The Operation was a success, but the patient died

...and on the eighth day, God created the horse in perfect image, to romp, graze, gallop, play and make manure wherever it darn well pleases, in divine grace.

This week’s column contains some horse care for your perusal, from a couple of centuries ago.

Pity the poor equine forced to take these home remedies, found in an old Vet handbook. (1)

They are written verbatim, so note the interesting vernacular, and mind your scruples and drams.

A word of warning, folks, don’t try this at home:

Skunk Cabbage– Used for coughs. Dosage is one to four drams of powdered root, once or twice a day.

Rosin– Yellow resin is what is left over after oil of turpentine is distilled off. Dosage is from half to one ounce of powdered rosin, given in cold water or mixed with feed. Useful in cough, heaves and thick-wind, also diseases of the kidney. Externally, used in ointments. Beeswax is mixed with it in making plasters and salves.

Sage– A popular carminative (2) in domestic horse practice. As a wind-expeller, (3) it certainly has some merit. Given in tea, in several pints. It is an article that does no harm, at least, and hence is superior for bots, colic, etc. but in giving it, leave out the milk, for it will do harm. It is a good item to mix with other medicines.

White Hellebore–A powerful nauseant and exerts great power over the action of the heart and arteries, lessening the frequency of the pulse. Hence, it is very useful in inflammation, particularly of the lungs. It must be given with much care, the pulse being closely observed. If its effect is pushed too far, trembling, giddiness, and purging follow, and death may be the result. The dose is from one scruple to half a dram. This remedy is but little known in this country.

Yarrow– Used as a stimulant, antiseptic, astringent and anti-spasmodic. It is used by some practitioners in farcy and glanders, (4) by insertion under the skin through a small incision, in connection with other articles of medicine, for its antiseptic properties. (See "Treatment of Farcy.")

Red Precipitate– This preparation of mercury is useful to kill lice. Also used for mange. If anything would disturb Bots in the horse’s stomach, the following would: Tincture of opium, saleratus, spirits of niter, whiskey and red precipitate. Mixed and given as medicine. Those who have read the chapter in this handbook on the subject of Bots will not likely ever use the above prescription. (Note from Roseanne: the good Vet of 1864 declared Bots as "harmless.")

Sassafras– A diuretic. Oil of Sassafras is used for founder, in doses of one to two ounces and repeated twice a day, if necessary. Oil of Sassafras enters into the composition of nearly all horse liniments.

Oil of Spike– A very popular remedy among horsemen. It is used in splint, sweeny, curb, hoof-bound and spavin. It is generally used in combination with other articles of medicine and rubbed on the affected part. It is a fine stimulation application.

Opium– a well-known drug, chiefly brought in from Turkey and India. It is more extensively used in medicine than any other article. It is the Samson in the treatment of the horse. It is used mostly in the form of tincture, commonly called laudanum. It is narcotic, antispasmodic, sedative and stringent. It is used for colic, scours, diabetes, lock-jaw and disease of the kidney. The dose of the tincture is from one-half ounce to 1-1/2 ounces. If using powdered opium, one to two drams. The powder may be given by mixing it well with warm water. In lock-jaw it may be given as an injection.

Peppermint– Found in swamps. A stimulative. A strong tea of Peppermint may be used freely in colic, and had better be relied on instead of the mixture of milk and molasses so often give. Not a bad remedy. One quart.

Phosphate of Lime– A good alternative for changing dull action and has been recommended in button farcy, in a dose of 1/2 a dram. I would suggest its use in the disease known as big-head, in doses of two to four drams twice a day.

Mercury– This mineral, also called quicksilver, is well known. The crude medicine is used as a formula for a quick laxative. One part mercury mixed with three parts lard until no globules of mercury can be seen, it forms mercurial ointment. Rubbed on splints, spavins and other swellings, to prepare them for blistering or firing. It may be rubbed on freely once or twice a day, but if it should cause salivation, as it sometimes will, its use must be stopped. A weaker form of the ointment is good for malanders and salanders. (5) It is also good for mange, used with six or eight times its weight of sulpher ointment. Calomel is a chemical combination of chlorine and mercury. It is not as great a favorite with the Veterinary surgeon as with the human doctor. It may be repeated as often as necessary, but its use should be stopped as soon as redness of the gums is seen. If continued too long it will produce injurious salivation.

