Skip to main content

Full text of "[Selections]"

See other formats


breeds of 

Light Horses 


No. 952 


T^HIS BULLETIN gives concise information re- 
garding breeds of light horses and will be par- 
ticularly useful to farmers in sections where light 
horses are preeminently fitted for farm work, such 
as mountainous and hilly sections and where there 
are markets for horses for saddle and driving 

The breeds discussed are the Arabian, Thorough- 
bred, Standardbred, American Saddle Horse, Mor- 
gan, Hackney, French Coach, German Coach, and 
Cleveland Bay. Of these, the Standardbred, Ameri- 
can Saddle Horse, and Morgan breeds were de- 
veloped in this country. The origin, development, 
general appearance, and adaptability of the light 
breeds are discussed. 

There is no best breed of light horses. Some 
breeds are superior to others in certain respects, and 
one breed may be better adapted to certain local 
conditions than another. The general require- 
ments for a section and the popularity of a certain 
breed in a locality should receive the utmost con- 
sideration in choosing a breed. 

Issued June 1918 
Washington. D. C. Revised September 1941 


By S. R. Speelman, associate animal husbandman, Animal Husbandry Division, 
Bureau of Animal Industry i 



Characteristics of light horses .__ 1 

Arabian 1 

Thoroughbred 3 

Standardbred - --- 4 

American Saddle Horse 5 


Morgan.. 7 

Hackney 8 

French Coach 10 

German Coach.. 11 

Cleveland Bay 12 


LIGHT horses are a class intermediate in size between ponies and 
draft horses. Usually they have more range, also better action 
and greater speed than ponies or draft horses. A majority of light 
horses are from 15 to 16 hands ^ high and weigh from 900 to 1,250 
pounds. Breeds of light horses, then, refer to the groups within this 
class which have been bred pure for a particular purpose, individual 
ancestry having been recorded by a registry association. 

Light horses are well adapted to mountainous sections and rolling 
land, where they are useful for farm horse-power and for riding and 
driving purposes. It is in such sections that light horses should be 
bred and developed to supply the home demand. 

The material presented herewith is intended to convey to the 
reader concise general information concerning the characteristics of 
the various breeds of light horses commonly found in this country. 
It is interesting to note the extent to which Arabian and Thorough- 
bred bloods were used in founding many of the light breeds. This 
relationship is briefly touched upon, but no attempt is made to give 
detailed information concerning early breed history. By communi- 
cating with the secretaries of the various breed associations, whose 
names are given, information regarding rules of registration, issuance 
of studbooks, and lists of breeders may be obtained. 


The oldest breed of horses generally recognized and the fountain- 
head of all our other light breeds was developed in the desert country 
of Arabia, from which it derives its name. Needing an animal that 
would carry him swiftly and safely over long stretches of sandy soil 
and at the same time withstand lack of feed and water to a remarkable 
degree, the Arab developed a type of horse that has long been noted 
for its activity, endurance, docility, and handsome appearance. 

1 A revision of former editions by H. H. Reese, who resigned in 1926. 

2 A hand is a measurement of height equal to i inches. 


The Arabian horse (fig.l), while primarily developed as a saddle 
horse and ridden by the Arabs at a canter, is easily broken to make 
a safe although not fast driver. He possesses the general character- 
istics desired in a saddle horse, viz, good carriage of head and neck; 
deep, well-sloped shoulders; a short back with proportionately long 
underline; wide and deep quarters; short, strong loin; tail attached 
high; compactness of middle; and superior quality of underpinning 
without any tendency to appear leggy. 

A typical Arabian horse has a wedge-shaped head; small nose; 
dish face; deep, wide jaws; eyes set low, wide apart, and near the 
middle of the head; a relatively large brain capacity; one less lum- 
bar vertebra than most other horses, giving a short, weight-carrying 
back; one or two fewer vertebrae in the tail, which is set on a high 

Figure 1. — Arabian stallion. 

croup and gaily carried; ribs sprung wide and deep; large knee, 
hock, tendon, and hoof; dense bone; small stomach capacity, with 
small feed requirement and the ability to assimilate rough feed; and 
a marked prepotency in the stud. 

Generally the Arabian horse in action shows only the walk, trot, 
and canter. The usual height is 14 to 15 hands and the weight from 
800 to 1,000 pounds. Bay, gray, chestnut, and brown are the pre- 
dominating colors, with an occasional white or black. White marks 
on the head and legs are common, but purebred Arabians are never 
piebald or spotted, notwithstanding an erroneous impression createtl 
by circus horses that are commonly called Arabians. 

Crossed on farm mares, Arabian stallions have produced excellent 
saddle horses, but they frequently lack size when measured by present- 
day requirements. However, admirei-s of the Arabian are ver\'- en- 


thusiastic about its suitability for cavalry use, pointing out that 
endurance and weight-carrying ability, as demonstrated in endurance 
tests, even temperament, and especially ability to withstand hard- 
ships, such as scanty feed on long marches, make it especially useful 
for this purpose. 

The Arabian Horse Club of America, Alfred R. Watt, secretary, 
111 W. Monroe Street, Chicago, 111., publishes a studbook, the latest 
supplement (1939) to which shows a total of 1,182 registrations of 
animals living and dead. 


The name "Thoroughbred" is applied properly only to the breed 
of running race horses produced originally in England. Three 
Arabian stallions are credited with having laid the foundation for this 

Figure 2. — Thoroughbred stallion. 

breed — The Byerly Turk, The Darley Arabian, and The Godolphin 
Barb. They produced the three famous racing families, Herod, 
Eclipse, and Matchem, respectively. The Thoroughbred has many 
features of the Arabian, most notable of which is the general refine- 
ment, or "breediness" of appearance. The cross on English mares, 
however, and selection for running speed have resulted in the Thorough- 
bred's being faster at the run, larger, and commonly more angular 
and upstanding than the Arabian. As a running race horse the 
Thoroughbred is without a peer. The canter is its best utility gait. 
Many specimens have a splendid walk, and the trot, while not showing 
extreme speed or knee action, is nevertheless often desirable for saddle 
use. Rather wide variations in height and weight are found among 
horses of this breed. Many representative stallions, however, stand 
between 15.1 and 16.2 hands high and weigh between 1,000 and 1,150 


pounds, but mares are generally smaller in both respects. Thorough- 
breds are bay, brown, chestnut, black, or, less frequently, gray. 
Irregular and conspicuous white marks are not uncommon. A 
Thoroughbred stallion is shown in figure 2. 

Thoroughbreds are bred pure almost entirely for racing purposes, 
a certificate of registration with the Jockey Club being required for 
horses entered in races on the larger tracks in the United States. To 
instill quality and a more active temperament, animals of this breed 
are sometimes used to cross with other breeds. The use of Thorough- 
bred sires on mares of other than pure Thoroughbred blood is quite 
popular in certain sections, the resultant animals being commonly 
termed half-breds. Such horses find ready sale as hunters, saddle 
horses, and polo ponies. Many excellent officers' horses and cavalry 
horses are produced in this way. When of proper temperament and 
of sufficient size, they have also been very satisfactory for general 
farm work on rolling land, gaining for themselves a reputation for 
stamina and endurance. 

The Jockey Club, of which Harold O. Vosburgh, 250 Park Avenue, 
New York, N. Y., is registrar, registers Thoroughbreds in the United 
States, more than 165,000 animals having been recorded. Most of 
our imported Thoroughbreds come from France and England, but 
horses of this breed are bred in other countries as well and are widely 
distributed. Sixteen volumes of the American Stud Book, published 
by the Jockey Club, have been issued. 


The Standardbred (fig. 3) is an American breed developed pri- 
marily for extreme speed at the trot and pace. American Trotting 
Horse is another name for this breed. Messenger, an imported 
Thoroughbred stallion, and imported Bellfounder, registered in the 
English Hackney Stud Book, were largely responsible for the founda- 
tion of this breed, as Rysdyk's Hambletonian, a stallion to which a 
vast majority of the horses of this breed trace, carried the blood of 
both. The ancestry of the pacer is not different from that of the trot- 
ter, but today some families produce a much larger proportion of 
pacers than others, while some individuals show speed at both gaits. 
Both trotters and pacers are registered in the same studbook. 

Horses of this breed generally do not show so much quahty as the 
Thoroughbred but usually have more substance, being heavier in 
proportion to their height. The ears, head, and bone particularly are 
larger, and the hind legs are not quite so straight as in the Thorough- 
bred. In weight the Standardbred ranges from 900 to 1,300 pounds, 
and in height from 15 to 16 hands. The best specimens are often about 
15.2 hands high and weigh about 1,100 pounds when in good driving 

These horses are bred pure largely with the intention of producing 
extreme trotting or pacing speed for racing purposes. Individuals not 
having the required racing speed have frequently been able to fill 
utility places on account of their size, endurance, and good disposition. 
This is equally true of those carrying half or more Standardbred blood. 
They have been used in large numbers as general-purpose farm horses ; 
they predominate as roadsters, or driving horses, and as light delivery- 
wagon horses. Occasionally excellent heavy-harness horses have been 


trotting bred. Durable cavalry horses frequently carry this blood. 
Wlien of sufficient size, horses of this blood are the best light-artillery 
horses coming from a known source to be found in this country in 
considerable numbers. On account of their versatility, horses of 
trotting-bred ancestry have been very popular here, and foreign 
countries have paid some very attractive prices for Standardbred 
breeding stock, especially stallions. 

The United States Trotting Association, of which Will Gahagan, 
Goshen, N. Y., is registrar, promotes the interest of the Standardbred 
and records purebred animals. Twenty-nine volumes of the studbook 
of this association have been issued, and more than 200,000 animals 
have been recorded. 

Figure 3. — Standardbred stallion. 


The early residents of Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, and West 
Virginia found horses with easy gaits to be the most desirable to ride 
over plantations and semimountainous grazing farms and on long 
journeys. Preferring such gaits, they laid the foundation for and 
promoted the pioneer development of the American Saddle Horse. 
Sections of Missouri also soon took up the breeding of easy-gaited 
saddle horses, and today this State ranks next to the mother State, 
Kentucky, in the production of high-class horses of this breed. 

Thoroughbred, Morgan, and Canadian bloods form the basis for 
this breed. The American Saddle Horse Breeders' Association 



recognized the following horses as foundation stock of the breed 
previous to April 10, 1908: Denmark, by Imported Hedgeford; 
John Dillard; Brinker's Drennon; Sam Booker; Tom Hal; Cole- 
man's Eureka; Van Meter's Waxy; Cabell's Lexington; Copperbot- 
tom; Stump-the-Dealer; Texas; Prince Albert; Peter's Halcom; 
Vamon's Roebuck; and Davy Crockett. At present, Denmark alone 
is recognized as foundation stock. 

The chief distinguishing characteristics of the American Saddle 
Horse (fig. 4) are the gaits known as the rack, or single-foot, a rather 
fast, cultivated gait intermediate in movement between the trot and 
the pace; the fox trot; the running walk; and the slow pace. The 
last three are commonly referred to as the slow gaits, any one of w^hich 

Figure 4. — American Saddle Horse gelding. 

is accepted as the slow gait of a five-gaited saddle horse. The other 
gaits demanded in a horse of this type are the canter, the trot, and the 
walk. The demand for harness, combination, and w^alk-trot-canter 
saddle horses has caused many dealers and breeders to pay particular 
attention to the development of a balanced, fairly high, and swift 

Horses of this breed are usually bay, brown, chestnut, or black, 
and most of them stand from 15 to 16 hands high and weigh from 
1,000 to 1,200 pounds. 

The breeders of Kentucky and Missouri have always manifested 
much interest in showing their horses and colts at county and State fairs, 
and this undoubtedly is responsible in large measure for the constant 
selection in this breed for animals with a great deal of quality, unusual 
style, and fine disposition. Fine harness show horses frequently pos- 
sess saddle blood. Those without the easy gaits but with quality and 
desirable saddle conformation are sold as three-gaited saddle horses 


for park and show purposes. Heavy harness horses have occasionally 
come from this breed. Five-gaited saddle horses seldom come from 
any other blood. American Saddle Horses are being bred pure in 
practically every State in the Union, and many are sold to Cuba and 
to other countries. 

The American Saddle Horse Breeders' Association, the organization 
recording purebred animals of this breed, reports that 17,905 stallions 
and 29,714 mares have been registered. Twenty volumes of the 
studbook have been issued. Charles J. Cronan, Jr., 204-6 Urban 
Building, Louisville, Ky., is secretary of the association. 


The Morgan has sometimes been considered a family of the Stand- 
ardbred, but as these horses have been bred more for their utility 
qualities than for speed and as their characteristics are well estab- 
lished and perpetuated with marked regularity, it is proper to consider 
them a distinct breed. The early development of the Morgan took 
place in New England. Thus this country has the credit of founding 
three light breeds. The foundation of the Morgan breed is attributed 
to a single stallion, Justin Morgan, ahorseof remarkable prepotency. 
Very little is definitely known of his ancestry. One investigator col- 
lected evidence showing that Justin Morgan was sired by the Thor- 
oughbred stallion True Briton, also called Beautiful Bay, a horse that 
traced in direct male line to The Byerly Turk and had many other 
traces of Arabian blood. Another investigator contends that he was 
sired by a Dutch horse which, in turn, came from Arabian stock. 
Wliich of these hypotheses is correct is not important today. The 
presence of only five lumbar vertebrae in many Morgans points to 
Arabian foundation. 

Morgans are generally chestnut, brown, bay, or black, white marks 
being uncommon. Fifteen and a half hands is the average height of 
good individuals, and the average weight is about 1,050 pounds, but, 
as in all breeds, considerable variation is found. This breed has always 
been noted for smooth lines, good style, easy-keeping qualities, endur- 
ance, and docility, the last, however, not being obtained at a sacrifice 
of ambition and courage. Small ears, good eyes, with great width 
between them, crested necks, well-sprung ribs, with the last one close 
to the point of the hip, deep barrels, fairly level croups, full quarters, 
and enduring legs and feet are the qualities that have made Morgan 
horses popular for a century. They have good natural knee action, 
with considerable speed at the trot, some families having contributed 
materially to the upbuilding of the Standardbred. Others showing 
more saddle characteristics have exerted a marked influence on the 
American Saddle Horse. A Morgan stallion is shown in figure 5. 

These horses were used almost exclusively as general-purpose farm 
horses in New England in the early days, as well as in other sections. 
Today Morgans are distributed in small numbers over the important 
farming sections of this country and have made for themselves a 
reputation for hardiness, soundness, and usefulness. 

Though the craze for trotting speed and the subsequent lack of 
demand for driving horses nearly resulted in the Morgan's being 
temporarily forgotten, his friends have never lost faith in him and 


have never missed an opportunity to exploit his good quahties. 
Recently Morgan breeding has become quite popular in some sections, 
the Morgan Horse Club being an outcome of this movement. Through 
imited effort of its members, this club is endeavoring to preserve the 
good qualities of the Morgan. This work is analogous to that of 
the Department of Agriculture in regenerating the breed at the 
United States Morgan Horse Farm, Middlebury, Vt. 

Figure 5. — Morgan stallion. 

The Morgan Horse Club, Inc., publishes the American Morgan 
Hoi'se Register. Five volumes have been published, recording ap- 
proximately 8,200 stallions and 5,400 mares. F. B. Hills, 90 Broad 
Street, New York, N. Y., is the secretary. 


The first driving horses used in England of which much is known 
were the Norfolk trotters. These horses resulted largely from breed- 
ing Norfolk mares to Thoroughbred stallions, and are the foundation 
for the Hackney breed. 

Judged by its best individuals, this breed presents a striking illustra- 
tion of the high degree to which the horse-breeding art may be de- 
veloped, for many of them are wonderful specimens of horse flesh, 
combining extremely high all-round trotting action and fair speed 
with abundant substance and quality. For showing in heavy harness 
the Hackney is without a close rival; in fact, most of the show horses 
of this class belong to this breed. Purebred and grade Hackneys 



also furnished many of the utihty carriage horses when this type was 
in demand. Crossed with trotting-bred mares, Hackney staUions 
have sired many high-class carriage horses in this country. Most 
of the demand at present for heavy harness horses is for show pur- 
poses, and to meet this demand Hacloieys are usually bred pure. A 
Hackney stallion is shown in figure 6. 

The versatility of the Hackney is illustrated by the fact that many 
successful hunters and jumpers are half-bred Hackneys. The 

Figure 6.— Hackney stallion. 

world's record-holding high jumper, Great Heart, with a record of 
8 feet ^Yu inch, was sired by a registered Hackney, as was the pre- 
vious holder of that record, Confidence. 

Chestnut, bay, and brown are the most common colors found in the 
Hackney breed, although there are roans and blacks. Regular white 
marks are rather common. In the show ring and also for distinctive 
carriage use, Hackneys are usually docked and have their manes 
pulled. In size the Hackney varies more than any other light breed. 
The small Hackney pony, 14.2 hands and under, and the 16-hand 
Hackney horse are registered in the same studbook. Hackneys 
are heavy in proportion to their height when compared with other 
light breeds, their deep chests, well-sprung ribs, low flanks, and 
heavy croups and quarters producing weight. The large Hack- 
ney sometimes is lacking in general quality, but this is not true of the 
best specimens and certainly would not be a just criticism of those 
standing about 14.2 to 15 hands. 



While, as previously stated, the Hackney possesses desirable heavy- 
harness action to a greater degree than any other breed, much of this 
action is developed by skilled training, bitting, and shoeing. 

The association in this country devoted to the interests of the 
Hackney breed is the American Hackney Horse Society, of which 
Gurney C. Gue, Merrick, N. Y., is secretary. This society publishes 
the American Hackney Stud Book, in which more than 2,500 stallions 
and 4,300 mares have been recorded. 

Figure 7.- -French Coach stallion. 


The name French Coach is used in the United States for a breed of 
horses produced in France largely by Government aid and with the 
special object of obtaining animals well suited for military purposes. 
In their native country such horses are not known as French Coach 
but as Demi-Sang (half-bred). In the United States the term 
"half-bred" is applied to horses of half or more Thoroughbred blood, 
and as the French use the term in a similar sense it furnishes an idea of 
the ancestry of this breed, which is largely the result of crossing 
Thoroughbred stallions on mares of desirable conformation, their 
breeding being of minor consideration. 

This system of breeding often resulted in an animal of beautiful 
conformation, with size, substance, style, and quality. In their 


selection of breeding stocic for producing this class of horse, the French 
have laid a great deal of emphasis on a strong, enduring trot. 

While the French Coach horse (fig. 7) is not so large on an average 
as the German Coach, many French Coach horses stand 15.3 to 16 
hands and weigh 1,100 to 1,300 pounds; there is, however, considerable 
deviation from these measurements. These horses are generally 
bay or brown, but some are chestnut or black. White marks are not 
common and are rarely extensive. 

During former years French Coach horses appealed strongly to the 
American importer, with the result that stallions especially were 
brought to this country in considerable numbers. As a harness horse, 
it has been very commendable, and some of the get of French Coach 
stallions have been successful in prominent shows. On account of 
their mixed ancestry, however, French Coach stallions do not always 
produce the kind of colts that would be expected when crossed on our 
mares. Lately, very few French Coach horses have been imported into 
the United States, and the pure breeding of this stock in this country 
is very limited. 

The French Coach Horse Society of America has kept records of 
purebred horses of this breed in the United States. Two volumes of 
the French Coach Stud Book have been issued, and 2,384 stallions 
and 840 mares have been recorded. Recently the society appears 
to have been inactive and its officers are not known to the Department. 


Germany, with the object of producing a large, strong, active horse 
that would be especially well adapted to carrying the German soldier 
and his heavy equipment and to hauling artillery, established the breed 
of horses known in this country as the German Coach (fig. 8). In 
Germany there are several distinct breeds of such horses, each of which 
is registered in a separate studbook. 

The German Coach horse is said to have an infusion of Thorough- 
bred blood, but present-day types do not show much of it. According 
to American standards, the German Coach horse lacks quality and is 
considered the most phlegmatic of the light breeds. It is also the 
heaviest of the light breeds, such horses often weighing over 1,400 
pounds and standing over 16 hands high. Very few specimens of this 
breed show a tendency to good trappy action, and practically no at- 
tempt has been made to produce a fast trot. In color this breed is 
quite desirable, most of the horses being a rich bay or brown, though 
some are black. White marks are seldom conspicuous and often are 
absent altogether. As a general-purpose farm horse and as a heavy 
harness horse the German Coach at one time gained some popularity 
in this country, but in general the stallions did not nick well with our 
mares, and their use has been practically discontinued. 

The German, Hanoverian, and Oldenburg Coach Horse Association 
of America, for a number of years, promoted the interests of this breed 
in the United States and issued registration papers for German Coach 
horses of approved breeding. Recently the association appears to 
have become inactive. G. R. Crouch, La Fayette, Ind., is the last 
secretary of whom the Department has record. 



Figure 8. — German Coach stallion. 


The Cleveland Bay breed takes its name from the Cleveland district 
of Yorkshire, England, where it originated, and from its body color, 
which is invariably solid bay. The legs, mane, and tail are black. 
White markings, when present, are confined to a small star on the 
forehead. The breed is derived from the old Yorkshire Pack, or 
Chapman Horse, which was used in England during the sixteenth and 
seventeenth centuries, before roads were good enough to permit the 
utilization of wagons to transport heavy packs of merchandise. 
During the second half of the eighteenth century a small proportion 
of Thoroughbred blood was introduced into this breed. The Cleve- 
land Bay is the oldest existing breed of general-purpose horse suitable 
for riding, driving, and general farm work, and records of its pedigree 
in many lines run back to as early as 1700. 

In type the Cleveland Bay generally resembles the Thoroughbred, 
but it has greater substance and power. The ideal Cleveland Bay is 
characterized by a well-set head; long neck; good withers and slope of 
shoulders; a deep chest and a large heart girth; short legs; large knees, 
hocks, and tendons; flat cannon bone; big but not clumsy feet; good 
coupling and spring of ribs; and long, level hindquarters. In the past 
the Cleveland Bay has been criticized because of a plain head and long 
back — derived from its pack-horse ancestry — but these faults have 
now been virtually eliminated by selective breeding. Cleveland Bays 
stand from 16 to 17 hands and weigh from 1,350 to 1,550 pomids; 





: ^m 






LI ■ 


,- ' •"*•" 


1 w< • . 

■ JIm- 

:f%'{ ; 




Figure 9. — Cleveland Bay stallion. 

they are noted for their fast walk and general activity, for their ability 
to stand hot weather, and for their quiet dispositions. Owners say 
that these horses can be maintained on relatively small quantities of 
feed. Figure 9 shows a Cleveland Bay stallion. 

Cleveland Bays were imported into this country as early as 1820. 
The Cleveland Bay Society of America was organized in 1885 and 
has published three volumes of a studbook, the last in 1907, in which 
are registered 1,280 stallions and 550 mares. During this period, 
from 1885 to 1907, Cleveland Bays were used chiefly as general-pur- 
pose horses, for driving, and for farm work. With the advent of the 
automobile it was thought that the demand for the general-purpose 
horse would cease, and consequently registrations were not kept up. 

In recent years some Cleveland Bays have been imported into the 
United States for two pm'poses — first to cross with Thoroughbreds, 
particularly mares, to get heavyweight hunters, a method which has 
been used with marked success in both England and this country for 
over 150 years, and, second, to cross them with heavy draft mares to 
produce an active type of farm horse with a fast walk, resistance to 
heat, quiet disposition, and small feed requirements. The secretary 
of the Cleveland Bay Association of America is A. Mackay Smith, 
White Post, Va. 

t:> U. S. GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE : 1946—0-703969 

For sale by the Superintendent of Documents, Washington, D. C. ------- Price 5 cents 




fyHE PRODUCTION of high-class draft horses for 
breeding purposes has, in recent years, assumed special 
importance in the United States. Formerly it was custo- 
mary for breeders to import annually many stallions and 
mares of the draft breeds from such countries as England, 
Scotland, Belgium, and France. Because of the greatly 
depleted foreign supply, breeders in the United States are 
now dependent on draft horses raised in this coimtry for their 
seed stock. 

The purpose of this publication is to present in a concise 
manner the most important features of the breeds of draft 
horses in this country. No attempt has been made to give 
a history of the breeds or information about the early tj'pes, 
as such information would require considerable space and 
would be of little value to the general reader. For informa- 
tion regarding the rules of registry and the issuance of stud- 
books and for lists of breeders the reader is referred to the 
various associations. 

Though encouraging the development of improved types 
of horses and other livestock, the Bureau has no jiu"isdiction 
over the registration of animals or the operation of the 
respective associations. 

Washinglon, 1). C 

Issued November 1914 
Revised April 1941 


Bj' Sanford K. Speelman, aasociale aniinal hiishaii.dman. Animal Husbandry 
Division, Bureau of Animal Industry ' 


I'age I Page 

Points of the draft liorse _ 1 French Draft 9 

Score card for the draft horse 3 I Clydesdale 10 

Belgian. 4 I Shire 12 

Percheron . . 6 Suffolk . 14 


THE draft type of horse (fig. 1) is characterized by massiveness, 
and the particular field for this type is the hauling of heavy loads 
at a comparatively slow gait, usually at the walk. Therefore power 
and not speed is desired, and in order to possess this power the horse 
should be generally blocky or cotnpact, low-set or short-legged, and 
sufficiently heavy to enable him to throw the necessary weight into 
the collar to move the heavy load and at the same time maintain a 
secure footing. 

The market requirements classify draft horses according to weight, 
quality, and utility into heavy draft, light draft, and loggers. The 
best heavy horses, classified as heavy drafters, stand from 16 to 17^ 
hands high (a "hand" being 4 inches) and weigh from 1,750 to 2,200 
pounds. The light draft horses are similar in type to the heavy draft 
horses but are smaller. They range in height from 15% to 16K hands 
and in weight from 1,600 to 1,750 pounds. The loggers are big, 
rugged horses suitable for lumbering work. Although as large and 
heavy as the heavy draft horses, they are plainer and sometimes 
slightly blemished or unsound. The range in height and weight for 
loggers is practically the same as for heavy drafters. 

Chunks, essentially little drafters, are classified chiefly from the 
standpoint of conformation but are usually more blocky and compact. 
The eastern chunk is of true draft-horse conformation, but with loss 
height and weight, ranging in height from 15 to 16 hands and in 
weight from 1,300 to 1,550 pounds. Farm chunks, commonly known 
as general-purpose horses, are not quite so heavy nor so good in quality 
as the eastern chunks. Farm chmiks range in height from 15 to 15% 
hands and in weight from 1,200 to 1,400 pounds. 

In the typical drafter the head is comparatively lean, wide between 
the eyes, and in size proportionate to the body. The eye is bright 
and fairly prominent. The neck is strong and muscular, of fair 
length, and somewhat arched ; in the stallion it is well arched or crested, 
in the gelding or mare less so. The shoulders are shorter and more 

> This is a revision of former editions by G. A. Bell, who resigned in 1920. 


upright than those of the Hght horse, and a happy medium between 
the straight and sloping shoulder gives the best combmation of power 
and movement. Too straight a shoulder causes excessive concussion, 
and the result is bone and tendon trouble in the feet and legs. On 
the other hand, too sloping a shoulder reiiJers it difficult to fit the 
heavy collars properly. In the draft horse, however, the former is 
much more common than the latter. 

Figure 1. — The points of the horse: 1, Mouth; 2, nostril; 3, nose; 4, face; 5, eye; 
6, forehead; 7, poll; 8, ear; 9, lower jaw; 10, throatlatch; 11, neck; 12, crest; 13, 
shoulder bed; 14, shoulder; 15, withers; 16, point of shoulder; 17, breast; 18, 
arm; 19, elbow; 20, forearm; 21, knees; 22, cannons; 23, fetlocks; 24, pasterns; 
25, feather; 26, feet; 27, heart girth; 28, foreflank; 29, underline; 30, hind flank; 
31, barrel; 32, back; 33, loin; 34, coupling; 35, hip; 36, croup; 37, tail; 38, but- 
tock; 39, quarters; 40, thigh; 41, stifle, 42, gaskiu; 43, hock. 

The chest is deep and comparatively broad, thus providing plenty 
of room for the lungs. The heart girth, or the body's circimiference 
behind the forelegs, is large, and horses slack in that region are usually 
weak in constitution. The body is broad, deep, and comparatively 
short; the back is short and broad and the ribs well sprung, giving a 
round appearance to the body. The horse with a shallow body is 
usually a poor feeder. The loin is broad and well muscled; the croup 
is fairly level, long, broad, and well muscled. A short, decidedly 
sloping croup is not so well muscled as the straighter and longer one. 
The hind quarters and thighs are well muscled; it is from the hind 
quarters that the horse obtains most of its propelling power, the 
front legs acting largely as weight carriers. 




