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365 Days in Horse Country – Doctorin’ Horses

Blog by Michael Stuart Webb | October 6th, 2013

365 Days in Horse Country – Doctorin’ Horses


Occasionally, on my journey through horse country, I come across interesting little tidbits that I like to share.  Some provide cause for pause, some are nothing more than an amusing anecdote, and others make me cringe.  Could this be one such moment?

It takes four or more years of intensive study to become an equine veterinarian these days, but 150 years ago, veterinary medicine was a lot simpler.  It was also a lot less accurate!

In “The Horse and His Diseases”, a manual on horse doctoring published in 1860, the author, a veterinary surgeon, gives this remedy for constipation, call a diuretic ball.

  • Yellow resin, 2 ounces
  • Turpentine, 4 ounces
  • Soap, 3 ounces
  • Salad oil, 1 ounce
  • Oil of aniseed, half an ounce
  • Powered ginger, 2 ounces

Rub the last two ingredients together in a mortar, with a little linseed powder.  Melt the first three articles over a slow fire, and then mix in the powders.  Divide the mass into eight balls and give on a day.  Indeed equine medicine has advanced, by leaps an bounds!