Monday Minstrel: Veterinarians and the Zodiac Horse

Is your horse lame?  If the vet came and consulted a diagram of the Zodiac horse and then told you he could not bleed the hoof of the lame leg because the moon was in Pisces what would you think?  Well, if you were living in the 12th Century you would have thought he was a very wise veterinarian.  I recently found some very interesting information about veterinary practice in Medieval times in Kathleen Walker-Meikle’s book “The Horse Book; Horses of Historical Distinction.”  Here is what she says.

“In the Middle Ages, Galenic humoreal theory (which stated that to achieve health one needed to balance the four humours in the body: black bile, yellow or red bile, blood and phlegm) and medical astrology ( where planets and stars were believed to influence the body) were applied to veterinary medicine. Blood letting was a commonly used technique to restore ‘balance’ if a horse was ill.

The zodiac horse is an image that replicates a similar popular iconographic scheme for humans. It was used by veterinary practitioners to judge when and when not to bleed a horse. The sky was divided into twelve sections, each ruled by one of the twelve signs of the zodiac. When the moon was in a particular zodiac, the horse was not to be bled in the part of the body ruled by that zodiac sign. For example, if the moon was in Aries, the horse’s head should not be bled, if the moon was in Pisces, the hooves should not be bled, and similarly, if the moon was in Cancer, the area around the shoulders should not be bled.”



10 responses to “Monday Minstrel: Veterinarians and the Zodiac Horse”

  1. aHorseForElinor Avatar

    Oh, so much bleeding!
    We’ve moved on. Next century will decide if we’re crazy too 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  2. vikramhereblog Avatar

    It is good that world has progressed!
    Those horses though!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. anne leueen Avatar

      I wnnder if in the future they will look back at our medicine and think it was very primitive. I think a lot of horses ( and humans ) must have perished. Thanks for your comment Vikram.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. wanderlustplusone Avatar

    I’m glad times have changed. Those poor horses…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. anne leueen Avatar

      Indeed! And it was the same for people as “bleeding” was seen as the cure for many ailments.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. wanderlustplusone Avatar

        I had heard about the practice on humans but was not aware they did it on animals as well. I find it very fascinating they used to do it according to the moon.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. anne leueen Avatar

          Yes I also knew about humans but did not know it had an astrological component.


  4. nathaswami Avatar

    Wonderful in the sense man has tried to give some explanation and cure for the ailment of the helpless animals. Probably, the present day animal science sprang up from such crude science.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. anne leueen Avatar

      It probably did. It is easy to understand how in those times the movements of tha planets and stars and the sun were given great importance. Now we live indoors and in artificial light and most of us are removed from these movements and influences.

      Liked by 1 person

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