OBNERAL APPEARANCE— 18 points standard 

Height : Estimated hands ; actual hands ««»■« 

Weight : Estimated ; actual ; according to age and type . 4 

Form: Broad, deep, massive, well proportioned, low set 4 

Quality and substance: Abundance of clean, flat bone; broad, well- 
defined joints and tendons; refined head and ears; fine skin and hair; 

feather, if present, silky 6 

Temperament: Energetic, good disposition 4 

HEAD AND NECK— 7 points 

Head: Proportionate, medium size, clean cut; wide lower jaw 1 

Forehead: Broad, fuU 1 

Eyes: Large, prominent, bright, clear 1 

Muzzle: Broad, fine; large nostrils; trim, even lips 1 

Ears: Of medium size, well-set, carried alert 1 

Neck: Medium long, muscular; good crest; clean throatlatch , 2 

FOREHAND — 26 points 

Shoulders: Sloping, muscular, blending into smooth withers 3 

Arms: Short, muscular, elbow in 1 

Forearms: Wide, muscular 2 

Knees : Straight, wide, deep, well supported 2 

Cannons: Short, wide, lean, flat; large, well-defined tendons 2 

Fetlocks: Wide, straight, tendons weU back, weU supported 1 

Pasterns: Of medium length, oblique (about 45°), clean, strong 3 

Feet: Large, round, set straight; dense, smooth horn; slope of wall 
parallel to pastern; wide heels; concave sole; strong bars; prominent, 

elastic frog 8 

Leg position: In front, a perpendicular line from point of shoulder 
should divide the leg and foot into lateral halves; from the side, a 
similar line from the bony prominence on shoulder blade should pass 
through the center of elbow, knee, and pastern joints, and meet the 

ground back of foot 4 

BODY — 9 points 

Chest: Deep, wide, large girth 2 

Ribs : Long, well sprung, close, strongly coupled 2 

Back: Short, broad, heavily muscled 2 

Loin: Short, wide, heavily muscled 2 

Flanks: Deep, full; long, low underhne 1 

HIND QUARTERS — 30 points 

Hips: Wide, smooth, level, weU muscled 2 

Croup: Long, wide, muscular, not markedly drooping 2 

Tail: Set high, well carried 1 

Quarters and thighs: Deep, thick, muscular, strongly joined to gaskins_ 3 

Stifles: Muscular, well set 1 

Qaskins (lower thighs) : Wide, heavily muscled 2 

Hocks: Wide, deep, prominent point, clean cut, straight, weU supported. 6 

Cannons : Similar to front except a trifle longer and wider 2 

Fetlocks: Wide, straight, tendons well back, well supported 1 

Pasterns : Similar to front but less sloping (about 50^ ) 2 

Feet: Similar to front but not quite so large or so round 4 

Leg position: From rear, a perpendicular line from point of buttock 
should divide the leg and foot into lateral halves; from the side, this 
same hne should touch the point of hock and run parallel to the 
cannon. A similar line from the hip joint should meet the ground 

midway between the heel and toe 4 

ACTION— 10 points 

Walk: Straight, long stride, springy and balanced 6 

Trot: Straight, long stride; free and regular 4 

Total 100 


Good underpinning, consisting of good logs and feet, is essential. 
Good, big, clean, heavy bone is necessary in order to afford attach- 
ments for the heavy muscles and to stand the wear and tear of hard 
work. The cannon bones are the best indication of the bone through- 
out. In this region the bone should feel firm, and the tendons should 
stand out distinctly from the bone, giving the cannon bones when 
viewed from the side a wide, flat appearance. The knee should be 
broad and deep when viewed from the front. The hock should be 
broad from front to back, and of strong structure. The pasterns 
should be fairly long and sloping. Though some draft horses possess 
too long and too sloping pasterns, a much larger number have too 
short and too straight pasterns. The foot should be fairly large and 
round and the horn dense. The dark-colored hoofs are most popular, 
as it is thought they denote greater durability. In the draft horse 
as much quality as is consistent with the required substance is desir- 
able, but quality should not be obtained at the sacrifice of too much 

In temperament the draft horse is generally lymphatic, but he 
should not be too sluggish. Although the nature of his work re- 
quires him to be steady and easily managed, it is nevertheless essential 
that he perform it willingly and with some snap and vigor. 

The draft-horse gait is the walk. The stride should be rapid and 
of good length, and the feet should be carried straight forward. This 
kind of action makes possible the covering of the most ground in the 
least possible time. While the walk is the normal gait, the ability to 
trot well is desirable. Often faults not noticeable at the walk are 
brought out at the trot. 


The Belgian draft horse (figs. 2 and 3), as the name indicates, 
originated and has been developed in Belgium, and is the only breed 
of horses which is bred to any extent in that country, the fight horses 
used in Belgium being purchased largely in other countries. In 1886 
the Belgian Draft Horse Society was organized for the purpose of 
encouraging the breeding of native draft horses and of maintaining a 
studbook for the breed. In June of each year the annual show of 
this society is held at Brussels. At the thirtieth annual show, held in 
June 1919, the entries totaled more than 800. In 1913 and 1914 the 
total number of entries for each year was in excess of 1,000. This 
event is probably the largest show of a single breed of horses ever 
held in the world. The breeding of Belgian draft horses is also 
promoted by the Government, which annuaUy awards prizes and 
subsidies to the best animals in the various Provinces. Stallions 
which stand for public service must be approved by a commission 
appointed by the Government. 

Importations of these horses into the United States were made more 
or less frequently during the last half of the nineteenth century, but 
it was not until the beginning of the twentieth century that they 
were imported in large numbers. The early trade was principally a 
stallion trade, but later a considerable number of mares were imported. 

The Belgian divides honors with the Shire as being the heaviest of 
the breeds. Mature stallions in fair condition, weighing a ton or 
more, are comparatively common. In height mature stallions will 


probably average slightly over 16)^ hands, and mature mares about 
16 hands. In general conformation they are the most compact of all 
breeds, the bodies being short, wide, and deep. The head is of me- 
dium size, the neck is short and heavily crested or arched, the chest 
is broad and deep, the back is short and well muscled over the loin, 
the croup is somewhat drooping or steep, and the quarters are full 
and heavily muscled. The legs are short and free from the long hair 
or feather characteristic of the Clydesdale and the Shire. In action 
the Belgian is good, but is less active than the Clydesdale or the 
Percheron. In temperament he is docile and easily handled. He is a 

Figure 2. — Belgian stallion. 

good feeder, is rated as an easy keeper, and stands shipment well. 
The colors common to the Belgian are bay, chestnut, and roan, but 
browns, grays, and blacks are occasionally seen. 

Some of the criticisms of the Belgian horse are that a large number 
have necks that are too short and heavy, too drooping a croup, a 
roughness about the hocks, bone that is not sufficiently flat, too short 
and straight a pastern, hoof deficient in circumference, and a lack of 
general quality; but great improvement has been noted in respect 
to these deficiencies in recent years. The extreme width may cause 
Belgians to roU somewhat at the walk, but as a class they are good 
movers at the trot. 

In this country the Belgian sire has been valuable in improving 
the draft conformation of our horse stock, particularly when mated 
with many of our rangy, loosely coupled mares. The breed has made 
wonderful progress in this country, considering that it has attracted 
much attention only since the beginning of the twentieth century. 



In fact no breed of horses has shown a greater increase in popularity 
and a greater improvement during this period. 

The distribution of the Belgian draft horse in the United States 
is widespread, but it is found in the greatest numbers in those sections 
where the heaviest type of draft horse is most prevalent, such as the 
Central West, particularly in Indiana, Iowa, Illinois, Ohio, Michigan, 
and Minnesota. 

The American Association of Importers and Breeders of Belgian 
Draft Horses was organized in 1887, but the first volume of its stud- 
book was not published until 1905. Twenty-three volumes have 

Figure 3. — Belgian mare. 

been issued, and up to December 31 , 1939, 25,378 stallions and 25,476 
mares had been recorded. The secretary of the association, which is 
now known as the Belgian Draft Horse Corporation of America, is 
H. J. Brant, 161 Ferry Street, Wabash, Ind. 


The Percheron (figs. 4 and 5) originated in France and has been 
developed in a small district in the northwestern part of that country 
known as Perche. This district is about one-fifteenth the size of the 
State of Iowa, and only Percherons born witliin its boundaries are 
eUgible to registry in the Percheron Studbook of France. Percheron 
foals, to be accepted for registry in the French book, must be regis- 
tered during the year of then' birth. Prior to such registration they 
must be examined by an official appointed by the Percheron Horse 
Society of France, who takes a careful description of their color and 
markings and brands them on the neck with the letters"S. P." enlaced. 


The Percheron Horse Society of France was organized in 1883, 
and in addition to looking after the registration of Percherons it 
holds an annual summer show in the Percheron district. The society 
also offers prizes at other shows. The improvement of the Percheron 
and other breeds in France is due to both public and private efforts. 
The Government has for a number of years maintained studs in which 
selected animals have been kept for breeding purposes. In addition, 
subsidies are granted to private individuals in order to keep high-class 
horses in the stud. StalHons intended to stand for public service in 
France must be examined by officials appointed by the Government 

Figure 4. — Percheron stallion. 

and certified as being free from periodic ophthalmia, or moon blindness, 
and roaring (thick wind). 

The introduction of Percheron horses into the United States dates 
back many years. One of the early stallions brought to this country 
which exerted considerable influence on our draft stock was Louis 
Napoleon imported in 1851 by an Ohio firm. Other Percherons were 
imported about this time and during succeeding years. During the 
early seventies they were imported in large numbers, and these 
importations have continued to the present time. 

The head of the Percheron is clean-cut, of medium size, and more 
refinement is noticed about the head and neck of the Percheron than 
in any other draft breed. The neck is rather short and well crested. 
The chest is deep and broad, the back is short, the loins smooth and 
well muscled. The croup is wide, and on the average is somewhat 
more sloping than is considered desirable, but great improvement 
in this respect has been made in recent years. The legs, feet, and 
bone are on the average good. The legs are free from the long hair 

756484 O - 47 - 2 , 



or feather characteristic of the Clydesdale and the Shire. In action 
the Percheron is good at both the trot and the walk, and the trot is 
characterized by a snap and boldness not ordinarily displayed by 
most of the other draft breeds. This breed may be regarded as one 
of the best movers and is surpassed in style of action only by the 

The Percheron is not so large a horse as either the Belgian or the 
Shire, but as a class will probably outweigh the Clydesdale slightly. 
Good, mature stallions in fair condition will usually weigh from 1,800 

Figure 5. — Percheron mare. 

to 2,000 pounds, and there are many which weigh considerably over 
2,000 pounds. In height good mature stallions wiU measure 16 to 
17 hands, generally averaging about 16K hands, but of course there 
are some under and a few over these heights, although the rangy, tall 
Percheron is not in demand in this country. The popular Percheron 
is rather short-legged, compact, and blocky in form, less so than the 
Belgian, but more so than the Clydesdale or even the Shire. 

The colors common to the Percheron are black and gray, although 
bays, browns, chestnuts, and roans are occasionally seen. It may be 
safely stated, however, that 90 percent of our Percherons are either 
black or gray. 

Occasionally difficulty may be experienced in deciding whether an 
animal is a Percheron or a Belgian, but the two types are very dis- 
tinct. The Belgian is heavier bodied, more compact, shorter legged, 
and his head is more nearly square in outline; the neck is shorter, 
more heavily muscled, and more heavily crested. Moreover, the 
colors common to the Belgian — namely, bay, chestnut, and roan — are 


uncommon to the Percheron, whereas the gray and black colors 
common to the latter are uncommon in the Belgian. 

Some Percherons are criticized as having croups too sloping or 
steep, with the tail set too low. Others are criticized as being too 
fine — not sufficiently drafty — having a lack of depth and fullness of 
body. Other faults which are sometimes seen are cannon bones 
which are rather round (lacking in breadth and flatness), lack of bone 
for the size of the body, and pasterns which are too short and straight. 

The distribution of the Percheron in this country is very wide- 
spread, and for years it has been the favorite draft horse. In the 
United States today Percherons outnumber all other draft breeds 
combined, and there does not appear to be any diminution in their 
popularity. This probably is due in part to the good start given the 
breed by the pioneer importers and breeders, but this popularity 
must be attributed to some extent, at least, to their general adapta- 
bility to the needs and preferences of their owners. For crossing on 
ordinary mares the Percheron stallion has been very popular, so that 
grade Percherons are very common and are great favorites in our 
horse markets. 

In 1876 the National Association of Importers and Breeders of 
Percheron-Norman Horses was organized. The Percheron Society 
of America, now known as the Percheron Horse Association of America, 
was an outgrowth of that association. The twenty-third volume of 
its studbook was issued in July 1936. No later volumes have been 
published. Up to December 31, 1939, 236,069 animals had been 
accepted for registration. The secretary is Ellis McFarland, 9 Dexter 
Park Avenue, Union Stock Yards, Chicago, 111. 


The name "French Draft" is applied broadly to all breeds of draft 
horses originating in France and does not refer to one specific breed, 
as might be inferred from its usage in this country. This classification 
includes the Percheron and a number of other draft breeds in France, 
such as the Boulonnais, Nivernais, Breton, Ardennais, and Picardy. 
Of aU the French breeds the Percheron is by far the best known and 
has obtained a much greater foothold in this country than any other 
breed of draft horses. Of the other French breeds, the Boulonnais 
and the Nivernais are the only ones of any particular interest in the 
United States. 

The Boulonnais is found in northern France in the vicinity of 
Boulogne and in adjoining districts in Belgium. This breed is prob- 
ably a trifle larger than the Percheron and somewhat coarser but in 
general type resembles the Percheron rather closely. The color 
common to the Boulonnais is gray, but occasionally other colors are 
seen. This breed has been imported in larger numbers than the 

The home of the Nivernais is in central France, in the Department 
of Ni^ve. In type it is very similar to the Percheron. The color is 

The National French Draft Horse Association of America, which 
for many years fostered the interests of the French Draft breeds in 
this country, was organized in 1885 and succeeded the National Nor- 



man Horse Association, which had its beginning in 1876. Until its 
dissolution the National French Draft Horse Association published 
a studbook in which were registered horses of the French Draft 
breeds. Fourteen volumes of its studbook were published, and 
approximately 35,000 animals were registered. 


The Clydesdale (figs. 6 and 7) originated and has been developed 
in Scotland, and is practically the only draft horse found or favored 
in that country. The breed is of mixed origin, and its early history 
is more or less obscure. 

Figure 6. — Clydesdale stallion. 

In the formation of the breed and during the early stages of the 
breed's development, however, it is probable that the blood of both 
Flemish and English horses was used quite largely. For a number 
of years the Clydesdale has been bred pure. In 1878 the Clydesdale 
Horse Society of Great Britain and Ireland was organized. 

The first Clydesdales brought to North America were probably im- 
ported into Canada by the Scotch who had settled there. In the early 
seventies Clydesdales were imported into this country both through 
Canada and by direct importation. By 1880 they were being im- 
ported in large numbers, and these importations continued for several 

The Clydesdale is not so heavy as either the Belgian or the Shne, 
and probably, as a class, will not weigh quite so mucli as the Perche- 
ron. In general conformation, the Clydesdale is more rangy and 
lacks the width and compactness of the other breeds mentioned. 



The Scotch breeders have paid particular attention to legs, pasterns, 
and feet, but have placed less emphasis on weight than has been the 
case in other draft breeds. Average mature Clydesdale stallions 
in this country will probably weigh from 1,700 to 1,900 pounds when 
in fair condition, with an average height of nearly 16% hands. Mature 
mares will probably weigh 1,600 to 1,800 pounds and average about 
16 hands in height. 

No other draft breed equals the Clydesdale in style and action. 
The prompt walk with a good, long, snappy stride, and a sharp trot 
with hocks well flexed and canied close together are characteristic 

Figure 7. — Clydesdale mare. 

of this breed. Sound, clean, flat bone; weU-set, fairly long, sloping 
pasterns; large, round feet; and a moderate amount of fine feather 
or long hair at the rear of the legs below the knees and hocks are 
important and characteristic features. The colors most common are 
bay and brown with white markings, but blacks, grays, chestnuts, 
and roans are occasionally seen. The white markings are character- 
istic, and it is the exception to see a bay or brown Clydesdale with- 
out a white face and considerable white on the feet and legs. 

Some of the criticisms of this breed have been the lack of size of 
body, lack of width and depth, too much feather, and too much white 
with no regularity of distribution. Most draft-horse users in this 
country, particularly f aimers, dislike a horse with a white face and 
legs. Nor has the feather been very popular owing to the extra care 
necessary to keep the legs clean. This, of course, is not so objection- 
able in those sections where most of the roads are unproved. 


It is not always easy to differentiate between Clydesdales and 
Shires, but taking the breeds as a whole, they are very distinct. The 
Clydesdale is not so heavy bodied as the Shire, has more refinement, 
and the feather is somewhat more silky or finer and less abmidant 
than in the Shire. 

In this country Clydesdale geldings have been very popular in the 
cities for use by those who want draft horses with a good, long, 
snappy, ground-covering stride and at the same time possessing style 
and action. Our native mares of draft character bred to Clydesdale 
stallions have produced many excellent animals. 

The distribution of the Clydesdale in this country is widespread 
throughout the northern half; the breed is seldom found, however, 
in the South. It has found the most favor in Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin, 
Minnesota, North Dakota, and Indiana. 

The American Clydesdale Association was organized in 1879 and 
operated under that name imtil 1934, when it became known as the 
Clydesdale Breeders Association of the United States. Up to Decem- 
ber 31, 1939, these associations had issued 21 volumes of the American 
Clydesdale Studbook. It is understood that three additional volumes 
are about ready for publication, and to December 31, 1939, 24,784 
animals had been registered. The business of the society is handled 
by its secretary, Margaret Coridan, 840 Exchange Avenue, Union 
Stock Yards, Chicago, 111. 


The Shire (figs. 8 and 9) originated and was developed in England 
and today is bred in all sections of that country. The real origin 
of this breed is more or less speculative. It is known that this type 
of draft horse existed in England in early times. It is probable that 
the early Shire was of very mixed breeding, but at the present time 
the Shire is bred very pure. In 1878 the Shire horse breeders of 
England were organized under the name of the English Cart Horse 
Society. In 1884 the name was changed to the Shire Horse Society. 
In addition to the registration of horses, the society holds an annual 
show and sale in London, and also awards medals and prizes at the 
loading agricultural shows in England and at some of the fairs and 
expositions in the United States. 

Shires Were imported into this country a good ma,ny years ago. 
George E. Brown, in volume 1 of the American Shire Horse Stud- 
book, states that in 1853 a Mr. Strickland imported a stallion direct 
from England to Aurora, 111., where the horse was known as John 
Bull. Volume 1 of this studbook shows the registration of a small 
number of stallions imported in 1880, and these importations increased 
until in 1887 more than 400 Shires were imported. 

The Shire is a massive horse, with a wide, deep, and long body, 
and is equaled in weight only by the Belgian. Shire staUions m fair 
condition weighing 2,000 pounds or over are comparatively common. 
They are less compact, or more rangy, than the Belgian, and in height 
will average taller than any other draft breed. Stallions standing 
17 hands or more in height are very common; in fact, the average 
height of mature Shire stallions in this country is close to 17 hands. 
Mature Shire mares will average about 16% hands in height and will. 



in fair condition, average about 1,800 pounds in weight. Heavy bone 
and feather are characteristic of this breed. In temperament the 
Shire is probably more lymphatic than any of our other breeds, and 
therefore less active than is desired by many. The common colors 
are bay and brown, with white markings, although blacks, grays, 
chestnuts, and roans are occasionallv seen. 

This breed has been criticized for lack of quality and refinement in 
general, a sluggish temperament, the abundance of feather, and the 
large amount of white, but breeders have shown marked progress in 

Figure 8. — Shire stallion. 

overcoming these objections during the last few years. From the 
standpoint of many users in the United States the abundant feather 
is objectionable, owing to the difficulty of keeping the legs clean. 

Although some Shires and Clydesdales are so similar as to render 
it difficult at times to distinguish the one from the other, the two 
types are really very distinct. The Shire is more massive, heavier 
bodied, throughout, and the feather or long hair on the legs is more 
abundant and coarser than that of the Clydesdale. 

The distribution of the Shire throughout the northern half of this 
country is widespread, but like the Clydesdale, it is seldom found in 
the Southern States. This breed has met with the most favor in the 
Central West, particularly in Illinois, Iowa, and South Dakota; it 
is also popular on the Pacific coast. A great many of our best market 
geldings possess some Shire blood; and whore height as well as bone 



and substance is desired, it can be derived from Shire blood with 
greater certainty than from other breeds. 

The American Shire Horse Association was organized in 1885 and 
has issued 14 volumes of its studbook. Up to December 31, 1939, 
21,712 animals had been registered by the association. The secretary 
is E. F. Fox, 319 East Fourth Street, Des Moines, Iowa. 


The native home of the Suffolk breed is Suffolk County, in eastern 
England, and the production of the breed in that country is confined 

FiGURK 9. - Shire luare. 

almost entirely to Suffolk and adjoining counties. Some authorities 
believe the Suffolk originated about A. D. 1700 and that possibly it 
is a descendant of Normandy horse stock. However, the breed's 
foundation is usually traced back to a prolific chestnut-colored stallion, 
known as the Crisp Horse, who was foaled in Sussex in 1768 and is 
credited with being the progenitor of all stock registered in the EngUsh 
and American studbooks for Suffolk horees. Throughout its rela- 
tively long history the Suffolk has been bred pure, and as a conse- 
quence the type has generally been kept quite uniform. Moreover, 
the Suffolk has not been bred for the heavy draft work of the city but 
largely for the farm, and for this purpose it ranks high among the 
farmers of eastern England, who consider it capable of doing a large 
amount of labor on a small quantity of feed and for longer periods than 
other drafters. The breed is used more exclusively for farm work 
than are any other of the draft breeds. 



In size the Suffolk (figs. 10 and 11) is smaller than other drafters; 
and though occasionally a mature stallion in fair condition may weigh 
2,000 pounds, such a weight is not characteristic of the breed. Con- 
sidering their size, the Suffolks have deep and wide bodies, and the 
ribs have a pronounced spring, giving the body a round and fuE 
appearance. The croup is straight, the sloping croup being seldom 
seen in this breed. The quarters are round and well muscled. The 
legs are short and are particularly free from long hair or feather, and 
the bone has the appearance of being small as compared with the size 
of the body. The color is always chestnut, varying from light to 

FlUUKE 10 — Sllilolk .-laiih/ii. 

dark. The Suffolk is active, has a good disposition, and is rated as 
an easy keeper. 

The distinguishing characteristics of this breed may be said to be 
the invariable chestnut color, with little if any white ; their smooth 
rotund form; and the clean-boned leg, devoid of the feather charac- 
teristic of the other two British draft breeds. 

In former years Suffolks were criticized by some Americans for 
their lack of scale and for being too light in bone for the size of the 
body. Of these faults the lack of body size is generally not so impor- 
tant a factor now owing to present-day tendencies to produce some- 
what lighter and handier horses for farmwork purposes. Also it is the 
opinion of some Suffolk owners that, on accoimt of general cleanness 
of leg, the smaUness of bone is probably more apparent than real. 

Suffolks were first imported into this country in the early eighties 
and have been imported since then in smaU numbers, possibly because 
of lack of size as compared with other draft breeds. Another reason 
that no more have been imported has probably been that they have 


not been bred in very large numbers in England, being confined to a 
limited area, and the home demand of the farmers has been sufficient 
to take care of most of the animals produced ; furthermore, buyers in 
other countries have purchased a good many at prices above those 
Americans would pay. 

The Suffolks in this country arc found in small numbers in a num- 
ber of States, but have never gained any strong foothold, and conse- 

FiGURE 11. — Suffolk mare. 

quently their adaptability to our conditions can scarcely be judged. 
The stallions have been crossed to some extent on mares in this coun- 
try, but the demand for extreme size has prevented such crossing 
from being carried on sufficiently to judge of its value, except in a 
small way. 

The American Suffolk Horse Association has issued five volumes of 
the Suffolk Horse Studbook, and to December 31, 1939, 2,120 animals 
had been registered. The secretary is J. G. Truman, Bushnell, 111. 

■JV U. S. government printing office 0—1947 

For sale by thh Superintendent of Documents, U. S. Government Printing OfiHce 
Washington 25, D. C. - Price 10 cents 


Farmers' Bulletin No. 779 

U . S . D EPA R T M E N T O F A G R I C U L T U R E 

'T^EMPERAMENT, conformation, action, soundness, 
-*- training, age, and adaptability to the work to be 
performed are the most important factors to be consid- 
ered when choosing a serviceable horse. 

A systematic, thorough examination of the animal 
will minimize the chances of overlooking important 
points. Ample time should be taken to make such an 

Common faults of conformation, from a utility 
standpoint, are: Narrow chest; straight, short shoul- 
ders; shallow barrels; long, weak couplings and loins; 
poorly developed inuscles in the hind quarters; and, 
weak, improperly formed legs and feet. 

Common unsoundnesses that impair a horse's use- 
fulness for most tasks are: Bone spavin; extreme fis- 
tula; extreme atrophy of the muscles; roaring; heaves; 
ringbone; curb; splints, when close to the knee; and 

Serious faults of temperament are : Balking, kicking, 
rearing, backing, halter pulling, and shying. 

In the final judgment of a horse's suitability, weigh 
the good qualities against the defects. 

Washington, D. C. Issued February 1919; slightly revised December 1949. 

For sale by the Supprintendent of Documents, U. S. Government Printing Office 
Wusliington 25, D. C. - Price 10 cents 


By H. H. Reese,' aniinul hushandinan, Animal Husbandry Division, Bureau of 

AiiiiiKil Industry 

A thorough examination essential . 

Stable vices 

General appearance of a horse 

The foreparts 



The barrel, or body l.S 

The hind parts 15 

The horse in action 20 

General recommendations 22 


An understanding of the desirable and undesirable features, con- 
ditions, and points tliat may be found in liorses, together with a 
knowledge of their specific and relative values, will enable the pur- 
chaser to select a better animal, with a considerable saving of time, 
inconvenience, and expense. Also, a thorough examination of the 
horse for various forms of blemish, vice, faulty conformation, and un- 
soundness that may be present is absolutely essential, if serviceableness 
is to be secured. Moreover, a definite method of procedure should be 
adhered to in making the examination. It should correspond to the 
order in which the various steps most conveniently present themselves. 
Figure 1 names the different regions of the horse to which attention 
should be given ; figure 2 shows the points at which the more common 
unsoundnesses occur. 


Evidences of stable vices can best be seen by observing a horse in 
his stall. 

Halter pulling. — Horses wearing extra heavy halters (particularly 
heavy rope halters) or a roj^e around the neck should be suspected of 
halter pulling. Likewise, a rope tied from one stall partition to the 
other at about the height of the quarters, or the use of what is known 
as the body rope, may indicate this defect. 

Cribbing and wind sucking. — Horses that suck air through the 
mouth, accompanying this with a grunting sound, are termecl wind 
suckers. Cribbers or crib biters press their teeth on some object, such 
as the manger, while sucking in air. They may be detected in two 
ways: First, by a characteristic wearing of the teeth, which can result 
from cribbing; and second, by the presence of a snugly buckled halter 
strap, which is sometimes used to restrain cribbers. Horses with these 
habits fill their stomachs and intestines with air, which gives a bloated 
appearance to the abdomen. Such animals are hard to keep in good 
condition and are somewhat subject to colic. 

Kicking. — Heavy chains suspended from the ceiling and hanging 
close to a horse's hind legs, the use of chain hobbles, scars on the hind 
legs, and shoe prints on the stable partitions are evidences of stall 

^ Mr. Reese resigned in December, 1926. Revised by S. R. Speelman, animal husband- 
man, Animal Husbandry Division, Bureau of Animal Industry. 

Stall loalking and stall trotting. — Energy-consuming vices which 
indicate a restless, nervous temperament are stall walking and stall 
trotting. An animal addicted to the former may be identified by 
well-beaten paths around the borders of his box stall, while the latter 
vice (indulged in by horses tied in their stalls) manifests itself in a 
trotting motion of the feet. Stall trotting is not so common as stall 

'Weaving. — Weavers throw their heads and fore quarters from one 
side to the other and are objectionable because they use up energy 

Figure 1. — Points of the horse : 1, mouth ; 2, nostril ; 3, nose ; 4, face ; 5, eye ; 
6, forehead ; 7, poll ; 8, ear ; 9, lower jaw ; 10, throatlatch ; 11, neck ; 12. crest ; 
13, shoulder bed ; 14, shoulder ; 15, withers ; 16, point of shoulder ; 17, breast ; 
18, arm ; 19, elbow ; 20, forearm ; 21, knees : 22, cannons ; 23, fetlocks : 24, 
pasterns; 25, feather; 26, feet; 27, heart girth; 28, fore flank; 29, underline; 
.30, hind flank ; 31, barrel ; 32, back ; 33, loin ; 34, coupling ; 35, hip ; 36, croup ; 
37, tail ; 38, buttock ; 39, quarters ; 40, thigh ; 41, stifle ; 42, gaskin ; 43, hock. 

that may be needed for other purposes. They frequently stand wide 
on their forefeet. 

Minor stable vices. — Other less important vices which ma}' be ascer- 
tained by a stall examination are : Rubbing the mane or tail, chewing 
the manger, and biting and throwing back the ears when approached. 


Have the horse led out of the stable, so that he may be inspected 
in a good light and on a level and solid footing. Normal health is 







Figure 2. — Location of points of common unsoundness in liorses. 

indicated by an alert, 
graceful carriage, rich, 
lustrous coat, and good 
condition of flesh. If 
backed out of a single stall, 
look closely for extreme 
flexion of the hind legs, 
known as stringhalt, which 
is discussed later. Take a 
general survey of the 
horse from the front, rear, 
and both sides, so as to de- 
termine whether he is or is 
not built on the lines suit- 
able to do the work for 
which he is wanted. Usu- 
ally, other things being 
equal, the heavier the 
horse the more it may be 
worth for draft purposes. 
In fact, size is at a pre- 

FiGURE 3. — Appearance of the mouth between 
2% and 3 years of age. The middle pair of 
temporary incisors above and below are 
replaced by permanent teeth at this age. 
A permanent tooth is making its appearance 
at X. 

miiim for many purposes. Undersized horses seldom bring top 

The height of a horse is determined by measuring the vertical dis- 
tance from the highest point of the withers to the ground. The 
distance is expressed in hands, a hand being 4 inches. Most horses 
are from 15 to 16 hands high. 

Temperament. — The temperament of a horse furnishes evidence 
concerning his disposition and his nerve force. For instance, the 
nervous, excitable animal (lacking a strong nervous system) is hard 
to control under many circumstances, while the sluggish, phleg- 
matic horse, though docile, lacks ambition and endurance. Generall5% 
desirable temperament is indicated by large, mild, bright eyes ; good 
width between the eyes and behind the ears; forehead neither too 
concave nor too convex ; willing obedience to commands ; and an alert, 
active, graceful carriage when in motion. Temperament and dispo- 
sition are influenced to some degree by training and handling, so that 
it is well to keep these factors in mind when testing the horse at 

Figure 4. — The teeth at past 3 years. Figure 5. — A typical 4-year-old mouth. 

The gums are inflamed around the 
second pair of temporary te«th, show- 
ing that they will soon be replaced 
by permanent teeth, when the animal 
will be considered 4 years old. 

The two middle pairs of Incisors above 
and below are permanent. The out- 
side pairs are temporary teeth, the 
latter being detected by their white 
appearance and small size. 

Quality. — Quality is denoted by fine texture in all the parts that 
go to make up a horse. It is not possible to examine all these parts, 
but those exposed to view will give a good idea of the others, since 
in animals there usually is analogy between the various parts. Prom- 
inent external indications of quality in a horse are a covering of fine, 
snugly fitting skin and soft hair. Quality also finds expression in 
thoroughly defined lines between the various regions, in clean-cut 
features, and in a general refinement of tissue and breediness through- 

It is a well-known fact that often the smaller bones taken from the 
well-bred horse have more actual strength than the larger but coarser 
ones taken from others. This no doubt applies in a large degree to all 
the other tissues, and for this reason it is to be expected that the animal 
with quality will have the durability and endurance necessary to per- 


form hard work for an extended period of time better than an in- 
dividual of inferior merit. 

