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The Horse. HEREDITARY DISEASES IN HORSES.

(Agricultural Gazette.)

i Mr JV Wood ' (Ockley Manor, Keymer, •Sussex,)*th6ught‘it would be well if were some publication enabling them by

means of a diagram to inform themselves of the presence of those defects. He thought it was of national importance that the breeding from animals with hereditary defects should be checked by legislative measures ; and that no sire should be allowed to cover a mare not belonging to his owner without an annual license, which should contain a veterinary certificate, with a list of certain hereditary defects such sire possess or is free from. Mr George Street (Maulden, Ampthill) said, on one occasion he bought a young horse which evidently had a bad cold, which, after a short time, developed into ophthalmia, the result being that some three or four horses, previously fell into the same condition. He would be glad if the Professor would state whether he considered that horses which thus took ophthalmia through accidental contact with one that had been freshly introduced into the stable would propagate it. His own experience tended to show the contrary. He had had four or five mares in foal suffering from ophthalmia which they got from the infected animal, but their foals did not suffer from that complaint. Then, again, with regard to splint. Although he had frequently seen splints on young horses, and had known many horses to be lame from that cause, he had seldom found old horses affected by those “ bony enlargements” which the Professor said “ could not be got rid of when once formed.” With respect to sidebones, he quite agreed that to a very considerable extent the disease might be propagated, and that the danger ought to be carefully avoided. But there was one fact which had struck him very forcibly, and that was that the heavy horses which were constantly used along the stones in towns almost invariably had sidebones, while the same kind of horses used on farms were not half as much subject to them, Further, he would remark that whereas such horses, when used over stones, frequently became lame, he had never scarcely known an instance of that kind on his own farm. That appeared to him to show that although the disease might be, and, he believed, was hereditary, and although they ought to be careful to avoid breeding with horses or mares which had sidebones, yet that disease might frequently have been caused by concussion, in consequence of the manner in which the horse was used, Mr Finlay Dun (2, Portland Place, W.) said he was sure the Club was very much indebted to Prof. Pritchard. It certainly appeared ■ very singular that so minute a thing as the ovum, and so small an amount of fluid as was given off for the production of the horse, should so form and shape itself that out of that small beginning sprang diseases which were developed years afterwards ; that there was impressed upon the ovum of the female, or contained in the spermatic fluid of the male, powers of developrament and functions which long afterwards operated for weal or woe, and led to an approach to absolute perfection of form, or* the reverse. There was a tendency among breeders generally to breed in and in, and that increased the amount of hereditary disease. There beina, for instance, a very alight taint in a family, two members were brought together. and the result was that imperfections, diseases, or tendencies to disease were perpetuated. Then, again, among domesticated animals, the young ones were sometimes kept artificially, and early forcing was likely to intensify and increase disease. As regarded domestication, it was curious to notice how influence which had been brought to bear upon one or two generations modified the type of the race. Last autumn, while he was looking over some of the large breeding farms of Kentucky, he saw something like 400 breeding mares on one farm, where there was one horse in which he took a special interest, a son of the famous old Biair Athol. Like his sire, this horse was chestnut with white stockings, and, like him also, he was a little taken iu under the knee. That famous horse showed his good breeding in his capability of reproducing himself in his progeny, many of which, whether from chestnut, brown, or black mares, were chestnut, white on face and limbs, had superior, speed and staying powers, but were somewhat small below the knee. One peculiarity which he noticed among the American horses was that they were accustomed to be driven more by word of mouth than English horses. The wild Indian ponies, and many other breeds, seemed never to have had a bit in the mouth ; they were used to obey by the word of command, and that became so hereditary, as it also is among Norwegian horse, who being for generations unused to the bit can scarcely be got with good mouths. There was another instance of the same kind among the Mexican horses of the Cqrdilleras. A very long time ago great pains were taken to train some of the stud horses there to a Spanish ambling pace, and the result was that you ' could now hardly find a horse in that part of ■America which had not naturally this peculiar ambling movement; it had become fixed and indigenous; as it; were, in the race] Hethought that-such‘instances as these held out to breeders in this

country a good hope that if they paid reasonable attention to proper selection the results would be satisfactory. There were two or three points which seemed to him to require more careful consideration from breeders than they had yet received. He thought that at present there was a tendency to look rather to size and weight than to solid texture. They all knew that the bone of an ordinary cart-horse did not weigh anything like as much in proportion to its bulk as the corresponding bone of a thoroughbred horse. What was wanted was more weight and substance in the bone and firmness of muscle, instead of so much soft flesh and fat. A proper selection for breeding would secure better pace and action. What was the use nowadays, when there was so much activity in connection with all the business of life, of having a horse that could only go about two miles an hour ? They wanted horses that could walk four miles an hour, and it would be quite possible to secure that pace if proper care were taken in the selection of sires. Another matter which well deserved consideration was the securing of good temper and education in the horse. There could be not doubt that the horse might be educated far more than many people had supposed possible. If more pains were taken in the early training of these docile and useful animals they would be more serviceable to man, and would be less apt to injure themselves. Improved qualities reappeared in a marked degree in the progeny. That was remarkably illustrated in the case of the dog. It was no more difficult to train a sheep dog than it was to train a pointer or setter. The breeds of horses might, by means of training, be considerably improved; and the better they were trained the more valuable would be their services.

