Since these may be required on any part of the animal, from the sole of his foot to the top of his withers, and from his face to the end of his tail, it follows that many and diverse methods must be adopted to retain them in the desired position. The first-named part is perhaps the easiest of all on which to fix them securely.
If the whole foot has to be included in the treatment, a considerable amount of material is required, and a poultice-boot (fig. 442) or leg-bucket is to be preferred to anything else; but as this is a luxury not in the possession of the average horse-owner a substitute must be sought for, the most suitable material being a piece of sacking or old rug. The pieces intended for use should be formed into a bag sufficiently large to receive the foot, and long enough to reach the middle of the cannon-bone. Some of the poultice should then be put into the bag, which is now drawn over the foot, and the remainder packed well round the outer side of the foot as high as the pastern. Whatever may be the disease for which the application is made, it should be borne in mind that the inflammatory action will extend beyond the seat of the injured part, and the greatest benefit will be obtained by thoroughly enclosing the foot in the poultice.
Fig. 442. - Poultice-Boot.
Fig. 443. - Poulticing the Head.
Fig. 444. - Poulticing one Side of the Head.
To secure the bag to the limb, tape or strong cord may be used.
The importance of having plenty of material under the binder should be impressed upon the beginner, so that he may make the poultice perfectly secure without the danger of excoriating or otherwise injuring the skin beneath.
The Heel is perhaps as convenient a situation as any for adjusting a poultice, nothing but a bandage being needed to keep it in position, but it is a highly sensitive portion of the horse's skin, and a good nurse will support his cataplasm on some soft material. A piece of tow spread out to the desired breadth serves the purpose well. It has been elsewhere remarked, and its importance permits of repetition here, that no application to the integument of the horse should be hotter than will be found comfortable to the bare elbow of the attendant. Many bad heels are made worse by neglect of this precaution, and the same remark applies to those cases where poultices are allowed to become stale before being changed.
The Fetlock presents but one difficulty in the retention of a poultice, and that is its roundness, and the tendency of the latter to slip down. To prevent this a long bandage is first rolled round the pastern below to form a support, and then continued lightly but firmly over the poultice.
Fig. 445. - Poulticing the Throat.
Fig. 446. - Poultice applied to the Withers.
Any other portion of a front leg, including the knee, may be dealt with in the same manner. In the absence of a bandage, an old stocking from which the foot has been removed may, by being drawn over the leg, serve the purpose, but it fails to keep in the heat as does a flannel bandage.
The Hock is a most difficult joint upon which to retain a poultice. The movements of this joint are so extensive, that a special bag must be made of such a size and form as to embrace the whole of the joint and allow of its being securely fastened above and below. In adjusting the poultice, the stocking should first be drawn into position, then tied below with tape or bandage, and, lastly, the material composing the poultice should be introduced and well packed round the joint. The Head. - When poultices have to be applied to any part of the head or face, it is usual to make the leather head-collar serve as a support, while a hood may also be utilized to retain them in such positions as the poll, the eye, the face, etc. In poulticing the throat, nothing serves better for adjustment than a couple of flannel bandages; but if it is required to embrace the space behind the jaws, the throat bandage (fig. 445) must be employed.
The Withers and back can be poulticed by means of portions of strong flannel, or, what is better, old rugging, cut to suitable shapes and tied as illustrated in fig. 446.
Nothing serves the purpose of adjusting a poultice to these parts better than the arrangement depicted in Plate XLVIII, where a broad sheet of rugging is suspended by six bands, two of which from either side are tied over the loins and back respectively, and two others to a collar-band in front. A seventh may be employed to attach the collar-band to the sheet between the fore limbs, to prevent its backward movement.
A suitable bandage for this region is that given in fig. 447.
Fig. 447. - Poultice applied to the Breast.
Method of applying a Poultice to the Abdomen.
Method of applying a Poultice to the Chest.
Plate XLVIII. POULTICING.
A bowl or basin, a wooden spoon, and a jug of warm water are all the accessories required. Boiling water is not only unnecessary in the preparation of a mustard plaster, but positively objectionable on account of its driving off the active principle and reducing the potency of the mustard. Unless the patient has a long coat, mustard may be mixed with water in the proportion used for the table, but where much hair exists it must either be removed or the plaster must be made thinner, and more time expended in rubbing it in.
Coarse-bred horses are usually less susceptible to the stimulating influence of mustard, and its effects may be increased by using vinegar instead of water, or, where a severe application is intended, a table-spoonful of turpentine may be added to every quarter pound of the dry powder.
When this part has to be treated, the basin should not be held immediately under the animal's head, and the head should be gently elevated by an assistant while the plaster is steadily rubbed in. Whatever degree of friction is used should be equal on all the parts. It is; commonly prescribed for a throat already very sore within, and care should be taken to use no unnecessary force, either in restraining the patient's movements or in making the application.
A horse thus treated should not be immediately left to his own devices, one of which is to rub his throat on the manger or other convenient fitting, and perhaps cause a lasting blemish. When the mustard is seen to be taking effect, as evidenced by the animal shaking his head, swishing his tail, and perhaps striking with his front feet, he should be spoken to in terms of compassion, and prevented from doing himself any injury. When his manner has become calm, and not until then, should he be left.
The directions given above apply equally to this part.
A standing position favours the application of mustard to the sides, which should be applied equally all over the intended surface, avoiding the loose thin skin immediately behind the elbow; neither will it serve any useful purpose to go above the arches of the ribs in an upward direction, or down to the breast-bone below.
In some inflammatory diseases affecting the organs of the belly, mustard or some other counter-irritant is applied over the greater part of the abdomen. Here, care should be exercised to avoid the loose skin of the flank, the sheath of the horse or gelding, and the teats of the mare, as the inclusion of these parts causes unnecessary pain at the time of application, and possibly obstinate sore places afterwards.
Where an application of mustard is advised over the region of the liver, it is understood to refer to the right side, to which the organ is more especially inclined, and it will be most effective if applied for a space of four or five inches behind the back ribs.