Color. — Horses with any of the dark, solid colors, such as bay, 
brown, chestnut, and black, are serviceable and sell readily. Often 
dark grays are in demand for draft, show, and huntinp; purposes, but 
for other uses they are geiiei'ally slow sellers, because they turn white 
with age. Pink-skinned whites, duns, mouse colors, and spotted colors 
sell at a discount except for uses where unusual or gaudy colors are 
wanted. Grays have the reputation of standing the eifect of the hot 
sun unusually well, whereas dark browns and blacks often sunburn 
readily. White marks on the legs and face are sometimes desirable 
for show purposes, since they give a horse a flashy appearance. 

Age. — For immediate hard service a horse should not be much 
younger than 5 years. Often a horse's value begins to depreciate 
when he is 8 to 10 years old, but he may be useful with good care 
until he is over 20. The teeth indicate the age of a horse, especially 
from 3 to 8 years. (Figures 3 to 11.)^ 

Figure 6. — A 5-year-old or full mouth. 
All the incisor teeth are permanent, 
but the corner incisors have not yet 
come into wear. 

Figure 7. — At 6 years the cups in the 
center pair of incisors are almost ob- 
literated by the wearing down of the 
teeth. The remaining teeth show 
well-defined cups. 


Head. — The head should be well proportioned, refined, and clean- 
cut. It should not be either too concave or convex between the eyes, 
the former suggesting a timid disposition, the latter strong will power. 
Compare the sides of the face and note any dissimilarity which may 
be due to disease. The side view of the head should show a compara- 
tively straight line from the poll to the nose. Extremely heavy jaws 
are not desirable, especially in horses of the lighter classes. 

Mouth. — The mouth should be examined for unsound or abnormal 
teeth. In the condition known as parrot mouth the front upper teeth 
overlap those below, while in reverse parrot mouth the lower front 
teeth overlap those above. If either condition is present the horse is 
not able to bite off feed ; and while he may eat hay and grain by getting 
them into his mouth with his lips, he would starve on short pasture. 
A tongue held outside the mouth is unsightly. 

2 For more detailed information on determining tlie age of liorses consult Farmers' Bulle- 
tin 1721, Determining the Age of Farm Animals by Their Teeth. 

Muzzle. — The nostrils should be large, clear, and pliable, with the 
inside rose colored at rest and deep red during exercise. Nostrils con- 
stantly distended and hard should lead one to suspect heaves, a disease 
which is discussed later. Note whether the nose is deformed or 
crooked — conditions which mar the horse's looks. If the underlip is 
not held firmly against the upper it may be due to a lack of vigor. 
Frequent application of a device known as a twitch leaves scars around 
the upper lip. This would lead one to suspect that the horse has some 
bad habit, such as being difficult to shoe. 

Face. — Look for blemishes from operations such as on bad teeth or 
nasal tumors, conditions which may cause trouble after apparently 
being cured. 

Eyes. — Before beginning an examination of the eyes be sure that 
these important and often unnoticeably defective organs are turned 
toward a good light. Large, full, well-placed eyes, preferably of a 
chestnut hue with a sparkle and a mild expression, are beautiful in 
appearance and are the least subject to disease. Small, sunken eyes 
are often weak and may accompany a sluggish temperament. Lacera- 
tions on the eyelids are more or less unsightly and give evidence of a 
previous injury which may have left the eye weak, especially if the 

Figure 8. — A 7-year-old mouth. The 
cups show plainly only in the outside 
pair of incisors in the lower jaw. 

Figure 9. — An 8-year-old mouth. The 
cups are worn out of all the lower 

eye sheds tears frequently. To test the sight make a quick motion 
of the hand and see if the lids are closed to protect the eyeballs. In 
doing this it is necessary to be careful not to cause a current of air to 
strike the eye, since a blind horse may close the eyelid from such a 
cause alone. If still doubtful about the sight have the animal led 
over obstacles over which a blind horse would stumble, in which case 
a horse with good sight will carefully raise and plant his feet over 
them. A more detailed test consists in taking the horse from dark- 
ness to light, and vice versa, and seeing that the pupils dilate and con- 
tract alike. Totally blind horses generally hold their heads sideways. 
Hollows over the eyes denote old age or a lack of vitalit3\ Un- 
scrupulous dealers have sometimes inflated these hollows with air, but 
this can readily be detected by pressing with the fingers, which forces 
the air into the adjacent cavities, leaving the natural hollowness. 

Ears. — Horses are not often troubled with deafness ; still it is advis- 
able to test the hearing by noting responses to the voice. The ears 

should be placed fairly close to<iet]ier at the hi^jhest point of the poll 
and should usually be carried forward. To add to tlie appearance 
they should be of delicate texture, taper to graceful points, and be 
covered with fine hair. Lopped ears are very unsightly. Many tiicks 
are used to cover up such defects, such as tying together with fine 




Figure 10. — A 14-year-old mouth. After 
8 years the age is estimated by the 
angle at which the incisors come to- 
gether, by their length, and by the 
shape of the wearing surface. The 
older the horse the nearer this surface 
approaches a triangle. It is prac- 
tically impossible to estimate the age 
correctly after the cups have disap- 
peared from the teeth. 

Figure 11. — A 22-year-old mouth. The 
incisors meet at an acute angle and 
the wearing surfaces have a triangu- 
lar shape. 

thread the ear nets which the horse may be wearing; or the ears them- 
selves may be tied together, the hairs of the f oretop hiding the thread. 
Slight operations are also performed with the object of remedying this 
defect. Cropping or splitting the ears simply disfigures them. 

Figure 12. — Poll evil. 

848524° — 49- 

Horses that constantly keep the ears moving should be suspected of 
being blind or of bad temperament. 

Poll. — The poll should be examined for signs of poll evil (fig. 12), 
a disease caused by bruising the top of the head. Inflammation in 
this region, usually accompanied by discharge of pus, would lead one 
to suspect this disease, which is often slow to yield to treatment and 
which may break out again after it is thought to be cured. It often 
leaves ugly scars after healing. 

Neck. — A clean-cut throatlatch on a crested neck of good length 
gives a horse style and beauty of outline and consequently enhances 
his value. In mature stallions the development of a full crest is an 
indication of masculinity. Evidences of bleeding, indicating pre- 
vious bad health, should be looked for on the jugular vein, and it is 
also advisable to lay back the mane and look for scars. The neck 
should join the shoulders smoothly. 

Shoulders. — Short shoulders do not generally indicate sufficient 
room for a large heart and for lungs capable of handling a maximum 
quantity of air. Straight shoulders favor a low, short, stubby action 
of the front feet. A low carriage of the head, with a heavy, irre- 
sponsive mouth are often associated with a long back and a corre- 
spondingly short underline, whereas the opposite proportions, namely, 
a short back and a long underline, are desirable. The concussions 
or jars on the front legs resulting from their striking the ground are 
considerably relieved by sloping shoulders, while straight shoulders, 
by not having this effect, tend to promote early unsoundness of these 
limbs. Strong constitution, endurance, good front action, and style 
are associated with deep, well-sloped shoulders. For draft purposes 
the shoulders should have pronounced offsets, so that the face of the 
collar will have plenty of bearing surface. Figure 13 shows a shoul- 

FiGUEE 13. — Deep, well-sloped shoulders which make a good seat for the collar. 
Desirable couformation for the draft horse. 

Figure 14. — Straight shoulders. Undesirable coDfuniiatioii and usuall.\ 
with short, stubby pasterns. 


der of proper conformation to receive a collar. The position of the 
collar on such a shoulder is not materially changed, no matter how 
hard the pull. On shoulders such as those shown in figure 14 the 
heavier the pull the tighter the collar is squeezed back, with the result 
that the skin and muscles beneath the collar are apt to become sore. 
Sharp, thin, prominent withers add depth and wearing qualities to 
the shoulder. Withers that run well into the back in the saddle 
horse aid in holding the saddle in place. Compare figures 13 and 14. 
Examine the withers for fistula, a disease similar to poll evil, 
except that it is differently located. Fistula is thought to result 
from bruising the withers, the resulting inflammation and pus being 
slow to yield to treatment, so that cases are often of very long stand- 
ing. The disease sometimes appears to be of very minor importance, 
but figure 15 shows the large amount of tissue that may become 
involved. Fistula should not be confused with collar sores, which 
are often found on the top of the neck just in front of the withers. 
Collar sores also often occur on the sides of the neck. When not of 
too long standing they heal readily, if on properly formed shoulders. 
Calloused thickened spots resulting from old collar sores are apt to 
get sore again unless the collar can be kept from pressing on them. 
In so-called sweeniecl shoulders the muscles have atrophied or 
shrunk, and horses with such defects are practically valueless for 
work, for the time being at least. Attempts are sometimes made to 
hide this trouble by applying irritants or by blowing air beneath the 

skin, giving the normal full appearance. Atrophied shoulder muscles 
may recover their size and development by the removal of lameness 
which often arises from injury or inflammation below the knee. 

Chest. — A wide chest provides abundant room for the heart and 
lungs ; consequently a horse with such conformation would be likely 
to have a strong constitution. Excessive width in the chest, however, 
with the forelegs set too near the outside, is liable to cause the horse 
to paddle with his front feet. On the other hand, a narrow chest is 
generally associated with a weak constitution and forelegs set too 
close together, predisposing the horse to strike these limbs together 
when moving. Scars on the chest are not generally any more objec- 
tionable than their disfiguring appearance. 

Forelegs. — The proper and the faulty direction of the forelegs when 
viewed from the front are shown in figure 16. A vertical line from 
the point of the shoulder should fall on the center of the knee, cannon, 
pastern, and foot. The right conformation is shown at A; in B the 
forefeet toe out ; in C the bowed legs are weak ; D shows the extreme 
of knees set close together with toes pointing outward, and horses with 
such conformation almost invariably interfere ; E illustrates a form 
of conformation predisposing to interfering; in F the knees are set 
close together, showing a tendency to knee hitting; while in G the 
subject will wing or throw out his feet as they are elevated, which 
retards action. 

The forelegs when viewed from the side should have the general 
direction of A in figure 17. A vertical line from the center of the 
elbow joint should fall on the knee and pastern and back of the foot, 
and a vertical line from the middle of the arm should fall on the center 
of the foot. A represents the right conformation ; B shows forelegs 
too far under the body; in C they are too far advanced; in D the sub- 
ject is knee-sprung ; and in E is illustrated what is commonly known 
as calf leg. Knee-sprung horses are apt to stumble; calf -legged 
horses often are sore in their forelegs after they have been used a 

The structural examination of the forelegs logically begins with 
the forearm, which should show strong muscular development on 
the outside just below its junction with the shoulder. For speed it 
should be much longer than the cannon. The kneecap should be broad. 
Scars on the inside of the knee may come from the horse's hittino: 
these members in moving. Figure 18 shows a cannon too light just 
below the knee, while figure 19 illustrates a conformation that will 
give better service. The cannon in which the tendons and bones 
show prominently beneath the skin will stand hard wear, because the 
tissues are of a dense, tough character. 

The fetlock joint should be large enough to denote strength without 
being coarse. Pasterns that are moderately long and that slope at an 
angle of about 45° with the ground aid in producing elastic, springy 
action and will absorb concussions or jars much better than short, 
upright pasterns. Pasterns too long and too near the horizontal are 
weak. The foot that is not too wide or too narrow and long, but 
which is fairly concave, with the frog and bars prominent, will have 
durability. Low or contracted heels are more liable to become un- 
sound than are fairly deep and open heels. Cracks and many nail 
holes indicate poor quality of the hoof. 


The followiiiir are unsoiiiuliiess niid blciiiislu's of the i'()i'elep;s : Slioe 
boils, whicli are cla.ssed as bleniislies, are caused by the liorse lyin^ 
down cow fashion, tlms pressing the elbow with the shoe. The elbows 
are sometimes irritated by the girth, which can easily be padded or 
properly placed, thus avoiding a continuance of the trouble. The 

Figure 15. — Fistula of long standing. There is considerable inflammation, with 
liair, skin, and underlying tissues destroyed. 

Figure 16. 

D £ 

-Front view of the forelegs. 

forearm is usually free from unsoundness, but it may be blemished by 
injuries such as wire cuts. Scars on the front of the knees would lead 
one to suspect a stumbler. 

Bony prominences known as splints (fig. 20), found on the inside 
of the cannon just below the knee, may cause lameness when first de- 
veloping or when close enough to the knee to interfere with its move- 
ment. Splints frequently disappear from young horses. 


The front of the cannon may be full, or the tendons at the back 
may be enlarged, as shown in figure 21 ; they are conditions brought 
about by training and racing, and are known, respectively, as bucked 
shins and bowed tendons. They incapacitate a horse for fast work. 
The scars often associated with these conditions are due to the firing 

Wind puffs, illustrated in figure 22, are due to fast or continuous 
road work, and while they do not decrease a horse's immediate use- 
fulness, they show that the animal has had considerable use. If the 
fetlock joint is unduly large it is more or less unsound (fig. 23). 
This enlargement may be permanent, from an old injury, or it may 
be due to hard or fast work foUow^ed by a lack of exercise, or to 
disease. The slight fullness that promptly disappears with exercise 
is about as objectionable as wind puffs, but may lead to scratches, 
leg sores, or a disease commonly known as milk leg. Interfering 
when associated with forelegs set close together or with toeing out 
considerably depreciates the value of a horse, especially for anything 
other than slow work, and it is to be suspected when scars are found 
on the inside of the fetlock joint. 

Kingbone (fig. 24) is an unsoundness characterized by bony enlarge- 
ments on the front and sides of the pastern, which cause lameness when 
developed to sufficient size to interfere with the action of the joints 
and tendons. These bony prominences can be detected by passing the 
hand over the pastern if they are not large enough to be seen when 
in front or at the sides of the forelegs. 

Sidebones can be best seen from the front, as shown in figure 25. 
They occur on the sides of the coronet. Wlien not prominent enough 
to be noticed by the eye their presence may be detected by grasping 
the back of the coronet between the thumb and fingers and pressing. 
If healthy it will yield to pressure; if unsound it will be hard and 
rigid. Sidebones on the forefeet interfere with action and may cause 

Scratches is the name given to a cracked condition of the skin at 
the back of the pasterns and over the heels. This trouble is not serious, 
provided it does not result from other causes, but may be hard to heal 
unless the horse can remain inactive for some time. The quarters may 
show scars from hitting this region with the hind foot, which may 
be due to faulty action or to improper handling or shoeing of a gaited 

FiGTjRE 17. — Side view of forelegs. 


sadille liorso or pacor. Gonoi'ally, scars resultiii<>- from l);irl)('(]-wii'0 
cuts are objectionable only on account of tlieii- uolinoss. 

Pick up a foot and note the willingness with which a liorse lets you 
hold it. This should aid in discovering a subject difficult to shoe. 
The feet should be free from diseases such as thrush and corns, which 
hinder action. Navicular disease is to be suspected when a horse stands 
with a forefoot extended and with onlv the loo resting on the ground. 



FiGUKE IS. — A fault of con- 
formation known as "cut 
out" below the knees. 
The subject is apt to be- 
come knee-sprung. 


Figure 19. — Forelegs 
with desirable con- 

FlGlKE 20.— 

Splint at X. 

This disease seriously impedes the gait and usually causes lameness. 
Slight ridges on the walls of the hoofs parallel with the coronary band 
may result from stomach and intestinal disorders, while more pro- 
nounced ridges close together at the toe and far apart at the heel, if 
accompanied by dropped sole, would indicate a previous case of 
founder, a disease which usually leaves a horse sore and stiff in his 


Proper conformation of the barrel has much to do Avith a horse's 
health and appearance, as it determines to a considerable degree the 
size and strength of the vital organs. The back should be short and 
straight, the ribs well sprung from the backbone and of sufficient 
length to form a deep barrel. The distance between the last, or floating, 
rib and the point of the hip should be short. The last rib should not 
be sunken but should be prominent, giving a smooth coupling. With 


Figure 21. — Bowed tendon. 

Figure 22.— Wind 
puff at X. 

Figure 23. — Enlarged 
fetlock joint. 

Figure 24. — Ringbone 

Figure 25. — Sidebone 
at X. 


a shdi't, well-iHUSclod loin and a (locp flank (iof^clluM' wilh a smoolh 
coupling) a horse should be an easy keeper and should not look lucked 
up or gaunt after a hard day's work. 

As regards unsoundness or blemish in these parts, hernia or rupture 
may occur on the abdomen at or near the navel. Small hernias, such 
as shown in figure 20, are merely unsightly, while larger ones de- 
preciate a horse's value in direct proportion to their size. The barrel 
should be free from sitfasts or saddle and girth sores. An enlarged 
sheath is generally due to disease. Mature stallions should have two 
prominent testicles ; ridgelings have one testicle that has not descended 
into the scrotum, and while they are often sold as geldings after the 
descended testicle has been removed they may be very annoying to 
liandle because they have the desires and actions of a stallion. They 
can be completely castrated only by a severe surgical operation. Mares 
which have produced colts have well-developed teats. 

.'^•' ;:iv '.•■■>"-- '■-- .'. ' 

Figure 26. — Hernia, or riipture, at X. 


Hind quarters. — Both points of the hips should be similar and on 
the same level. They should not be too prominent (condition as to 
flesh being considered), but should be a good distance from the point 
of the buttock. A low or capped hip detracts from a horse's appear- 
ance. In draft horses the hips should be broad, and the muscles on 
either side should stand well above the level of the spine if the horse 
is in good order. In the lighter types the hips should be smooth and 
more nearly circular in outline. In general, width across the hips 
with proper muscling denotes joower. A fairly level croup with the 
tail attached high gives the horse beauty of outline, and this is in- 
creased by a long tail carried out gracefully from the body. A tail 


carried to one side or with a crook in it mars the animal's attractive- 
ness. If the tail has been rubbed it may be due to intestinal parasites, 
external parasites, or high feeding; even if due to habit alone it would 
be objectionable. Raise the tail and examine for crupper sores, warts, 
and signs of worms, the latter making the horse dull and hard to keep 
in flesh. Warts under the tail are usually found on old horses of gray 
color. They make the tail heavy and interfere with the crupper. The 
practice of "gingering" causes horses to carry, temporarily, high, un- 
natural tails. Naturally carried high tails are an indication of spirit 
and vigor. 

The quarters should be round, full, heavily and smoothly muscled, 
and should strongly join the gaskin; the latter also should be heavily 
muscled. Quarters separated to an unusual height when viewed from 
behind characterize an animal lacking a vigorous constitution. 
Atrophy of the muscles in the region of the stifle joint and dislocation 
of this joint are conditions which can totally incapacitate. Figure 27 
shows quarters and gaskins of good conformation. They are well 
proportioned and firmly muscled. 

Hind legs. — Figure 28, A, illustrates the proper direction of the 
hind legs viewed from the side. A vertical line from the hip joint 
should cross the center of the foot and divide the gaskin in the middle ; 
a vertical line from the point of the buttock should coincide with the 

Figure 27. — Rear view of a draft horse showing correct conformation of croup, 
quarters, gaskins, and hind legs. 


buck of tlie cannon. In B (lie liind le^s sinnd loo fni- nnder tlio 
body; in C the hind legs are set too far back; and in D the liock joint 
is too straight. Other things being eqnal, the direction shown in A 
makes the limb stronger and more serviceable than those in B, C, or D. 

Viewed from the rear, the hind legs have the greatest strength when 
they have the direction shown in figure 29, A. This direction is 
correct when a vertical line from the point of the buttock crosses the 
center of th& hock, cannon, pastern, and foot. B shows hind legs set 
too far apart, tending to produce a sprawling gait. In C the hind 
feet toe in or are pigeon-toed, the joints being improperly formed, 
producing considerable undesirable lateral motion when the feet are 
carried forward. With such conformation the feet cannot be carried 
in a straight line. In D the hind legs are set too close together, pre- 
disposing the horse to interfere. The condition shown in E is gen- 
erally known as cow hocked, and hind legs so formed do not have the 
strength of those in which the columns of bones are placed directly 
over one another. 

Hoch. — The angle of the hock determines to a large extent the 
direction of the hind legs. The greater the angle the straighter the 
hind legs and the more apt is thoroughpin to develoi?. If the angle 
is small the hind leg is crooked and may be weak. Puffy, meaty- 
looking hocks covered with thick skin and coarse hair are apt to 
become unsound. Hocks on which the skin fits snugly against the 
bones and ligaments generally wear the best. Compare the hocks 
closely and see that they match exactly, as failure to do so would 
indicate unsoundness, and should cause the horse to be rejected. 

A common defect of the conformation of the hmd legs is known as 
"cut out below the hock." In this the junction of the hock with the 
front edge of the cannon is lacking in development, denoting weak- 
ness. It is sometimes associated with the following : The heavy bone 
on the outside of the hock (shown in fig. 35) extends too near or 
past the vertical line coinciding with the back of the hind leg, making 
curb very liable to develop. The cannon of the hind leg is much 
broader than the cannon of the forelec;. Figure 30 illustrates a fet- 



Figure 28. — Side view of Iiiiid legs. 

lock joint that stands over the hoof, called cocked ankle. Contracted 
tendons at the back of the cannon cause cocked ankle, a condition 
making the leg stiff and weak. The remainder of the hind leg should 
correspond in general conformation to that of the foreleg, except that 
the hind pasterns and hoofs are slightly straighter with the heels 
slightly higher. 


A B C D 

Figure 29. — Rear view of hind legs. 

Thoroughpin (a very low one is shown in fig. 32) is due to a 
collection of synovia in the depressions which lie just below the tendon 
running from the point of the hock into the gaskin. It can best be 
detected by pressing the swelling on one side of the leg and noting 
the corresponding filling on the opposite side. Thoroughpin may 
cause lameness and consequently depreciates the value of the animal. 
The point of the hock sometimes becomes thickened from a bruise, 
which condition is shown in figure 33 and is termed capped hock. It 
does not cause lameness, but is unsightly and may indicate a kicker. 

Bog spavin is an enlargement in the natural depression on the inner 
and front part of the hock, formed by a collection of synovia which is 
soft to the touch. It can best be seen from obliquely in front, as 

FiGUiiE 30.- — Crooked hind legs with Figuke 31. — Hind legs too straight, with 
cocked ankles. pasterns too sloping. 


shown ill li^uro ?A. This iiiisoiiiuhu'ss soiueliines causes laineness, 
conse<]iienlly losseniiii>; (he aninuirs value. A lar<>e blood vessel passes 
over this reii'ion of the hock, and this may become enlarged, <2,i\iiig 
the appearance of a bog spavin, but as this condition never leads to 
lameness it is considered a slight blemish rather than an unsoundness. 
FuUness at the back of the hock below the point and observed from 
the side as shown in figure 85 is due to a thickened ligament which 
may be ossified in long-standing cases and is known as curb. Curb, 
especially when lirst developing, causes lameness. 

Bone spavin (fig. 36), located on the inside of the hock where the 
thick bony part tapers into the cannon, is a bony enlargement and 
can best be detected by comparing the inside of the hind legs from 
squarely in front or behind. Bone spavin can also often be seen from 
obliquely in front. If a horse appears to have a bone spavin, the 
following test will give further proof of its presence, provided the 
leg carries no other unsoundness that would cause limping. Pick up 
the suspected leg and hold it for a few minutes in a w^ell-flexed position, 
then start the animal at a trot as soon as the foot reaches the ground. 
If bone spavin exists in an active form, the horse will limp. 

Stringhalt, a disease characterized by extreme and unnatural flexion 
of the hind legs, hinders action. It can be most advantageously dis- 
cerned when a horse backs out of a single stall after being idle for 
some time. 

Splints do not generally occur on the hind legs. Unless developed 
to an unusual size, sidebones do not interfere with the action of the 
hind legs. Ringbone frequently occurs on the hind pasterns, and is 
as objectionable there as on the front pasterns. 

FiGUKE 32. — Thorough 
pin at X. 

Figure 33. — » '.iii 
at X. 

Figure 34. — Bog spavin at 



Lameness due to a variety of causes and of various forms, some not 
at first apparent, should be carefully looked for when examining a 
horse in action. When lameness is present only at certain times it is 
known as intermittent lameness; consequently it is advisable to ex- 
amine a horse on several different occasions. In cold lameness the 
animal will go sound after he is warmed up, while in warm lameness 
the impediment does not manifest itself until after considerable 
exercise. Flinching when the horse turns sharply indicates shoulder 
lameness. The various gaits should be observed from the front, side, 
and rear, in order that the desirable features and defects may not be 

Walking. — Perfection in this gait is characterized by the feet being 
brought up quickly from the ground, by their being carried in a 
straight line, by lengthy stride, and by the cycle being completed 
quickly. All these aid in producing a rapid, f rictionless walk which is 
a great asset to horses used for any purpose. The defects of gait which 
may well be noted while the horse is walking are interfering, winging, 
toeing in or toeing out, and twisting the hind feet just before they are 
lifted from the ground, which wears out shoes rapidly and is otherwise 

Trot. — This gait must be square; that is, it must be without any 
tendency to wobble, shuffle, or mix gaits, and the hind feet should 
follow in line with the forefeet. In the roadster and trotting race 
horse speed is highly valued, while in the park saddle horse a fair 


Figure 3.j. — Curb at X. 

FiGUKE 36. — Bone spuviu at X. 


(loiii'cc of nicely balanced knee and hock action is demanded. The 
hiiihest-prized factor of the fine harness horse expresses itself at the 
trot in extreme knee and hock action. Even in the draft horse, a square, 
open, well-balanced trot with good knee and hock action adds many 
dollars to his selling price. The common defects of the trot are interfer- 
ing, forging, scalping, sprawling, dwelling, hopping, and knee action 
without a proportionate amount of hock action or vice versa. Lame- 
ness may be detected in the trot when it may not be apparent in other 
gaits. Either an abundance or lack of energy and ambition is 
apparent during trotting by the general deportment and carriage. 

Pace. — The pacing gait is more or less common in harness horses, and 
it is useful as a fast road gait on smooth surfaces. The characteristic 
movements of the limbs in this gait consist in the feet on the same side 
of the body working in unison and striking the ground simultaneously. 
The principle defects of the pace are cross-firing, quarter-cutting, and 
hitting the knees. 

Easy gaits. — Plantation horses and 5-gaited saddle horses have 
special gaits that are usually easy on the rider as well as on the horse. 
Such gaits are often designated as "slow" and are desired principally 
for long rides. They are known as the slow pace, fox or dog trot, and 
running walk. Any one of them may constitute one of the gaits of a 
5-gaited horse. A faster easy gait demanded in such a horse is the 
rack or singlefoot. This is intermediate between the trot and pace, 
the feet hitting the ground rapidly one at a time, producing a gait 
easy on the rider but tiring to the horse. 

Canter. — The canter, classed as a saddle gait, may be described as a 
modified, collected, and very slow gallop. It should be graceful, easy, 
and handily performed. 

Wind. — To test the wind have the horse ridden at a very fast gallop, 
stopping him abruptly so that you may hear the passing of air through 
the windpipe. In roaring, or broken wind, there will be a whistling 
sound each time the horse inhales. When a horse is affected with the 
disease called heaves, it has difficulty in forcing air out of the lungs, 
causing a peculiar and very characteristic movement in the flanks and 
abdomen, especially after exertion. Horses affected with heaves 
usually cough in a characteristic manner after drinking cold water. 
This cough may also be excited in affected horses by tightly grasping 
the windpipe at the throatlatch for a short time, A horse's respira- 
tion is greatly hindered by either broken wind or heaves. 

Adaptability for specific work. — A horse may possess proper con- 
formation, be sound, and have a good action yet still not be ^vell 
adapted for a specific work; consequently it is very essential that he 
be thoroughly examined at the work for which he is w^anted. If the 
horse is to be used for heavy hauling or draft purposes, steady pulling 
under all conditions is an indispensable quality. For harness use the 
horse should drive promptly and freely with an easy, rapid gait and 
an alert expression, taking just sufficient hold of the bit to be in hand 
without causing the driver to pull on the lines. The saddle horse 
should have an easy, prompt mouth, good style, graceful carriage, and 
should stand quietly to be mounted and dismounted. 

Vices. — Some horses are difficult to harness and object to taking the 
bit in their mouths; others jump when an attempt is made to place 
a saddle or harness on their backs ; while still others offer a great deal of 


resistance to having the crupper placed under their tails, which, if 
due entirely to general muscular strength and tension, may be an 
indication of endurance. While being hitched up or mounted the 
horse should stand quietly and should start promptly but quietly on 
command. For any purpose the following vices should cause the animal 
to be rejected : Balking, backing, rearing, kicking, striking with the 
forefeet, or running away. Less important vices are : Throwing the 
head up or down, shying, scaring, breaking loose when tied, resting 
one foot upon the other, grasping the bit between the teeth, rolling 
with the harness on, or switching the tail over the lines. Occasionally 
the last-named vice causes the horse to kick, in which case it becomes 


Enlargements or scars (due to deformity, unusual mishap, or un- 
common disease) not conforming to any of those discussed should 
cause a horse to be rejected unless the nature of the cause and the 
detriment to the value and usefulness of the animal is self-evident. 

Experience gained by examining large numbers of horses will 
aid in quickening the eye and judgment, thereby making it possible 
to perceive readily any unusual condition, but it should be remem- 
bered that a hurried examination is liable to prove a disappointment ; 
consequently plenty of time should be taken in making the examina- 
tion, because time is much cheaper than money tied up in an unsatis- 
factory horse. In some countries nine days are allowed by law to the 
purchaser in which to learn of the serious forms of unsoundness or 
vice in a horse, so that in this country it would seem fair to allow 
at least a day for a fair trial when practicable. 

If possible, get a history of the animal, and while you are about 
it get a history of the person having it for sale. So many defects 
may be covered up by such unfair methods as drugging that it is a good 
plan to make purchases only from persons with good reputations. 

Horses offered at auction sales should preferably be thoroughly 
examined previous to their being brought into the ring; at least they 
should be tried out in compliance w^ith the rules of the sale before time 
for settlement. 

Finally, it is well not to form the habit of seeing only the defects, for 
liorses, like people, are seldom perfect; consequently in judging them 
w^eigh the good qualities against the bad. A horse should be valued 
by the amount of service it will perform rather than by its minor short- 





Formers' Bulletin No. 1030 

rpHE SELECTION of the most suitable ration for 
■*- horses is governd largely by local conditions. 
Choose those feeds which meet the requirements 
of economy, nutrition, and convenience. 