Mr J. K. Fowler (The PrebendaV Farm, Aylesbury) said—ln horses it was remarkable how the action and movement followed the male. In all their breeds of animals it was most important that they should get the very best male, as well as the best female, that the could obtain—thebest ram the best boar, the horse for , all external appearances, and they might rely upon it that the character of the male animal would produce a great effect upon; the progeny. Professor Pritchard forgot, ■ he thought, to mention curbs in the horse. . A carhy hock was very easily seen, but he had known persons not object to breeding hunters with curbed hocks, A curbed ; hock would, he believed, be almost invariably reproduced. As'regarded "carthorses, he quite agreed with Mr ■ Dun, that they wanted a more active race of animals ; but, unfortunately in the present day, when horses had a!great deal of hair on their legs, they sold on that account for LlO or L2O more than a cleanlegged animal. He had no doubt that Mr ■ Pickering Phipps would much rather ha.ve ~ a light, active animal, than one of those ■ great, heavy cart-horses which were seen moving so slowly over the stones of the streets of London.

Mr Pickering Phipps, M.P., was particularly struck with the remark of Professor Pritchard that the sire left a strong impression for a very great length of time upon the production of animals. In going along the road in a particular part of the country, he had often been reminded, as he looked at the fields, ofa well-known bull which was in that locality about twenty years ago. A gentleman in that district who took great interest in the breeding of Shorthorns, and who was in the habit of obtaining prizes, who had a herd of four or five cattle, bought a good blood-red Shorthorn bull, and one could not help being struck even now with the striking resemblance found in all . the progeny. Another point which naturally attracted attention was the great difference between buying and selling when there was a horse to be disposed of. ■ He was unfortunately, or fortunately, as the case might be, a large buyer of cart-horses, that is to say he often bought a good carthorse to keep up his stud. He was obliged to buy a horse for his business every three weeks. In fact, when he saw what appeared a good cart-horse, he purchased it, whether he actually wanted it or not, and he thought that was the best way of accomplishing his object; but when he went to look at a horse, and pointed out what appeared to him to be its faults; he almost always found that he was considered to be wrong. For instance, if he spoke of sidebones, and pointed to a particular formation of the foot as a proof of the defect; the man who had to sell would not admit the existence of anything of the kind. He did not know whether it would be possible to have diagrams, as was suggested by the first speaker that evening, which would determine such questions as betvyeen buyer and seller; but he was quite certain that if they had a really good horse,: he would not be susceptible of disease beyond the average amount. The great'matter, as Professor Pritchard pointed out, was tp take, care, in selecting animals for breeding, .that' there, was nothing in the shape''of hereditary disease, either in the sire or"in the mare. ' • '

I Mr Walter Gilbey, : Elseaham Halli Essex, said;—He believed there would be

no lack of improvement in the quality of the mares in any locality were there were good, sound stallions. Four or five years ago there was a scarcity of mares possessing size and quality in his neighborhood; efforts were made to supply stallons through the medium of a limited liability company, and two good animals, the best to be procured, were by that means brought into the neighborhood, L 3 8s being fixed as the service fee. The effect ■was to induce the breeders to possess an improved class of mares to send to the horses. It was not always that people could be got to take the initiative in such matters, but it was taken in that case, and every one now felt that the result had proved most satisfactory. He was satisfied that if really good-sized, sound stallions were imported into any locality three would he a demand on their services at remunerative fees. The paper which had been read that evening was an admirable one, and he hoped the result of it, and the discussion, would be to give a great impetus to the movement for the breeding of the Shire-horse, for which there is an undoubted demand, and which also is remunerative to the farmer to breed. Mr T. Aveling (Rochester) said horses did not seem to be anything like perfect yet. Owing to some cause or other a great number of cases of disease occurred, and it might perhaps be well to consider whether it would not be possible to substitute for the horse something that would give a little less trouble. Some years hack he had unfortunately a great deal of experience with regard to the diseases to which Prof. Pritchard alluded, and had suffered from them all in a more or less degree. In the case of the iron horse there was nothing of that kind. If anything were wrong with his tubes it was easy to put it right; there was in that case no difficulty in making a diagnosis of the disease and applying a remedy. They were quite right in doing their best to improve the cart-horse as far as possible, but it was not horses that would do the chief work of the future in farming. It should be remembered that, however good their horses might become,

