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Veterinary Pathology, by William Ryding

Book #27: Veterinary pathology : or, A treatise on the cause and progress of the diseases of the horse, together with the most approved methods of prevention and cure ; to which are added short observations on bleeding, firing, roweling, fomentations and poultices, and an appendix or veterinary dispensation, by William Ryding (1801).

Ryding begins his text with a dedication to Edward Colman, professor at the Royal Veterinary College (then the London Veterinary College) and founder of the Veterinary Service of the British Army. In his introduction, he argues that his text was a critical contribution and filled a gap in veterinary medical publications. In his opinion, there were many texts about equine anatomy and disorders affecting horse’s feet on the market, but comparatively few focused on specific diseases. Moreover, he noted that rather than improving on past literature with new observations and treatments, many writers of texts on equine health then on the market were overly critical of one another and plagiarized each other.

In his text, focused on equine health, Ryding outlines a variety of diseases, their cause, and provides advice on a course of treatment through medication, diet, etc. He begins with brief descriptions of cautery, blistering, poultices, and teething in horses, among others.

Ryding’s text then moves in to more specific discussions about various types of wounds, ulcers, fistulae, bleeding, sprains, fevers, inflammation, as well as broken wind (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). The text then explores specific diseases affecting the liver, kidneys, and digestive tract. The text ends by outlining a variety of medications, their preparation, and appropriate use.

The following piece was written by University of Guelph experiential learning student Devon Sherwood about Veterinary pathology:

“William Ryding, […], offers plenty of criticism of farriery in his Veterinary Pathology, yet does not often consider improvements for the practices with which he takes issue. He does, however, insist on the importance of symptoms and cases, which are necessary for the understanding of his audience consisting of both veterinarians and farriers.[1]

Although the author disapproves of certain practices, he fully supports the bleeding and roweling of animals for most causes.[2] Like many of his contemporaries, he also suggests blistering and poultices for a variety of ailments.[3] Unfortunately, not all diseases are discussed – glanders, for example, is omitted from the text, due to Ryding’s incomplete comprehension of the illness.[4]

The text itself was published in 1801, a date which coincides with the increasing popularity of the study of materials via microscope.[5] At the same time, oils were being used for their microbial properties, and to protect wounds from contamination. Although the modes of activity of medications and substances were not always understood, they were used for a number of purposes, and different theories of use were considered. Pus, for example, was understood to be a reaction to harmful, invasive materials, but also as a natural wound protectant in small quantities.”[6]

[1] William Ryding, Veterinary Pathology: or, A Treatise on the Cause and Progress of Diseases of the Horse, Together with the Most Approved Methods of Prevention and Cure; to Which are Added Short Observations on Bleeding, Firing, Rowelling, Fomentations and Poultices, and an Appendix or Veterinary Dispensation (York: I. Wilson and R. Spence, 1801), vii.

[2] Ryding, Veterinary Pathology, ix, 20.

[3] Ryding, Veterinary Pathology, 21.

[4] Ryding, Veterinary Pathology, x.

[5] Ryding, Veterinary Pathology.

[6] Ryding, Veterinary Pathology, 40.

Explore a full-text version of Ryding’s text here.