Make slight changes in feeds occasionally. A 
horse appreciates a variety in his diet. 

Knowledge of individual requirements of horses 
is essential to obtain best results. Close observa- 
tion is probably a more vital factor in the feeding 
of horses than in the feeding of any other class of 

This bulletin suggests certain feed combinations 
which approximately meet the needs of horses 
under varying conditions and reviews such factors 
of feeding as tend to make the horse more efficient. 

„, , . „ ^ Issued December 1916 

Washington, D. C. t> ■ j o * i. m^s 

Revised September 1945 


J. O. Williams, animal husbandman, and N. R. Ellis, principal chemist. Animal 
Husbandry Division, Bureau of Animal Industry ^ 



Suitable rations necessary 1 

Local influences important 1 

Conditions affecting feed require- 
ments 2 

Selecting a ration 2 

Preparation of feeds 2 

Balancing a ration 3 

Feeding hints 4 

Feeding idle horses 4 

Principal feeds for horses 6 

Suggested daily rations 16 


THE FEEDING of horses calls for a suitable combination of feeds, 
the same as with other farm animals, in order that various needed 
nutrients may be furnished for bodily maintenance and for energy to 
perform essential work. On most farms it is not difficult to obtain 
a combination of feeds as many grains and roughages required by 
horses are grown on the farm or may be obtained locally. Results 
in feeding a ration should be observed and the ration modified accord- 
ingly to the specific needs of the animals. 

There is far more economy in supplying the required amounts of 
nutrients in the right proportions than in providing an excess of one 
and a deficeniecy of another. Proper attention given to the matter of 
balancing horse rations will result in benefit to both the health and 
the working efficiency of the animals fed, which in turn will effect a 
material reduction in the annual feed bill. 


No one feed or combination of feeds will meet conditions in all parts 
of the country. Generally speaking, combinations of home-grown or 
locally raised crops constitute the most economical rations. Choose 
from the feeds available those which will most closely meet the re- 
quirements of economy, nutrition, and convenience. Substitution may 
often be made in rations in such a manner that, while the efficiency 
remains unchanged, the cost is materially lowered. Selection of the 

^ This is a revision of and supersedes former editions by G. A. Bell and Mr. Williams. 
Mr. Bell resigned from tlie Department in October 1920 ; Mr. Williams retired in September 


most economical and suitable ration is governed largely by local 


The kinds of feed used, the quantity required per animal, and the 
manner of feeding depend on the age, size, and condition of the horse, 
the amount, kind, and speed of the work done, and the individual fed. 

The horse at work usually requires more and richer feed than the 
idle one. To furnish energy for work, the feed allowance must be 
in excess of that needed for body maintenance. The amount of feed 
needed for maintenance is about two-thirds that required for a horse 
at moderate work. If the work done calls for more energy than is 
furnished in the ration, the stored-up energy of the body fat or other 
tissues will be drawn on, with a consequent loss in body weight and 
energy. Moreover, if such feeding practice is continued, the horse 
will be so weakened constitutionally that he will be unable to perform 
his work profitably and also will be especially susceptible to disease. 

Horses of the same type and weight may have different feed require- 
ments, which makes it necessary to study the individuality of the 
animals. If the horse is not doing well on a ration, a slight change 
should be made. Any change, however, should be made gradually in 
order to avoid digestive disturbances. 


As no feed or combination of feeds will meet conditions in all parts 
of the comitry, so no feed or mixture of feeds is suitable for all classes 
of horses. In choosing a ration for a horse, select the one that seems 
to meet best his requirements, whether for growth, maintenance, 
work, breeding, or fattening ; estimate the amount of feed needed, and 
try out the ration. It may appear after a trial that too little is being 
fed or that the ration may be changed somewhat in the interest of 
either economy or efficiency. If a number of horses are kept, different 
rations may be tested on different animals and the best one selected 
for general use. Individual feeding gives the best results. 


The advisability of chopping, cutting, or chaffing hay for horse 
feeding depends largely on the cost of preparation, the quality of 
the feed, and its price. Ordinarily, low-priced hay of good quality 
should not be prepared for feeding, but it may be economical to chop, 
cut, or chaff poor-quality hay, as it is eaten with less waste than the 
unprepared forage. 

Such roughages as corn stover and sorghum can generally be fed 
to horses most satisfactorily when shredded or cut. Preparation 
makes the feed much easier to handle in the stable and results in a 
greater proportionate consumption of the roughage. 

The benefits derived from grinding or crushing oats and corn for 
horses depend on the cost of preparation, working conditions, and 
the condition of the animals' teeth. Throughout the Corn Belt corn 
is usually fed on the cob or in the shelled form, and it ordinarily 
does not pay to grind it for horses unless the animals' teeth are in 


poor condition or if there is not time enough for proper mastication 
of the grain. All small, hard grains, such as rye, barley, rice, and 
wheat, should be crushed or rolled before feeding, to avoid digestive 
disturbances, since horses cannot properly masticate those grains. 
Ordinarily it is not advisable to cook, steam, or soak feeds for horses, 
since those methods of preparation do not materially improve diges- 
tion. When, however, the small, hard grains cannot be rolled or 
crushed it is a good plan to soak them. It is the accepted practice, 
moreover, of many horsemen to feed a warm mash occasionally as a 
tonic and to regulate the bowels. 


Feeding stuffs are broadly divided into two general classes, protein 
and carbohydrate. The protein feeds are rich in nitrogenous com- 
pomids which are used by the animal body in building tissue, bone, 
hair, etc., and to provide energy. The carbohydrate foods are starchy 
in nature and are used by the animal body in the formation of fat 
and for energy and heat. 

To obtain the best results in feeding, the ration should be so, bal- 
anced that it properly meets the needs of the animal in building 
tissue and in supplying energy for work. In order to do this, feeds 
containing the nutrients which supply the required proteins and 
energy are needed in certain proportions to meet the body require- 
ments. If feeds deficient in protein are fed, an excessive amount of 
carbonaceous nutrients must be consumed in order that the system 
may obtain the required quantity of protein, and vice versa, and 
so a waste of feed will be the result. It is essential, therefore, that 
a balanced ration be fed, that is, one containing proteins and carbo- 
hydrates in such proportions that the requisite amounts of each will 
be utilized without waste. 

Feeds rich in protein are usually the most expensive. If more pro- 
tein is supplied than is needed for nutrition, the cost of the feed is 
unnecessarily increased. It is more economical to supply the energy 
necessary to perform work in the form of carbohydrates than pro- 
teins. Thus for mature horses at work and for maintaining idle 
horses the protein feed allowance may be limited to the amount nec- 
essary to build tissue, and a large proportion of carbohydrates 
may be fed. 

Another important class of feed nutrients is the mineral elements. 
Of chief importance are calcium and phosphorus, which are required 
for proper growth and maintenance of the bones or skeleton structure. 
An insufficient supply of either calcium or phosphorus leads to weak- 
ened bones and various deformities. The grains and the byproduct 
feeds made from grains and seeds are relatively rich in phosphorus, 
and most forages, especially legumes, are well supplied with calcium. 
Occasionally a mineral supplement is advisable, such as bonemeal, 
which supplies both calcium and phosphorus, and pulverized limestone 
or oystershell, which supplies calcium. In areas where goiter is preva- 
lent, the use of iodized salt is advisable. 

The requirements of horses for the various vitamin factors are not 
fully understood. Young animals kept out of the sunshine for ex- 
tended periods may develop rickets. A lack of vitamin A can lead to 
trouble also if feeds devoid of this factor are fed for long periods. 


In the case of horses, it is usually associated with eyesight and hoofs. 
Fortunately, green pastures are very rich in vitamin A, and M^ell-cured 
hays less than a year old are fairly good sources of carotene, from 
which this vitamin is formed. in the animal body. Some of the B 
vitamins appear to be required by horses, but relatively few occasions 
are likely to develop when rations will be deficient in these factors. 


The grain part of the ration for horses at work is usually divided 
into three equal feeds. If the horse does not clean up grain in a reason- 
able length of time, the quantity should be reduced. About two-thirds 
of the daily hay allowance is given at night, with most of the remainder 
fed in the morning, leaving only a very small allowance for the noon 
feed. The quantity of roughage should be limited within the maxi- 
mum allowance, so that all the edible forage will be cleaned up everj' 
day. When there is forage remaining from the night feeding, do not 
put in a fresh supply, but stir up that which is in the manger, so that 
the chaff goes to the bottom, leaving the good hay available. Some 
hay should be fed before the grain at night, for the appetite of the 
horse is not appeased by the grain when it is fed first, and it fills up 
on hay, forcing the grain on through the stomach too quickly, thereby 
decreasing the quantity assimilated. 

The method of feeding has a great deal to do with the utilization of 
the feed and the condition of the horse. It is important that the horse 
that bolts grain be made to eat slowly, which may be done by feeding 
the grain spread out in a large, flat box, by placing several smooth 
stones about 3 inches in diameter in the feed box, or by mixing the 
grain with bran, cut hay, or similar feed. Some horses waste their 
hay by pulling it out and trampling it under foot. This is sometimes 
caused by feeding two kinds of hay, one of which is especially pala- 
table. In that case, the waste may "be corrected by feeding the hay 
so that the horse can eat the more palatable first. The horse will then 
eat the other hay leisurely during the night. Another plan is to with- 
hold the good hay until the other is eaten. 

Overfeeding, rather than underfeeding, is the common practice when 
horses are working irregularly. It should be remembered that the 
amount of feed should vary, not only between winter and summer but 
also from day to day. It is a waste of feed if the amount is not varied 
with the degree of work. 


Maintaining the farm work horse in healthful condition during the 
winter is the first start in fitting it for spring work. The horse should 
not be so fed during the winter that it becomes fat and soft. More- 
over it is bad management to let a horse lose weight during the win- 
ter and then try to bring it back to normal by heavy feeding just be- 
fore the beginning of spring work. 

The liberal use of roughage, supplemented with the right quantity 
and kind of other nutritious feed, will maintain a horse properly 
during the winter. Farm horses, except brood mares or growing stock, 
do well on a ration made up largely of the coarser hays, straw, or corn 
fodder. Cornstalk fields, grain-stubble fields, or pastures which have 


not been too closely grazed during the summer are very desirable 
sources of a large part of the winter maintenance feed. The common 
roughages, as the main part of the ration during this period, will sup- 
ply bulky feed enough to keep the horse thrifty without putting on 
superfluous fat. The drinking of a large quantity of pure water should 
be encouraged to increase the utilization of these dry roughages. When 
necessary, a tank heater should be used to keep the drinking trough 
free from ice. 

It is advisable to supplement the coarser roughages with a legume, 
such as alfalfa, clover, vetch, soybean, or cowpea hay. These hays 
are very palatable and should be fed sparingly. They are rich in pro- 
tein and mineral matter and supply the materials needed to replace 
those lost in the natural wear of the body. Being somewhat laxative 
in effect, they also help to keep the digestive tract in good condition. 
They are especially valuable in connection with straw and similar 
feed. The use of these hays with the coarser roughages is economical 
because a supplemental ration of grain is not ordinarily necessary. 

In some instances, especially when it is not possible to feed a legume 
hay, a small quantity of grain is necessary to maintain the horses in 
thrifty condition. Oats are preferred for use with coarser roughages, 
but corn and barley are often used in the winter ration, especially 
when they are cheaper or when an increase in weight is desired. One 
or two bran mashes a week or a little linseed meal each day is recom- 
mended as an aid in keeping the system in good condition and in pre- 
venting impaction resulting from the use of large quantities of coarse 
roughage improperly supplemented. 

Pregnant mares require more attention during the winter than the 
open mare or gelding. Leguminous feeds high in protein and ash 
are necessary in developing the fetus. Although the feeding of legume 
hay is usually of more importance than a supplemental grain feed, 
in most cases such feeds as oats, bran, and oil meal should be supplied, 
the proportions being largely controlled by the condition of the mare 
and the stage of development of the fetus. 


In horses of the light breeds that are used for pleasure or racing, the 
qualities desired are spirit, action, and endurance, and large, paunchy 
stomachs are objectionable. Such horses require proportionately more 
grain and less hay than horses doing slow or heavy work. Oats easily 
rank first among the feeds for light horses ; they may be supplemented 
with crushed or soaked barley and bran. Corn is too fattening to con- 
stitute the bulk of the concentrates for light horses ; it may be used, 
however, if supplemented with linseed meal or bran. A mixture of one 
of the legume hays, as alfalfa or clover, with timothy or other hay, 
will furnish the roughage. A larger quantity of hay should be allowed 
for horses less actively employed and should be fed mostly at night. 
One pound of hay and 1 to li^ pounds of grain per 100 pounds live 
weight will be sufficient for such light horses at moderate work. 


The quantity of feed for the work horse depends on the amount of 
work done and on the speed at which it is performed ; a horse requires 
considerably more feed when working at the trot than at the walk. It is 


a good rule to allow li/io pounds of grain and II/5 pounds of hay per 100 
pounds live weight for horses at moderate work. At this rate a 1,200- 
pound horse would require 13 pounds of grain and about 141/2 pounds 
of hay per day. If the work is severe, the quantity of gram should be 
increased. The horse at very hard work requires 1^/4 to II/3 pounds of 
grain per 100 pounds live weight ; the hay fed, however, should not be 
over ll^ pounds per 100 pounds live weight. On idle days durmg the 
work season the grain ration should be reduced approximately one- 
half. The exact quantity to feed at any time will depend largely on the 
individuality of each horse. 


In connection with rations for horses a brief discussion of the merits 
of the more common feeds will assist in the choice of a ration. It is the 
special purpose of the following review to judge the feeds from the 
standpoint of the horse feeder. 

For convenience the feeds will be classified as concentrates, rough- 
ages, succulent feeds, and condiments. 


Oats —This grain ranks as one of the very best for horses. The ker- 
nel is incased in a hull which, although it has no great nutritive value, 
greatly improves the physical character of the feed by adding bulk. 
Oats probably come nearer to filling the requirements of a concentrate 
for horses than any other grain. Compared with corn, oats have more 
protein and less carbohydrates. Oats are readily available m almost 
every part of the country and may be fed either whole or ground. They 
should be rolled or ground for very young animals. 

Some horses eat oats too rapidly. With such ravenous feeders, to 
prevent the danger of choking, it is advisable to place a little chopped 
clover hay or some whole corncobs in the feed box with the oats. The 
use of wheat bran with oats also lessens the tendency toward choking. 
Oats may form the entire grain ration of horses. The substitution of 2 
or 3 pounds of wheat bran improves the daily ration, provided it does 
not produce a too laxative effect. 

Corn. — In many sections corn is given preference over oats as a horse 
feed, as it is generally grown on the average farm or may be obtained 
easily. Corn may be fed on the cob, shelled, or ground. It is especiaUy 
rich in carbohydrates ; more energy is derived from a pound of corn 
than from a pound of any other suitable grain. It is considered as an 
economical part of a ration. Since this grain is somewhat low m pro- 
tein, it is well to provide leguminous hay for the animals that are ted 
corn The combination of alfalfa hay and corn is receiving much favor 
when fed to horses. In the absence of legmnes, a little oil nieal or some 
other protein concentrate may be included in the ration. Corn is fat- 
tening and heat producing and is greatly relished by horses. 

It is sometimes claimed that horses which are fed corn are more sub- 
iect to colic than those fed oats and other grains. Little difficulty^how- 
ever, is experienced in the Corn Belt, where it is fed constantly. Horses 
that have not been accustomed to eating corn should not be changed to it 
suddenly ; in fact, all changes in the horse ration should be made gradu- 
ally. Corn is suited to form the major part of the gram ration tor 

FEEDING HORSES 7 if a nitrogenous (protein) roughage is fed in combination 
with it. 

Com-and-coh meal. — Ahhough the commonest practice in feeding 
corn to horses is to use ear or shelled corn, in occasional instances this 
grain is fed in the form of corn-and-cob meal. This form is especially 
suitable for animals which do not have the necessary time to chew 
thoroughly the ear or shelled corn or in case a horse's age or the con- 
dition of the teeth makes the feeding of whole grain impracticable. 
Corn-and-cob meal is of about the same feeding value, pound for 
pound, as shelled corn, but certain precautions must be taken in feed- 
ing it. When stored for a time it has a tendency to generate heat, 
with the consequent formation of mold. It is therefore best to grind 
the grain only as needed. 

Wheat. — ^Under ordinary conditions wheat is relatively too high in 
price to permit its economical use in the horse ration. If conditions 
permit, however, wheat may be satisfactorily used for horses provided 
it is crushed or rolled and fed in moderate quantities. Crushing or 
rolling is necessary because horses cannot efficiently chew the whole 
hard grains, and a limitation of the amount fed is essential to prevent 
digestive disturbances. Compared with corn, wheat carries slightly 
more carbohydrates, more crude protein, but less fat. The most satis- 
factory feeding results will be obtained when wheat is fed in conjunc- 
tion with a bulky concentrate and when the roughage is of protein 
nature, rich in mineral matter, as alfalfa. 

Wheat hran. — This is a favorite feed among horsemen because it is 
especially palatable. A byproduct of milling, bran is usually somewhat 
expensive. Wheat bran is quite laxative, and for this reason it is 
valuable for occasional feeding to pregnant mares, idle horses, and 
colts. With horses doing irregular work, the movement of the bowels 
may be regulated by an allowance of bran once or twice a week. Be- 
cause this feed is light and soft in character it makes a good mixture 
with other feeds, often making them more suitable for feeding. Wheat 
bran is higher in protein than either oats or corn. It is not suited to 
form a very high proportion of the concentrate ration for horses 
because it is too bulky and is likely to have an unfavorable influence 
on calcium and phosphorus utilization. 

Barley. — Barley is used as a principal grain for horses in many 
parts of the West. Except in physical character it is well suited to the 
horse ration. This grain should be rolled before being fed. If 
finely ground, it will form a pasty maSs with the saliva of the mouth. 
Barley is a little higher in total nutrients than oats, but is not so widely 
used nor so generally popular a feed among horsemen. Rolled barley 
is suitable to form the major part of the grain ration for horses. 

Rye. — This may be used as a horse feed in combination with other 
grains. In some regions it is an economical feed. It is even higher in 
total nutrients than oats. The grain is small and hard and should be 
rolled or ground. Many horses will refuse whole rye when fed alone, 
and an abrupt change to rye feeding is liable to produce colic. Most 
of the charges against rye may be traced to the feeding of moldy or 
otherwise damaged grain. It is probably better to limit the amount 
of rye to one-third of the grain ration. It may be mixed with ground 
corn, bran, oats, or other grains. Rye is not generally considered 
desirable to form a major part of the grain ration for horses, as it is 

666199° — 46 2 


not palatable when fed alone and is liable to cause digestive dis- 

Buckwheat. — This grain is not very commonly used as a horse feed, 
although it is only a little below the more common cereals in total 
digestible nutrients. It has a characteristic, hard, black hull which 
has practically no value as a feed. Unadulterated buckwheat mid- 
dlings are not easily obtained. They are made from that part of the 
kernel just beneath the woody hull and are very rich in protein. The 
common practice is to mix the middlings with the woody hulls and 
sell it as buckwheat feed or buckwheat bran. This product has a 
lower feeding value than wheat bran. If the proportion of hulls is 
not too large, buckwheat bran may be well used in the horse ration. 
Buckwheat should be limited to one-third the grain ration. 

Rice. — Kice is considered economical for horse feed in some of the 
Southern States, the less valuable kind of rough rice being used. This 
grain is small and extremely hard ; it should be ground or rolled be- 
fore use in the horse ration. It is better to limit rough rice to one- 
third of the grain allowance. Rice may be used in connection with 
corn, blackstrap molasses, and a very limited allowance of some pro- 
tein concentrate, such as cottonseed meal, soybean meal, or linseed 

Soybeans.) cowpeas., velvetheans., horseheans., 'field peas. — All these 
are similar seeds of leguminous plants, and are suitable for use in 
limited amounts in the horse ration. Since all are hard seeds, they 
should always be ground. Their proper use in a ration for horses is 
as a somewhat concentrated protein feed to be combined with feeds 
high in carbohydrates, such as molasses, and corn. Digestive troubles 
are very liable to occur if one or more of these feeds exceed one-third 
of the concentrate ration. Used with care, they have a very valuable 
place in horse feeding. 

Coconut meal. — A byproduct from the manufacture of coconut oil, 
coconut meal is considered a safe but rather unpalatable feed for 
horses. It is a little higher in nutrients than wheat bran, but has the 
disadvantage of becoming rancid after standing a few weeks. To 
the extent of one-fourth of the grain ration it may replace oats where 
economy justifies the measure. Coconut meal is not a very heavy 
protein concentrate. 

Peanuts. — In the form of peanut meal this feed is often given to 
horses. Shelled peanuts are liable to become rancid if stored for any 
length of time. The commercial form of peanut meal is the ground 
hull and kernel combined. It is a comparatively safe feed for horses, 
but is so rich in protein that the allowance should be limited. When 
it is used, animals should be started on this feed gradually and it 
should be fed in connection with corn or some other carbonaceous 

Linseed meal. — This feed is the ground cake resulting after the oil 
has been extracted from flaxseed. It is very high in protein, has laxa- 
tive properties, but is not suited to form the bulk of the grain ration. 
Linseed meal is quite unpalatable, but is valuable, however, for com- 
bining with corn and other carbonaceous feeds, being a heavy protein 
concentrate. It is most successfully fed with ground feeds or in a 
mixture containing molasses, for if fed in combination with feeds 
from which it can^be separated readily, horses will eat the palatable 
grains and refuse the meal. Some feeders use linseed meal as a con- 


ditioner, giving a small amonnt (about one-half pound) three times 
a week to keep the bowels in free condition. The more favorable re- 
sults in the use of linseed meal are obtained when the quantity used 
is limited to 1 pound or less per day for each animal. 

Shorts (■wheat middlings.) — This is not extensively used as a horse 
feed because it is usually high in price and its heavy nature and high 
protein content make it unsuitable to form the major part of the ration. 
It is palatable, however, and may be used to supplement a horse ration 
that is low in protein. The quantity should be limited to one-fourth 
of the concentrate allowance. 

Cottonseed meal. — The resulting ground cake after the oil has been 
extracted from the cottonseed is a heavy protein concentrate which, 
unlike linseed meal, is not laxative in character. This feed has met 
with considerable disfavor among horse feeders, as it is believed to 
have a tendency to produce digestive disorders. There is no doubt 
some foundation for this belief, but it has been found that the harm- 
ful results have usually followed either the use of a poor quality of 
meal or the feeding of too much. Cottonseed meal may be fed to 
horses in limited quantities if due care is exercised in obtaining bright, 
choice meal and if the animals are put on the diet gradually. Its 
proper use is as a supplement to a carbonaceous concentrate, such as 
corn. Favorable results have been obtained in some parts of the South 
in the feeding of cottonseed meal in connection with blackstrap molas- 
ses and grain. Since the meal is not palatable, it should be well incor- 
porated with other feeds. While cottonseed meal has been fed in large 
quantities in isolated cases the best results may be obtained by limiting 
the amount to 1 pound daily per 1,000 pounds live weight, and giving 
special attention to the horses being fed.^ 

Alfalfa m,eal. — Chopped alfalfa is often desirable to improve the 
physical character of a ration, but feeding alfalfa as a meal is not to 
be generally recommended. Alfalfa is properly classed among the 
roughages, even though it is higher in nutrients than some of the 
concentrates. Finely ground alfalfa is dusty and must be dampened 
before it can be fed with satisfaction. There is no advantage which 
justifies the additional cost of grinding, except for horses with bad 
teeth or weak digestive organs. 

Millet.^ kafi/r., and milo seeds. — These are very small, hard grains 
which must be ground before they are suitable for the horse ration. 
They compare favorably with oats in regard to total nutrients, and 
any of them, when ground or rolled, may be used in combination with 
other grains, but it is well to limit the amount used to one-third the 
total concentrate allowance. The sorghum grains are high in carbo- 
hydrates and tend to cause constipation when fed heavily. These 
grains, therefore, should be fed in conjunction with a laxative protein 
feed, such as wheat bran, to counteract this tendency. 

Dried Brewers^ or Distillers^ Grains. — These grains, which are by- 
products of fermentation industries, are rather heavy protein con- 
centrates and suitable for balancing carbonaceous rations or for 
incorporation with chopped mixtures, but are not suitable for use 
as the major part of the grain ration. As supplements their use 
should be limited in amount to about one-fourth the total allowance 

^ For further information, see Farmers' Bulletin H79, Feeding Cottonseed Products to 


of concentrates. Some feeders claim that these feeds have a tendency 
to cause constipation. 

Gluten Meal. — A byproduct of starch manufacture, it is high in 
protein and fairly high in carbohydrates. It is classed as a protein 
concentrate, and should be limited to about one-fourth the total grain 
allowance. It is not very palatable, but sometimes is valuable for use 
in chopped mixtures. 

Gluten Feed. — This is also a protein concentrate but is somewhat 
less nutritious than gluten meal. Gluten feed is made by mixing corn 
bran with gluten meal, and is not very palatable. The proper use of 
gluten feed is for balancing more carbonaceous rations, and it should 
be limited in amount to one-third of the grain ration. Like gluten 
meal, it may well be used with other grains in a chopped mixture and 
fed with molasses. 

Dried Beet Pulp. — A byproduct of sugar manufacture, this pulp is 
unpalatable, but by mixing with molasses or other well-liked feeds, 
it may be included in the ration. It is very low in protein. Dried beet 
pulp is a safe feed, but it is not desirable to use it in excess of about 
5 pounds in the daily ration, and it should be fed in connection with 
some feed that is relatively high in protein. 

Cane Molasses {Blachstraj) Molasses). — The use of this feed is quite 
popular in cane-growing sections. It is high in carbohydrates and 
should be fed in connection with feeds relatively high in protein. 
Molasses is especially palatable and is well suited for combination 
with chopped mixtures containing nutritious but unpalatable feeds. 
It is usually desirable to dilute it with two parts of water before feeding 
over grain or roughage. The amount of molasses in the ration should 
be limited. Usually about 5 pounds daily is a very reasonable allow- 
ance, although some feeders use considerably more than that amount. 
Cane molasses is neither laxative nor binding in effect. Molasses is 
not usually an economical feed except in sugar-producing regions. 
However, it is often desirable to use a small amount, such as a quart 
(3 pounds) a day, as an appetizer. 

Beet Molasses. — As a horse feed, beet molasses is not so satisfactory 
as cane molasses. The presence of certain constituents stimulates the 
action of the kidneys and bowels of the animals fed. Because of this 
action it is not desirable to exceed 5 pounds of beet molasses in the 
daily ration. Like cane molasses, it is a carbohydrate concentrate, 
very palatable and suitable for feeding as part of a concentrate ration 
that also includes a protein feed. 

Milk. — Sometimes milk may be used with good results for feeding 
horses. Its particular advantage is in its use for colts and for horses 
that are out of condition. Milk may also be a valuable feed for horses 
doing very light work. It is palatable, easy to digest, and valuable 
for fattening. If cow's milk is to be substituted for mare's milk for 
young colts, there should be an addition of a little sugar and a little 
limewater. It is not desirable to feed a large quantity of milk to 
horses generally, but 3 or 4 gallons a day can well be allowed a horse 
not doing heavy work. Milk is a safe feed, and even in clabbered 
condition it is not harmful. 

Tankage and Blood Meal. — These byproducts of slaughterhouses do 
not rank high as horse feeds. They are very high in protein, but are 
extremely unpalatable. They may be used, however, in amounts not 


exceeding 1 pound each day per animal in connection with some palat- 
able carbonaceous mixture. Tankage and blood meal are used prin- 
cipally for young stock and for building up animals in extremely poor 


Various commercial feed mixtures on the market are made up 
expressly for feeding horses and these can be used to good advantage 
when suitable home-grown feeds are not available or other circum- 
stances dictate. The merits of a particular feed can be judged to a 
considerable extent by the list of ingredients and the composition 
figures which can generally be found on the bag. Some of these feed 
mixtures are sold as meal and others in pellet form. Certain mixtures 
are made up expressly for feeding along with home-grown feeds. In 
the usual case, they are intended to replace or supplement the con- 
centrate-portion of the ration. 


To be most valuable as a nutrient in a horse ration, hay should be 
cured properly before it is stored. Even hay that has been well cured 
deteriorates in feeding value if stored too long. It is important, 
therefore, that an adequate supply be provided for a few months. 
The practice of carrying hay over from year to year is inadvisable as 
it gradually loses its vitamin A (carotene) content, which is indicated 
by the green color of the hay. 

Alfalfa Juiy. — This roughage is receiving very great favor as a horse 
feed. It contains nearly as much nutriment, pound for pound, as 
wheat bran. It is high in protein and minerals, especially calcium; 
hence it is especially valuable for young stock. Like other legume 
forages, it supplies more calcium than the grass hays and thus com- 
pensates for the deficiency of this element in the grains and other con- 
centrates. Alfalfa is somewhat laxative in effect. Because of this 
and its high protein content, it is well to limit the amount to one-half 
or two-thirds the roughage allowance. Timothy hay may be used 
to make up the rest of the roughage supply. Alfalfa is especially suited 
for use with a grain ration that is low in protein. Corn as the gi'ain, 
and alfalfa as the roughage, equal weights of each, very nearly make 
a balanced ration. In considering a roughage for horses, it is desirable 
to furnish one that is relatively high in nutriment, since the horse 
has a comparatively small stomach and is unsuited to take care of 
great quantities of nonnutritious material. Alfalfa meets this re- 
quirement. Because of its soft stems this roughage is often used in 
chopped mixtures. 

Timothy hay. — This hay is highly recommiended for horses. Not- 
withstanding the fact that it is not very high m nutrients, there is 
probably no other one form of roughage that is better suited for the 
horse ration. It is low in protein and is suitable for combination with 
alfalfa, clover, or some other legume. If timothy is fed as the only 
form of roughage, the concentrate allowance should be relatively high 
in protein. Because of its sharp, brittle stems it is not well suited 
for use in chopped mixtures. It is readily available in most sections 
of the country. Timothy hay and oats have long been regarded as the 


standard horse feeds, but the combination can be improved by includ- 
ing some feed that is relatively high in protein. 