they would always be dependent upon the skill of their men ; and if they had ever so good a horse, they must have a man who •was equally good to manage him. A great deal ot care and attention was necessary to keep a horse in good condition, both on the part of the owner and on the part of those, whom he employed ; even when horses were properly broken, it was not easy to hammer into them how they ought to be managed. He knew that what he was might sound to some rather shoppy, but he repeated that the bulk of the future work of agriculture would not be done by horses. Mr T. Carroll (Longcliffe Lodge, Loughborough) agreed with Mr Finlay Dun with regard to the importance of attending to temper in horses. There had been neglect in reference to that matter. He thought it would be well if Professor Pritchard or some one would be good enough to give them information as to the breeding of cross-bred horses. In his opinion, the action of the Shire Cart-horse Association would do a good deal of good. Professor Pritchard then replied, in answer to a question by Mr Garrett whether navicular disease was hereditary, that at the present time very few persons who had studied the matter seemed to have any doubt that it was so. Even after an experience extended over thirty or forty years, a man might entertain sloubts as to whether a horse was affected _ with bone spavin or with navicular disease» but in the case of sidebones there could be no reasonable excuse for doubt. A man had only to draw ♦hehand open down the leg on to the fleshy part of the heel. If there were an absence of sidebone the part would readily yield to pressure, while, on the other hand, if sidebone existed the part would feel as hard as the bones in any other part of the body. As regarded that Mr Street said respecting the contagious character of the disease among his horses, if the disease did not become chronic he should doubt whether it was in fact opthalmia at all. He should rather think it was simply a bad case of influenza in which the eyes got into an inflamed condition, than that it was due to any contagion or infection. As respected bony enlargement, he would remark that when an animal once became affected with splint, or ringbone, or sidebone he never got better of it. When once an animal became affected with splint it was always affected, and the same remark applied to spavin and sidebone. There were high-stepping carriage horses and other kinds of horses hammering their feet in London week after week, and year after year. Not one in fifty of those horses had sidebones, because no predisposition existed. If a cart-horse had been bred from a sound animal they might work him on the stones as other horses were worked upon them, without sidebones being produced. He did not say that, sidebones might not occasionally be produced in sound animals, but he believed that, in nine cases out of ten they were the remit of a predisposition. He had stood with astonishment'aloogside judges at horse shows when animals having sidebones had

been placed before them, and they had said, “ Oh ! its only a nut, or something of that kind,” and bad awarded to such animals a prize. While such things took place it was not to be wondered at that so many cart-horses were affected with disease. As to curve, that was a disease of the hock which some regarded as in some way hereditarv, and others would not admit to be so. He looked upon it as hereditarv, not on the same grounds as some considered it to he so, but simnly because the form of the limb was hereditary. If there were a limb which had not a sufficient angle at the hock, or a limb in which the angle at the hock was greater than the ordinary angle, he though there must be an hereditary disease that gave rise to the curve. Although the disease might not be herediary, a want of proper care often brought out a predisposition to sprain, and he maintained that in that sense the disease was hereditary. He was of opinion that if animals were properly attended to as regarded the materials upon which they were fed, were fed at. regular hours, and were worked regularly and moderately, no advantage being taken of them, and nothing being done beyond what a horse might be fairly expected to do. very little more would be required to keep them in good condition. He would give them an example of that. Only the night before he inspected professionally something like 650 horses. Those horses were nearly all at work every day. He believed that of the whole 650 not 6 rested one day in , fortnight; and during the last winter which was so trying to horseflesh generally, they were, he believed, not more than twenty cases of illness among all those horses. If asked to what he attributed that satisfactory state of things, he would reply that he attributed it to regularity of feeding, and thorough regularity of management. He hoped that that hint might prove useful to many owners of horses by showing how horses might be kept in good health, although they performed a large amount of work.

Major Dashwood (Kirklington Oxford) said, in moving a vote of thanks to Professor Pritchard for his very excellent paper, that it should be borne in mind that that gentleman had a very large experience in connection with the management of horses in London. A question having been asked in reference to the Cart-horse Stud Book, he wished to say that it would be in the hands of all the members of the Association on the following day. In reference to the mouth of the horse, he would observe that he understood him to mean that the formation of a good mouth depended very much upon the judgment and skill of the man who rode or drove.

Mr E. Stanford, in seconding themotion, said he should have been glad to have heard the Professor’s opinion with regard to what was called “ bog spav in.” The motion having been cirried unanimously, Professor Pritchard, in returning thanks, after again apologising for the brevity of his paper, and expressed bis gratification that there had been such a gond discussion, said, in reply to Mr Stand ford, that bog spavin was simply an enlargement of the capsule of the principal joint in the hock, and was due to the secretion of a considerable amount of fluid there, and that it was of very little consequence, adding that he had seen hundreds, and he might even say thousands, of cases, and that he could not call to mind more than one or two in which that form of spavin caused a serious defect in the animal.

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The Horse. HEREDITARY DISEASES IN HORSES. Ashburton Guardian, Volume 1, Issue 105, 27 May 1880, Supplement

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