The practice of giving medicines in a ball or elongated pill is a very old one, and has much to recommend it. Many nauseous agents, as for example aloes, are thus conveyed to the stomach without causing annoyance and disgust to the patient. They are usually wrapped in paper or enclosed in gelatine capsules. The paper wrapper is the more convenient to hold, and the gelatine capsule the less likely to be broken in the act of being administered.
Fig. 437. - Administering a Ball. The manner ot holding the ball is shown at A.
A ball weighing from one to two ounces is more convenient to administer than one smaller or lamer.
It is a matter for regret that so few stablemen and others in attendance upon horses acquire the comparatively simple art of giving a ball. In the absence of this qualification there are several instruments recommended for the purpose, but none so good as the human hand properly directed.
To give a ball, the animal should be turned round in the stall and quietly approached with the bolus between the thumb and two first fingers of the right hand, which may be placed on the face to steady his head, while the left is employed in seizing the tongue firmly but gently across its middle (fig. 437). Two or three inches of tongue should project beyond the hand and be turned up to the tush on the horse's right side. The ball is then quickly carried along the mouth and dexterously placed high upon the back of the tongue, and the hand withdrawn; the tongue is then released, and the free end of the halter quickly wound round the jaws, while the operator takes a step to the right to watch the dowmvard course of the ball along the channel of the neck. If it is not seen to pass, it is well to wait for a moment or two, as some old stagers will appear quite quiet until released and then cough up or quietly drop the ball from the mouth when unobserved. If it does not appear to have been either swallowed or ejected, water may be offered, and, if taken, one may be pretty sure that the bolus has reached the stomach.
A gag (fig. 438) or "balling iron" is sometimes used to fix the mouth open. If the reader will try to swallow with his own mouth open, he will realize that it is not a desirable instrument to employ for this purpose, although it has its uses, as will be seen elsewhere.
The same difficulty of deglutition applies when the improved mouth-gag or speculum of Mr. Huish is used.
A simpler and safer instrument is the balling-gun (fig. 439), made on the principle of a child's pop-gun, with an enlarged end to contain the bolus. Another, with a spring and a trigger, sometimes forms a mural ornament in the veterinary surgeon's establishment, but is rather a dangerous implement in the hands of a novice, while unnecessary in the case of the expert, who is satisfied to wear a leather glove on his right hand and secure himself from injury by holding the tongue in the manner already described. Where malignant disease is suspected, but not determined, the use of instruments is desirable to avert risk to the attendants.
Fig. 438. - A Horse-Gag.
Fig. 439. - Balling-Gun.