Clover hay. — ^This is a good feed for horses. The usual criticism of 
this hay is that it is often dusty. Dampening at the time of feeding 
will aid somewhat, but proper care in the curing of the hay is the best 
means of preventing dust. Bright clover hay that is free from dust 
is almost as valuable as alfalfa. It is more palatable than timothy, 
and a mixture of clover and timothy is to be preferred to timothy alone 
as a roughage for horses. Clover is a legume, high in protein, some- 
what laxative in effect, is an excellent feed for colts, and is suited for 
use in connection with a grain ration that is rather low in protein. 
Where only one kind of hay is fed, a smaller quantity is required of 
clover than of timothy. Various kinds of clovers are used for hay in 
different parts of the country. Common red clover is most widely 
used. Mammoth or Big English clover is acceptable, but is somewhat 
coarse. The very coarse, large varieties, such as sweet clover, are 
usually too wo'ody to be very desirable. Alsike is very good, but the 
yield of this crop is usually not large enough to encourage its growth 
in most localities. If hay from crimson clover is to be used as a horse 
feed, the crops should be cut before the blossoms are ripe, as the hairy 
growth on the head of the plant becomes wiry and indigestible and 
forms masses similar to hair balls, in the digestive tract, which often 
result in serious cases of impaction. Bur clover of the South may be 
used as a hay for horses', but its use is not common. 

Corn stover. — Corn fodder from which the grain has been removed is 
a common feed for horses. The objections to it are that it is usually 
so carelessly handled that most of the nourishment is lost and the 
feed allowed to become partly spoiled. It is also unhandy to feed 
unless some special preparation is given, and there is usually consider- 
able waste connected with feeding it. However, corn stover that is 
bright and clean and retains its leaves is very palatable, desirable, and 
safe for horses, and is suitable for use as the sole roughage during the 
fall and early winter. It is low in protein and should be fed in com- 
bination with a concentrate ration which will offset the deficiency. 
Cutting or shredding is usually advisable if it is to be fed in the stable. 

Oat hay. — Hays from oats and similar cereals are commonly fed 
to horses. These crops should be cut before maturity if they are to be 
used as forage. They are palatable and nourishing, and care should 
be taken to limit the amount. On account of the grain, the allowance 
should be about one-third less than the quantity of the more common 
roughages that would be fed. Very little concentrated feed is needed 
with oat hay, but it is desirable to include a feed relatively high in pro- 
tein. Cereal hay may be fed as half the roughage allowance in con- 
nection with a legume hay. With such a combination only about half 
the usual grain ration is necessary. 

Gowrpeas^ soybeans., velvetheans., and -field feas. — These may be used 
as hay for horses. All are legumes, high in protein and calcium and 
suitable for use in connection with concentrates that are high in 
carbohydrates, such as corn or molasses. The peas and beans are 
slightly laxative in effect. It is well to limit these feeds to one-half the 
roughage allowance ; timothy or prairie hay may well be used to form 
the other half. The amount of grain in the pods should be taken into 


consideration, and the ration of concentrates should be reduced accord- 
ingly. Field-pea vines that have been carefully cured after the peas 
have been threshed out are fairly acceptable as horse forage. A full 
grain ration and a little hay should be fed with them. Unthreshed 
c'owpeas, soybeans, velvetbeans, and field peas are safe and fairly 
palatable feeds, but are too concentrated to form the complete roughage 

Millet, or Hungarian hay. — This is suitable for use in the horse 
ration, provided the crop has been cut before it is too mature and an 
excessive quantity is not fed. The small, hard seeds of mature millet 
are objectionable, as harmful action on the kidneys is claimed when 
an excess of these is fed. This hay is carbonaceous in character and 
should be fed in connection with a legume hay, or the concentrate 
allowance should contain feeds a little high in protein. Bright millet 
hay of fine growth is quite satisfactory as a horse feed when limited 
to half the roughage allowance. 

Prairie hay. — This hay is satisfactory for use as a horse feed and is 
commonly used in the West. It is slightly lower in nutrients than 
timothy hay, is carbonaceous, and should be fed in combination with 
a legume hay. It is a safe feed, fairly palatable, and may form the total 
roughage allowance if the concentrate ration is sufficiently high in 

Orchard grass hay. — Orchard grass makes a suitable hay for horses 
only when it is cut before maturity. It compares very favorably with 
timothy, and its palatability is not criticized in hay that is not too 
mature when cut. It is carbonaceous, and when used either the con- 
centrates should be high in protein or a legume hay should form part 
of the roughage allowance. It is a safe feed for horses. 

Johnson grass hay. — In certain sections of the South, particularly 
throughout the Cotton Belt States, Johnson grass grows luxuriantly, 
often producing three cuttings of good hay a year and forming excel- 
lent pasturage. In this district this grass may be utilized to advantage 
as forage for horses. Johnson grass is a carbonaceous roughage which 
has a feeding value equivalent to timothy, is slightly laxative in char- 
acter, and is eaten with relish by horses. The principal drawback to 
feeding Johnson grass hay in those sections where clean cultivation of 
other crops is practiced lies in the fact that such feeding distributes 
the seeds of the plant and makes the confinement of its growth to a 
limited area very difficult. 

Bromegrass. — This gi'ass is of carbonaceous character and is com- 
mon in the North and West. The hay is palatable and safe for horses. 
It is a little low in protein, and the grain ration that is fed with it 
should include a protein concentrate. 

Straw. — Straw from various cereals such as oats, barley, wheat, 
rye, and rice, is often used as a feed for horses. It is bulky, non- 
nutritious, and not especially suitable, since the horse has a compara- 
tively small stomach and its digestive anatomy is in no way suited to 
handle a large amount of bulky feed. So very little nourishment is 
derived from straw that it is not considered a suitable feed for animals 
doing hard work. Straw is carbonaceous, and its principal use is for 
idle horses. Some laxative feed should be fed in connection with it. 
Because of economy, it is often desirable to feed some straw, and in 


this case the concentrate allowance should be high in protein. A little 
straw may be included in a ration in which the principal roughage is 
alfalfa, clover, or some other legume. Oat straw is preferable ; barley 
straw and wheat straw are good ; straw from buckwheat or rye is not 
desirable; straw from rice is sometimes fed with good results when 
the remainder of the ration is high in protein. The economy of feed- 
ing straw is a factor which cannot be disregarded, but the practice 
should not be carried to the extreme, and care should be taken to supply 
sufficient protein through the concentrate ration. 

Vetch. — This legume is not very commonly used as a horse feed. The 
plant is rich in nutrients, is suitable to form about half of the rough- 
age allowance in a ration that is lacking in protein, and is fairly palat- 
able. A combination that is meeting with favor is vetch and oat hay. 

Svdcm grass. — This plant makes a suitable hay for horses and is 
fairly palatable. As a carbonaceous feed the hay is suitable for use 
as part of the roughage allowance in combination with a legume hay. 
Its principal use is in the South. 

Bermuda grass. — Hay from this plant is sometimes used in the South. 
It is a carbonaceous feed, suitable for use in connection with legume 
hay for the roughage allowance. If this hay is fed alone the concen- 
trate allowance should be high in protein. 

Sorghimh. — Fodder from sorghum may be used as dry forage for 
horses but does not keep for a great length of time. It is especially 
high in carbohydrates and is palatable and suitable for use in connec- 
tion with feeds which are high in protein. 

Pv/mphin. — ^As a succulent feed for horses, pumpkins have a fair 
value, their feeding value being about two-fifths that of silage and 
their main use improving digestion. The seeds have a laxative effect. 
It is not advisable to feed pumpkins which have been frosted. They 
are not usually fed in great amount and should be limited to about 
8 pounds daily. No other laxative feed should be included in the same 
ration, there should be a slight decrease in the amount of roughage, 
and provision should be made for feeds relatively high in nutrients to 
balance the ration. 

Silag^. — Silage should not be considered as one of the principal 
roughages for horses. Its use is as a succulent, an appetizer, and a 
tonic to be fed in limited quantities as a supplement to the regular 
ration, preferably for idle horses. When used, this feed must be 
introduced gradually into the ration. It is a very dangerous practice 
to feed moldy or frozen silage to horses. Corn silage is the only kind 
that has met with any degree of favor as a horse feed. It has a valuable 
place in the winter ration if fed with care. The amount should not 
exceed 10 pounds daily per animal. 


There is a diversity of opinion among horsemen on the question of 
watering horses. Some feeders maintain that horses should always 
be watered before feeding in order to prevent a flushing of the grain 
through the stomach into the small intestine. This system is not 
always practicable, however, as some animals will refuse to drink 
before eating. The consensus of opinion on watering horses indicates 
that water may be given either before, during, or after meals without 


injurious effects. Thus, individual convenience and attendant circum- 
stances will largely determine the watering practice to be followed. 
In any practice, however, it is well to adhere to the same plan, once a 
definite watering time has been adopted, for to change frequently from 
one system to another will affect the animal's appetite. Regularity in 
watering methods as well as feeding methods should be adhered to. 

The following factors should be considered in Catering horses : 

Horses that have been deprived of water for a long period or those 
that have undergone severe exertion should generally be watered 
before eating. It is dangerous, however, to allow an animal to drink 
heavily while very warm. If the horse is hot, give a moderate drink 
at this time, and water more freely when the animal is cool. 

It is not a good practice to water heavily just before putting horses 
to heavy work. 

Weather conditions, the nature of the work done, and the kind of 
feed consumed will determine the quantity of water required. In hot 
weather and when at hard work, horses consume more water than in 
cold weather or when inactive. Horses will drink more water when 
fed a protein-rich ration^ such as alfalfa hay, than when on a 
carbonaceous diet. 

The average water consumption per individual horse is from 10 to 
12 gallons daily. 

One of the times when a horse requires and appreciates a drink 
most is when it has finished its nightly allowance of roughage. Every 
horse should be allowed to drink at this time if possible. 

Horses at hard work in hot weather should be watered hourly. It 
is better to water frequently, in small quantities, than to allow the 
animal to gorge itself at any one time. 

Watering at public troughs is to be avoided, as this is a common 
method of spreading disease. 


Pastv/re. — Pasture is foremost among the succulent feeds for horses. 
It acts as a laxative and general tonic to the system, is an appetizer, and 
a valuable feed. Succulent feeds are watery and do not produce solid 
flesh. While pasture alone is sufficient to maintain idle horses, it is 
well to consider the relative feed value of the pasture crop and the gen- 
eral condition of the pasture. Usually it is advisable to feed a light 
grain ration relatively high in protein in connection with pasture, even 
when the horses are idle. Pasture is very valuable in the management 
of work teams ; regularly allowing horses the freedom of pasture dur- 
ing the night and on idle days enhances the health of the animals. 
There will be an increased tendency toward sweating while at work but 
this is not of great importance when the benefits are considered. For 
work horses that are given pasture, other laxative feeds should be taken 
out of the ration. Timothy hay may be used as the roughage, and the 
concentrate allowances should include grains that are not laxative in 
character, thus making a properly balanced ration. A necessary pre- 
caution is to avoid a sudden change to green feed ; where a pasture crop 
is included in the ration for work horses, the pasturing should be 
continuous, not intermittent. 

Soilinff crops. — ^Most of the forage crops previously mentioned 


under "Koimhages" may be cut green and fed to horses. This prac- 
Ztl pfobably most common with corn Care ^l-^^l^be taken h^^^^^ 
ever to prevent sudden changes to this type of green feed. There is 
also danger of the crop's spoiling before bemg fed; therefore, the 
green fee^^^^^ be used oAly when fresh. The balancing mregai-d 

to nutrients should be the same for soiling crops as for pasture ihe 
pa^tnre system provide exercise and on this account is far preferable 

*''foJS?^Carrots, parsnips, rutabagas, aiid beets are succulent feeds 
used pSncipally as an aid to digestion. Their use m the horse ration 
Tnot'^orsiL/d economical, as they are low 

alent to only about one-fourth their weight m hay Where roots aie 
ffd other laxative feeds should be omitted, the roug^iage supply should 
Te decreased, and the grain ration should contam feeds high m nutri- 
ents Chopping the roots is usually advisable. ^ . u^^ 

F^Xr-Potatoes are relatively high in food value, Pfatable, 
and well suited for use as a horse feed where the cost is not prohibitive 
It is safe to feed as much as 15 pounds a day to work horses. They 
a . ec^Sivat^^^^^^ about one-third their weight in hay When potatoes 
are fed a legume hay is a desirable supplement. If a caibonaceous 
hav is fed the grain ration should contain feeds rich m protein. 
Pola o sprmits are injurious to horses and should be removed It is 
fdldibk to chop potatoes before feeding, as the danger from choking 

^^ ^^S''-Xif without stones, fruits may be used for feed and are 
muchtlished by horses This addition to t^e -Xfts'L^loTfu 
tizer and relish rather than as a nutritious feed, ^imts are low m 
proteiT aid if they are used in considerable amount the mam ration 
shS be nitrogenous in character. Ten pounds of fruits daily is not 


Horses should be given salt at frequent, regular intervals or, better 
salt should be accefsible in the feed boxes, pastures, and Paddocks 
at all times. When salt is given regularly only enough to meet the 
bodv recTuTrements will be consumed. With irregular use, however, 
an abnormal appetite for salt develops, which, m turn, is often fol- 
lowed bv excessive consumption and digestive troubles. An average 
of about^vT^^^^^^ ^l^ould be allowed most horses under norma 

Pmfrlitions Horses doing heavy work, particularly during hot 
Z'iT^nS^^o^Ton dryleed wi^l consume more tlia.^^^^^^ 

Aside from its value as a feeding requisite, salt is of benetit as an 
appetizer for in many instances delicate eaters and shy drinkers will 
show an increased appetite when allowed free and regular access to it 
Moreover, the consumption of adequate quantities of salt by work 
horses will do much in preventing excessive fatigue. 


The following daily rations have been prepared with a view of 

suo^^restinrcmnbinations of feeds that will suit conditions m various 

, pa?ts of the country, and from which the feeder may derive rations 



that will meet his local needs. Attention is invited to the fact that the 
rations suggested are for a horse weighing 1,000 pounds, and modifica- 
tion of these rations should be made for heavier or lighter horses. 
For example, in order to meet the requirements for a horse weighing 
1,250 pounds the rations suggested should be increased in accordance 
with the increase in weight, which in tliis case is 25 per cent. Roughly 
this would give the feed requirement for the heavier horse. 


Suggested rations Pounds 

Ear corn 5 

Alfalfa hay 3 

Corn stover 9 

Oats 4 

Clover hay 4 

Oat straw 10 

Alfalfa 8 

Oat stravF 8 

Cane molasses 3 

Cowpea hay 5 

Silage (corn) 5 

Timothy hay 10 

Suggested rations — Continued Pounds 

Rolled barley 4 

Alfalfa hay 4 

Barley straw 7 

Alfalfa hay 4 

Corn fodder with ears 14 

Shelled corn 2 

Oat hay 4 

Orchard grass hay 10 

Shelled corn 31/2 

Cowpea hay 8 

Oat straw . 10 


Pounds Suggested rations — Continued 

Suggested rations Pouni 

Bar corn 10 

Alfalfa hay 5 

Timothy hay ^ 5 

Oats , 8 

Alfalfa hay 4 

Timothy hay 6 

Cowpeas (coarsely ground) 5 

Molasses 5 

Oat straw 10 


Shelled corn 5 

Cowpeas 2 

Cottonseed meaP % 

Corn stover 5 

Sorghum fodder 5 

Shelled corn 7 

Cottonseed meal 1 

Cowpea hay 4 

Corn stover 6 

Shelled corn 8 

Cowpea hay 4 

Corn stover 6 

Rolled barley— 8 

Alfalfa 4 

Prairie hay 5. 

1 The meal may be replaced by 1 pound of cowpeas. 


Suggested rations Pounds Suggested rations — Continued Pounds 

Ear corn 13 Shelled corn 11 

Alfalfa hay 6 Cowpea hay 6 

Timothy hay 7 Corn stover 6 

Oats 12 

Cowpeas (cracked) 1 

Timothy hay 11 

Rolled barley 10 

Alfalfa hay 6 

Prairie hay 5 

Cowpea hay 5 

Corn stover 9 

Shelled corn 10 

Cottonseed meal % 




Suggested rations Pounds 
Oats 12 

Bran 2 

Timothy hay 8 

Clover hay 5 

Shelled corn 12 

Soybeans (ground) 1 

Alfalfa 12 

Corn stover 4 

Peanuts (ground with hulls) 7 

Cane molasses 7 

Pea hay 7 

Timothy hay 7 

Suggested rations — Continued Pounds 

Rolled barley 10 

Gluten meal 2 

Alfalfa 8 

Prairie hay 6 

Cowpea hay 5 

Corn stover 9 

Shelled corn 13 

Cottonseed meal 1% 

For sale by the Superintendent of Documents, U. S. Government Printing Office 
Washington 25, D. C. - Price 10 cents. 








Farmers' Bulletin 1H9. 

and cleaned regularly to insure satisfaction and durability ; and (6)" 
the shoulders, feet, and teeth must be well cared for. 


A fundamental factor in all problems of animal husbandry i? 
the man. In no phase of animal husbandry is this " man " element 
more vital than in the care of horses. The horse responds readily 
to the understanding and intelligence of his caretaker, and the dili- 
gence of the master often forestalls some of the things which might 
incapacitate the horse when his services are- most needed. The vir- 
tues in an ideal caretaker incltide: Fondness for horses; a kind, 


Fig. 1. — Convenient and compact stable for work horses. 

quiet, even-tempered disposition; regularity of habits; and close ob- 

^'\nien a man has the ability to keep horses in good condition so 
that the}' are ready when needed, he is a good horseman. Horsemen 
are spoken of as men having a " knack " for handling horses, under- 
stancling thoroughly every horse under their care, knowing how 
much feed is required, how much work can be accomplished in a day, 
and having the ability to detect warning signs of overwork, over- 
heating, and disorders of all kinds. 


Much time is saved in the care of work horses if the stable is con- 
veniently arranged so that the chores may be done quicklj^ and the 
feed., harness, and equipment are readily accessible. (See fig. 1.) A 

Care and Management of Farm Work Horses. 3 

conveniently located harness room should bo i^rovided. By this 
arranoement. many steps are saved and the life oi' the harness is pro- 
long-ed. Common labor-saving appliances, such as carriers for 
mannre, feed, and harness, are especially important in large stables. 
Although the box stall provides the greatest comfort, the open stall 
has been found generally satisfactory for work horses and requires 
less space. A good-sized single stall for a horse weighing about 1,400 
pounds is 5 by 10 feet, whereas a box stall should be about 12 feet 

Abundance of light and proper ventilation of the stables are essen- 
tial for complete sanitation and the health of the horse. Where win- 
dows are relied upon for both liglit and ventilation they should be 
high up from the floor, and open inwardly from the top. Ventilation ^ 

FiG; 2.--r)ouble stall tor work horses. Note the open partition, which permits free 
circulation of air, the slope of the clay floor, and the swinging pole. The bedding 
IS thrown forward to the middle for sanitation. 

is required in winter as well as in summer; therefore a system with 
floor-outlet ventilators will tend to carry off foul air and regulate the 
temperature, especially in colder climates. In any svstem of ventila- 
tion it is important that the horses are not subjected" to direct drafts. 
Stalls must be well bedded, and cleaned daily, in order to keep 
them dry and sanitary. (See fig. 2.) Wet mucky stalls predispose 
to the development of thrush and similar foot troubles. Many advan- 
tages are claimed by advocates of the 'various kinds of floors. Con- 
crete floors with board surfacing in the stalls are preferred by many, 
as they are easily kept in sanitary condition. Clay, however, is un- 
doubtedly the best material with which to make floors for horses, 
but such floors are objected to by many farmers because of the diffi- 
culty m keeping them level and clean. To be satisfactory, clay floors 
must be kept smooth, with slightly more slope for drainage than is 
required by other types of floors. 

iFor the principles of ventilation, see Farmers' 
Out of print, l)ut may be consulted in libraries. 

Bulletin 1342, Dairy Barn Construction. 

4 Farmers' Bulletin i^i9. 

A large paddock in connection with the stable helps considerably 
to keep in fit condition horses that are worked irregularly. A series 
of sodded lots will be found preferable, as, in addition to the exercise 
the horse gets, he will be benefited by the grass which acts as a tonic. 
Paddock exercise, though not as good as regular work, helps to guard 
against filled hocks, azoturia (so-called Monday morning sickness) 
and other troubles. 

When horses are wintered largely in open fields, a dry shed with 
the open side away from the prevailing winds will generally afford 
a satisfactory shelter. Although horses that are " roughed " through 

Fig. 3. — This deeij-budied, closely coupled, smoothly built gelding keeps in gnod tlesli 

on a small ration. 

the winter in this manner develop long, heavy coats of hair which 
protect them from the cold, it is a mistake to assume that their 
coats afford sufficient protection from storms. When horses are 
stabled at night the shed is usually not required. 


The most important factor in the care and management of farm 
work horses is feeding. Feeding methods vary in different parts 
of the country and with the different seasons. There is no definite 
standard for feeding all classes of horses, but there are certain 
basic rules which serve as a guide in feeding under varying work 
conditions. Regularity and care are of primary importance. Ir- 

- For detailed information regarding the feeding of horses, the composition of feeds, 
and methods of computing rations, consult Fai'mers' Bulletin 1030, " Feeding Horses." 

Care and Management of Farm Work Horses. 5 

roc'iilai- foedin<>:, or sudden cliaiift'os in rations, frequently result in 
digestive disorders. Any cliani>e in tlio ration should be made gradu- 
ally, because an immediate change in feeds — for example, from oats 
to corn, or from old hay to new hay — may result in colic. Care in all 
feeding operations is necessary for complete utilization of the feed 
and consequent fitness for work at all times. 

Trash or dirt must be removed from the grain box before each 
meal and chatf and refuse cleaned from the manger before the night 
feeding of hay. The feeder must also see to it that the feed used is 
of good grade. Musty, spoiled, or dirty feed may cause the horse to 
get " off feed " and not be fit for work. 

Individuality has a special bearing on the feeding and manage- 
ment of AYork stock. (See figs. 3 and 4.) Some horses keep in good 

Fig. 4.- 

-This shallow-bodied, loosely coupled horse requires proportionally more 
grain daily than the gelding shown in Figure 3. 

condition on a minimum ration, while others require much more than 
the average quantity of grain and hay. The same feeds are not 
relished by all horses, and all feeds do not have the same effect on all 
horses. It is necessary, therefore, to observe each horse closely and 
to substitute special feeds when necessary if the best results are to 
be obtained. 


During the work season a horse should eat only at regular in- 
tervals. Concentrated feed is necessary to supply the energy for 
hard work. The use of large amounts of roughages during the work 
season should be limited to periods of rest. Excessive feeding of 
hay is a wasteful practice in many ways ; it is exj^ensive, reduces the 


Farmers' Bulletin 1^19. 

efficiency of the horse, and if dusty often causes respiratory disorders. 
It is especially important that the grains and hay be of the highest 
quality at this time in order to obtain the greatest return in work. 

The selection of nutritious, high-grade feeds is as essential as 
the methods of feeding and management. Inasmuch as home-grown 
or locally grown crops generally constitute the most economical basis 
for the ration, the feed will vary with such crops. The most com- 
mon feeds for horses are oats, corn, barley, and bran, together with 
timothy, prairie, clover, and alfalfa hays. In the West, the grain 
hays are popular, while in the South, Johnson grass is widely used. 
Of the concentrates, oats most nearly supply the requirements for 
work horses and, on account of the uniformly good results obtained 
from their use, have always been recognized as the leading grain for 
them. The other grains, also, are widely used, particularly corn. 
It is often possible, however, to make substitutions in the ration, 
resulting in a noticeable saving, without affecting its nutritive value. 
The nutritive value may also be increased without increasing its 
cost. Bran, particularly when corn or barley is fed with timothy 
and the coarser roughages, improves the ration. Bran is high in 
protein and mildly laxative in character. The limited use of alfalfa, 
clover, or other legumes with timothy or similar hay increases the 
nutritive value of the ration. 

The amount of grain and hay required by the farm work horse 
depends, among other things, on the kind, regularity, and speed of 
the work performed. Although the exact amount is variable, a gen- 
eral guide is to allow Ij^ pounds of grain and 1^ pounds of hay per 
100 pounds live weight for horses at moderately hea^^ work; and 
11 to 1^ pounds of grain, with not to exceed 1| j)<^^^^^fls of hay, at 
heavy work. The following table may be used as a guide in feeding : 

Table 1. — Average iveigJit and measure of some common feeds. 


Barley, steam rolled 

Corn, shelled 

Corns cracked 


Linseed meal, new process. 
Linseed meal, old process. _ 
Molasses (cane, blackstrap) 

Oats, whole 

Oats, rolled 


Wheat bran 

Cottonseed meal 

One quart 

One pound 


measures. . 



























The grain part of the ration for horses at work is usualh' di"\-ided 
into three equal feeds. If the horse does not clean up his grain in 
a reasonable length of time, the quantity should be reduced. About 
two-thirds of the daily hay allowance is given at night, with most 
of the remaining hay fed in the morning, leaving only a very small 
allowance for the noon feed. Tlie quantity of roughage should be 
limited within the maximum allowance, so that all the edible forage 
will be cleaned up every day. When there is edible forage remain- 
ing from the night feeding, do not put in a fresh supply, but stir 

Care and Management of Farm Work Horses. 

up that which is in the manger, so that the chafF goes to the bottom, 
leaving the good hay avaihible. Some hay should be fed before 
the grain at night, for the appetite of the hoi'se is not appeased by 
the grain when it is fed first, and he fills up on hay, forcing the 
grain on through the stomach too quickly, thereby decreasing the 
quantity assimilated. 

The following daily rations (Table 2) are suggested as practical 
combinations and quantities of feed. As the rations suggested are 
for the average (1,000-pound) work horse, increase the ration by 
one-fifth, if the horse weighs 1,200 pounds, and by two-fifths if the 
hoi-se weighs 1,400 pounds. For example, in the case of the first 
ration, a 1,400-pound horse should receive 15.4 pounds of oats, and 
8.4 pounds each of timothy and alfalfa or clover. These rations are 
based on the theoretical requirement of horses at rather light w^ork, 
such as cultivating corn. If the horses are at heavy work, such as 
plowing, the grain should be increased 15 to 20 per cent, the exact 
amount, of course, depending on the individual animal. "Wlien the 
1,000-pound horse is on light work, he generally requires not more 
than 10 pounds of grain daily, and will probably keep in good con- 
dition on less. 

Table 2. — Daily rations for 1,000-powid horse at medium 


Ration 1. Pounds. 

Oats , 11 

Timothy hay 6 

Clover, or alfalfa, hay 6 

Ration' 2. 

Oats . 6 

Corn,, sihelled 5 

Timothy hay 6 

Alfalfa, or clover, hay 6 

Ration 3. 

Corn, shelled 8 

Bran, wheat 2 

Alfalfa hay 8 

Timothy hay 4 

Ration i. Pounds. 

Barlev, rolled 10 

Alfalfa hay 6 

Prairie, or timothy, hay 5 

Ration 5. 

Com, shelled 11 

Cowpea hay 6 

Johnson grass hay, or coirn. stover 6 

Ration. 6. 

Corn,. Sihelled 10 

Soybeans or cowpeasi (gi-ound) 1 

Alfalfa, hay 6 

Corn stover 6 

The method of feeding has a great deal to do with the utiliza- 
tion of the feed and the condition of the horse. Attention to the 
methods often results in increased utilization of the feed by the 
horse, and saving of feed. It is important that the horse that bolts 
his grain be made to eat slowly, which may be done by feeding 
the grain spread out in a large, flat box, by placing several smooth 
stones about 3 inches in diameter in the feed box, or by mixing it 
with bran, cut hay, or similar feed. Some horses waste their hay by 
pulling it out and trampling it underfoot. This is sometimes caused 
by feeding two kinds of hay, one of which is especially palatable. 
In that case, the waste may be corrected by feeding the hay so that 
the horse can eat the more palatable first. The horse will then eat 
the other hay leisurely during the night. Another plan is to with- 
hold the good hay until the other is eaten. 

Overfeeding^ rather than underfeeding, is the common practice 
when horses are working irregularly. It should be remembered that 
the amount of feed should vary not only between winter and summer, 
but also from day to day. It is a waste of feed if the amount is not 
varied with the degree of work. Wlien horses are to be idle on the 
following day, as on Sunday, it is well to substitute a bran mash for 
the Saturclaj^-night grain feed, and reduce the grain feed for Sunday 

818936° — 49 2 

Farmers' Bulletin 1^19. 

to a|3proximately half of the normal ration. A mash is made by 
mixing 3 or 4 pounds of dry bran (per horse) with hot water, and 
allowing it to steam in a covered receptacle until cool enough to 
eat. Do not cook or scald the bran by using water that is too hot. 
The palatability of the mash is increased by the addition of a table- 
spoon of salt per horse. 

Pasture saves feed and labor and the grass acts as a laxative and 
a general tonic. While good pasture is sufficient for maintaining idle 
horses, a light supplementary grain ration, nonlaxative and relatively 
high in protein, is generally advisable for work horses. When horses 
that are accustomed to a heavy grain ration are turned on pasture for 
a long idle period, they should be given a small amount of grain for a 
few days ; otherwise they may gorge themselves on the green rough- 
age and suffer impaction, rupture of the stomach, or other serious 
trouble. When horses are laid off from_ field work for periods of 
only a few days at a time, the reduction in grain will depend sonie- 

FiG. 5. — Grass acts as a general tonic to the system. Night pasture also provides a 
place to roll, water at will, and a clean, cool place to rest. 

what mi the feed value of the pasture, but generally the grain ration 
at this time should be about half the normal requirement. Irregu- 
larity, with sudden changes to green feed, is likely to result in diges- 
tive disorders. Turning the horses regularly on pasture at night is 
a means of keeping the digestive system accustomed to succulent 
feed. This practice decreases the quantity of hay needed by the 
horses, but they should receive a small feed of hay with the regular 
evening grain ration before being turned out. Horses that are 
turned on night pasture sweat more at work than horses on dry 
feed, but this is overbalanced by the benefits derived during hot 
weather, when the pasture provides a place to roll, water at will, 
and a clean, cool place to rest. 

Care and Management of Farm Work Horses. g 


There is quite a diversitj^ of opinion among horsemen on the 
question of watering liorses. Some feeders maintain that liorses 
should always be watered before feeding, in order to prevent a flush- 
ing of tlie grain through the stomach into tlie small intestine. This 
system is not always practicable, however, as some animals refuse to 
drink before eating. The consensus of opinion on watering horses 
indicates that water may be given either before, during, or after 
meals without injurious elfects. Thus, individual convenience and 
attendant circumstances Avill largely determine the watering prac- 
tice to be followed. In any practice, however, it is well to adhere 
to the same plan, once a definite watering time has been adopted, 
for to change frequently from one system to another will affect the 
animal's appetite. Regularity in watering methods as well as in 
feeding methods should be adhered to. 

