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قراءة كتاب Special Report on Diseases of the Horse

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‏اللغة: English
Special Report on Diseases of the Horse

Special Report on Diseases of the Horse

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دار النشر: Project Gutenberg
الصفحة رقم: 6

the point of the shoulder, and the greatest convexity of the ribs, occur when a horse is unable to stand for a long time and, through continually lying upon his side, has shut off the circulation to the portion of the skin that covers parts of the body that carry the greatest weight, and in this way has caused them to mortify. Little, round, soft, doughlike swellings occur on the skin and may be scattered freely over the surface of the body when the horse is afflicted with urticaria. Similar eruptions, but distributed less generally, about the size of a silver dollar, may occur as a symptom of dourine, or colt distemper. Hard lumps, from which radiate welt-like swellings of the lymphatics, occur in glanders, and blisterlike eruptions occur around the mouth and pasterns in horsepox.


The first item in this portion of the examination consists in taking the pulse. The pulse may be counted and its character may be determined at any point where a large artery occupies a situation close to the skin and above a hard tissue, such as a bone, cartilage, or tendon. The most convenient place for taking the pulse of the horse is at the jaw. The external maxillary artery runs from between the jaws, around the lower border of the jawbone, and up on the outside of the jawbone to the face. It is located immediately in front of the heavy muscles of the cheek. Its throb can be felt most distinctly just before it turns around the lower border of the jawbone. The balls of the first and second or of the second and third fingers should be pressed lightly on the skin over this artery when its pulsations are to be studied.

The normal pulse of the healthy horse varies in frequency as follows:

Stallion 28 to 32 beats per minute.
Gelding 33 to 38 beats per minute.
Mare 34 to 40 beats per minute.
Foal 2 to 3 years old 40 to 50 beats per minute.
Foal 6 to 12 months old 45 to 60 beats per minute.
Foal 2 to 4 weeks old 70 to 90 beats per minute.

The pulse is accelerated by the digestion of rich food, by hot weather, exercise, excitement, and alarm. It is slightly more rapid in the evening than it is in the morning. Well-bred horses have a slightly more rapid pulse than sluggish, cold-blooded horses. The pulse should be regular; that is, the separate beats should follow each other after intervals of equal length, and the beats should be of equal fullness, or volume.

In disease, the pulse may become slower or more rapid than in health. Slowing of the pulse may be caused by old age, great exhaustion, or excessive cold. It may be due to depression of the central nervous system, as in dumminess, or be the result of the administration of drugs, such as digitalis or strophantus. A rapid pulse is almost always found in fever, and the more severe the infection and the weaker the heart the more rapid is the pulse. Under these conditions, the beats may rise to 80, 90, or even 120 per minute. When the pulse is above 100 per minute the outlook for recovery is not promising, and especially if this symptom accompanies high temperature or occurs late in an infectious disease. In nearly all of the diseases of the heart and in anemia the pulse becomes rapid.

The pulse is irregular in diseases of the heart, and especially where the valves are affected. The irregularity may consist in varying intervals between the beats or the dropping of one or more beats at regular or irregular intervals. The latter condition sometimes occurs in chronic diseases of the brain. The pulse is said to be weak, or soft, when the beats are indistinct, because little blood is forced through the artery by each contraction of the heart. This condition occurs when there is a constriction of the vessels leading from the heart and it occurs in certain infectious and febrile diseases, and is an indication of heart weakness.

In examining the heart itself it is necessary to recall that it lies in the anterior portion of the chest slightly to the left of the median line and that it extends from the third to the sixth rib. It extends almost to the breastbone, and a little more than half of the distance between the breastbone and the backbone. In contracting, it rotates slightly on its axis, so that the point of the heart, which lies below, is pressed against the left chest wall at a place immediately above the point of the elbow. The heart has in it four chambers—two in the left and two in the right side. The upper chamber of the left side (left auricle) receives the blood as it comes from the lungs, passes it to the lower chamber of the left side (left ventricle), and from here it is sent with great force (for this chamber has very strong, thick walls) through the aorta and its branches (the arteries) to all parts of the body. The blood returns through the veins to the upper chamber of the right side (right auricle), passes then to the lower chamber of the right side (right ventricle), and from this chamber is forced into the lungs to be oxidized. The openings between the chambers of each side and into the aorta are guarded by valves.

If the horse is not too fat, one may feel the impact of the apex of the heart against the chest wall with each contraction of the heart by placing the hand on the left side back of the fifth rib and above the point of the elbow. The thinner and the better bred the horse is the more distinctly this impact is felt. If the animal is excited, or if he has just been exercised, the impact is stronger than when the horse is at rest. If the horse is weak, the impact is reduced in force.

The examination of the heart with the ear is an important matter in this connection. Certain sounds are produced by each contraction of the normal heart. It is customary to divide these into two, and to call them the first and second sounds. These two sounds are heard during each pulsation, and any deviation of the normal indicates some alteration in the structure or the functions of the heart. In making this examination, one may apply the left ear over the heavy muscles of the shoulder back of the shoulder joint, and just above the point of the elbow, or, if the sounds are not heard distinctly, the left fore leg may be drawn forward by an assistant and the right ear placed against the lower portion of the chest wall that is exposed in this manner.

The first sound of the heart occurs while the heart muscle is contracting and while the blood is being forced from the heart and the valves are rendered taut to prevent the return of the blood from the lower to the upper chambers. The second sound follows quickly after the first and occurs during rebound of blood in the arteries, causing pressure in the aorta and tensions of the valves guarding its opening into the left ventricle. The first sound is of a high pitch and is longer and more distinct than the second. Under the influence of disease these sounds may be altered in various ways. It is not profitable, in a work such as this, to describe the details of these alterations. Those who are interested will find this subject fully discussed in the veterinary textbooks.


The temperature of the horse is determined roughly by placing the fingers in the mouth or between the thighs or by allowing the horse to exhale against the cheek or back of the hand. In accurate examination, however, these means of determining temperature are not relied upon, but recourse is had to the use of the thermometer. The thermometer used for taking the temperature of a horse