All causes of this accident are mainly connected with conformation and action. Thus horses with narrow chests, whose legs are close together, are particularly liable to it, and especially so if the toes should happen to turn out, or the legs be set too far back. The tendency to speedy cut is considerably aggravated by weakness and fatigue, hence the mishap occurs most frequently in ill-conditioned animals, or in those better conditioned at the. end of a journey, when tired and incapable of exercising full or complete control of the limbs.
The liability to this mishap is materially increased by the mode of action, but it does not, as has been said by some, arise entirely in consequence of this being "high ". The worst speedy cutter the writer ever saw was an animal whose action was quite the reverse of this.
Any horse may "speedy cat" by an accidental movement in galloping or in draught, but the habitual "speedy cutter" almost invariably presents some defect of conformation. The danger resulting from it is not only that it tends to disfigure and to provoke lameness in the animal itself, but equally so in that it tends to stumbling and to imperil the safety of the rider or driver.
These are shown in the act of riding and driving by an occasional stumble, or the animal may halt and go lame for a few strides,, or continue so for some time, according to the severity of the blow or the soreness of the part from previous injury. Where the injured limb has been recently struck, a very slight blow on the previously injured part will excite acute lameness. In some animals the local symptoms are but slight, and seldom exceed a superficial abrasion with slight chronic thickening of the skin. In others deep contusion results, when the part becomes hot, swollen, and painful to the touch, or a serous abscess may develop, which will be known by the sudden appearance of a soft, fluctuating enlargement on the part struck. In cases where the injury is severe and deep matter is sometimes formed, the leg becomes generally enlarged, and acute lameness results. Chronic callous swellings arise after a repetition of such injuries,, and the bones of the knee may become involved in the disease. Where these latter conditions exist the joint is imperfectly flexed, and the action permanently impaired.
Simple contusions will require to be met by hot fomentations or hot bandages applied to the injured part. This, conjoined with rest and a mild dose of physic, will generally suffice to effect a cure. Where an abscess is developed, whether containing serum or pus (matter), it must be laid open and the contents evacuated. The wound should then be freely irrigated with carbolic or some other antiseptic solution, and covered over with a pad of cotton-wool held on by a firmly-adjusted bandage. If after the wound has healed any thickening remains, a mild blister may be applied, and repeated once or more, if necessary. Any enlargement of the part remaining after treatment will render it liable to be injured again.
Fig. 408. - Three-quarter Shoe.
Fig. 409. - South's Rational Shoe (Charlier system).
In regard to prevention, this must take the form of protecting the limb, and giving an altered form and bearing to the offending foot. The former may be effected by the application of a suitable boot. The latter will require that the inner quarter of the crust be rasped down and the shoe fitted close in. Three-quarter shoes (fig. 408) or the Charlier system (fig. 409) may be tried where the other methods fail, and the feather-edged shoe will in some instances have the desired effect. Speedy cutters should not be allowed to wear their shoes too long.