NERVE OPERATION. The horse having been secured upon his side, an incision, about three inches above the most prominent part of the fetlock joint, that is the most prominent part when viewed sideways, and just within the back sinew. The incision is to be made quite through the skin to the cellular substance, and the instrument should be sharp, so that the first stroke of it may be sufficient to make the incision, and thus be the less painful to the animal as well as more creditable to the operator; however, care must betaken not to carry the incision down to the cellular substance, which will appear on opening the skin. This must then carefully be dissected away, and the nerve will appear, and immediately behind it a vein of a bluish colour. A crooked needle, armed with a small ligature, or twine, is now to be carefully passed under the nerve from within outward, and the operator must not touch the vein with the point, lest it be wounded, and so embarrass him with the blood which must consequently flow. To avoid this, the needle should be a little blunt at the point. When this is done, the needle is to be removed from the twine, and, the nerve having been gently drawn out by the ligature, the cellular substance underneath it is to be cautiously dissected away, taking care not to wound in the slightest degree the nerve itself. A curved bistoury is now to be passed under the nerve, as high up as can be admitted, and at one steady, clean, and well directed cut, it is to be divided. The bistoury must be as sharp as possible, and the cut to be drawn, and not by pressing the blade directly upwards, as the least laceration of the nerve is dangerous, as well as unnecessarily painful to the animal The operation itself, of dividing the nerve, gives excessive and sudden pain, which causes the horse to struggle violently; this must be guarded against; but when the division is complete the pain is over.
The inferior portion of the nerve, or that which remains next the hoof, is to be drawn out by forceps, and cut out to the extent of from half an inch to an inch. The skin should then be closed, and one stitch applied, which concludes the operation. No dressing or bandage is necessary, and the wound will heal in about three weeks. It will be advisable to turn the horse out to grass a little before the wound is healed, and he should be kept there for about a fortnight or three weeks, or perhaps more.
Harewood, Harry. A Dictionary of Sports. London: T. Tegg and son, 1835
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