You are here

Turning The Pages Presents "The Anatomy of an Horse"

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version

From the book, a scanned illustration of two horse heads.

The National Library of Medicine and the Lister Hill National Center for Biomedical Communications announce the release of The Anatomy of an Horse, one of the most comprehensive and beautifully illustrated books about horses. This virtual book is the next in the Turning the Pages series available on its Web site, via iPad App, and in kiosks onsite at the NLM.

Printed in London in 1683, the book contains numerous engravings of horses, mainly on the dissecting table, including the digestive system, heart, brain, musculature and the skeleton. Turning the Pages features a selection of these images curated by NLM staff.

Farriers were generally blacksmiths whose primary duty was making shoes for horses and applying them to the animals' feet, but they often took on other tasks in horse care as well, including treating illnesses such as the glanders (a common equine sinus infection), the botts (a parasite), or lameness. They also applied surgical remedies for horses such as purgatives and bloodletting. Farriers were usually illiterate tradespeople who learned their craft through an apprenticeship and "practiced" in the military's cavalry, on a gentleman's estate, or in a village or town. Until the prevalence of the automobile, horses were some of the most important animals to humans, providing transportation, battle power, and heft. Horses were often the most valuable possession of a middle class family, and were considered a powerful symbol of prestige among the wealthy, nobility, and gentry.

This image is an engraving showing two horses heads with brain exposed, from Andrew Snape's The Anatomy of an Horse, printed in London in 1683. Courtesy National Library of Medicine

Turning the Pages is part of an ongoing collaboration between research engineers at the Lister Hill National Center for Biomedical Communications and curators and historians at the NLM's History of Medicine Division, to help make its rare and unique history of medicine materials widely available to the public.