The revival of equine medicine in the 16th and 17th centuries

An animal of value, the horse was the first to benefit from man's understanding of animals. Inspired by Vesalius, in 1598 Ruini Carlo (1530-1598) published in Venice an equine anatomy, the Anatomia del Cavallo, decorated with beautiful plates and followed by a less original treatise on pathology. The following year, John Héroard (1551-1628), who became the doctor of the Dauphin, the future Louis XIII, published a highly-accurate Hippology decorated with beautiful plates, as detailed as they were realistic. Accordingly, well-educated people, with a much less modest background than simple horsemen and brought to equine medicine due to the development and prestige of horse riding, delved into the field of horse anatomy.

An understanding of horse anatomy progressed from the late 16th century onwards in France, particularly in the areas of prestige riding.

In fact, in 1664 the riding master Jacques de Solleysel (1617-1680) published The Compleat Horseman [Le parfait mareschal], a bestselling book which saw numerous reissues. The treatise was comprehensive and looked at all breading and horse caretaking practices by adding scholarly considerations taken from human medicine, particularly the famous theory of humours, which, while underlying equine medicine since Antiquity, had never been formalised. The publication of this foundational treatise was followed by that of the English translation of a treatise with similar goals, Markham’s Masterpiece. Gradually, in both the 17th and 18th century, most horse riding treatises incorporated hippiatric concepts.

< >