A Gift Horse


Gift Horse by Hans Haacke, Trafalgar Square

Gift Horse by Hans Haacke, Trafalgar Square

Sitting proudly on top of the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square currently is ‘Gift Horse’ by Hans Haacke.

The sculpture is based on illustrations from George Stubb’s Anatomy of the horse and so feels strangely familiar to me – apart from the live share-price ticker tied to its foreleg.

Looking at our catalogue I found we have another book of the same title in our collection – Ernst Gurlt’s  Anatomy of the Horse (A Schloss 1833, translated from the original German by J Willimott) and like the Stubbs it is lavishly illustrated.

Ernst Friedrich Gurlt (1794-1882)  was Professor at the veterinary school in Berlin where the anatomy collection  still bears his name.

He published a number of works on anatomy the first of which was Handbuch der vergleichenden Anatomie der Haus-saugethiere  (Handbook of comparative anatomy of domesticated animals).  This covered the anatomy of the horse, ox, sheep, swine, dog and cat.

A review of the English translation of Gurlt’s Anatomy of the Horse in the Veterinarian (1833 pp 46-50) begins by setting Gurlt’s anatomical works in the context of those that had gone before describing  his  Handbuch der vergleichenden Anatomie der Haus-saugethiere ‘as the great treasure of the veterinary anatomist’.

Of the English translation of the Anatomy of the Horse it is less favourable – though no discredit is attached to Gurlt.  Instead it argues that by taking the plates on the horse from Gurlts more comprehensive earlier book of comparative anatomy  the publisher, Mr Schloss, has ‘destroyed the charm of the work, as one of comparative anatomy and rendered it incomplete as an elementary book’.

The review does go on to say however that ‘to the student who confines his inquiries to the horse, it is still a most valuable present’.   The cost of this ‘valuable present’ is given as £3 5s.

Anatomy of the horse was published in two parts – the text which is an index to the plates (128 p 8vo) and the 35 folio sized plates several of which are reproduced below.

Gurlt Plate 1 Skeleton seen from the left sidePlate 1 Skeleton seen from the left side

Gurlt Plate 7 Muscles of the headPlate 7 Muscles of the head

Gurlt Plate 10 Fourth layer of muscles seen from the left sidePlate 10 Fourth layer of muscles seen from the left side

Gurlt Plate 13 Salivary glandsPlate 13 Salivary glands

Gurlt Plate 15 Intestinal canalPlate 15 Intestinal canal

Gurlt Plate 22 Pregnant uterus of the mare, opened from belowPlate 22 Pregnant uterus of the mare, opened from below

Gurlt Plate 24 Female foetus 57 days oldPlate 24 Female foetus 57 days old

Gurlt Plate 28 arteries on the head and neck

Plate 28 Arteries on the head and neck

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Shining a light on veterinary artists

The Lightbox in Woking, is currently showing an exhibition describing the role of horse and mules in World War 1.  The Horse at War: 1914-18  has a wide ranging display of artwork both from the war itself as well as more recent works, most noticeably ‘Joey’ the life size puppet from the National Theatre’s stage production of War Horse. Amongst the many paintings on display are works by a number of official war artists including Sir Alfred Munnings, CRW Nevinson and Lucy Kemp Welch.

There are a number of interesting veterinary connections amongst the paintings.  We have loaned two paintings by Lionel Edwards .  Born in Bristol in 1878, Edwards was one of the most popular illustrators of hunting and sporting subjects of the twentieth century. His artistic talents were apparent early in life, drawing horses from the age of six. He studied in London at Heatherly’s School of Art, before pursuing a professional career as an artist. At the outbreak of war he enlisted and served as a Remount Purchasing Officer, responsible for purchasing horses, an experience he described as ’four solid years of nothing but horse.’

Also on display are a number of works by official war artist Edwin Noble.  Noble studied at the Slade School of Art and the Royal Academy and became an established illustrator prior to the war.  He served with the Army Veterinary Corps, rising to the rank of sergeant, spending much of the war at No 8 Veterinary Hospital in France. Here he recorded in great detail the diseases affecting horses, ranging from mange through to the effects of mustard gas. His pictures were described as providing an ‘almost veterinary eye view of the misfortunes of horses on active service.’

A Horse Ambulance Pulling a Sick Horse out of a Field by Edwin Noble

A Horse Ambulance Pulling a Sick Horse out of a Field by Edwin Noble © IWM (Art.IWM ART 2922)

There are three works of art on display produced by a veterinary surgeon, but one who was serving with the Royal Army Medical Corps during the conflict.

