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A Compendium of Practical and Experimental Farriery, by William Taplin

Book #17: A compendium of practical and experimental farriery : originally suggested by reason and confirmed by practice, equally adapted to the convenience of the gentleman, the farmer, and the groom, and the smith, interspersed with such remarks, and elucidated with such cases, as evidently tend to insure the prevention, as well as to ascertain the cure of disease, by William Taplin (1796).

William Taplin, 1740(?) – 1807, was an English surgeon who first published A Compendium of Practical and Experimental Farriery in 1796. This was not his first work, having published The Gentleman’s Stable Directory/Modern System of Farriery in 1788. He followed A Compendium of Practical and Experimental Farriery  with The Sporting Dictionary and The Sportsman’s Cabinet in 1803.

A Compendium of Practical and Experimental Farriery covers a wide range of equine health issues. Taplin outlines several diseases affecting horses, including cholic, worms, strangury (urinary obstruction), coughs, and those he deemed “incurables” such as glanders and broken wind (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease).

The shoeing of horses and various ways to manage the health of their legs occupies a substantial amount of Taplin’s work as well as various accidents and injuries that might occur with them and instructions for treatment. They include, for example, lameness, bruises and swellings, and quittor (an infection of the lower legs).

Finally, Taplin outlines a variety of medications that could be employed to treat the various disorders contained in his work. Additionally, he explores the ways in which those medications could be adulterated and how to identify them. Contained throughout the book are various case studies, presumably from Taplin’s own practice.

While little is known about many writers of farriery and early veterinary medical books in this period, William Taplin is one individual about whom we know some about his life and his position in the marketplace of farriery works in the 18th century. George Fussell, the prolific English agricultural historian who wrote extensively on the history of English veterinary medicine, provided some information on Taplin and his contribution to veterinary writing. For Taplin, Fussell notes that he was roundly criticized by fellow writers such as John Lawrence and Francis Clater (whose works are also featured in the Cherry Collection) of the period for being unoriginal in his writing and essentially plagiarizing earlier farriery works. Trained as a surgeon in human medicine, Fussell notes that his medical practice may not have been successful and he turned his attention and his writing to his interest in equine sport and racing. In the 1790s, he began an equine practice and by his own account was quite successful, leading to his writing on equine health as well as producing his own equine medications.

For further information, see: G.E. Fussell, “Oddities of Eighteenth Century Farriery: Francis Clater, William Griffiths, and William Taplin,” Veterinary Record 9, no. 63 (1951): 162-164.

Discover a full-text version of Taplin’s work here.