The following factors should be considered in watering horses : 

Horses which have been deprived of water for a long period or 
those which haA^e undergone severe exertion should generally be 
watered before eating. It is dangerous, however, to allow an animal 
to drink heavily while very warm. If the horse is hot, give a moder- 
ate drink at this time, and water more freely after the animal has 
cooled off. 

It is not a good practice to water heavily just before putting 
horses to heavy work. 

Weather conditions, the nature of the work done, and the kind of 
feed consumed will determine the quantity of water required. In 
hot weather and when at hard work, horses consume more water than 
in cold weather or when inactive. Horses will drink more water 
when fed a protein-rich ration, such as alfalfa hay, than when on a 
carbonaceous diet. When horses are doing hard work, especially 
during hot weather, they should be watered every hour. 

The average water consumption per individual horse is from 10 to 
12 gallons daily. 

One of the times when a horse requires and appreciates a drink 
most is when it has finished its nightly allowance of roughage. 
Every horse should be allowed to drink at this time if possible. 

It is better to water frequently, in small quantities, than to allow 
the animal to gorge itself at any one time. 

Watering at public troughs is to be avoided, as this is a common 
method of spreading disease. 


Horses should be given salt at frequent intervals, or, better, salt 
should be accessible at all times in the stable, pastures, and paddocks. 
When salt is given regularly, generally only enough to meet the horse's 
requirements will be consumed, while with irregular use an abnormal 
appetite for salt develops, which in turn is often followed by an exces- 
sive consumption and digestive troubles if unlimited access is allowed. 

10 Farmers' Bulletin 1M9. 

An average of about li/^ ounces daily should be allowed generally. 
Horses doing heavy work, however, particularly during warm weather, 
or those on dry feed will consume more than this quantity. 

Besides being a feeding requisite, salt is of benefit as an appetizer, 
for in many instances delicate eaters and shy drinkers will show an 
increased appetite when allowed free and regidar access to it. More- 
over, the consumption of adequate quantities of salt by work horses 
will do much in preventing excessive fatigue. 


Maintaining the farm work horse in healthful condition during 
the winter is the first start in fitting him for spring work. The horse 
should not be so fed during the winter that he becomes fat and soft. 
On the other hand, poor care during the winter, resulting in loss of 
weight and vitality, so weakens the horse that he is not in condition 
for spring work, and often his resistance is so lowered as to invite 

It is bad management to let a horse lose weight during the winter 
and then try to bring him back to normal by heavy feeding just 
before the beginning of spring work. If, however, the horse is thin 
or run down at the beginning of winter, he should be gradually 
brought into thrifty physical condition. Winter and early spring 
feeding should so strengthen the horse that he will be ready for the 
fitting period and heavy spring work. 

The liberal use of roughage, supplemented with the right amount 
and kind of other nutritious feed, will maintain a horse properly 
during the winter. Farm horses, except brood mares or growing 
stock, do well on a ration made up largely of the coarser hays, straw, 
or corn fodder. Cornstalk fields, grain-stubble fields, or pastures 
which have not been closely grazed during the summer are ver}^ 
desirable sources of a large part of the winter maintenance feed for 
horses. The common roughages, as the main part of the ration 
during this period, will supply enough bulky feed to keep the horse 
thrifty without putting on superfluous fat. The drinking of a large 
amount of pure water should be encouraged to increase the utiliza- 
tion of these dry roughages. When necessary, a tank heater should 
be used to keep the drinking trough free from ice. 

It is advisable to supplement the coarser roughages with a legume, 
such as alfalfa, clover, vetch, soybean, or cowpea hay. These hays 
are very palatable and should be fed sparingly. They are rich in 
protein and mineral matter and supply the materials needed to re- 
place those lost in the natural wear of the body. Being somewhat 
laxative in eifect they also help to keep the digestive tract in good 
condition. They are especially valuable in connection with straw 
and similar feed. The use of these hays with the coarser roughages 
is economical because a supplemental ration of grain is not necessary. 

Care and Management of Farm Work Horses. H 

Corn silao-e, if fed Avith care, may be utilized in limited amounts 
in tlie winter ration of idle work horses. It is generally considered 
that the amount of corn silage should not exceed 15 ]:)ounds daily. 
Corn silage is bulky, appetizing, succulent, and slightly laxative. 
None but choice, fresh silage should be given to horses. Severe 
losses from botulism (forage poisoning) have resulted when these 
precautions have not been observed. Frozen or moldy silage must 
not be used under any circumstances. 

In some instances, especially when it is not possible to feed a leg- 
ume hay, a small quantity of grain is necessary to maintain the 
horses in thrifty condition. Oats are preferred for use with the 
coarser roughages, but corn and barley are often used in the winter 
ration, especially when they are cheaper or when an increase in weight 
is desired. One or two bran mashes a week or a little linseed meal 
each day is recommended as an aid in keeping the system in good 
condition and in preventing impaction resulting from the use of 
large amounts of coarse roughage improperly supplemented. 

Pregnant mares require more attention during the winter than the 
open mare or gelding. As a kick often causes the loss of a colt, 
the pregnant mare should not be turned out with other horses, es- 
pecially if she fights with them. Leguminous feeds high in protein 
and mineral matter are necessary in developing the fetus. Although 
the feeding of the legmne hay is of more importance than a supple- 
mental grain feed, in most cases such feeds as oats, bran, and oil meal 
should be supplied, the proportions being largely controlled by the 
condition of the mare and the stage of development of the fetus. 


Preceding the spring season, the horse usually must be conditioned 
for the work that is ahead of him. The fitting necessary to condition 
horses for spring work depends largely on the way they have been 
wintered. The condition of the horse that has been properly cared 
for in the open during the winter is more nearly the ideal than that of 
the horse that has been kept in the stable. While the fitting period 
varies with the condition of the animal and other factors, the average 
time usually allotted for it is two to four weeks. A horse that is 
either very thin or very fat requires a longer fitting period than one 
in thrifty condition with fair flesh. A young horse also requires a 
longer time for fitting and training than a mature horse, especially 
if he has just been broken. 

During this fitting period, the digestive system of the horse becomes 
adjusted to the change in kind and quantity of feed necessary to 
supply energj^ for the production of maximum work. This end is 
usually accomplished by gradually increasing the ration with the work 
done. Preparation of horses should begin several weeks before they 
are actually put to heavy work. While the use of coarse, nonsalable 
feeds is an economic practice during the winter, the horse should 
gradually be put on a smaller ration of finer-quality hay early in the 
spring, and started on a light feed of grain three times daily, ^^lien 

12 Farmers' Bulletin iH9. 

light work has commenced, a 1,400-poimd horse should be getting about 
14 pounds of grain together with 14 or 15 pounds of fine-quality hay, 
daily. This gradual change from coarse roughages to good-quality 
feed" will have prepared the digestive tract for the use of from 18 to 
19 pounds of grain, with from 16 to 18 pounds of hay, which will 
be needed by the horse at heavy work, such as disking or plowing. 

It should be remembered that changes in both kind and quantity 
of feed should always be made gradually. 

It is also necessary that the work horse be gradually conditioned, 
or hardened, for heavy work. By increasing the work gradually, 
the muscles are hardened, and the horse gradually develops strength 
for the heaviest work. During this period, special attention must 
be given to the shoulders, a discussion of which will be found on 
page 16. 


Grooming improves the general appearance of a horse, and, what 
is more important, removes the internal waste of the body which 
has been exuded through the pores of the skin, and the loose scurf. 

Fig. 6. — Good grooming is essential to the conditioning and health of the animal. 
Left to right : Bristle or body brush, corrugated comb, and fiber or mud hrush. 

If this Avaste matter is not removed by thorough grooming, the pores 
of the skin will be stopped, normal body activities hindered, and 
the general health of the animal impaired. This condition is indi- 
cated by a harsh skin and dry, rough appearance of the hair. The 
skin of a well-groomed, healthy animal is pliable and soft, and the 
hair glossy. Because regular grooming so improves the action of the 
digestive organs and the utilization of feed, it is often said that a 
good grooming is as valuable as a feed. 

The amount of grooming necessary varies considerably. Horses 
that are pastured, or are outdoors, do not require much grooming, 
as under these conditions there is less jDerspiration and the waste 
products are more generally thrown off through the bowels and 
kidneys. Fast or active work, together with heavy feeding, how- 
ever, causes free perspiration and throwing off of body waste 
through the skin, making regular grooming necessary. 

Care, regularity, and thoroughness are essential in grooming. It 
is a good plan to groom the horse at night, for he will rest better, 
and a good brisk brushing is sufficient the next morning before go- 
ing to the field. Turning the horse out at night, or allowing him 
to roll, only j)artially removes the need of the evening grooming, 
for only the high spots are touched and very little of the body-waste 
material is removed. 

Core and Management of Farm Work Horses. 


The connuon o(iui})iiKMit for oroomint;- is the currycomb, dundy 
brush, and body brush (lii*-. (i), while the rub rag, mane comb, and 
footpick are often needecl. Tlie currycomb should be used only 
when the horse is sweaty and dirty. As the skin is very sensitive, a 
round-corrugated comb is preferred. The dandy or fiber brush 
should be laid on heavily the first time over the horse. The body 
brush is then used to remove the loose body-waste substance and scurf, 
and for the careful cleaning of the fetlocks and pasterns. The feet 

Pig. 7. — Clipping outllt — a haud-powei' clipping machine, with timall hand clipper 
and shears on box. Clippinj; saves the horse discomfort in hot weather. 

of farm horses should also be cleaned and the mane and tail brushed 
and thinned regularly. 

Farm work horses are seldom washed. "When this is done, how- 
ever, all parts should be thoroughly washed with tepid water and 
mild, alkaline soap and afterwards completely dried. Sawdust or 
bran is good for drying the legs. 

Clipping is advisable, as it saves the horse a great deal of dis- 
comfort, and makes grooming easier. (See fig. 7.) The removal 
of the heavy winter coat makes the horse less likely to sweat, and 
helps to prevent shoulder soreness. The horse must be blanketed, 


Farmers' Bulletin 1^19. 

however, for a time, if clipped early in the spring. The foretop 
of a farm work horse is often trimmed, but a sore neck is less 
likely if the mane is not trimmed at the collar seat. When draft 
horses are being produced for city use, the foretop should not be 
removed, as it is needed to satisfy the demands of the city trade. 


All parts of the harness should fit the horse comfortably yet 
snugly. It is of special importance for the collar to fit, so that when 
it is adjusted the pull will be distributed equally over the shoulders. 
The best plan is to have a good, heavy, leather collar for each horse, 
and always use his own collar on him. To fit, there should be barely 
room for the flat hand to pass between the collar and the windpipe, 
and for the finger tips to pass at the side of the neck just above the 

Fig. S. — Just room, for the flat hand be- 
tween collar and windpipe. 

Fig. 0. — Itooni for the finger tips at tlie 

The First Step in Eliminating Sorb Shoulders is a Correctly Fitting Collar. 

shoulder points. (See figs. 8 and 9.) A short collar chokes the 
horse when pulling, while a collar which is too long bruises the 
shoulder points and chafes the neck at the withers. A narrow collar 
will pinch. A wide collar will bring pressure and irritation on the 
side of the shoulder. The condition of the horse shoaild be taken into 
account when a new collar is fitted, due allowance being made for 
excess hair and surplus flesh, if the fitting is done in the spring. 

Sweat pads are a poor means of making a collar fit. They are 
hot, and easily wrinkled, stick to the shoulder, have a surface that 
is hard to keep clean, get hard when dry, and cause more sore 
shoulders than do' smooth and solid surfaces. Hames that do not 
fit offset a good-fitting collar and cause sore shoulders, whereas prop- 
erly fitted hames should assist in bringing about the right setting 
for the pull. The hames should fit snugly, and be drawn tightly on 
the collar, so that the point of draft will be about one-third of the 
distance above the point of the shoulder. 

Care and Management of Farm Work Horses. 


All other purts of Die liarnoss luust also be properly adjusted :ind 
fitted. In adjiistin,i>- the bridle, the bit should rest snu<>-ly on the bars 
of the luouth, and tlie checkrein should be used but mildly. The 
bod}^ parts of the harness should lit snui>;ly, but not so as to retard 
free full motion, while the adjustment of traces and lines is required 
for an even pull and perfect control. 

The life of the harness is prolonged l)y the care given it. When 
the harness is not in use, it should be hung up carefully, in a dry 
harness room. A little care in removing the collar from the horse, 
keeping it in shape, and hanging it on a peg or rack by itself, will 
probably prolong its life very materially. Many collars are broken 
and ruined by careless handling. Cleaning the face of the collar, and 
other bearing surfaces of the harness, with a damp cloth, at the 
time the harness is removed from the horse, keejDS these parts smooth 
and firm, thereby helping to prevent galls and sore shoulders, as 

Fig. lu. 

-Harness-repair kit, consisting of clamii, 4-tabe punch, riveting- set, 
pliers, awls, knife, needles, thread, and wax. 

well as adding to the life of the leather. AMiile most of the mend- 
ing must take place at the time of the breakage, it is well to go over 
all harness carefully during dull seasons, replacing weak parts and 
restitching ripped places. A harness repair kit (fig. 10) is essential 
equipment for every farmer. The kit consists of a riveting machine, 
4-tube punch, a pair of pliers, awls, an assortment of needles, a ball 
of good thread with wax, a wood clamp, leather, snaps, buckles, and 
cleansing and oiling materials. The round knife, edged tools, and 
creasers make possible the use of side leather and more complete 
saddlery work. 

A thorough overhauling, cleaning, and oiling of the harness once 
or twice a year in addition to the daily cleaning of bearing surfaces 
and careful handling, prolong its life. At least once a year the 
harness should be taken apart so that all parts may be thoroughly 
cleaned, oiled, and repaired. To clean, soak the harness about 15 
minutes in lukewarm water in which a mild soap has been dis- 
solved. Adding a little soda makes the water a better solvent. 


Farmers' Bulletin 1^19. 

Each strap should be scrubbed carefully and rmsed well. AMien 
nearly dry rub edge blacking on all parts where required, clean 
the metal parts, and make needed repairs. The leather should then 
be oiled while still damp, using neat's-foot oil, castor oil, or one of 
the prepared harness oils. A very good mixture for heavy harness 
is neat's-foot oil, mixed with tallow to make a paste of about the 
consistency of butter, warmed slightly.^- All oils should be 
thoroughly rubbed into the harness, and be allowed to dry slowly, 
being hung neither in the sun nor close to a fire. When the oil has 
dried, the straps should be rubbed well with a lather made of white 
castile soap, or a good harness soap. This will remove surplus 

Fig. 11. — Farm mare wiUi properly trimmed feet. Regular care of the feet, so that 
the horse stands square and plumb, will relieve needless tendon strain and avoid 
deformity of the feet, unsoundness, and improper action. 

grease and take away the greasy appearance: With regular care the 
leather will be clean and pliable. Frequent sponging will keep the 
harness like new. 


Correct fitting of the collar, and adjustment of the harness, is a 
big step in the elimination of sore shoulders. The shoulders of work 
animals should be given special attention during the spring fitting 
season until the muscles harden and winter hair sheds off. Clean 
the shoulders carefully after the daj^'s work is done, and before 
harnessing next morning, ^^^len the harness is taken ofl\ wash the 
shoulders with warm water and castile soap, and rinse with cold 
water to which a small amount of salt has been added. This treat- 

3 For further information, see Farmers' Bulletin 1523, Leather Shoes, Selection and Care. 
Out of print, but may be consulted in libraries. 

Care and Managcincnt of Farm Work Horses. 


ment may be discontinued ni'ter two or three Aveeks, but careful 
daily grooming- and cleaning of the collar are always required. A 
little time given in special attention to the shoulders in the field 
during the earty spring is time well used. Raise the collar fre- 
quently and clean the sweat, dirt, and dead hair from both the 
shoulder and collar. Lift the collar forward on the neck and leave 

Fig. 12. — Left forefoot of horse 
Fisiire 11,, before trimming. 

Fig. 13. — Same foot, after trim- 
ming'. Notice cliange in, angle 
of pastern. 

-Bottom of hoof before trim- 

it there for a few minutes, so that the shoulder surface may cool 
off. It is especially important that the neck and shoulders be 
cleaned and given a chance to dry and cool off during the noon hour. 


Care of the feet at all times, so the horse stands square and plumb, 
will relieve needless strain on tendons and prevent deformity of the 
feet, imsoundness, and improper action. (See figs. 11 to 15.) When 
the horse is not shod, loose pieces and rough corners of horn should be 
trimmed off with nippers, and the wall leveled regularly with the rasp. 

18 Farmers' Bulletin iH9. 

Horses used on hard roads, and in some cases those running on 
hard or frozen fields, should be shod. The shoes should be made to 
fit, and the reshoeing or resetting of the old shoes should be done 
regularly to prevent injury to feet and legs. Toe calks and heels 
should be provided during the winter to prevent slipping.^ 

When the feet are cleaned daily, they usually remain healthy and 
the wall of the hoof tough, whereas lack of exercise and close stabling 
under foul conditions cause an unhealthy condition of the feet. The 
hoof occasionally becomes brittle, however, because of lack of mois- 
ture. Sometimes the right moisture conditions are obtained by soak- 
ing or poulticing the hoof and then dressing it with neat's-foot oil 
or sweet oil to prevent further drying out. Packing the feet with 
powdered white rock or blue clay is also a good corrective, and re- 
stores a healthy condition. Frequent cleaning of the feet of shod 
horses tends to prevent inflanunation and more serious troubles which 
commonly result from stones or clods packing in the sole of the foot. 


At least once during the year a competent veterinarian should ex- 
amine the teeth of all horses. Generally all that wiU be required is 
the " floating " or filing off of the long, sharp corners which are due 
to uneven wearing. This roughness first causes sore tongues or 
cheeks, followed by a lack of proper mastication together with di- 
gestive troubles. Older horses particularly are often greatly bene- 
fited by proper attention to the teeth. 


Make hitches carefully, in order that the pull will be at the center of draft, 
and that each horse will pull his share of the load. The strongest horse should 
usually have as much of the load as suits his power. 

Do not work a slow horse and a fast horse together. There will be friction 
and loss of power, in addition to irritation to both driver and horses. 

Give special consideration to the arrangement of horses that are hitched 
three or four abreast. If a horse worries when worked between other horses, 
rearrange the team so that this horse works quietly. 

At the beginning of the day's work, warm up the liorses gradually. The di- 
gestive tract will be emptied, the muscles and joints limbered up, tlie collar 
will be made pliable and set to the shoulder, and tlie whole machine will be 
in better condition for the day's work. 

Work the horse at his normal gait in the field. He can not work efficiently 
above his normal gait for any great length of time, even though he is pulling 
a light load. 

Sweating during hot weather indicates that the cooling system is working. 
Puffing may be a serious warning, especially if the horse has ceased to sweat, 
and overheating may result if the horse is pushed at this time. A brief rest, 
a swallow of water, or a sponging of the mouth will often restore normal action 
and avoid serious consequences. 

An important phase of horse husbandry is to avert common ailments. Every 
horseman should know how to take necessary precautions in avoiding various 
troubles, to care for minor ailments, and start immediate-relief measures until 
the services of a competent veterinarian can be obtained. 

- For a detailed discussion of the care of a horse's feet, consult Farmers' Bulletin 1535, 
Farm Horseshoeing. 


For sale by the Superintendent of Documents, U. S. Government Printing Office, 
Washington 2o, D. C. - Price 10 cents 



Two LINES of profit are derived by the use of spe- 
cially selected mares on farms: Raising colts and 
doing farm work. 

To obtain the maximum returns from this system, the 
animals used for work on the farm should be brood 
mares and the young horses which are increasing in 

Mares chosen for work and breeding must be well- 
bred, sound individuals of desirable conformation. It 
does not pay to raise scrub colts. 

Mares doing this double duty must receive extra feed, 
care, and management. 

The selection of a stallion is highly important. A low 
service fee should not tempt one to use an inferior 

It is advantageous to produce a uniform lot of foals. 
Select breeding animals with this in view. 

There may be less interference with the farm work 
if the mares foal in the fall. 

Careful choice in mating creates greater possibilities 
for the offspring, but these possibilities are realized only 
when nourishing feed and regular attention are given 
the young animals. 

Washington, D. C. Issued May 1917 

Revised August 1941 


By S. R. SPEEI.MAN, associate animal hushandman, Animal Husbandry Division, 
Bureau of Animal Industry 



Profit in breeding farm mares 1 

Selecting breeding and worliing mares 1 

Uniformity of the mares 2 

Soundness 3 

Selecting a stallion. 5 

Care of the stallion 6 

Mating considerations 7 

Artificial insemination, _ ._ 9 

Feed and management of mares in foal. 12 


Abortions 14 

Approaching parturition 15 

Parturition 15 

Care of the foal 16 

Feeding after foaling ^ 16 

Raising the orphan foal 17 

Weaning 19 

Castration 19 

Feeding and management of young horses 19 


FINANCIAL profit results from breeding mares that earn their 
feed by furnishing farm horsepower. Instances of this are 
often cited in farm papers. It is not uncommon to read of some 
remarkable mare that, besides doing her share of the farm work, has 
raised many hundreds of dollars' worth of colts (fig. 1). These 
accounts seldom tell of more than one such mare on a particular 
farm, whereas to obtain the greatest returns nearly all the work 
animals maintained on the farm should be mares of this kind. 

Breeding the working mares places double duty on them; conse- 
quently they should be robust individuals of proper conformation 
and must have good care and treatment. With two sources of profit 
from one animal, farmers can well afford to pay more for such 
stock, feed it more heavily, and give it special attention. The small 
farmer is the one who is most likely to get the best results from 
such a plan, because he usually works his own teams or is in position 
to watch them closely and see that they are not ill-treated. 


The two outstanding requirements in profitable farm mares are 
that they be breeders and workers. If a good, registered stallion is 
available, purebred mares of the same breed will probably give 
better returns than grades. It costs practically no more to raise 
a purebred colt than it does to raise a grade, and the returns are much 
greater. The amount of capital that can be invested in the mares 
is an important factor in determining whether purebreds should be 
used. The particular breed type that the purebreds or grades 
should conform to depends largely on local market demands. Some 

^ This is a revision of former editions by H. H. Reese, who resigned in 1926. 


communities are noted for and attract buyers of high-class draft 
horses; others have local dealers who handle many saddle horses; 
and still others have a ready outlet for horses of the general-utility 
type, that is, horses that can be worked, driven, or used for riding 
purposes. In a locality favored with any such markets it is gen- 
erally advisable to raise the prevailing type, since by so doing sales 
are more easily made and the services of high-class stallions are 
practically assured. 

However, some persons have a decided preference for a par- 
ticular breed or type, and where this is so a greater success often is 
made by raising the kind naturally preferred, although it must be 

Figure 1.- 

-These farm mares do double duty. Besides paj'ing for their feed with 
work, the'y annually produce foals that are sold at a profit. 

remembered that it is difficult to show a profit when raising some- 
thing for which there may be but a limited demand. It is generally 
accepted that light horses are best suited to rolling and semimoun- 
tainous land, while draft stock is more adaptable to level country. 


Uniformity in the mares kept on a particular farm generally is 
not given much consideration. There is satisfaction, economy, and 
convenience, however, in having mares similar enough in type and 
action so that one can readily fill the place of another at any kind of 
farm work. Such mares are especially desirable when it is necessary 
to work them 3 or 4 abreast. In case 4 to a wagon are needed, it is 
a good advertisement of the owner's judgment and ability as a horse- 
man to have them all uniform, in good condition, and hooked up to 
a nicety. If the mares resemble one another and are bred to the same 
stallion it is often possible to sell the young horses as pairs, in which 


form they nearly always bring a premium. The market for hoi'ses 
bred in this manner will not be overcrowded very soon, as can readily 
be attested by anyone who has been confronted with the difficult task 
of purchasing matched pairs of a certain type. 


Desirable characteristics in purebred or grade mares signify im- 
pressive ancestry and prepotency.. Femininity of expression and 
of conformation is an indication of good breeding qualities. Style, 
good disposition, quality, clean, flat bone, concave, open feet, strong 

Figure 2. — A draft stallion, showing well-set underpinning, substance with quality, 
short, smooth coupling, well-sloped shoulders, and a head denoting intelligence and 

constitution, good proportions, deep, roomy barrel, width across 
the hips denoting a large pelvic arch, and well-developed vulva, 
udder, and teats are qualities especially desired in breeding mares. 
An inspection of the colts the mare produces is generally the best 
evidence of her worth as a brood mare. The length of usefulness 
as producers varies greatly with different mares. Some have ex- 
cellent colts when 25 years of age, but if they produce until they are 
15 years old they do very well. Much depends on the individuals 
and the way they are handled. Shy breeding mares are generally 
unprofitable producers. 


Unsound horses cause breeders much financial loss ; consequently it 
is of great importance that all horses reared should be as sound as 


possible. Usually horses become unsound either because the tissue 
or the skeletal structure (or both) at a particular point of the body 
is weak, or because the strain exerted on the part is greater than the 
best tissue and best conformation can stand. Of course, if bad con- 
formation exists, it is logical that such animals should not be used for 
breeding purposes whether they are sound or not. When considering 
horses that are unsound but apparently have good conformation, it 
usually is difficult to decide whether the conformation is at fault or 
whether an unbearable strain was the cause; consequently these 
animals, too, should not be used as breeders unless it is positively 
known that the unsoundness developed after severe labor had been 

Figure 3. — Draft mare of desirable conformation. Note especially the femininity and 
quality of this mare and her exceptional breediness, as indicated by the clean-cut head 
and deep, roomy body. 

performed in amount or degree much greater than that done by the 
average horse or that it resulted from purely accidental causes. 

Unless caused by unusual circumstances, such as above indicated, 
any of the following kinds of unsoundness usually are sufficient reason 
for discarding a mare for breeding purposes : Bone spavin, ringbone, 
sidebone, heaves, stringhalt, roaring, periodic ophthalmia (moon 
blindness), and blindness, partial or complete. In the case of 
stallions, a more strict standard of soundness generally is followed 
than with mares. The stallion-registration laws of various States 
usually prescribe the unsoundnesses which bar stallions from public 
service. Some States have a longer list than others. Without dis- 
criminating, however, the foregoing list is one on which horsemen 


generally agree. The unsoundnesses there given are the most com- 
mon and are detected readily.' The elimination of unsound breeding 
stock, the feeding of balanced rations that will insure proper devel- 
opment of bone and tissues, and careful handling and management 
of colts are the right steps to take in eliminating unsoundness from 
horse stock. 


A low service fee should never tempt one to use an inferior stallion. 
It may also be better to use a stallion which stands at some distance 
rather than one that is more convenient. While the purchase price 
of a stallion is not always in proportion to his worth as a sire, the 

FiGUKE 4. — Light stallion with well-set limbs, substance, and quality. 

service fee generally is, if the horse has been standing long enough 
for mare owners to be able to pass judgment on his prepotency 
and on the quality of the colts he gets. The opinion of disinterested 
horsemen, together with the stallion's show winnings, will aid in 
making a good selection. "Weight is an indispensable quality in a 
draft stallion, although it should not offset a deficiency in other 
respects. In the lighter stallions style, smooth lines, and swift, 
well-balanced action are necessary to improve light-horse stock. In 
any breed good feet, clean, flat bone free from meatiness, well-defined 
hocks, good disposition, quality, animation, and breed characteristics 
are well worth looking for in the sire. It is poor policy to use 
anything but a sound, purebred stallion free from manifest faults of 

2 For further information consult Farmers' Bulletin 779, How to Select a Sound Horse. 



conformation, and he should be of the same breed or type as the 
It must be borne in mind, too, that a stallion that is not 


properly fed and exercised is not likely to get a large proportion of 
strong, healthy colts. In short, too much care cannot be exercised in 
obtaining a suitable mate for the mares and the fundamental law 
that generally holds in all breeding operations must always be 
remembered, viz, like produces like or the likeness of an ancestor. 


The stallion should be kept in good condition throughout the year. 
Neglect during some periods and special attention during the bre^d- 

FlGURE 5. 

-Light mare of desirable conformation. Quality, smooth lines, animation, and 
indications of strong constitution are shown. 

ing season form a too common practice that should be avoided. Each 
day the stallion should have suitable feed, water, and exercise. He 
should be groomed regularly and thoroughly, have access to salt, and 
be housed in well-lighted, sanitary, and comfortable quarters in the 
vicinity of other horses. 

The quantity of feed required by a stallion depends on the amount 
of work or exercise he receives, his condition, size, and individuality, 
and the methods of feeding and management followed. The follow- 
ing are daily rations suggested for 1,200- and 2,000-pound stallions 
receiving moderate exercise : 


1,200-pound stallion: 

(a.) 10 pounds oats, 2 pounds wheat 
bran, 15 pounds mixed tim- 
othy and clover hay. 

(6) 6 pounds shelled corn, 6 pounds 
oats, 8 pounds timothy hay, 
7 pounds alfalfa hay. 

2,000-pound stallion : 

(o) 16 pounds oats, 4 pounds wheat 
bran, 22 pounds mixed timo- 
thy and clover hay. 
(&) 10 pounds shelled corn, 10 
pounds oats, 10 pounds al- 
falfa hay, 12 pounds timothy 

When comparatively little work or exercise is given, some laxative 
feed should be included in the ration. Among the best laxative feeds 
are grass, linseed meal, wheat bran, alfalfa hay, and carrots. 

During the breeding season the stallion should receive a ration 
relatively high in protein and mineral matter. Linseed meal, soy- 
beans, cowpeas, field peas, wheat bran, and the legume hays are high 
in protein content and suitable for use in the breeding ration. In 
practically all instances the protein-rich concentrates must be fed in 
limited amounts, preferably not more than one-third of the total al- 
lowance, with the legume seeds (soybeans, cowpeas, field peas) being 
used only in a ground form. Excessive use of linseed meal, wheat 
bran, or legume hay will make the ration too laxative. 

