This section is from the book "The Farmers Ready Reference Or Hand Book Of Diseases Of Horses And Cattle", by S. C. Orr. . Also available from Amazon: The Farmer's Ready Reference;.
While some forms of lameness are so prominent as to be plainly visible at a glance, there are others which require the closest scrutiny to locate. Again, there are some who seem to have an innate faculty for discovering the affected part, while there are others who can never become proficient, even with the closest study and observation. There are a few points, however, which, if borne in mind, may serve as a guide, viz.: If a horse is standing, always examine him before he is moved, but do not give an opinion until after you have seen him moved. Move him on the trot, not on the gallop. If he is lame in front he will elevate his head with the lame foot and drop it with the sound one. If he is lame in the shoulder he will drag or swing the lame leg instead of picking it up quickly and placing it down carefully. If lame behind he will elevate the hip on the lame side, but the leg will also fail to come as far forward as the sound one. A horse lame in or below the hock joint rests his foot a little forward of the other; if lame above the hock he will rest it even with or back of the other. Disease of bone grows better as it warms up in traveling; diseased tendon or muscle grows worse. If a horse is already warmed up it is well to let him cool off before examining him.
A few general directions in the treatment of lameness will also save many words hereafter. If a horse is seriously lame, remove his shoes, if shod. As in most cases of injury or sprain there is inflammation, the first step necessary is to reduce it by the application of either hot or cold water. If a wound is swollen and painful, hot water is generally preferable to cold. But if there is not much pain, cold water gives the best satisfaction; and especially if a joint is the seat of injury, except in case of rheumatism, and then hot water should always be used. The best method of applying the water is to wrap the part to be fomented in several thicknesses of cloth, as an old blanket, and then keep it wet for several hours. Hot water should always be as hot as the hand can bear it. To use it only luke-warm is a waste of time. If cold water can be applied with force, as with a hose, it has a good effect. When neither cloths nor force can be used, salt may be added to the water, or vinegar and salt may be used instead of water and salt. It should be applied hot, but should not be boiled in mixing. Occasionally a case of lameness will subside after the inflammation has been removed and no other treatment be needed; but most cases require additional treatment, either to complete the cure or to prevent a return of the lameness.
As some of the blisters, liniments, etc., will be used in a number of different cases throughout the treatment of lameness, the mode of preparation will not be given each time, but, in order to save space, only the name of the remedy and the manner of application will be given, and the formula, method of preparing and instructions for general use will be found in the article headed, Medicines, and How to Mix Them, near the beginning of this work.
This includes both the fetlock joint and the joint immediately below it. Sprain of these joints is not very frequent. It may be known by lameness, heat and swelling of the parts; and the animal will also point the foot to relieve it from the weight of the body.
Treatment. - Is just the same as in other joints, viz: Hot or cold water applications, liniments, blisters and complete rest.
These are puffy tumors and may come on any part of the limbs where a tendon plays through a sheath. They are an undue enlargement of some part of the sheath which becomes filled with synovial fluid. Some recommend puncturing wind galls and allowing the escape of the fluid; but this is not always advisable; a puncture near a joint might result seriously.
Treatment. - Bathing with cold water and pressure by bandages, followed by blister, will be the safest. Old, longstanding cases are incurable with any treatment.
Seedy toe is a dry, brittle condition of the hoof in which it crumbles away in very small particles. It is sometimes called "dry rot." It is due to a faulty secretion of the hoof, the result of other diseases.
Treatment. - Endeavor to get the foot in a healthy condition by poulticing, soaking, blistering the coronet and by applications of oil of tar to the wall, etc. It will require some time to replace the diseased part with healthy hoof.
So-called "pumiced foot "is a condition in which the sole drops down or becomes convex because of the pressure of the coffin bone in its descent. It is the result of severe and repeated attacks of laminitis, undue cutting of the wall and sole in shoeing, etc.
Treatment can only be applied in a palliative way. Cold water may be applied in any way to control the inflammation, and either a wide, concaved-seating shoe or a well-fitted bar shoe should be applied. Such a horse may do service at slow work on the farm but will never do to drive on the roads.
Where horses are kept shod, and especially when working on the farm in soft ground, they are liable to injuries from the shoe calks. These are often quite severe and, if neglected, may become serious. They should be cleansed with warm water and, if swollen and painful, a warm poultice should be applied until relief is obtained. It may then be syringed out two or three times a day with White Lotion. This is better while the sore is open and raw, as it will not gather dirt as a greasy ointment would do.
Contraction is not a disease itself but is only the result of long favoring of the foot from some disease. Corns, navicular disease, disease of the tendons or any other disease that causes the foot or leg to be favored or rested often will in time cause contraction of the hoof.
Treatment consists in locating and removing the cause, whatever it may be, and bringing the foot into natural use, and it will assume its proper size as the new growth appears.
Cocked ankles, also called knuckling, is only a symptom of disease in some part of the leg or foot. Sore heels, sore tendons, rheumatism in the joint and other diseases will cause knuckling, and the true cause should first be found and then treatment for it can be found under its proper heading.