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Farriery Improv’d; by Henry Bracken

Book #80: Farriery improv’d; or, A compleat treatise upon the art of farriery, wherein is fully explain’d the nature, structure, and mechanism of that noble and useful creature, a horse, the diseases and accidents he is liable to, and methods of cure … together with … observations and remarks concerning the choice and management of horses, likewise an account of drugs and mix’d medicines used in farriery …, by Henry Bracken (1745).

Baptized in 1697, Henry Bracken apprenticed as a physician as a young man, first in London, England, and then later in Paris, France. He would go on to attempt to establish a practice of his own in London as a doctor, surgeon and male midwife (this had been part of his studies in France). In addition to his medical writing, he also wrote about animals. Farriery Improv’d was arguably his best-known work, first published in 1738. He held a variety of political positions in Lancaster throughout his life. Bracken died in 1764 after several years of struggle in both his personal and professional life, particularlythe death of several of his children and his support of Jacobitism. (see reference at the bottom to Oxford Dictionary of National Biography)

Farriery Improv’d is a substantial work of over 400 pages. Bracken begins the text by paying homage to his patron, Sir Nathaniel Curzon (presumably the 4th Baronet of Kedleston in Derbyshire, England, a British politician), thanking him for his support of his work. The work consists of numerous chapters covering a wide range of equine health issues. Included are discussions of a variety of diseases such as strangles (a respiratory disease), glanders (a bacterial zoonotic disease), digestive and urinary issues, and several chapters on diseases affecting the eyes.

Other equine health matters explored in Farriery Improv’d include preventative medicine, bleeding and purging, the treatment of a variety of bites and wounds, dental care, as well as strains and other injuries affecting the muscles and feet.

For more in-depth biographical information on Henry Bracken, please visit his entry in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.

See: Max Satchell. “Bracken, Henry”. in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 23 September 2004.

See also: D. Harley, “Ethics and dispute behaviour in the career of Henry Bracken of Lancaster: surgeon, physician and manmidwife”, The codification of medical morality, ed. R. Baker and others (1993), 47–71.

Explore a 1745 edition of this work here.