The list of remedies goes on, from Cloves to Chloroform to Creosote to Crawly Root. Even Arsenic and Strychnine, Tar and Sulphuric Acid, all claiming to cure everything from grease-heel to lock-jaw to poll-evil.

Surgery of the day, along with its scientific names, was enough to make you cringe in fear and pain just reading about it. Note the vernacular here, also:

"Hooks," or Inflamation of the Haw: (6, 7) "This is an affection of a part of the eye, being inflammation of the Haw. This difficulty seems to be thoroughly understood by almost everybody, quite as well as they understand "bots."

And the eye of a horse can hardly become affected, but some wise-acre (8) examines it, and, seeing the haw, (which is always present, and is a very necessary organ, as we shall see), pronounces the case "hooks," and recommends that they be "CUT OUT"- - -as the great and universal remedy. And the owner...being ignorant of the structure ...of the horse’s eye, gives his horse over into the hands of this miserable, pretending gouger, to be "cut for the hooks."

There is no doubt that many a fine horse has been subjected to this barbarous and foolish operation when the haw was not at all diseased, and is thus injured for all future time; as, indeed, a horse always is, after this unnecessary operation."

...The good Doctor of Veterinary Medicine who wrote this book didn’t have a much better cure to offer himself:

"If the haw itself is inflamed, the horse should be bled three or four quarts and a cooling physic given. Apply the following lotion to the eye: One pint rainwater and ? dram of Sulphate of Zinc. Mix and dissolve, applying three times a day with a clean piece of muslin.

At the back of the book there were several ads for other books, all colorfully written and spelled in the vernacular of the late 19th Century.

These, too, are copied verbatim:

"Horse Taming! By a New Method,"

"...A new and improved edition, containing Mr. J.S. Rarey’s Whole Secret of Subduing and Breaking vicious "Hourses," together with his Improved Plan of Managing Young Colts.

A handsome book of 64 pages. Price only 25 cents."

Do you have any "Vicious Hourses" that need tamed?

Or this one, "How ‘Tis Done, The Secret Out." Book of Wonders and Secrets Revealed.

"...An Exposure of the Tricks and Deceptions of Gamblers and Blacklegs with Cards and Dice.

It exposes all the Secrets of gambling and "shows up" the tricks of the Professionals with Cards, Fortune Telling, giving an explanation of Marked and Pricked Cards, Cheating with Die, &c.

"A Collection of Secrets, Arts, &c.,

Never before published, and of great value to everyone.

It contains the prescription and directions for causing Moustaches and Whiskers to grow on the smoothest face in 42 to 90 days,

without injury or stain to the skin.

This alone is worth ten times the price of the book. "price only 25 cents or 6 copies for $1.00."

Well, folks, I think my printer is all drammed-up with scruples, Oil of Spike, &c.

Better pay my 25 cents to get that prescription guaranteed to grow Moustaches and Whiskers on the smoothest face, while I figure out the cheating ways of 19th Century Gamblers.

And that Red Precipitate sounds like a drink for a man's-man; guaranteed to put hair on your chest.

As always, the aforementioned article is meant strictly for your entertainment and is not Veter-inary analysis. Consult your Vet if you suspect your horse has malanders and salanders, &c.

Community News is not responsible for injuries or death, &c., should some idiot actually try one of these old timey remedies on their horse or themselves.

So long for this week, folks, you’re YOYO on this one, to the immortal words of Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, "Happy Trails to You."

  1. "Vet Practice of 1864," A.C.R. Publishers, Indianapolis, IN
  2. Carminative: Relieves gas.
  3. wind: gas
  4. Farcy and Glanders: Symptoms appear to be similar in nature to strangles: discharge from nostrils, staring hair, lethargic, glands under throat swelling with pus, possible knotted cords or sinus tracts of pus, ulcers.
  5. Malanders and Salanders: A scurfy, scabby eruption behind the front legs and on the front of the of the hind legs. Rarely occurred in America, affected coach horses used in everyday work on the lime-dust graded roads of Europe. The galloping action of the coach horse throws road material up on the legs, causing corrosion and burning sores to appear.:
  6. Haw: The cartilaginous membrane attached to the conjunctiva, located in the corner of the eye, between the eyeball and the side of the eye socket. Aids in keeping the eye clear of debris.
  7. Hooks: Swelling of conjunctiva, third eyelid or the nictitating membrane. Swelling of the cartilaginous membrane attached to the conjunctiva. The third eyelid is not normally seen but becomes visible in response to injury or illness.
  8. wiseacre: a smart - ss.