Draft Horses the Treatment of Sick Horses

Draft Horses the Treatment of Sick Horses

Draft Horses the Treatment of Sick Horses some disappointment will arise when it is found that this essay does not treat even briefly of some of the more common and easily managed diseases to which cart horses are liable, and that it does not contain prescriptions of medicines to be administered in such cases as owners are accustomed to undertaking.

While fully appreciating the necessity of making my pamphlet as acceptable as possible to the general reader, I have come to the conclusion that the consideration of even the most trivial complaints must be passed over for the following cogent reasons.

Firstly, as a veterinary surgeon, it would be impossible for me to enter upon subjects relating to the cure of animal diseases except in an exhaustive, and as far as my abilities permit, in a technical and scientific manner, and it is quite clear the space at my disposal prohibits this being accomplished either with justice to myself or the matter to be treated of ; secondly, I regard the treatment of even apparently simple diseases by owners and amateurs as the reverse of economical, for experience not unfrequently proves that some of the most remunerative cases for veterinary surgeons, and many of the most disastrous ones to horse proprietors, have indirectly resulted from the use of drugs, balls and drenches purchased from druggists and the vendors of cattle medicines.

It is not that the medicines purchased from such tradesmen are of themselves injurious, but the evil consequences arise in the great majority of instances from the delay occasioned by a feeling of partial security on the part of the owner, who waits to see the effect of the ball or drench he has administered before he calls in the aid of a professional man, and thus time of incalculable value is lost and all hope of saving the patient extinguished.

Second in degree to the danger of delay is the difficulty in which the veterinary surgeon is placed who is summoned to treat an animal that has already been dosed with medicines which are unknown to him. His efforts are crippled by the fear of prescribing remedies that may be rendered inoperative by the medicines previously given, or he may hesitate to order a line of treatment which might possibly prove dangerous to the patient, by producing excessive operation, when associated with empirical measures that may or may not have contained agents of similar therapeutic action.

I have felt some diffidence in blaming so strongly the practice of giving specific drugs lest my reasons should be misconstrued ; but if the thoughtful reader will reflect for a few moments, he will probably agree with me that it is impossible for anyone who has not been specially educated, and whose judgment has not been matured by extended practice, to distinguish between the primary symptoms of simple ailments and those that usher in the most dangerous maladies.

This being conceded, is it not strange that owners possess sufficient confidence to jeopardize the lives of their valuable animals by the administration of remedies which will cure a simple ailment (that would in all probability subside without any treatment), but which remedies are powerless to combat a formidable disease?

Fortunately for animals as well as their masters, the progress of veterinary science has advanced during the last twenty years with strides almost as rapid as those made by the medical profession. In these days’ horses, when treated by properly educated and experienced men, are not drugged to death.

Greater attention is paid to the study of the causation, progress, and nature of disease, than to the administration of medicines which in days gone by were solely relied upon to ameliorate the symptoms presented by the patients. Suffering animals are now placed in conditions calculated to preserve their vital powers to the utmost limit, and encouragement is afforded for the fullest display of those grand natural laws which, so long as life lasts, are in never-ceasing operation to combat the fatal effects of disease.

I am entirely opposed to the practice—common in some establishments—of giving various kinds of medicine at periodical and often at short intervals ‘to keep the horses healthy.’ Healthy horses do not require physical, and where their administration is not beneficial it must be injurious. The drugs chiefly used are glandular excitants; their action is manifested by an increased secretion of the stimulated organ, and repetitions of the dose frequently end by producing permanent disease of the overworked part.

A judicious change of food, efficient stable management, and proper arrangements for work can accomplish all that is necessary for the conservation of health in sound horses in a better and safer manner than the exhibition of medicines.

A considerable number of horses are prone to experience derangement of their urinary organs on taking slight cold and from other trivial causes. In such cases the animal is commonly dosed time after time with nitro in some form or other, which unfortunately relieves the urgent symptoms at the cost of weakening the secretive power of the kidneys to an extent that, when some acute and formidable disease is contracted, those emunctories fail to perform their share in ridding the system of material which is detrimental to health, and recovery from such an attack is thereby retarded, if not rendered absolutely impossible.

In the treatment of disease good nursing is to be regarded as equal to skillful medical attention. Without the former, the latter can avail but little; to achieve more than an average amount of success, both must be applied in parallel lines.

Those men who have an intuitive love for dumb animals, who are con- versant with their habits in health, and who are born with acute perceptive faculties, can be most readily educated into efficient attendants upon sick horses.

Without these inborn faculties, no one can become proficient; but possession alone will not suffice, unless they are allied to other habits and quasi talents which are to be acquired or strengthened by experience and the exercise of zeal.