Herbert Lake was born in 1883, at 33 High Street Camden, London, where his father owned a jewellers shop. Qualifying from the Royal Veterinary College in 1905, he initially worked in London passing the examinations for an Inspector of Meat and other Foods, in December 1908. Soon after he entered University College London to read medicine, gaining MRCS, LRCP in 1913 and MB in 1915. On graduation from UCL Lake joined the Royal Army Medical Corps and was posted to northern France in October 1915, to serve as medical officer to 2 Cavalry Field Ambulance (2CFA) (part of 2nd Cavalry Division). War diaries show how he used both his medical and veterinary knowledge.

Herbert Lake 1883-1869

Herbert Lake 1883-1969

Soon after his arrival, responding to the cold and wet conditions, Lake noted that horses had been standing out all the time and though there had been no sickness among them, they had generally fallen off in condition. To provide protection he moved horses into the trenches. It was recorded that ‘it has not been entirely successful owing to the heavy mud, but they have been sheltered in this way from the cold winds.’ Two months later his veterinary skills were again to the fore, when he was asked to give a course of lectures in horse mastership and stable management to each field ambulance.

However it was his medical work that was to be recognised when on 8 October 1916 he led a digging party in the Ginchy area of the Somme. The party dug out three men; one was dead, the other two wounded. Lake would later be mentioned in dispatches for his actions.

Herbert Lake was also an accomplished artist, although unlike many of his contemporaries, he appears not to have had any formal training.  Making use of a number of media, he portrayed his experiences in war, and invariably horses are at the centre of his work. He graphically depicted the role of the field ambulance in a number of sketches.

Horse pulled ambulance by Herbert Lake 1917

Horse pulled ambulance by Herbert Lake 1917

In March 1917, Lake witnessed the cavalry charge at Arras, the last cavalry charge by British troops in Europe. His painting ‘Cavalry Before Arras’ portrays the intensity of the preparations for battle amongst both horse and rider. Later Lake would treat many of those injured in the battle,

Cavalry before Arras by Herbert Lake

Cavalry before Arras by Herbert Lake

After the war Herbert Lake settled in Beaminster, Dorset where he established a general medical practice. However, he remained on the register of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons until 1958, and treated patients, both human and animal, for many years.

The exhibition runs until 1 March.

I would like to thank Dr Paul Watkins MRCVS for his help in compiling this post.


A Horse Ambulance Pulling a Sick Horse out of a Field by Edwin Noble © IWM (Art.IWM ART 2922)   reproduced under the IWM Non-commercial Licence

Photograph of Herbert Lake and the paintings by him are reproduced with the permission of the Lake family.

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George Fleming’s travels on horseback

A view beyond the Great Wall of China

A view beyond the Great Wall of China

In 1859 George Fleming  volunteered to serve as a veterinary officer on the expedition to North China.  Whilst there, in July 1861, he embarked on a journey of almost 700 miles from Tien-tsin, where he was stationed, to Mantchu Tartary.  Two years later he wrote an account of the journey which was published as Travels on horseback in Mantchu Tartary  (Hurst and Blackett, 1863)

In the preface Fleming explains his reasons for writing an account of ‘his novel ride through one of the most distant regions of the great Chinese empire’ :

“Little in reality is known regarding the far north, more especially of those hitherto inaccessible districts which border on, or lie beyond, that marvellous monument of human industry – The Great Wall, in its course along the eastern margin of Old China.

It is therefore hoped that an attempt to describe the general features of the country and the special characteristics of the northern Chinese … may prove in some degree interesting. It may be a long time before Europeans will again venture so far as from the vicinity of Peking to the birthplace of the Mantchu dynasty … So until a more leisurely survey can be made … these notes of a holiday pilgrimage the author hopes will not be unacceptable.”

The book is 566 pages long and describes the people Fleming met; their customs; the landscape and the climate etc. He also gives descriptions of agricultural practices in the various regions and of the hardships he faced along the way  The text is accompanied by 54 illustrations a number of which are reproduced below.