Working the stallion is generally advisable. When the amount of 
exercise or work is increased, the grain allowance should be in- 
creased. A paddock for exercise is recommended. Six miles of 
jogging each day is considered moderate exercise for a light stallion. 
Walking 5 miles each day is usually sufficient exercise for a draft 

The age at which young stallions should be used for service the 
first time depends greatly on the type of horse, its individuality and 
development, and the need for breeding service. No stallion should 
be put into service until he is at least 2 years old, and only excep- 
tionally well-developed draft-type horses should be used when as 
young as that. Stallions of the light type usually do not mature so 
rapidly as draft stallions ; they generally are not used for service the 
first time until they are 3 years old. Neither 2-, 3-, nor 4-year-old 
stallions are mature, and it is advisable to limit the number of 
services of such young sires until they are fully developed. If neces- 
sary, the well-grown 2-year-old draft stallion may serve 10 to 12 
mares, with not more than 2 of such services coming in any one 
week. The 3-year-old sire may be used on 30 to 50 mares ; the 4-year- 
old on 50 to 75 ; and the mature horse on 75 or more. 

The stallion should not be excessively fat nor thin during the 
breeding season as either condition may render him impotent. One 
service daily is preferable in most instances for mature stallions. 
For immature stallions the matings should be spread as far apart as 
is possible and practicable. If it is necessary to breed the mature 
horse twice in 1 day, have the matings as far apart as possible, 
preferably one in the morning and the other late in the afternoon. 


Only very well-developed draft mares should be bred when as 
young as 2 years of age. All others should go until 3 years, and 
some even until 4, if they are not strong or are slow in maturing. 
If bred at 2 years of age, usually mares should not be mated during 

728296 O - 47 - 2 


their third year. This gives them a chance for further development 
without the retarding effects and physical strain caused by maternity. 

In most instances producing mares may be expected to have their 
first estrual (heat) period in 5 to 11 days after the foal is born. This 
is known as the '%al heat" and, unless settled at this time, the 
mare will ordinarily come in heat again about every 15 to 21 days 
thereafter until she becomes pregnant. The length or duration of 
the heat period varies somewhat among different mares but on an 
average it approximates 5 days, with ovulation occurring most often 
from 24 to 48 hours before its termination. Thus, if only one mating 
is to be made during a heat period, it generally is best to have it 
on the third day. When two matings are made, usually the first 
one should be on the third day and the second on the fourth or 
fifth day. For mares that are very hard to settle, daily matings 
throughout the heat period may be advisable. The aim in any in- 
stance is to arrange the breeding date so that it occurs as near the 
time of ovulation as possible. This will insure the greatest per- 
centage of conceptions and foals. 

Although the foal heat period is often regarded as the best time 
to breed the mare, experimental evidence obtained from physiology- 
of-reproduction studies does not support this contention, and more 
favorable results may be expected normally if mating is postponed 
to the second or later seasons. This is due principally to the fact 
that the genital organs and reproductive tract often are not in the 
condition required for proper fertilization during the foal heat. Of 
the various types of mares, i. e., lactating, dry, and maiden, those 
running with foals (lactating) are generally the easiest to get set- 
tled, while the smallest percentage of conceptions may be expected 
from young mares that are being mated for the first time. Some 
mares do not show signs of being in heat even when tried ("teased") 
regularly with a stallion, but they often can be settled either by nat- 
ural or artificial service, provided the approximate time of ovulation 
is determined and they are not suffering from either a diseased or 
abnormal condition of the reproductive system. 

Taking the mare to the stallion usually results in the most satis- 
factory service because better accommodations are afforded there for 
teasing and serving mares, and accidents are less liable to occur. The 
mare will react at breeding time with more certainty if she is in 
moderate flesh and a healthy, vigorous condition. Extreme fatness 
interferes with both the mechanical and physiological performance 
of the reproductive organs, while thin or weak mares do not "catch" 
readily. The mare should have ample time to rest after she gets to 
the stallion's stand, and she may be kept in a box stall adjacent to 
his prior to mating time. Very often there is too much hurry at 
this time, and the mare is forced to take the service before she is 
ready and most receptive. If the weather is cold, the mare should 
be warmed up by moderate exercise before mating, but she should 
not be bred when she is either extremely hot or fatigued. 

Considerable responsibility rests on the owner or caretaker of the 
mare in seeing that she is returned to the stallion to be tried and 
rebred if necessary when her next heat period is due. This is abso- 
lutely essential in order to get a large percentage of mares in foal, 
for many of them fail to conceive as a result of the first sepvice. 



Moreover, if the mare is accustomed to dry feed, she should not be 
turned on pasture soon after breeding. Besides thus suddenly hav- 
ing her feed changed, she may be annoyed and teased by other 
horses. Hard work immediately after breeding also may hinder a 
mare from getting in foal. 


Artificial insemination is the introduction of male seminal fluid 
(semen) containing spermatozoa into the female genital tract (uterus 
or vagina) by artificial methods. Two distinct operations are in- 
volved in this process, (1) collection of semen, and (2) insemination 
of the mare with some of this fluid. 

Various methods have been evolved and used for collecting semen, 
but the ones most favored now are: (1) The artificial vagina, (2) the 
breeder's bag, and (3) the semen aspirator. Each of these has its 
advantages and disadvantages, so it is well to study all aspects of 
the different collection procedures before selecting the one to be used. 

^M^r^,..^ y-nTOy^,,,^^.^^.^.... .■.,..■■...,.■.-...■— „.^-.....^.-^^^^^^j — J 

d \ \ \ U ^ 


Figure 6. — Longitudinal section of the Missouri-U. S. D. A. model artificial vagina for 
the horse. Length 18 inches, 7-inch rubber tubing, flat diameter ; o, entrance ring 
made by enclosing section of i/^-inch garden hose ; 6, outer tube ; c, inner tube ; d, 
points at which the outer tube is vulcanized to the inner tube : e, air valve ; 1, leather 
casing to give support and rigidity ; g, air si>ace between inner and outer tube which 
allows for the adjustment of pressure ; h, the "sphincter" rubber band, made of 3-inch 
flat-diameter tubing 1^^ to 2 inches broad ; i, handle grip attached to leather casing ; 
j, 8-ounce collecting bottle ; fc, air vent to prevent ballooning. 

Several types of artificial vaginas have been invented within recent 
years. Generally, however, such apparatus consists essentially of a 
rather thin, inner, rubber tube surrounded by an airtight and water- 
tight jacket, made by attaching a heavy, outer cylinder of rubber, 
glass, ebonite, or metal to the inner one (fig. 6). One end of the 
inner tube has an opening large enough to permit entrance of the 
stallion's penis, while the other is tapered so it will fit tightly over 
the mouth of the glass container used for collecting the semen. 
Valves are provided in the outer jacket to allow entrance and dis- 
charge of the air or water which is used to warm and inflate the 
instrument before use. 

The breeder's bag isi an elongated rubber sack which is lubricated 
on the outside surface and then slipped over and fastened on the 

3 For a more complete discussion of this subject consult Circular No. 567, Artificial 
Insemination in Livestock Breeding. 


penis of the stallion just before mating. Such bags may be obtained 
in different sizes, those for draft stallions being the largest; when 
properly adjusted and used, they should capture the entire ejaculate. 
Collection of semen by aspiration involves the use of a suction-type 
device such as that shown in figure 7. With this the seminal fluid 
generally is withdrawn from the bottom of the vagina. 

In the practice of artificial insemination there are certain proce- 
dures which must be followed and precautions taken in order to 
obtain success. It is highly desirable that the work be conducted or 
supervised by a veterinarian. A primary consideration is that the 
operators be trained thoroughly in at least one of the approved 
methods of semen collection. Also, they must be familiar with the 
legation and function of the mare's genital organs and with stallion 
and mare management during breeding work. Moreover, the proper 
apparatus must be on hand, rigid standards of cleanliness must be 
adhered to, and the entire process should be carried out in a careful, 
quiet, systematic, eflScient fashion. 

During collections for insemination purposes, the sire is handled 
in much the same way as for normal service. Usually at this time 
it is advisable to clean the penis of dirt, scales, and other foreign 
material. This can be accomplished by washing that organ with 
warm water and a mild soap, followed by a thorough rinse with 
clean, warm water. Moreover, some moderate exercise in the form 
of walking may be helpful in obtaining prompt service. 

There should be evidence that the- mare is in heat, and she should 
be restrained with breeding hobbles. Use of the twitch will not be 
required unless the mare is unruly and nervous, but her tail should 
be bandaged and tied, and the entire area around the vulva washed 
well with soap and warm water or a mild solution of a nonirritating 
disinfectant in warm water. The washing should be followed by a 
thorough rinsing with clean, warm water. If it is necessary to 
douche or flush out the mare's vagina before breeding, a solution 
made of 1 quart of boiled water (cooled to body temperature), 1 
tablespoonful of baking soda, and 2^ tablespoonfuls of salt may be 
used. Do not breed or inseminate a mare thus treated, however, 
until 2 or more hours have elapsed. 

Semen collections made with live mares and- the artificial vagina 
require at least three operators, one to hold the mare, another to 
manage the stallion, and the third to handle the instrument. In 
this procedure the stallion is led up to the mare quietly and slowly 
and is permitted to mount naturally. As this is accomplished, the 
operator holding the collection device grasps the penis and directs it 
sidewise through the front opening and into the lubricated inner 
chamber of the instrument. The artificial vagina must be main- 
tained in position during service until ejaculation is completed and 
the stallion dismounts. It is then removed and the bottle containing 
the semen is detached and either tightly stoppered or its contents 
emptied into the gelatin capsules to be used for insemination. 

Collections made with the breeder's bag and semen aspirator (fig. 
7) involve normal breeding service procedures with the exception 
that the ejaculate in the former method is caught in the rubber 
container, which is removed and emptied as soon as the stallion 



dismounts. Noi-mally two or three operators are required to obtain 
collections in either of these ways. 

The mare or mares to be inseminated must be fully in lieat and 
preferably at that sta^e of estrus just prior to ovulation. As a 
precaution against kickmg, it is well to apply hobbles, and the use 
of tail bandages is customary. The quarters used for the work should 
be clean, dry, dust-free, and fairly well lighted. Just prior to in- 
semination the mare's vulva should be wiped and dried and its inner 
lips swabbed with clean pieces of cotton. Also, the mare should be 
placed and held so that her hindquarters are facing the light. 

A simple, efl&cient, and convenient method of insemination is to 
use a gelatin capsule which will hold from y^ to 1 ounce (15 to 30 cc.) 
of semen. After being filled and capped, this container is carried 

Figure 7. — Semen aspirator. A 6-ounce bottle, 2-hole rubber stopper, heavy-walled 
^-inch gum-rubber tubing, and 4 glass tubes are required for this equipment. 

into the vagina by the hand and is placed well forward in the cervix, 
with the fingers. For this operation the hand and arm of the op- 
erator must De clean and weU-lubricated, with the fingernails short 
and smooth. Some operators prefer to use a rubber glove and ob- 
stetrical sleeve during capsuling, because this reduces the chances 
of causing or spreading infection. Such equipment must be disin- 
fected, washed, and rinsed thoroughly after each insemination, and it 
should be lubricated on the outside surfaces just before use. 

After insemination is completed the hobbles and tail bandage are 
removed and the mare should be placed in a box stall where she 
may be watched for about an hour. Particular attention should be 
paid at this time to see there is no straining or wrenching with 
consequent expulsion of the semen, for if this occurs, another in- 
semination may be required. 



Records of the breeding of each mare should be kept in order that 
the approximate time of foaling may be known. The period of 
gestation, that is, the time between the fertilization of the ovum 
and the birth of the young, is variable. This period is ordinarily 
calculated at 11 months, but to be ready the owner must make prep- 
arations for the arrival of the foal prior to that time. The period, 
however, may vary between 330 and 365 days. A number of reasons 
have been advanced to explain why there is such a variance in the 
length of the mare's gestation period. One theory claims that a 
considerable time may elapse between the service and the actual 
fertilization of the ovum by the sperm cell. This does not appear to 
be very plausible, however, as the average length of life of spermato- 
zoa in the female genital tract is known to be very short. Another 
explanation is that the date of foaling has considerable influence 
on the length of time that the mare carries her young. This latter 
consideration appears to have merit, for at the IJ. S. Morgan Horse 
Farm, Middlebury, Vt., records show that mares foaling after June 1 
averaged 338 days for the gestation period, whereas those foaling 
earlier in the season had a gestation period of 347 days. This appar- 
ently was not due to the difference m individual mares, as the same 
animals showed a marked difference in the longer time they carried 
early foals as against late foals. The natural time for foals to come 
is in the spring, when the air is warm and there are grass, ijunshine, 
and an opportunity for range and freedom. Modern farming meth- 
ods, however, especially in certain localities, sometimes make it ad- 
visable to change nature's ways; consequently the farmer may find 
it better for the mare to be heavy in foal or suckling a foal in the 
fall, when the heaviest part of the farm work is over. Flies are not 
so troublesome in the fall as in the spring, and during the compara- 
tively idle winter months the mare can give practically all her 
energy to furnishing milk for the foal. By the next spring, the 
young animal will be ready to turn on pasture, where it will require 
but little attention. However, fall foals can be raised successfully 
only when special care and feed are provided during the first winter 
and where a warm, dry, light, and well-ventilated box stall can be 
furnished each mare and her offspring. 


The mare will be healthier and the foal stronger at birth if she 
is used at slow, light work nearly every day; also, parturition is 
easier. In the summer, if it is not possible to work a mare, she 
should be turned into an open pasture, where she can get exercise, 
fresh air, and nutritious feed. Her feed should supply the demand 
for the maintenance of her own body and also for the development 
of the fetus. The ration, therefore, should contain a little more 
protein and minerals than that needed by a working gelding. Fur- 
thermore the proportions of these should be increased gradually as 
the gestation period progresses, particularly during the last half of 
the period. If the mare is idle in winter much of the feed may be 
good roughage, but a ration of grain and hay must be fed when work 
is done. The quantity of feed is determined by the size and condi- 



tion of the animal (whether thin or fat, sick or well), by the stage 
of pregnancy, by the appetite, by the amount of work done, and by 
individuality, condition of the droppings, and whether the animal 
is easy or hard to keep. 


Oats are tho best single grain for the horse. They are a safe, 
light, palatable, well-balanced feed and may be used as the sole 
concentrate in the ration. Corn is a good concentrate but is used to 
best advantage if it forms only from one-third to one-half of the 
grain ration of the brood mare. When fed heavily, corn should be 
supplemented with concentrates or roughage rich in protein and min- 
eral matter, as corn is somewhat deficient in these constituents. If 
wheat is fed it must be ground or rolled and used in small quantities 

2256S B 

Figure 8. — Brood mares and foals in desirable condition and showing the effects of good 
pasture. Aside from its high cost in most localities, the board fence shown is ideal 
for surrounding horse pastures. 

in order to prevent digestive disturbances. Barley is a good horse 
feed; it is more bulky than wheat and more nearly like oats than 
corn in composition. Barley is often cooked and fed once or twice 
a week in the evening. In most instances it is preferable to grind 
or roU barley. Wheat bran is an almost essential horse feed, par- 
ticularly for breeding stock and young animals, and acts as a regu- 
lator and a preventive of overfeeding. It is bulky, nutritious, and 
palatable and lightens the ration. Soybeans and cowpeas are relished 
by horses and serve as a useful addition to the grain feed for mares 
in foal. They are relatively rich in protein and consequently com- 
bine well with corn. Soybeans and cowpeas should not constitute 
more than one-third of the grain ration, and they should always be 
ground for feeding. 


Timothy hay is a very popular roughage for horses. Bromegrass 
also makes good hay. It is higher in protein than timothy. Orchard 


grass, if cut in early bloom, is equal to the best of the hays made 
from grasses, and carries considerably more protein than timothy. 
Good Johnson grass hay is as valuable as timothy for horses. 
Sudan-grass hay is a safe feed for mares, and numerous native 
prairie grasses furnish hay that is equal to timothy. Clover hay is 
liable to be dusty, but it has good feeding qualities. Millet is not 
a safe feed for mares in foal. Corn fodder is used frequently to 
feed idle horses in the winter, but there is not enough nutriment in 
it alone for mares in foal. The same thing is true, m a greater de- 
gree, of straw. If either is used, good-quality hay, preferably 
legume, should be fed also. Unthreshed cowpea and soybean hay 
are valuable roughages which are relished by horses. Even the 
threshed hay is moderately nutritious. It should never be fed to 
brood mares if it contains any mold, however. Alfalfa hay makes 
an excellent feed for mares if it is fed once a day and timothy or 
corn fodder given at the other feeding. Occasionally alfalfa hay is 
not properly cured and molds badly, in which case it should not be 
fed. Also, farmers have reported occasionally that alfalfa causes the 
kidneys to act too freely, but it is probable that this trouble will not 
be noticed if the alfalfa does not make up more than one-half of the 
roughage allowance. 


Succulent feeds are those which are juicy, appetizing, and easily 
assimilated. Such feeds have a beneficial, laxative effect on the di- 
gestive system and stimulate the appetite. The most common succu- 
lent feeds on farms are green grass, carrots, rutabagas, sugar beets, 
and silage. Grass, although of a succulent nature, is often used as 
the entire ration throughout the summer if the mares are idle. If 
they are worked, grass forms a valuable supplement to hay and grain. 
Brood mares should be allowed access to grass whenever available, 
the precautions mentioned later being complied with. 


Data obtained from various sources indicate that approximately 
5 percent of the mares impregnated abort each year. It is possible 
that all abortions are not reported or are not known, in which case 
the percentage would be still higher. As abortions generally are due 
to kicks ; strains ; slips ; squeezing through narrow doorways or partly 
closed gates; excessive and severe riding, driving, or pulling; and 
improper or moldy feed (such as moldy com fodder and heavily 
frost-bitten grass), it is evident that American farmers are losing 
many thousands of dollars yearly by careless and injudicious han- 
dling and management of their brood mares. Furthermore, breeders 
often have difficulty in getting a mare in foal that has previously 
aborted, so that the loss may be a far-reaching one. If of the con- 
tagious character, abortion may turn a profitable band of brood 
mares into a practically valueless one, so far as breeding is concerned. 

To sum up briefly : Proper feed of sufficient quantity and variety ; 
regularly supplied, uniform, moderate work and exercise ; and careful 
handling will maintain an in-foal mare in proper physical condition 
to develop a healthy, strong fetus. 



Mares heavy in foal should not be taken from work suddenly, but 
should be kept in harness at light work (if already accustomed to it) 
until within a week or a few days of foaling time. A week or so be- 
fore parturition there is a sinking of the muscles of the croup, fall- 
ing of the abdomen, and filling of the udder. Usually at this time 
the mare should be quartered in a dry, sanitary, pleasant, quiet, 
light, comfortable, roomy box stall. If not accustomed to pasture, 
she should not be allowed it, but should be given exercise in a dry 
lot after she is no longer being worked. Moderate exercise is de- 
sirable, and occasionally it is necessary to have a sluggish, idle mare 
led a short distance each day in order that she may get sufficient 
exercise. Too much exercise at this time is just as detrimental as 
not enough, and a knowledge of the mare's previous success in de- 
livering a foal, coui)led with judgment, will determine the nature 
and amount of exercise as well as feed, etc., that should be allowed. 
Wax and sometimes milk will be found on the teats a day or so be- 
fore foaling. Idle mares frequently develop an udder a longer time 
before parturition than mares that are worked regularly. 


Indications of immediate parturition are restlessness, sweating, 
lying down and getting up, switching the tail, and biting the sides 
and flanks. When the water bag has broken, the foal may be ex- 
pected momentarily. If possible, be present when the foal comes. 
Many mares, of course, will not bring forth their young (if able 
to keep from it) while they are being watchedj but it usually is 
possible to hide quietly in an adjoining stall until the foal is deliv- 
ered. The mare will foal with the greatest ease if she is lying flat 
on her side with all legs stretched outward. Moreover, she should 
not have her hindquarters close to a wall or comer of the stall. 
Parturition generally lasts 10 to 15 minutes; if it extends to 4 or 5 
hours the colt will come dead. In normal presentation of the fetus, 
either the forelegs extended with the head resting on them or the 
hind legs extended will first make their appearance through the 
vulva. Any other presentation may be attended with difficult par- 
turition, in which case a competent veterinarian should be sum- 
moned at once. 

First after the foal is dropped see that it begins to breathe. Take 
the film of tissue from its nostrils, and if respiration does not begin 
immediately blow into the mouth, work the ribs, and rub the body 
briskly with a wisp of haj^ or rough towel. If the mare sweats 
much and the weather is chilly or cold she should be rubbed down, 
dried, and covered with a light blanket. The foal also should be 
dried to prevent chilling, and it may then be moved to one corner 
of the stall so that the afterbirth and discharged fluids may be 
removed. Clean the stall thoroughly, scatter lime on the bare floor, 
and then cover it. with clean bedding. The afterbirth should be 
burned or buried deeply with a thick covering of lime. It is one 
of the best mediums for bacteria of various kinds to develop in; 
hence it is essential to dispose of it properly. 


Foals at birth usually weigh from one-twelfth to one-tenth as 
much as their dams. 

Sunshine is a great enemy of disease germs; consequently plenty 
of light should be provided in the stables. A common but unhealth- 
ful practice, in sections where bank bams are prevalent, is that of 
having the box stalls next to the bank side of the barn. Besides 
lacking light, such stalls are liable to be damp; yet it is in such 
places that mares frequently bear their foals and that the latter are 
housed. A window is inexpensive and will do much good in such 


Foals should nurse after they gain strength enough to get on their 
feet and walk around. If the foals are weak or very crooked-legged, 
it may be necessary to assist them in getting to the teat, but often 
an effort is made to force them to nurse before they are ready. 
Nature takes its own time on such occasions, and hurrying and bus- 
tling may do more harm than good. Before the foal nurses, wash the 
mare's udder and teats with a warm 2-percent solution of a good coal- 
tar disinfectant and then rinse with warm water. The first milk 
which comes from the mare is known as colostrum and acts as a 
physic on the foal, causing the fecal matter in the intestines to be dis- 
charged. It is very important that the foal get the colostrum ; hence 
the folly of milking the mare before the foal comes merely because 
there appears to be too much milk in the udder. If the contents of 
the bowels are not ejected naturally within 24 hours, 2 to 4 table- 
spoonfuls of castor oil shaken in milk should be given by mouth and 
it may also be advisable to inject warm water or 2 ounces of castor oil 
into the bowels through the rectum. Repeat this treatment every 
3 or 4 hours until the bowels move. Petrolatum applied in the rec- 
tum may aid in ejecting subsequent dry matter. 

To offset the danger of navel infection in foals (which causes a 
disease known as joint-ill), the navel cord should be washed several 
times a day by holding up around the cord a large-necked bottle 
which has been nearly filled with a 1 to 1,000 solution of corrosive 
sublimate (bichloride of mercury) or by saturating the stump with 
full-strength tincture of iodine. Then dust it with powdered slaked 
lime. This should be repeated each day until the navel cord drops 
off. In case the navel does not dry properly or shows inflammation, 
a veterinarian should be called. Mares are inclined to be peevish 
and cross when with their young ; consequently it is advisable to per- 
form the foregoing operations as speedily as possible and then leave 
the stable so that the mare and foal can rest. 


The mare should not be fed heavily on grain or hay for the first 24 
hours after parturition, and the first feeding should consist of a 
wheat-bran mash with a little cooked flaxseed meal in it. A little 
oatmeal soaked in warm water is also appropriate. If the mare is 
constipated give laxative feeds. In 2 or 3 days, if doing well, she may 
be put back on dry feeds. In a week, if she is put back to work, she 
can have full feed. The mare may be put in harness, if light work 
is done, 2 or 3 days after foaling, but it is hard on the foal and may 



injure the mare's udder. It is best to turn the mare and colt into a 
lot where they can exercise and yet be quiet, but care should be taken 
at first to see that the foal is not chilled by staying out too long in 
cool, disagreeable weather or by lying on cold, damp ground. They 
should not be on grass if the mare has not been on grass before. 

In a little more than a week the mare may be safely put to work 
provided she has previously been worked. If the foal is left in the 
stall, the mare should be brought to the stable in the middle of the 
forenoon and afternoon in order that the foal may get its food 
(fig. 9), but in no case should a foal suckle a mare that is very 
warm, as digestive disorders are liable to follow. If possible, do not 
use the mare for purposes which will keep her away from the farm 
for a long time, because the foal will either go too long without nurs- 
ing or will be worn out by following the mare. When left at the 
stable, the foal should be kept in a roomy, clean box stall in company 
with another foal of about the same age if possible. 

At about 2 months of age the foal will take dry feed, which should 
be supplied at first through the dam's grain box. This makes it 
necessary to furnish her with such feeds as ground oats, corn meal, 
and wheat bran. A little later a creep should be built in the stall or 
pasture, inside of which the foal can be given grain without having 
to share it with its mother. A creep is simply a partition that keeps 
the mare out of the enclosure, but is far enough from the ground so 
that the foal can walk under it. A handful of ground oats should 
be given at first and the quantity increased slowly as the foal grows. 
The maximum amount should be about 1 pound a day till weaning 


Sometimes a mare dies shortly after foaling, thus leaving her 
young dependent on artificial feeding for its sustenance; and some 
mares furnish an insufficient amount of milk for their foals. Cow's 
milk makes a most logical substitute for mare's milk, but as the 
composition is different, certain changes or modifications are neces- 
sary in order that the supplied diet be not too dissimilar to the 
natural. Table 1 gives the average composition of the two kinds of 

Table 1. — Composition of milk from cows and mares 














Milk which is not rich in butterfat, preferably from a recently 
freshened cow, should be diluted about one-half with fresh boiled 
water. A tablespoonful of sugar and about three teaspoonfuls of 
limewater should be added for each pint. This mixture should be 
supplied to the foal at about body temperature. A bottle with a 
rubber nipple, or even a finger of a kid glove with a fair-sized hole in 
it fitted over the end of a spout of a vessel, such as a teapot, will 
aerve as a convenient utensil in getting the foal to take the milk. If 



the finger of a kid glove is used it should be clean. At first about 
one-half cup of milk should be given every hour, the quantity being 
increased slightly and the intervals lengthened gradually as the foal 
grows older. In about 2 months skim milk may be substituted for 
whole milk, and in addition one of the following rations should be 
fed : 1 part flaxseed meal boiled to a jelly, and 2 or 3 parts wheat 
bran; or 2 parts ground oats, 1 part corn meal, and one-half part 
flaxseed meal ; or 2 parts wheat bran, 2 parts com meal, and 1 part lin- 
seed meal. Feed a double handful a day at first and increase the 
quantity gradually thereafter. 

Raising a foal by hand is not a job for the careless and indifferent. 
It requires patience, painstaking care, perseverance, judgment, and 
cleanhness. The vessel in which the milk is supplied should -be 

Figure 9. — The young foal should be allowed to suckle the working mare at regular 
intervals several times a day. 

scalded thoroughly each time it is used. Unclean receptacles for the 
milk and irregular intervals for feeding probably will cause scours. 
The quarters should be kept very clean, and the orphan should have 
company of some kind. Another foal is desirable, but even a calf 
is better than no company. A grassy paddock w ith abundant shade, 
fresh, clean water, and protection from flies increase the orphan's 
chance of proper development. 


A most common cause of scours in foals is feeding too much 
milk at irregular intervals; consequently, better management is the 
first step in remedying the trouble. Castor oil is often used to 
check scours, 1 or 2 ounces being the dose for a young foal. Raw 
eggs are also used successfully. Blood meal is considered one of the 
best remedies, the quantity used being one-tenth to one-sixth of the 


grain ration. Powdered tannic acid also gives quick relief, the dose 
being from 5 to 15 grains. For other than a mild case a competent 
veterinarian should be consulted. 


Foals belonging to mares that work hard should be weaned earlier 
than those of mares which are practically idle. Although most 
foals are weaned when about 5 or 6 months old, it is well to remember 
that it is usually economical to feed a young horse through its 
mother. However, in case the mare is again in foal, if she is allowed 
to nurse for more than 6 months it may decrease the vitality of the 
next foal. If the foal is getting plenty of nourishment from grain, 
grass, and other roughage, the young animal will not be seriously set 
back when shut off from its dam's supply of milk. When taken away 
from its mother it should be placed with another foal of the same sex 
and age in an enclosure where they cannot possibly get out or be 
injured. Feeding grain is not absolutely necessary if the foal is on 
good grass and has been accustomed to it; nevertheless, it has its 
advantage, especially with draft stock. Foal feeding should always 
be practiced with orphan animals. 

The foal should not nurse more than once after it has been taken 
from its dam. The excess milk should be taken from the mare's udder 
from 3 to 6 times a day, but enough should be left so that her system 
will begin to absorb the milk; otherwise the drying-up process will 
be delayed unnecessarily. Not withdrawing milk enough may cause 
the udder to cake. Camphorated oil, petrolatum, or lard rubbed on 
the udder will aid in keeping it soft. 


Castration is usually performed at the age of about 1 year. How- 
ever, it may be done when the colt is only a few weeks old, at which 
time there is less danger to the animal, but the operation at any 
early age tends to result in an imperfect development of the fore 
parts. Delaying the procedure until the age of 2, 3, or even 4 years 
will insure still better development and carriage of the forequarters. 
The essential steps of castration are the safe removal or destruction 
of the testicles and the arrest or prevention of bleeding from the 
spermatic artery which is located in the anterior part of the cord. 
The operation is best and most safely performed by an experienced 


Foals may be housed satisfactorily in either the stable or an open 
shed. The shed shown in figure 10 is practicable where it is neces- 
sary to provide shelter for several head. The main requirements 
are that the quarters be dry and sanitary, and provide fairly good 
protection from winds. Several foals may be run together if the 

* For further information on castration of the horse see Diseases of the Horse, for sale 
by the Superintendent of Documents, Government Printing Office, Washington, D. C, at 
$1 a copy. 



weaker ones are not driven away from their feed by the stronger. 
The quarters should be kept clean and well-bedded and occasionally 
should be disinfected. Lice are to be suspected when the animals 
get to rubbing and lose patches of hair. It costs money to feed lice ; 
consequently efforts should be made to keep the foals free from 
them.^ Foals should be in the open almost every day that is not 
stormy; it is harmful, however, for them to be in a cold rain, heavy 
snow, or sleet. During the first winter they should be taught to lead 
and to stand tied. 