A good nurse must be in every sense a horseman; he must be patient, persevering, resolute, cheerful, careful, quiet, and self-possessed, yet prompt to think and act ; he should cultivate habits of close observation and obedience to instruction, and be thoroughly reliable ; he must know how to administer medicines in all forms, and be able to apply all requisites used in ordinary treatment for the comfort and well-being of the patient.

The qualifications I have enumerated as essentials are rarely found combined in one man, and fortunate is the extensive horse-proprietor who has a servant possessing them. Any instructions that can be offered for the guidance of such a man are superfluous, for he already knows more than written hints of limited extent can teach; but as such men are rarely to be met with, the few suggestions I am about to make may possibly assist those who possess natural talents in this direction to more quickly become efficient in the details of their calling.

It is particularly to be noted that the brief remarks on nursing herein contained are in no way to be considered as unalterable, but are to be subordinated to the more imperative instructions given from time to time by the professional adviser in any case under treatment ; for not only must individual differences in animal constitutions be studied, but it is to be remembered that the requirements for the stable management of sick horses are necessarily as varied as are the diseases themselves.

One of the duties of an attendant upon a sick horse being to see him placed in conditions that are best fitted to allow all those natural agencies which act as restoratives to health to exert their full influence, the prompt removal of the patient to a roomy, well-paved and light loose-box is the first in importance. In the treatment of many severe equine diseases, a supply of pure air is an indispensable necessity, and one to which the hospital nurse’s attention ought to be primarily directed.

An atmosphere of sufficient purity can only be secured in situations removed from decomposing animal or vegetable matter, by the provision of well-arranged apertures for ventilation, and a constant supervision that the functions of such openings are effectually performed, together with the maintenance of perfect cleanliness of the litter and clothing as well as of the floors, walls, and fittings of the sick box. It is always desirable, and frequently important, to keep the atmosphere of the hospital at a uniform temperature, a requirement that unfortunately during wintry weather is difficult of attainment.

The degree of warmth to be maintained will vary with the nature of the disease by which the patient is attacked, some affections being benefited by the influence of a higher and some by that of a lower degree of heat. In all bronchial and in most chest diseases, it is necessary to give consideration to the difference between the temperature of the stable in which the horse is living and that of the box to which he is to be removed for treatment.

If in the stable he has been respiring an air of some seventy degrees, it would be most injudicious to expose him for more than a few minutes to a raw, rasping atmosphere of say under forty degrees. Should such conditions exist, the preparation of the loose-box for the reception of the patient should be commenced by warming it with a coke-fire, having the ventilators nearly closed, so that the change to a cooler atmosphere may be gradually affected.

When unrestrained the position a horse assumes will indicate whether light or shade is the more agreeable to him, and as it may be accepted that whatever tends to the comfort of an animal suffering from disease is beneficial, the information thus afforded should not be disregarded by his attendant. In the absence of indications to the contrary, I am as strong an advocate for the free admission of sunlight into the sick box, except during periods of extreme heat, as I am opposed to the maintenance of artificial light at any season of the year. Moderate solar light and warmth are crucial factors for promoting a restoration to health in patients attacked with low fevers and are special aids during convalescence from all forms of depressing maladies.

As there are cases in which abstention from food becomes a necessity, so there are others in which every means, including forcible administration, must be employed to secure the introduction of sufficient nutriment into the patient to sustain his vital powers over a crisis of disease. It is not to be expected that the stable attendant will be able to discriminate between the two extremes; hence the necessity arises for the food supply of animals suffering from dangerous diseases being prescribed by the medical attendant, whose directions are to be strictly adhered to by the hospital nurse.

In the absence of instructions to the contrary, the food allowance for sick horses may be governed by the patient’s appetite; but in low, depressing fevers, and during protracted convalescence, it is not only necessary to supply an easily digested and palatable diet, but also one rich in nutritive principles.

The food should always be specially prepared and given in such a quantity only as the horse will consume at one meal; it is better to provide too little than too much, and any portion remaining after the patient has ceased to relish his repast should be promptly re- moved

‘ Little and often ‘ is a very good motto to observe in reference to the food supply of sick horses, but the { often ‘ requires qualification ; when little or no inclination to eat exists, food should only be offered at intervals of considerable length, and ought never to be left within the patient’s sight or reach ; too frequent solicitation interferes with the obtainment of repose, which in critical cases is of the utmost importance, and the continued presence of food creates a feeling of nausea sufficient to protract the advent of a natural appetite.