Chinese Horse dealer

A Chinese horse-dealer ‘who had all the vices and dodges of his Western confreres’

Warning to robbers

A warning to robbers

Pig driver

A Pig-driver – wearing a ‘first-rate waterproof of rushes’

Roadside sanctuary

The roadside sanctuary

Inn at the Wall

Inn at the Wall – the useless passport

The Horse Doctor

The Horse-doctor

Fast in the mud

Fast in the mud

Tartar Solldiers

Tartar soldiers

Courtyard wall

Courtyard wall – ‘the open brick-work in front was literally plastered with human faces’

For other posts about George Fleming

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Seasons greetings

Image of Reindeer from William Jardine's The Naturalist's Library Vol 21 Mammalia: deer, antelopes, camels etc. \(London: Chatto & Windus)

Image of Reindeer from William Jardine’s The Naturalist’s Library Vol 21 Mammalia: deer, antelopes, camels etc. (London: Chatto & Windus)

Wishing all our followers a fun filled festive season.

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The 1881 list of ‘Existing Practitioners’

In the summer, with the help of our intern Josh, we were able to sort the bundles of applications for entry on the List of Existing Practitioners which were submitted to the RCVS in 1882.

The List of Existing Practitioners came into being as a result of the Veterinary Surgeons Act 1881.  The introduction to the Act talks of the need to help the public distinguish between qualified and unqualified practitioners.  As part of this the Act required the RCVS to maintain and publish two documents:

  • a register of its (qualified) members; and
  • a list of unqualified ‘existing practitioners’ who had practised veterinary surgery for the previous five years.

The 1882/83 RCVS Annual Report states that around 1,000 applications were made for entry on the Existing Practitioner list. A committee, consisting of the President and 8 Council members (3 professors and 5 practitioners) was formed to consider the applications.  At the end of their task 863 applicants were deemed eligible for the list, those rejected having right of appeal to the Privy Council.

During the summer we found 859 applications.  In most cases we have three documents:

  • a statutory declaration, witnessed by a magistrate or Justice of the Peace, by which the applicant declared that they had continuously practised veterinary surgery since August 27th 1876;
  • a testimony as to moral character, usually given on the form supplied by the RCVS for this purpose,
  • an accompanying letter which explains how the fee for inclusion on the list (£3 3s for applications made before 1st April 1882 and £6 6s after that date) would be paid.

The testimonies of moral character were supplied by a cross section of society:  ‘pillars of the community’ –  doctors, vicars, solicitors, councillors, magistrates etc; those who made use of the services of these unqualified practitioners – farmers, businessmen (particularly those involved in the transportation of goods using horses) etc,  and of course members of the RCVS.

List of names in support of John Oddy's application

List of names in support of John Oddy’s application

In a few cases we have more documents.  For example John Oddy of Cleckheaton sent a 1m long document containing 35 names who would testify he was of ‘good moral character and integrity’.  Whilst Edward Allcock of Dublin supplied a copy of his indenture of apprenticeship, dated August 1835, to Joseph Bretherton MRCVS.

In most cases though the additional documents are because the validity of the application has been called into question – they are ‘letters of protest’.

These ‘protests’ are nearly all from MRCVS, and they reveal something of the tension that existed between some qualified and unqualified practitioners.   For example an MRCVS writes that John Lloyd of Montgomeryshire was “up to within 3 years ago … a Blacksmith and since that date he has been nothing more than a travelling quack.  He is an illiterate person … a common blacksmith”.  In spite of this Lloyd’s application was successful.

Letter of 'protest' against John Lloyd's application

Letter of ‘protest’ against John Lloyd’s application

We only found two applications that are clearly marked as having been rejected at the first stage.

One is from Edward Drew of Oldham.  From the documents we can see that his  application was initially rejected because he hadn’t practised veterinary surgery continuously for the previous 5 years.  Drew persuaded the Committee to reconsider his application explaining that he had been forced to give up his practice and take up other employment due to “being connected with another business … by which I lost a considerable sum of money”.  He also sends a document containing 27 names in support – top of the list was Thomas Greaves FRCVS, former RCVS President and current Council member – which can’t have done any harm as his application was eventually successful.

Wragg's letter of protest

Wragg’s letter of protest

The other rejected application is from William Robertson of Commercial Road, London.  Those appealing against his application included Francis Whitfield Wragg, who was serving on Council and  the Committee considering the applications at the time. (I wonder if he declared a conflict of interest?)  It seems that Robertson had worked in Wragg’s forge in Whitechapel as – in Wragg’s words –  a ‘foreman shoeing smith’.  There are 9 other ‘protests’ all but one of them from people related to Wragg’s practice.

Documents show that Robertson took his appeal to the Privy Council where it was dismissed – alongside an appeal by Stephen Pettifer, whose application we have not found.

