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NLM Announces New Exhibition on the History of Horse Veterinary Medicine

From Monday, July 11, through Friday, October 7, the National Library of Medicine, a component of the National Institutes of Health, will host a new exhibition, "From Craft to Profession: The Transition from Horse Farrier to Professional Veterinarian," in the NLM History of Medicine Reading Room, Building 38, on the NIH campus in Bethesda, Maryland. The public is invited to visit from 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM Mondays through Fridays, except Labor Day (Monday, September 5).

This exhibition will showcase original illustrated manuscripts and early printed books from the Library's collections featuring the care and treatment of horses over the past five centuries. 

The year 2011 has been named World Veterinary Year, in celebration of the 250th anniversary of the founding of the first veterinary school in Lyon, France.  In 1761, French riding master Claude Bourgelat (1712-1779) founded the first veterinary school, marking the beginning of the scientific study of the horse, eventually replacing the traditional art of farriery. Farriers were often blacksmiths and the equivalent of barber surgeons for horses who learned their trade through apprenticeship.  In the century after Bourgelat's school opened, the practice of veterinary medicine became a credentialed profession requiring an academic degree and strict licensing, replacing the old system of farriers and apprenticeships. 

For information on visiting the History of Medicine Division, NLM: //


 wounded horse chart

Wounded Horse Chart

Walter von Nitschwitz, et al., Roßarzneibuch [Miscellany of Hippiatric Treatises], Southwestern Germany, 1583.  Courtesy National Library of Medicine.


 Geometric proportions of the horse

"Geometric Proportions of the Horse"

Claude Bourgelat, Élémens d'Hippiatrique, v. 1 (Paris, 1750).  Courtesy National Library of Medicine.


 The Farrier's Anatomy

The Farrier's Anatomy

Andrew Snape, The Anatomy of an Horse (London, 1683).  Courtesy of the National Library of Medicine.


 The Grooms Oracle and Pocket Stable Directory

John Hinds [pseud. for John Badcock], The Grooms' Oracle and Pocket Stable Directory (Philadelphia, 1831).  Courtesy of the National Library of Medicine.