Monday, February 06, 2012

War Horse Hoofcare: Puncture Wounds Then and Now

Kindness to animals

While collecting photos of farriers during World War I, I passed over this photo several times without realizing how interesting it was. It took a magnifying glass to appreciate this one.

The sign reads, "'Kindness to animals, 500 horses lamed weekly by nails dropped on roads and horse lines by cookers carrying firewood with nails left in. Please remove nails."

As if the war horses didn't have enough to worry about with staying alive in combat and battling environmental conditions like mud and heat and lice and mange, and diseases like glanders, they had to walk across scorched earth littered with shrapnel, and sometimes even the "friendly fire" of nails dropped from wagons hauling salvaged timber to burn in the cookers.

Cooks of the Newfoundland Regiment at the cookers

What's a cooker, you might ask? A cooker was a horse-drawn kitchen--a sort of wood-fired stove on wheels. Here you see some Canadian troops from Newfoundland who were happy to belly up to a cooker as if it was a modern-day urban food truck.

Both these photos were provided by the Royal Library of Scotland.

Puncture wounds from shrapnel and nails are still a problem for horses and donkeys in war zones. They are also a problem for horses after natural disasters like tornadoes, earthquakes, tidal waves and hurricanes.

What's a simple way to protect hooves from puncture wounds when disaster--or war--strikes today?

Click the graphic to order your poster!

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