The Annual Report concludes it section on the listing of Existing Practitioners thus:

‘the labours of the Committee in accomplishing their task of selection have been extremely onerous and full of anxiety … At no time in the history of the Royal College has a Committee had imposed on it such a heavy and anxious task … with the conclusion of this registration the most embarrassing portion of the responsibility thrown upon the Royal College by the Act has been disposed of.’

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Indian materia medica

In Volume 5 of The quarterly journal of veterinary science in India, published in 1887, there is a two part article by T J Symonds ‘Illustrations of Indian materia medica’.

Thomas J Symonds (?-1892) graduated from the London Veterinary College in December 1870. He entered the Army Veterinary Department in March 1871 and  served in the Afghan War 1880-1881; taking part in the march from Quetta as part of the relief of Kandahar.  At the time of his death Symonds was involved in purchasing remounts for the government in Madras.

His obituary in the South of India Observer (reprinted in The Veterinarian September 1892) says that he was ‘engaged in literary work for a portion of his professional career and was the author of some books connected with professional subjects’.  We have several of Symonds’ books in our historical collection which are all about plants and their use as material medica

Saunders  Comprehensive Veterinary Dictionary (3rd ed 2007) defines materia medica as:

“the study of materials used in medicine. It used to be a subject in veterinary curricula and dealt mostly with the physical and chemical characteristics of the medicinal substances. As a science it has now been largely superseded by pharmacology”.

Given that materia medica was taught in the veterinary schools it is not surprising that the early journals contain lots of information on plants and their use as veterinary medicines. For me Symonds’ article stands out because of the full page colour illustrations that accompany the text

Aloe Indica –. ‘[its] juice … gives an inferior kind of drug’

Aloe Indica from The quarterly journal of veterinary science in India

Calotropsis Gigantea –useful in diarrhoea, dysentery and chronic rheumatism

Calotropsis gigantea from The quarterly journal of veterinary science in India

Cinchona Officinalis – its bark can be used in the treatment of fevers.

Cinchona Officinalis from The quarterly journal of veterinary science in India

Azadirachta Indicaused as a poultice to relieve nervous headaches, the juice of the leaves are  said to be anthelmintic, diuretic and to resolve swellings.

azadirachta indica

Carum (Ptychotis) Ajowan – used as an antispasmodic, carminative, tonic and stimulant

Carum Ajoean from The quarterly journal of veterinary science in India

(Note  how this plant is to bushy to fit on the page! The leaves stray outside the border and it is printed on a bigger sheet of paper which had to be folded to fit with the rest of the volume).

For more information on the The quarterly journal of veterinary science in India .

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A time for reflection: Lieutenant Vincent Fox

Last Friday the Royal College was delighted to accept a portrait of Lieutenant Vincent Fox from his great grand-nephew.   Vincent Fox was killed in action on the 26 August 1914: the first member of the RCVS to die during World War 1.   His obituary in the Veterinary Record 3 October 1914, simply read:

Vincent Fox, MRCVS, Lieut AVC, Dublin: December 1911

Vincent Fox
Vincent Fox

Vincent Richard James Fox (1889-1914) was born at Hacksballscross, Carrickastuck, County Louth.  The youngest of 10 children, his father died in 1890, his mother in 1908. The 1911 census shows the family, headed by the eldest son, Patrick, living at 25 Quay Street, Dundalk.

Fox entered the Royal Veterinary College in Ireland in 1907, and graduated MRCVS in December 1911. He initially worked in Dundalk, then in May 1912 he sailed to Calcutta. Here he worked for RS Hart Bros, described as a ‘Royal Horse Repository and Veterinary Infirmary’ by its owner Robert Spooner-Hart MRCVS. The work was varied, ranging from veterinary surgery to horse breeding and dealing; the company also acted as consulting veterinary surgeons to the Calcutta Turf Club. Spooner-Hart died in March 1914, and about that time Fox returned to Ireland, keen to pursue a military career.

Fox received his commission, in the rank of Lieutenant, on probation, in the Army Veterinary Corps, on 31 July 1914. His entrance into the army had obviously moved at quite a pace, since by 22 July  he had already obtained his uniform from W T Castle, Military Outfitters of 23 Saville Row, London, for which he was invoiced a total of £22 18/-.

