Antique Drenching Bit

Drenching bit

antique horse bit

antique veterinary bit

Medicating horses has got so much easier – or so I tell myself as I scrape worming paste out of my hair. And I do wonder how effective a wormer is once it has disappeared up a horse’s left nostril.

I was fascinated to learn about an “Easy wormer” bit on one of the horse forums – it’s a plastic bit that you put into the horse’s mouth and then squeeze the wormer into the bit. I think there are other makes.

Sound familiar? The bit on the left is an antique drenching bit. Again, the bit is placed in the horse’s mouth & secured in place with the leather strap. Medication would be poured into the funnel, and the metal bar used to raise the animal’s head so that the liquid would pass back & be swallowed. Obviously a large lump of metal attached to a resisting horse is a bit more hazardous than the modern plastic version, but the principle’s the same.

In Mosemann’s Illustrated Guide there’s even a picture of a small version of one being used in a dog. This strikes me as a bit excessive, surely you can get a dog to swallow just about anything with nothing more sophisticated than a sausage?

Another antique tool for medicating horses was the balling gag. Medication would be moulded into ball-shaped pills. The wooden gag below would be put in the horse’s mouth.

a drenching gag

A tube would be passed through the hole in the middle of the gag, pointing towards the back of the poor horse’s throat. A pill would be placed in the free end of the tube, then one would blow down the tube (quite hard, I assume), delivering the pill to the back of the tongue. I have heard someone wondering what would happen if the horse blew back….

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