Much care is required in administering medicines in the form of ball or bolus; and practice, as well as courage and tact, are needed in order to give it without danger to the administrator or to the animal. The ball may be held between the forefingers of the right hand, the tips of the first and fourth being brought together below the second and third, which are placed on the upper side of the ball; the right hand is thus made as small as possible, so as to admit of ready insertion into the mouth. The left hand grasps the horse's tongue, gently pulls it out, and places it on that part of the right side of the lower jaw which is bare of teeth. The right hand carries the ball along, and leaves it at the root of the tongue. The moment the right hand is withdrawn, the tongue is released. This causes the ball to be brought still farther back. The operator then closes the mouth, and looks at the left side of the neck, in order that he may note the passage of the ball down the gullet. Many horses keep a ball in the mouth a considerable time before they will allow it to go down. A mouthful of water or a handful of food will generally make them swallow it readily. If this does not succeed, the horse's nostrils may be grasped by the hand and held a few moments. A running halter should be used, so that the mouth may be quickly and securely closed.
If the operator has had but limited experience in giving balls, he should station an assistant on the near side, to aid in opening and steadying the mouth, by placing the fingers of his left hand on the lower jaw, and the thumb of the right on the upper jaw. Holding the mouth in this manner facilitates the giving of the ball, and saves the operator's right hand, to a great extent, from becoming scratched by the horse's back teeth.
A most essential precaution to observe, is to have the ball moderately soft; nothing can be more dangerous than a hard one.
This requires as much care as giving a ball, in order to avoid choking the horse, though it is unattended with risk to the administrator. An ordinary glass or stone bottle may be used, provided there are no sharp points around the mouth, though the usual drenching horn or a tin vessel with a narrow mouth or spout are safer. When giving the drink it is necessary to raise the horse's head, so that the nose be a little higher than the horizontal line. This may be done, if the horse is quiet, by an assistant; but if he is restless, it is necessary to keep the head elevated by a loop of cord inserted into the mouth over the upper jaw, the prong of a stable fork being passed through it, and the handle steadily held by the assistant. The drink is then to be given by a person standing on the right side (the assistant being in front or on the left side of the horse), the side of the mouth being pulled out a little, to form a sack or funnel, into which the medicine is poured, a little at a time, allowing an interval now and again for the horse to swallow. If any of the fluid gets into the windpipe (which it is likely to do if the head is held too high), coughing will be set up, when the head should be instantly lowered. Neither the tongue or the nostrils should be interfered with.
Powders may be given in a little mash or gruel, well stirred up.
Fomentations or bathing is the application to the skin or feet of warm water. If a wide surface is to be fomented (as the chest, abdomen, or loins), a blanket or other large woollen cloth should be dipped in water as hot as the hand can comfortably bear it, moderately wrung out, and applied to the part, the heat and moisture being retained by covering it with a waterproof sheet or dry rug. When it has lost some of its heat, it should be removed, dipped in warm water, and again applied. In case of acute inflammation, it may be necessary to have the water a little hotter; and, to avoid the inconvenience of removing the blanket, or the danger of chill when it is removed, the blanket may be secured around the body by skewers or twine, the hot water being poured on the outside of the blanket by any convenient vessel; of course the water should be poured on the top part, so as to allow it to run down. With regard to the feet, these may be placed in a bucket or tub (the latter should have the whole bottom resting on the ground) containing warm water; a quantity of moss litter put in the tub or bucket, so as to make a thick mass, is an excellent mode of fomenting, as it prevents splashing, and retains the heat longer.