Fox was one of the first veterinary surgeons to depart for France.  Serving as Brigade Veterinary Officer to 8 Infantry Brigade he arrived in Boulogne on 14 August.  The Brigade were deployed north into Belgium, and by 22 August were at Mons, facing the advancing German army. The position of the British troops meant there was a real risk of their being cut off and on 22 August the order was given to retreat. By 25 August 8 Brigade were positioned in the town of Audencourt, to the east of Le Cateau.

Here the commanding officer deployed the bulk of his troops around Le Cateau to provide support for the men of I Corps as they retreated on his eastern flank. He was ‘advised’ to withdraw but informed the Commander in Chief that he was unable to move any men, and that he had decided to stand and fight.

The Battle of Le Cateau took place on Wednesday 26 August.  The headquarters of 8 Brigade were initially sited in a farm in Audencourt, The brigade diary reported that:

No field ambulance and no medical officers being available,
the wounded were taken into the church, a very solid stone structure
and here Lieut V Fox AVC
took charge and dressed the wounded.

At about noon the brigade came under a sustained artillery barrage and it was decided to move south. The horses were taken to a nearby orchard; the wounded, being treated by Fox, were to be left in the church, since it was considered strong enough to withstand shell fire. At 2.30pm the Germans commenced a bombardment of Audencourt, with disastrous consequences. Shelling of the orchard led to the death of all the horses and in the late afternoon the church was hit. Witnesses described how the spire was struck, followed by an explosion and the building caught fire. At least one high explosive shell entered the building, causing substantial damage and destruction, resulting in the death of Lieutenant Fox. His family were later to receive reports that his dead body was found, ‘without a mark or scar on it’.

RCVS World War 1 memorial

RCVS World War 1 memorial

Fox was buried in the Commonwealth War Grave Cemetery at Caudry (British Cemetery)  and is commemorated on the RCVS Memorial  alongside 66 other MRCVS who died in World War 1

Vincent Fox died whilst treating human, not animal, patients, and in doing so clearly demonstrated his commitment to the treatment of the sick, regardless of species. Although so little was written about his actions at the time in the veterinary press, an obituary in his local paper, the Dundalk Democrat, said that he was:

Killed whilst in pursuit of his humane duty behind the British firing line.
A man could not well die a nobler death.


For more information on the Battle of Le Cateau see The Battle of Le Cateau and subsequent actions via “The Long, Long Trail: the British Army in the Great War (accessed 20/8/2014)

I would like to thank Dr Paul Watkins MRCVS for his help in compiling this post. 


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10th International Veterinary Congress: a case of unfortunate timing

At 11pm on 4th August 1914 Britain declared war on Germany.  That same evening at the Natural History Museum 300 guests were gathered for the conversazione and reception of the 10th International Veterinary Congress.  A Congress that had been many years in the planning ….

Programme of music at the reception

Programme of music at the reception

London had been chosen as the venue for the 10th meeting of the International VeterinaryCongress  (IVC) at the previous meeting in 1909.   The original plan had been to hold the 10th IVC in 1913 but as there was already an international medical congress in London that year the date was moved to the summer 1914,

The organising committee consisted of Sir John McFadyean, Principal of the Royal Veterinary College, his son-in-law Stewart Stockman plus 28 others including the RCVS Registrar Fred Bullock.  In July 1911 the Committee met for the first time – the main topic of discussion was how the estimated £3,500 needed to run the Congress would be found.

By October 1912 good progress was reported to have been made with the scientific and social programmes but only £300 had been raised.  Planning continued throughout 1913 – the RCVS voted to make distinguished foreign visitors Honorary Associates and the ‘coffers’ increased to £3,180.

In early 1914 it was announced that: the money had been raised; places at the commercial exhibition were selling well, and the papers to be presented had been translated into English, French and German ready for printing.

By June some 1300 delegates had registered and the stage was set for a successful congress and then … on  the 28th Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated in Sarajevo and everything changed.

Over the coming weeks as the threat of war grew McFadyean and his committee considered postponing the congress but in the end, with so much at stake, they decided to carry on.

Congress badge

Congress badge

The first event, an evening reception at the Hotel Cecil on the Strand, took place on the 2nd August with far fewer attendees than had been expected

The following morning McFadyean officially opened the congress. There was good representation from the USA, Canada, China, Brazil and South Africa but representation from Germany, France, Austria, Serbia, Holland, Switzerland, Belgium and Italy was practically none existent.

After the opening addresses and the election of officers for the meeting, McFadyean announced the scientific programme would start the following day.

