Collection : musée Fragonard de l'École nationale vétérinaire de Maisons-Alfort / Photo Olivier Jourdanet / MCC

The sage-leaf knife, 1817

The sage-leaf knife is a scalpel with a curved blade that was use mainly for quittor operations. Quittor was a kind of tumour that developed in the foot after repeated impact of hoof on hard ground. Often located at the back and sides of the hoof, this mass underwent necrosis, abscessed and led to a purulent fistula. The animal suffered great pain and could no longer walk. The sage-leaf knife was used to remove the entire tumour and the then foot was carefully bandaged until full recovery. Sage-leaf knives could be distinguish as "right" or "left" depending on whether the operator was left or right handed and on the operated foot. This disease has completely disappeared along with the use of horses for work, as has the instrument.