wonderful with so much fire and spirit, with the greatest care do they maintain their graceful carriage, the neck, being bent into a bow, so that the chin appears to lean upon the breast.’
A writer who thus carefully describes the varieties of foreign horses, and enters into such details with each, would surely have mentioned the practice of preserving the feet of these useful creatures had it been known to him; but nowhere in his writings does he allude to it.
Vegetius Renatus Flavius, who flourished towards the end of the fourth century, in the reign of the Emperor Valentine, has often been confounded with the preceding writer, and his ‘De Re Militari’ has been, by Bracy Clark and many others, ascribed to Publius Vegetius. In this much-valued and classical military treatise, there is a particular enumeration of everything pertaining to an army forge; yet there is no mention made of workmen to shoe horses, nor yet of any implement or article intended for such a purpose.
For examples of the losses sustained during war through horses' feet being unprotected, we are not so well supplied as in Greek history. One marked instance, however, would appear to be shown in Polybius, when that writer informs us that the horses of Hannibal's army (b.c. 216) lost their hoofs in the marshes of Etruria: ‘Equorum etiam multis, ob longum per paludes iter, ungulæ exciderunt,’
That a defence for the feet of some of the larger domestic animals was in use, there can be no doubt. Aristotle for the Greeks, and Pliny for the Romans, state
- Lib. iv. cap. 6.