During the acute stages of all diseases, cold or slightly tepid water is the most agreeable as well as the most beneficial drink. Except in a few exceptional cases, it may be given in sufficient quantity to assuage thirst, and it should be offered once in every four hours—a practice preferable to that of leaving the pail within the sick-box, for the animal to drink at will. In the secondary stages of debilitating maladies and during convalescence, the drinking-water forms a most valuable vehicle for the passive introduction of soups, milk, ale, alcoholic stimulants, nutritious meals, or infusions needful for restoring physical strength.

It must be conceded that rest for a diseased organ is one of the most potent factors for its restoration, and also that general tranquility is equally important as a conservator of vital power; it is therefore impossible to overrate the value of repose in the treatment of all severe disorders. It is not intended to imply that when suffering from a dangerous illness the patient is to be left alone for many hours shut up within the four walls of his box, but rather that he should be spared unnecessary disturbance from meddlesome intrusion.

The practice of visiting a patient every hour or two ‘ just to see how he going on,’ is a reprehensible one. Several times during the day, and once or twice in the night, it is requisite that his wants should be supplied; but the visits of his attendants ought to be regulated both in frequency and duration by the amount of attention necessary. Except during very cold or windy weather the upper door of the box should be open in the day-time, that the patient may be able to see what is going on outside; he will possibly take some interest in his surroundings, and will be able to understand that there is something left to live for, but in the night-time, he should be allowed to enjoy absolute repose.

Sick horses are peculiarly sensitive to impressions of voice and manner; they ought never to be harshly spoken to nor roughly treated. The demeanor of the attendant should be especially cheerful and kind; he should never exhibit a belief in; indeed he ought not to feel the hopelessness of his charge’s condition. The natural repugnance of healthy horses to offensive tastes and smells becomes intensified by sickness; it is therefore necessary that more than ordinary attention should be given to secure a perfect condition of cleanliness in the most minute detail of their hospital surroundings.

It is not desirable for a sick horse to be submitted to the usual routine of daily grooming, but he will feel refreshed by having his face, eyes, and nostrils sponged with tepid water and afterwards thoroughly dried morning and evening, and his condition will be benefited by an occasional hand-rubbing of his ears and legs when they become chilled. The use of stable clothing is essential for the treatment of diseases in which there is a tendency to coldness of the extremities and surface of the body, symptoms usually produced by a disturbance in the quality of the circulation of the blood. A hood for the head and neck, one or more body-sheets long enough to cover the quarters and to buckle over the breast, and bandages for the legs are requisite.

All clothing should be made of light but warm woolen fabric and applied in quantity equal to the requirements of the case and the season of the year and should be so disposed as to cause no feeling of restraint or discomfort to the animal. The clothing should be kept thoroughly clean and be changed once in every twelve hours; the day and night suits in turn, on removal, should be well shaken, purified by exposure to the atmosphere, and warmed and dried before being reapplied.

In all diseases where acute pain is evinced by violence or rolling, and especially in some intestinal affections where the intensity of suffering produces almost uncontrollable frenzy, it is necessary to provide some protection against self-inflicted injury by an abundant supply of straw bedding spread thickly over the floor and packed along the walls of the box for several feet above the ground-level.

In many other severe and acute diseases there is generally an obstinate disinclination to lie down, and the movements of progression and turning are accomplished with difficulty and pain.

In such cases sawdust or chaff litter is better than straw until convalescence is so far advanced as to warrant a probability that the animal will take his rest in a recumbent position. Where sawdust or chaff is unobtainable, the straw should be sparingly used and cut into short lengths so that the horse may move freely through the bed. The bedding, of whatever material composed, is to be maintained in a condition of cleanliness and dryness by the prompt and complete removal of any portion soiled by dung and urine, or which may have become damp from any other cause.

An important duty of the hospital nurse is to carry out the orders of the medical attendant, whose instructions should be implicitly obeyed with accuracy, regularity, and punctuality.

The administration of medicines must be conducted with quiet, patient, and careful resolution, and in strict accordance with received directions as to dose, time, and form. He must closely observe the frequency, quantity, and condition of the excretions, carefully note any change that may take place in the symptoms and be able to give an accurate report of the general bearing of the patient. No change of trivial signification should pass unnoticed, but all minor incidents ought to be faithfully stated.

The stable attendant’s attention is to be directed to all those little but essential details, the sum of which tend so greatly to mitigate the sufferings and to increase the comfort of his dumb and dependent charge.

The Breeding and Management of Draft Horses

Best Wishes

Thank You for joining me on this Wonderful Draft Horse Adventure – I do hope that you have learned some techniques and gained helpful information that may help you as a cowboy or farmer with your own stock. Furthermore, you might like to get into the business of creating a farm, especially for Draft Horses, what a wonderful business that would be!