Feeds that promote growth are highly essential and should be 
supplied regularly. Good, clean clover hay is palatable, nutritious, 
and slightly laxative. Timothy hay also is commonly fed. Well- 
cured alfalfa hay, free from dust, is one of the best roughages for 
growing, but because of its relatively high protein content it gen- 
erally is economical to supplement it with other dry roughage, such 
as timothy, mixed hay, or corn fodder. Besides lending variety to 

FIGDBE 10.- 

-A shed open on the south side. A desirable place in which to winter colts 
unless the climate is too severe. 

the ration, such a method of feeding alfalfa offsets any likelihood of 
kidney or bowel irregularities. Sheaf oats can be used to advantage 
to supplement other roughage. With such feed little grain of other 
kinds will be required. The animals should not be allowed to gorge 
themselves on dry feed. They should be given only what they will 
clean up readily, but at the same time enough feed should be sup- 
plied. Oats, corn, and peas, preferably well-ground, are suitable. 
Wheat bran, linseed meal, or gluten feed will add protein and lend 
variety. Cottonseed meal should not be fed to foals. Appropriate 
grain rations for the first winter are: 2 parts corn, 5 parts oats, 3 
parts wheat bran, and 1 part linseed meal; or 4 parts oats, 1 part 
corn, and 1 part wheat bran. 

Silage should not be fed to foals to any considerable extent. Sliced 
roots, such as carrots and sugar beets, are very palatable and have a 

■* For further information on lice consult Circular 148, r;ira.<ites and Parasitic Diseases 
of Horses, obtainable from the Superintendent of Documents, Washington, D. C, at 10 
cents a copy. 


beneficial effect on the digestive system. The quantity of feed gen- 
erally should be regulated by the appetite, although occasionally the 
appetite may be too ravenous to be a good indication of the animal's 
needs. The general condition of the foal and the droppings should 
be observed daily. Usually not more than 1 pound of grain per 100 
pounds of live weight should be fed until the animal is 2 years old. 
A liberal supply of salt and pure water and plenty of fresh air and 
exercise are essential for the proper development of young horses. 
Idleness succeeding exercise causes constipation. It is often said that 
a horse is made during its first winter. Certainly this is a critical 
time in the animal's life, and at no other age will proper feed and 
attention do as much to make a good horse. If stunted during the 
first winter, the animal never gams proper size and shape. 


Foals should be changed from dry feed to pasture gradually, and 
they should not be turned on pasture until the grass is old enough 
not to be washy. Grass is an indispensable factor in. the economical 
and proper physiological development of young horses. Frequently 
in protected bluegrass mountain valleys they thrive the year round 
on pasture alone. A visit to the pasture every few days may be 
the means of promptly discovering cases of sickness or injury. The 
feet of the young animals should be noticed on such visits, and if 
the hoofs are too long at the toe or high on one side they should 
be trimmed properly. Failure to keep the feet level may result in 
crooked legs, cracked hoofs, or crooked joints. Barbed wire should 
not be used for fencing the pasture; a board fence is preferable. 
Smooth, woven-wire fences also may be used. 

If a foal should be cut, disinfect the wound : and if the cut is very 
large, have it sewed up. The wound should be dusted frequently 
with boric acid or air-slaked lime until healed, and then greased with 
petrolatum so that the hair will grow. The animals should have 
plenty of fresh water and salt, and in hot weather they require shade. 


During the second winter the feed and management should be 
nearly the same as for the first winter, except that the quantity of 
feed should be increased somewhat, the colt tied up in his stall, and 
handled frequently. Education by gentle and careful but firm 
handling at this age will save much strenuous labor later. In this 
connection Farmers' Bulletin 1368, Breaking and Training Colts, 
should be consulted. 


The succeeding years are largely a repetition of those already dis- 
cussed, so far as feed and management are concerned, although the 
quantity of feed must be gradually increased as the animal grows. 
In general, the prime essentials for the proper development of 
horses from the yearling stage until they are put to work are : Fresh 
air; pure water; plenty of exercise; nutritious, palatable feed in 
sufficient quantity; and protection from severe weather. 


For sale by the Superintendent of Documents, Washington, D. C. - - - - - Price 10 cents 




THE SHOEING of farm horses in the United 
States in the past was done largely by the 
trained farrier, whose shop in every village and 
hamlet was a familiar institution. The advent of 
hard-surfaced roads and motor vehicles has been 
accompanied, in many localities, wdth a transforma- 
tion of our countryside, in which the village black- 
smith shop has gradually been supplanted by gas 
stations and garages, so that the problem of shoeing 
farm horses is a serious one in many communities. 

The solution of the problem in a large measure 
devolves upon the farmer himself in learning to do 
the work on his own farm. It is for the purpose of 
assisting the farmer to care for the feet of his work 
stock properly and to shoe his horses, if necessar}% 
that this bulletin has been prepared. 

Ready-to-wear shoes of various sizes for horses 
and mules can now be obtained and greatlj^ simplify 
the shoeing problem for farmers. 

Trimming and leveling hoofs, fitting shoes, and 
nailing them on, while explained in this bulletin, 
are much more readily understood if presented in 
an actual demonstration by a competent horseshoer. 
Many agricultural colleges give instruction in this 
work, and it is recommended that farmei's apply to 
them for a community demonstration. 

Washington, D. C. Issued July. 1927 


By Henry Asmus, Professor of Farriery, New Yorh State College of Veterinary 
Medicine, and J. O. Williams, Animal Hiishandman, Animal Husbandry 
Division, Bureau of Animal Industry 


The need for shoeing farm horses — 

The growth of the hoof 

Trimming the colt's feet 

Trimming the foot for shoeing 



Fitting the shoe 5 

Nailing 8 

Ready-to-wear shoes 10 

Rubber shoes and rubber hoof pads_ 12 

NO FOOT— NO HORSE is a time-honored adage among 
horsemen. It is a phrase which may be interpreted ahnost 
hterally so far as the serviceability of horses is concerned. Bad 
feet incapacitate 
draft horses on hard 
pavements and very 
materially reduce 
the efficiency of horses 
for any work. It is 
vital, therefore, to 
consider carefully the 
j)rinciples involved 
in the proper care 
of the hoof, and in 
shoeing horses so that 
they may be kept in 
service and so that 
their sale value may 
not be impaired. 
I m ]3 r o p e r care of 
the hoof and im- 
proper shoeing fre- 
quently lead to dis- 
eases of the feet and 
irregularities in gait, which may render the horse unserviceable and 


1. — Loun, itooil.v ki'iJl loitlcft: left shoe off for 
sf'veral days. Note the cracks developing in the wall 
and the broken wall in the outside cjuarter 

Using unshod horses and mules for pulling heavy farm machinery 
wears off the horny wall of the foot at the ground surface more 
rapidly than growth is supplied from above and will result in tender 
feet. In many cases the wall will split, break, or separate from the 
sole of the foot (as in fig. 1) and permit small stones or gravel to 

238070' — 40 ' 1 


become embedded and cause serious lameness. This may occur during 
peak periods of work, when the animal is most needed in carrying 
on farm operations, and delay the farmer in getting important work 
done. A well-shod horse not only is kept in service but he is a 
more efficient worker in that he can better apply his strength because 
he has a better footing. The better footing makes him a better 
|)uller. It is important, however, that shod horses have regular 
attention— that about every four to sis weeks the shoes be removed, 
the hoofs trimmed, and the shoes refitted. Permitting the shoes to 

remain on the foot too long sometimes re- 
sults in foot troubles, such as corns and 
sidebones. Good shoeing, properly taken 
caie of, will increase the serviceability of 
the animal and add to his sale value. 


The horny parts of the hoof consist of 
the v/all, sole, frog, and bars, and are made 
up of insensitive, horny cells. (Fig. 2.) 
The growth of the hoof, however, is from 
the inside, sensitive structure. The wall 
giovys from a fleshy band, the so-called 
coronarj^ band, which 
lies on top of the wall 
(hairline). It grows 
in a straight, clown- 
ward, and forward 
direction. The aver- 
age rate of growth is 
estimated to be about 
one-fourth to three- 
eighths of an inch a 
month in a normal 
animal. The wall is 
that portion of the 
hoof to which the 
shoe is nailed. The 
horny sole grows 
from the fleshy sole and grows solid to a certain extent. As it con- 
tinues to grow the old sole will crack and check, and a network of 
small, black lines will be formed all over the bottom of the sole. 
The horny frog grows from the fleshy frog and is a cusliiony, elastic 
wedge between the bars and the edges of the sole in front of the 
bars. In unshod hoofs the bearing edge of the wall, the sole, frog, 
and bars are on a level, and each of these structures assists in bearing 
the body weight. The bars are extensions of the wall from the heel 
along the sides and to the point of the frog. The purpose of the 
bars is to assist in absorbing the shock Avhen the foot strikes the 
ground. As the function of the bars is important, they should not 
be cut away in trimming the hoof. Contracted heels will result if 
the bars are cut away. 

Coronary l>a/7a^ 


A-'y So/e 

Fig. 2. — Vertical section through middle of forefoot. In 
trimming or shoeing the foot be careful not to injure 
the inside, sensitive structure 



Tho newborn foal has a rather pointed, narrow hoof, which is very 
soft, and tlio bottom is covered with a thick cushion of soft, horny 
material. This, however, falls off in a few days, and the development 
of the permanent hoof begins. The horny sole beoins to grow in an 
arch shape, and the new wall grows down from the coronary band. 
In a few weeks there is a distinct difference between the old and tlie 
new horny mass in that a complete ring forms around the hoof. The 
new hoof is circular and spreads considerably at the sole surface, and 
the leg assumes its natural shape. The foot becomes more slanting 
from the fetlock joint down, and during the first few weeks there is 
very little to be done to improve the standing position of the legs. 
A little later, however, when much can be done toward developing 
normal conformation by the proper trimming of the little hoof, one 
should carefully observe the development of the legs. When the colt 

Fig. 3. — Legs and hoofs in profile : A. Side view of foot witli foot axis broken baok- 
■ward as a result of too long a toe. The amount of horn to be removed from the toe in 
order to straighten the foot axis is denoted by a dotted line. B. Side view of a prop- 
erly balanced foot, with a straight foot axis of desirable slant. C. Side view of a 
stumpy foot with foot axis broken forward as a result of overgrowth of the quarters. 
The amount of horn to be removed in order to straighten the foot axis is shown by a 
dotted line. 

is three months old one can begin using the hoof knife for trimming 
the feet. To do this work properly, first observe the standing posi- 
tion of the front legs from the side. If the leg is placed too far for- 
ward it is an indication that the toe is too long. (Fig. 3.) By close 
examination of the hoof it will be found that the heels are curving 
under and that the toe is growing in a straightforward direction. 
If the hoof is trimmed in the manner described, the legs will take 
their proper jDOsition. Now, observe the hind legs. One will 
usually find that the legs are too straight from the fetlocks down, 
because the heels are long. If the heels are pared down, the legs 
will assume a more normal position. By observing the colt from 
the rear and the front it will usually be found that its legs are " base 
wide " or in a spreading position. As the colt matures, this condition 
usually corrects itself. By closely observing the colt occasionally, 
possibly once a month, and keeping the hoofs properly trimmed, one 
can do much to promote the development of a normal conformation, 
which brings good returns to the owner. 



The colt should have abundant exercise on dry ground. The hoofs 
will then usually wear gradually, and it may be necessary only oc- 
casionally to rasp and round off the sharp edges around the toe 
in order to prevent the breaking away of the wall. Colts in the 
stable, however, can not wear down their hoofs ; therefore the feet of 
such colts should be rasped doAvn every few weeks. The soles and 
clefts of the frog should be picked out every few days and the entire 
hoof washed out thoroughly. 


Before beginning the trimming of the hoof one must observe the 
standing position of the limbs, particularly from the fetlock joint 
down. The position of the foot must correspond to the angle of the 

leg, as indicated in Figure 3, B, 
If the standing position of the 
foot is too slanting it is an indica- 
tion that the toe is too high, and 

Fig. 4. — Au unti'immed fuoi 

Fig. 5.- 

-An untrimmed foot, 
long heels 

Note tlie 

-a line, the so-called foot axis, is broken backward. Reducing the 
toe will change the angle and bring the foot axis into a straight line. 
After the standing position has been observed, raise the foot and 
begin with the hook knife to remove the overgrowth of the sole, 
starting at the quarter. This overgi'owth is indicated by cracks and 
checks and loose material. (Figs. 4, 5, and 6.) It should be re- 
moved down to the solid sole. The solid sole should not be touched 
under any circumstances, as the horse needs this as a protection 
for the inner organs of the foot. After the sole is cleaned the wall 
extending far beyond the sole can be reduced to its normal length 
with hoof cutters, as shown in Figure 7. The amount of cutting- 
is determined by the upper edge of the trimmed sole; in other words, 
the hoof cutters will follow the upper border of the trimmed sole 
all the way along the hoof, and by so doing give the heel and toe 
the proper length. (Figs. 9, 10, 11, and 12.) After this is done 


the hoof rasp should be held in a level position and the hoof sole 
rasped so that the wearing surface is in a level plane, as shown in 
Figure 8. One can observe this plane level in the position illus- 
trated on the title-page of this bul- 
letin, which shows also the proper 
method of holding the horse's foot. 
The handy shoeing outfit illus- 
trated consists of a box, hammer, 
clinch cutter, large pincers for 
pulling shoes, hoof knife, and 
hoof cutters, and a pair of small 
pincers for pulling and cutting 


The hoof is now ready for the 
fitting of the shoe. For ordinary 
farm work the shoe does not need 
to extend much beyond the end 
of the wall. The type of shoe, 
whether calked or plain, depends 
largely on the work which the 
animal performs. The plain shoe 
should be even with the end of the 
wall. If a calked shoe is needed, 
it is necessary that the shoe be a 
trifle longer. In fitting the shoe 

Fig. 6. — A bad Ln ;ik in ihu wall. t. 
by neglect iu trimming and sho 


Fiu. 7. — Proper use of the hoof cutter 

farmers' bulletix 1535 

i. — Proper position of rasp in leveling hioof 

FiG._9. — A hoof i\L: Ij li,,- n , j i.^nperlj' trimmed on > .i • >\<l ■ : in- other half is un- 
tnmmed. Note the durereuce esi>eciallv in the amount of Trunming necessary to 
balance the foot properly. Note the bars 


Fig. 10. — Mare with untrimmed feet. Note the long, slanting position of the foot frona 
the fetlock to the ground 

Fig. 11. — Trimmed f>jet. N^jti- tin.- eorn";ti-a ij.,sitiuu ■>( the feet and compare their 
position witli that shown in Figure 10 



it is necessary to give an absolutely even fit, as the outline of the 
hoof shows. In other words, fit the shoe flush with the outline of 
the outer iDorder of the wall. The heels of the shoe should be well 

imder the heels of the wall; this 
is very important, as the heels of 
the hoof must rest on the iron 
in order to permit proper hoof 
expansion and contraction. Good 
nailing consists in having the nail 
holes of the shoe well punched in 
the same slanting direction as the 


The method of nailing is shown 

Fig. 12. — Vertical cross section of well- ^y. TTio-nrpc; 19 nnrl 1'^ TIip riQil 

shod hoof showing correct position of ^^ J^lgiUCS lA anci i.6. ±ne nail 

rails: a. Pedal bone; a', outer layer shouid be OI proper SlZe tO fit the 

of pedal bone; b^ sensitive sole; c, ^ » -^ • -rri- -. o j-i 

horny sole ; d, horn wall ; e, outer layer SllOe, As SCCU lU i^ IgUre 16, the 

g^ naii"°^^ ■^'"'''* ' ^' ^''™'°''^ ^^"^'^^ ' ^^^^ ^^ held with the thumb and in- 
dex finger, the other fingers lying 
against the wall to guide the direction of the nail, and the shoe is 
held in position, the hand resting on the shoe to hold it in proper 

Fig. 13. — Proper method of nailing a shoe on. Note position of hands 

position in driving the outside nail first. (Fig. 13.) The nail should 
be driven just outside that portion of the wall known as the " white 
line," so called because of its well-defined " white " appearance. Be 



careful not to allow the nails to go inside this line into the sensitive 
portion of the foot. The ])roper course of the nail is shown in Fig. 12. 
After the first nail is driven it is best to nialce sure that the shoe is in 

Fig. 14. — The nails used for shoeing horses have one straight side, and the other side is 
beveled at the point. lu driving a nail, the straight edge should always be held to the 
outside, the beveled point to the inside. This will guide the nail out through the wall. 
The nail should be driven just outside the " white line " described in the text 

its proper place. Then the nail on the opposite side is driven, and 
so on until the nailing is completed. In tightening the nails, a clinch- 
ing block or the pincers should be held underneath the nails, and the 

Fig. 15. — Proper method of clinching the nail. Note position of hammer and clinch block 

head driven with the hammer tight into the crease of the shoe. In 
clinching the nails, as shown in Figure 15, the foot is bronght forward 
on the knee of the operator, and the nails are cut close to the wall, and 



Fig. 16. — Plate shoe, well fitted 

with the rasp a clearing cut is made underneath the nail on top of the 
wall. Cut or twist off end of nail with pincers or claw of hammer ; 
place the clinching block underneath the nail, and with the hammer 

bring the nail over in a 
small, bending form so 
as to form the clinch. 
"With the hoof rasp 
smooth or rasp over 
the rough sjDots on the 
outside. Rasping the 
outside of the wall 
should be avoided as 
much as possible. Fig- 
ure 16 shows a plate 
shoe, well fitted. 


Horseshoe manufac- 
turers are now making 
and distributing horse 
and mule shoes of all 
types (figs. 18 to 21) 
suitable for shoeing 
Fig. 17.— Well-Shod feet farm work stock. In 



many places they can be obtained at the general store or from the 
local hardware merchant. 

In using the ready-to-wear shoe it is imjwrtant that the farmer 
exercise particular care in measuring the feet of horses or mules to 

Fig. is. — Ready-to-wear shoe. Plaiu shoe 

Fig. 19. — Keady-to-wear shoe, with toe 
and heel calks 

be shod before he purchases the shoes. The following system of 
measurement should be applied : After the feet are trimmed (one 
front foot and one hind foot), measure the width of the foot, in 

Fig. 20. 

-Ready-to-wear mule shoe, with 
toe and heel calks 


-Ready-to-wear mule shoe, with 
h.eel calks 

inches, and the length of the foot from heel to toe, making sure, 
however, that an allowance of at least one-half inch is made in the 
length of the shoe beyond the wall of the foot at the heel. 



Because horses are often worked on hard-surfaced streets and 
highways, the use of rubber shoes and rubber hoof pads has become 
common. These modern devices not only relieve sore and lame 
horses, but many times prevent corns and other foot sorenesses and 
lengthen the usefulness of horses used on hard surfaces. This type 
of shoeing is also valuable in preventing slipping on such surfaces 
and reduces to a minimum the number of injuries to horses caused 
by falling. Hoof pads and rubber shoes should be used as a pre- 
ventive rather than as a cure for the many leg ailments caused by 
the constant use of horses on hard-surfaced roads. 

Rubber pads are not recommended for horses that work on the 
farm, as the soil works its way under the pad, causing lameness by 
extra pressure in the navicular joint. Whenever rubber pads are 
used, pine tar with a thin layer of oakum should be applied to 
the sole to keej) it moist and prevent contraction. 

No. 1721 




The mature male horse has 40 teeth (fig. 1). Twenty-four of these 
are molars or grinders, 12 are incisors or front teeth, and 4 are tushes 
or pointed teeth. The 2 central incisors are known as centrals or 
nippers; the next 2, 1 on each side of the nippers, are called inter- 
mediates or middles, and the last, or outer pair, the corners. The 
tushes are located between the incisors and the molars. Thej are 
not usually present in the mare, and accordingly she may be considered 
to have a total of 36 teeth rather than 40, as in the male. 

FiGUKE 1. — Skull of the horse (from Frateur). 

The young animal, whether male or female, has 24 temporary teeth, 
commonly called milk teeth, as they are much whiter than the perma- 
nent teeth. These milk teeth consist of 12 incisors and 12 molars. 
The latter are the 3 back teeth on each side of both the upper and the 
lower jaw. The milk teeth are shed and replaced by permanent teeth 
at fairly definite periods, which serve as an index in determining the 
age of young colts. 

The temporary central incisors or nippers may be present at birth 
(fig. 2, A) ; otherwise they appear before the colt is 10 days old. There 
are two in each jaw. 

At the age of from 4 to 6 weeks the two temporary intermediates, 
upper and lower, appear (fig. 2, B). These teeth immediately adjoin 
the nippers. 

Figure 2.— Temporary incisor teeth of a young colt: A, Immediately after birth; B, at 6 weeks; C, from 

6 to 10 months after birth. 

When the colt is from 6 to 10 months old the corner or outer in- 
cisors, two above and two below, are cut (fig. 2, O). This gives the 
young animal a full set of temporary front teeth. 

By the time the colt has reached the age of 1 year the crowns of the 
central incisors show wear (fig. 3, A). In another 6 months the inter- 
mediates or middles become worn (fig. 3,B), and at 2 years all the teeth 
are worn (fig. 3, C). During the following 6 months there are no 


changes which will distinguish the exact age. At about 2K years, 
however, the shedding of the milk teeth begins and at 3 years the tem- 

FiGURE 3. — Appearance of the incisor teeth of a colt: A, At 1 year; B, at 18 months; and C, at 2 years. 

porary central nippers, two above and two below, are replaced by 
the permanent central incisors. 

Figure 4.— Incisors of a horse at 4 years. The permanent incisors are the four in the center, and the tem- 
porary ones are at the corners. 

At 4 years the four permanent intermediates have taken the place 
of the four temporary middles (fig. 4). 

Figure 5.— Permanent incisors of a horse at 5 years. The tushes also shown here indicate that the animal 

is a male. 

When the animal is about 4K years old the shedding of the four 
corners begins, and at 5 years the permanent teeth which replace 
them are well up but not in contact (fig. 5). 


In a 6-year-old horse the corner incisors are on a level with the 
adjoining teeth, with a well-marked dental cavity or "cup" showing 
practically no wear (fig. 6). The nippers show wear over the entire 

FiGUEE 6. — Incisors of a horse at 6 years. 

surface; the "cup" though visible shows indications of gradual dis- 
appearance and at this stage is without a hollow. 

When the animal is 7 years old, not only the nippers but also the 
middles show wear (fig. 7). Each upper corner tooth has an indenta- 

FiGURE 7. — Incisors of a 7-year-old horse. 

tion caused by wear from the corresponding lower tooth, resulting in 
a downward triangular projection of the posterior edge. This pro- 
jection is commonly termed "dovetail" (fig. 8). 

FiGtTRE 8.— Side view of incisors of a 7-year-old horse. Note, in upper comer incisors, the notch which 

appears at this age. 

In the 8-year-old horse all the incisors are worn, the cup has en- 
tirely disappeared from the nippers, but shows to a slight extent in 
the middles, and is still well marked in the corners. At this stage 
what is termed the "dental star" makes its appearance as a yellow 
transverse line just back of the front edge of the table, or flat surface, 
of the nippers and middles (fig. 9). 


Between the ages of 9 and 13 years there is a gradual change in 
the contour of the tables of the incisors. In a 9-year-old animal the 

Figure 9. — Inoisors of 8-year-old horse. Dark line in front of cup is the dental star. 

nippers take on a more or less rounded contour; the dental cavity or 
cup has disappeared from all but the corners; the dental star is found 

Figure 10. — Incisors of a male horse 9 years old. 

in both the nippers and middles and in the former is near the center 
of the table (fig. 10). At 10 years the middles become rounded, and 

Figure U.— Incisors of a horse at 10 years. 

the dental star, now seen on all the incisors, is near the center of both 
the nippers and middles (fig. 11). At 11 or 12 years the corners have 

Figure 12. — Incisors of a horse at 11 or 12 years. 

a somewhat rounded form, and the dental star approaches the center 
of the table (fig. 12). As the horse reaches 13 years of age all th©^ 



lower incisors are unmistakably rounded, the dental star is found in 
the center of all the tables, and the enamel rings which formerly 
surrounded the cups have entirely disappeared (fig. 13). 

Figure 13. — Incisors of a horse at 13 years. 

In a horse about 14 years of age the tables of the incisors begin to 
change from a rounded to a triangular contour. This change occurs 

Figure 14.— Incisors of a 14-year-oId horse. 

in the nippers at 14 years (fig. 14), in the middles at 15 years, and in 
the corners at 16 or 17 years (fig. 15). 

Figure 15.— Incisors and tushes of a male horse at 17 years. The mouth of a female has the same 
appearance except for the absence of tushes. 

During the following 4 years after the appearance of the triangle, 
there is a gradual approach of the tables to the form of a rectangle, 
as shown in figure 16. The teeth during this period are usually 

Figure 16. — Characteristic shape of an old horse's lower incisors at 18 years. 

elongated and directed obliquely. The dental arch also becomes 
contracted and pointed and the under edges of the lower jaw are thin 
and sharp as compared with their appearance in a young horse (fig. 17). 


FiGU.lE 17. — Comparison of incisors and lushes of horses at different ages: A, At 6 years, and B, at 20 years. 

Should the animal live more than 20 years, these conditions become 
more marked and are accompanied by excessive wear and loosening 
or loss of molars. 


Cattle at maturity have 32 teeth, of which 8 are incisors. All in- 
cisors are in the lower jaw (fig. 18). The two central incisors are 

Figure 18.— Skull of an ox (from Sisson). 

called pinchers; the next two, first intermediates; the third pair, 
second intermediates or laterals; and the outer pair is known as 
the corners. In place of the upper incisor teeth there is a thick layer 
of the hard palate called the dental pad (fig. 19). 


Figure 19. — Hard palate of an ox showing dental pad (from Sisson). 

In the calf at birth two or more of the temporary or first set of 
incisor teeth are present. Within the first month the entire eight 
incisors have appeared (fig. 20). 

Figure 20. — Internal face of incisors of the calf at 1 month. 

As the animal approaches 2 years of age the central pair of tem- 
porary incisor teeth or pinchers is replaced by the permanent pinchers. 
At 2 years these teeth attain full development (fig. 21). 

Figure 21. — Internal face of incisors at 2 years. 

At about 2)'i years the permanent first intermediates, one on each 
side of the pinchers, are cut and are usually fully developed at 3 
years (fig. 22), 


Figure 22.— Internal face of incisors at 3 years. 

At dji years the second intermediates or laterals are cut. They are 
on a level with the first intermediates and begin to wear at 4 years 
(fig. 23). 

Figure 23. — Internal face of incisors at 4 years. 

At about 4}^ years the corner teeth are replaced. At 5 years the 
animal usually has the full complement of incisors with the corners 
fully developed (fig. 24). 

Figure 24.— Internal face of incisors at 5 years. 

At 5 or 6 years there is a leveling of the permanent pinchers, the 
pinchers usually being leveled at 6 years and both pairs of inter- 
mediates partially leveled and the corner incisors showing wear. 

At 7 or 8 years there is a noticeable wearing of the pinchers; at 8 
or 9 years, of the middle pairs; and at 10 years, of the corner teeth. 

Figure 25. — Internal face of incisors at 12 years. 

After the animal has passed its sixth year, the arch gradually loses 
its rounded contour and becomes nearly straight by the twelfth year 
(fig. 25). In the meantime the teeth have gradually become trian- 
gular in shape, distinctly separated, and show progressive wearing to 
stubs. This condition becomes more marked with increasing age. 



Mature sheep and goats have 32 teeth, of which 24 are molars and 8 
are incisors (fig. 26). There are no tusks and, like those of cattle, all 
the incisors are in the lower jaw. As in the case of cattle, also, the 
two central incisor teeth are called pinchers; the adjoining ones, first 
intermediates; the third pair, second intermediates; and the outer 
ones, corners. The temporary incisors are readily distinguished from 
the permanent ones by their smaller size and milky whiteness. 

Figure 26. — Skull of a sheep (from Sisson) . 

In the new-born animal none of the teeth may have made their 
appearance though sometimes the two pinchers and also the two 
first intermediates are pressing through the gums or even have cut 
through. In a few days these teeth and the second intermediate 
incisors will appear, followed somewhat later by the corners, thus 
giving the animal, by the time it is 3 months old, a full set of completely 
developed temporary incisor teeth, as shown in figure 27, A. 

When the animal is between 12 and 15 months of age the temporary 
pinchers are replaced by the two permanent ones (fig. 27, B). 

Figure 27. — Incisors of sheep at diflerent ages: A, At 3 months; B, at 12 to 15 months; C, at nearly 2 years; 
D, at 3 years; and E, at 4 years. 

The shedding of the first temporary intermediates and their replace- 
ment by permanent teeth indicate that the animal is approaching 
its second year (fig. 27, C). 

The replacement of the second temporary intermediates by the 
permanent ones takes place when the animal is about 3 years old 
(fig. 27, D). 

The two temporary corner incisors are replaced by permanent teeth 
as the sheep reaches the age of 4 years. All the permanent teeth are 
then present, and the animal has what is termed a "full mouth" 
(fig. 27, E). 



After this time there is a distinct and progressive increase in size 
of the spaces between the teeth, which gradually become v/orn to 
stubs and frequently attain an unnatural and uneven length. In old 
sheep some teeth may be broken or loose; in such cases the animal 
is said to have a broken mouth. 


A mature hog has 44 teeth (fig. 28). Of these, 12 are front teeth 
or incisors, and 6 are in the upper and 6 in the lower jaw. Four 
others lie in the open spaces back of the incisors and are known as 
tusks, or tushes. They are usually more prominent in the male than 
in the female. Back of each tush is a tooth commonly called the 
premolar, and immediately back of this on each side of the upper and 
lower jaws there are 6 molars, the first 3 in each row sometimes being 
termed premolars. As in the horse, the incisors are grouped in three 
pairs in each jaw and are termed centrals, intermediates, and comers 
in accordance with their relative positions. 

Figure 28. — Skull of a hog (from Sisson). 

The young pig at birth usually has 8 teeth. These consist of the 
2 tusks and 2 corner incisors on each jaw. They are all sharply 
pointed and are sometimes laiown as needle teeth (fig. 29, A). It is a 
common practice to cut them off, about halfway between the gum 
and point of the tooth, in the new-born pig, in order to avoid discom- 
fort and injury to the nursing sow. 

When the pig reaches the age of 4 or 5 weeks the central temporary 
incisors appear, two in the upper and two in the lower jaw (fig. 29, B). 

As the animal approaches the age of 6 to 8 weeks the two inter- 
mediate incisors will have cut through the gums of the lower jaw 
between the corners and the centrals and will be fully grown at 3 
months (fig. 29, C). 

As the pig passes 6 months of age the temporary corner incisors are 
shed, and the permanent corners appear. Shortly after 9 months 
the permanent tusks take the place of the temporary tusks. At 
approximately 12 months the central permanent incisors replace the 
temporary centrals, and the lower teeth appear as shown in figure 
29, D.