at a pretty long figure is the natural result; and his new master may afterwards find out that his action behind is a fault, and that he can not pick his teeth quite so cleverly as his owner's pocket. It must not be forgotten also that a horse with string-halt will not shew the complaint nearly so much after he has been exercised and has got warm as when he is first led out of his stable; consequently, if you think of purchasing a horse with this complaint, you should always see him when he is first backed, and not after he has been ridden for some time. Now this peculiar action of string-halt, although unsightly, and possibly arising from some nervous affection, is not really of any very serious detriment to a horse in his work. I have seen as good hunters with this complaint as any I have