Among the many services the attendant on the sick is called upon to perform may be mentioned such minor operations as the administration of clysters and enemata. These are often preceded by the operation of unloading the rectum with the hand, vulgarly known as "back-raking". It may be as well to describe the process first.
Very little knowledge of horse ailments will be necessary to convince the reader of the importance of this performance. There are many cases in which this operation is followed by relief, especially in colic, impaction of the bowels, and in diseases of the urinary apparatus; in inflammation of the testicles in stallions, parturition in mares, and in those febrile and other conditions in which the animal is too languid, or enduring such pain as to preclude the necessary posturing and exertion to defecate. We might enumerate a great many other cases in which such aid would prove valuable, but the examples quoted will be sufficient.
To perform this task it is required that the fingers of the operator should be free from rings, and the nails closely paired. The horny hand of a person accustomed to manual labour should be previously softened by washing in hot water. Although the majority of horses submit to this performance without display of temper, it is well for a right-handed man to have the left fore-leg held up by an assistant, while the operator stands somewhat to the near side of the quarter, or, if the left arm is used, the reverse order will best serve to protect from a kick. There is practically no danger so long as the tail is held firmly erect, as a kicker always depresses the tail before " lashing out". As a preliminary, the hand and arm should be well smeared with some vaseline, lard, or butter (free from salt), and a little may be introduced with the finger into the rectum before proceeding to unload it. In introducing the hand into the rectum the fingers are gathered together, and by gentle and persistent pressure made to enter the anal opening. At first a good deal of resistance will be met with from the muscle encircling the orifice (sphincter muscle), but by steady perseverance it will soon be overcome, and the hand and arm allowed to enter.
The contents should now be removed with no more than sufficient force necessary to accomplish the end in view, and the operation may be repeated from time to time, as may be required.