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4 THE GENERAL TREATMENT OF…

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4 THE GENERAL TREATMENT OF THE HORSE'S FOOT IN HEALTH AND DISEASE. The Field has the following article upon the subject: -I' Animals in a state of domestication are exposed to influences which often act with particular force on cer- tain parts of the organism; and it is the especial pro- vince of art and science to moderate the evils which are incidental to an artificial system of management. The foot of the horse seems to suffer to a remarkable degree from the action of agencies which are necessarily called into requisition. For example, it is imperative that the ground surface of the foot shall be protected from the effects of attrition by means of iron shoes. Again, artificial agencies are required to act in place of the natural process of wear, from which the iron shod feet are exempt, and hence the knife and the rasp are necessary. Meanwhile the effects of these influences are not generally understood, and the evils which are incidental to them, not being foreseen, are not provided against; hence the feet, upon the preservation of which the animal's value depends, are often the first organs to -succumb to disease. Upon the principles of shoeing, and the conservation of the feet, volumes have been written, mechanical ingenuity has been taxed to the uttermost, and with at best but insignificant results; the art of shoeing has undergone no fundamental altera- tions, and the causes which act injuriously upon the feet have been but little modified in their nature and extent. "Most horses spend a considerable portion of every 24 hours in the stable, and among the causes which affect the feet may be reckoned the influence of the surface on which the animal stands and the position which he is often compelled to occupy. Where the stall system is adopted, as it is in most establishments where many horses are kept, the floors are generally arranged on an incline from the front to the drains at the back, and as the horses are tied they are compelled to stand for hours with the fore quarters elevated to counteract the tendency to move in a backward direction, the animals are obliged to use muscular force, and throw the preponderance of their weight upon the fore part. However injurious the long-continued strain may be, it is doubtful if it is so inimical to the feet as the mere fixity. of the position, which in itself is opposed to a free circulation of the blood in the interior of the foot. (n a loose box the space is sufficient to allow a constant change of position, and the animal always avails him- self of the limited freedom which he enjoys by frequently moving about the box, and as the floor is inclined from all sides to the centre, the horse can select the position which i? most congenial to his feelings. It can hardly be a matter of doubt that the universal adoption of the box system would tend to the preservation of the feet in sound condition, but many circumstances militate against the establishment of loose boxes to the ex- lusion of stalls; the evils, however, resulting from the arrangement of the stall floor may be much lessened by the use of central drains, which will allow of the same plan of flooring that is used in the construction of loose boxes. Shoeing is generally, and. with good reason, supposed to be the source of incalculable mischief to the horse's foot. Setting aside the injurious effects of placing the feet in an unnatural position in relation to the ground, there is undoubtedly much injury caused by the injudicious use of knife and rasp, by the aid of which parts are removed which ought to he allowed to remain, and what might well be cut away it left untouched. Both knife and rasp are necessary and valuable instruments in skilled hands, because if, by ths use of an iron protection, the natural wear of the hoof horn is prevented, the excess of material must be got rid of by other means, as by cutting and rasping but the important difference between this process and the natural wear of the horn from attrition is, that one is gradual and constant, while the other is sudden and occasional. During the natural process of wear the homy, matter is removed in small portions, which corres- pond to the development of new material: no extensive surface of horn is denuded of its external hard shell, and no evaporation of fluid occurs, but when the knife and rasp are used the wear is excessive for the time a large quantity of the hard dry horn is removed, and an I extensive surface of newly-cut tubes is exposed to the actios of the atmosphere. This unnatural process, it must be borne in mind, is repeated every three or four weeks. It is not possible to discard the knife or rasp, but it is perfectly easy to prevent, or at least to miti- gate, the ill effects which follow the sudden removal of a quantity of old horn, and the periodical exposure of a' new surface. The immediate application of tar, or some similar Material, to the nswly-cut surface would at once arrest the escape of the fluids and preserve the elasticity of the horn. The process is exceedingly simple and inex- pensive, necessitating little expenditure of time or trouble. It is quite possible to err on the side of cau- tion in the use of the knife a certain quantity of horny matter must be removed, or the toes will either become too loag or the feet too upright, and the animal will move with an imperfect and stumbling action. There is 110 real objection to the free use of knife and rasp when the feet are strong and unduly grown nor can any exception be taken to the use of the rasp to remove any unsightly protuberance on the wall of the hoof; nor is it objectionable to rectify any little discrepancy in size between the feet, always provided that the tar brush is at hand to apply to the exposed surface immediately that the operation of cutting and rasping is complete. Notwithstanding tha outcry which has sometimes been raised against kirifs and rasp, they are indispensable instruments. When the hoof has been properly prepared by cutting and rasping, the shoe is usually applied while hot. and held sufficiently long and with enough pressure to burn a 6eating. The advantages of this method are obvious; the adaptation of the shoe to the foot is thus' rendered perfect, and the effect of the heat is to make the part of the crust with which the shoe is in contact rr,(t and elastic for the time, and thus facilitate the driving of the nails. It has been objected that the contact a the hot iron is likely to cause inflammation of the feet but this idea would be at once abandoned if the experiment of burning off the hoof of a dead animal were tried; it would be found that the exte.al part may be reduced to a cinder before any heat reaches the interior. Were it the case, however, that any sudden transmiasioll of heat resulted from the application of a hot shoe, the horse would be the first to become aware of the fact aa-d to indicate the occurrence in a manner that would be sufficiently evident. The question of nailing is one which has excited much discussion, and, speaking in general terms, it must be allowed that the fewer the nails used the better, so that the object be gained. As C) much a? possible of the posterior part of the foot should be left unfettered and if the organ is well formed and healthy, it is better to make all safe by an extra nail tharrto incur the risk of injury from casting a shoe on a journey..Some horseowners contend that three rails are '.amply .sufficient, but in ordinary practice six will be iormd tr» hi the minimum number."

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