At 11am on the 4th August McFadyean again mounted the podium and uttered the following words “Yesterday we felt the cloud of anxiety… and today the cloud has become much darker”. He then proposed that the meeting should adjourn and reassemble at 3pm to transact the “business necessary to bring the Congress to a close”.  This they  did with all activities cancelled except for the conversazione that evening.

Thus 300 delegates were at the Natural History Museum, listening to the String Band of the Royal Artillery and studying the specially selected exhibits, as Britain officially entered the war.

Boxes of unused badges from the 10th International Veterinary Congress

Boxes of unused badges

It would appear that much of the winding up activities were left to the RCVS registrar Fred Bullock. This is probably why the records (letters, receipts, minute book, accounts etc) are in our archives.  Perhaps the most poignant memento we have of the congress that never was are the boxes of pristine congress badges whose intended recipients never even made it to London

For a  fuller account of the 10th IVC  see Bruce Vivash Jones (2014)  Unfortunate timing Veterinary Record  174(25)  pp 627-629

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Strickland Freeman’s observations on the horses foot

Our historical collection has over two hundred books on farriery and horse shoeing many of which contain anatomical drawings of the foot of the horse.  One such book is Strickland Freeman’s

Observations on the mechanism of the horse’s foot its natural spring explained, and a mode of shoeing recommended, by which the foot is defended from external injury, with the least impediment to its spring

which was published in 1796.

Strickland  Freeman was a Buckinghamshire landowner and sporting gentleman  who wrote a number of works on horsemanship and farriery.   Observations is his most important anatomical work: focusing on horse shoeing practices and methods, the work consists of  109 pages of text and 16 coloured plates with outlines.

I have found two reviews of the book from the period.  One in The Critical Review is less than complimentary.   Speaking of the illustrations it says:

“[they] do not illustrate the complete anatomy of the foot:  they are imperfect, from a total neglect of the nerves and absorbent vessels of those parts, two points in the structure, which have been found to be inseparably connected with many diseases of the feet of horses”

The reviewer also takes issue with the cost of the book given its alleged shortcomings:

 “When a voluminous and expensive work is laid before the public…we are led to expect something approaching toward a complete account of that subject… To the anatomist he affords no information, to the gentleman, we fear, he conveys little knowledge which can be applicable in practice… We would advise further adventurers in scientific pursuits with which they are not fully conversant, to be more backward in taxing the world with expensive books”.

A more positive review appeared in The Monthly Review which describes Observations as a ‘most splendid work’ and says:

“it is evidently the result of attentive observation…that will afford useful hints to those who are practically concerned in the subject”.

Writing in 1929 Frederick Smith in Volume 2 of his Early history of veterinary literature says:

“[Freeman] knew nothing of the anatomy of the horse’s foot.  The text is consistently weak, though largely atoned for by…[the] beautifully coloured plates”.

I am not qualified to comment on the accuracy of either the text or illustrations, but can’t help but agree that the illustrations, which are by G Kirtland who was a leading anatomical artist at that time, are beautiful.  Four of them are shown below, what do you think?

Plate 3. Front view of the bones of the fore foot of a horse in their relative situation

Plate 3. Front view of the bones of the fore foot of a horse in their relative situation

Plate 4. Back view of the bones of the fore foot in their relative situation

Plate 4. Back view of the bones of the fore foot in their relative situation

Plate 8. View of the posterior surface of the foot to shew the arteries and veins

Plate 8. View of the posterior surface of the foot to shew the arteries and veins

Plate 9. Side view of the foot to shew the arteries and veins

Plate 9. Side view of the foot to shew the arteries and veins

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Robert Stordy’s extraordinary journey

We are delighted to announce the publication of a new book: Robert Stordy in Abyssinia: an extraordinary veterinary surgeon Stordy book cover

The  main body of book is an account of an extraordinary journey made by Robert Stordy which is held in our archives.

Stordy worked for the colonial veterinary service in British East Africa; in 1911 he decided to take a different route back to Britain for his home leave.  He travelled from Nairobi, walking most of the way, across Northern Kenya and Abyssinia (now Ethiopia) to Addis Ababa and on to the Red Sea.  A journey of close to 1,500 miles.  Arriving in Djibouti four months later Stordy and his companion Lord Cranworth crossed to Aden and boarded a P&O liner for England.

The journal he kept along the way gives a unique record – in both words and photographs – of the places he visited, the people he met and the countryside through which he passed.

Robert Stordy in Abyssinia: an extraordinary veterinary surgeon is published by Granville Penn Press  and available from the Veterinary History Society.

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