Fears of that dreadful equine
scourge, the epizootic, which
raged in this city a few years
ago, have been of late agitating
some of the proprietors of
horses. A large horse owner of
this city remarked to an Eagle
reporter, who had been detailed
to investigate the matter, that
he was afraid some of his horses
were affected with the disease.
"The symptoms," he said, "are
the same, with very few
exceptions, and I am very much
afraid that there will be
another epidemic." He also said
that he had heard that the
Brooklyn City Railroad Company
had a large number of horses
affected in a like manner to
Inquiries among livery stable
men and others failed, however,
to establish the truth of the
gentleman's statement. One
proprietor said that he had a
few horses that were affected
with a spinal disease, which
resembled very remotely the
epizootic, but by careful
attention they had been cured.
The Fulton Street Car Stables
The main stables of the Brooklyn
City Railroad on Fulton street,
near New York avenue, were then
visited. The reporter found the
car starter, Mr. Thomas
Caruthers in charge. That
gentleman kindly consented to
show anything connected with the
horses. "This talk about the
epizootic breaking out again is
more bosh," said Mr. Carruthers.
"How many horses are there now
on the sick list in these
stables?" asked the reporter.
"Only about six," was the
answer. "We receive all the sick
and disabled horses from the
East New York stables, and that
sometimes turns this place into
"How many horses have you
altogether in all the stables?"
"About 518 here and at East New
York, and 400 at the Greenpoint
stables. The proportion of sick
horses is "One in a Hundred."
Mr. Carruthers led the way to
the loft where the food is
prepared for over 400 horses.
The quality of the food is first
class, and great care is taken
in mixing and preparing it.
"The proprietors of other
stables may talk about sickness
among their horses," and Mr.
Carruthers, "but the cause is
undoubtedly the poor quality of
the food and the carelessness in
its preparation. We keep our
horses in as good a condition as
those in any private stable in
the city. Our horses fall
because of the immense strain
they have in hauling the heavy
The stables are well lighted and
ventilated, and the air is sweet
and wholesome. Drains run along
the central passage on either
side of which are the stalls,
keeping the floor dry. Each
horse as soon as it enters the
stable is furnished with a
ticket nailed above its stall,
bearing its age, date of
purchase, condition of health,
and space for a record of its
sale or death.
An old Scotch stableman was
requested to show the sick
"There," said he, "is a fine
horse, but he's got the spinal
"Doesn't it resemble the
epizootic?" asked the reporter.
"Not at all," was the answer,
"it's paralysis, just as in a
The horse, when affected by this
spinal disease, loses control of
its limbs, and has to be
suspended in a sling passed
beneath the body. If the horse
were left to stand it would soon
die. None of the animals were in
slings when the reporter called.
Two or three had their hoads and
bind quarters covered with
plasters made of the best
mustard spread on paper.
"We sometimes doctors' em with
castor and linseed oil, said the
"How do the horses like the
"Well, 'bout same as you would,
sir," was the answer; "but they
don't make much objection."
The best of care is taken of the
sick horses, and Mr. Carruthers
said that they almost invariably
recovered under the treatment.
One of the animals having the
spinal disease was led out from
its stall. It tottered along
with great difficulty and the
sling was applied.
There were some horses afflicted
with the distemper, and one or
two with the colic, which the
starter said was the most
dangerous disease a horse could
"We had a celebrated doctor here
during the prevalence of the
scourge some years ago," said
Mr. Carruthers, "but with the
exception of him we have had no
veterinary surgeons at these
stables. In fact this celebrated
doctor, whose name I forget, did
scarcely any good."
"Who attends to the ills of the
"Mr. Stephen Jennings, the
Acting Superintendent of the
road and foreman of the stables,
and myself. We have some
experienced stableman, who know
right away what to do in the
case of a horse becoming ill."
"How long does a horse last on
"On an average about five years.
After that length of time it
becomes worn out and unfit for
any street work. We sell them to
farmers and others for light
work, and sometimes at very high
rates. We sold a number not long
ago for $40 and $50 each."
"Are your new horses more liable
to become sick?"
"Yes; our older horses very
seldom go under until they are
"At what season of the year does
the most sickness occur?"
The Most Sickness In The Summer
"In the Summer. Sometimes in
Midwinter we have a great many
cases, but we have been
singularly fortunate during the
past Winter. You see that horse?
Well, he is a green one; we only
received him a short time ago
and he is now sick with the
distemper. We will cure him,
however, and make him one of our
The animal in question was a
fine brown horse and was, in
spite of his sickness, in
splendid condition. Most of the
animals appear in a fine state
and look sleek and fat.
The new stables on Herkimer
street were then inspected. They
are commodious and in a good
condition. The older horses are
kept here and most of them are
used for towing purposes. A
number of condemned animals
ready to be sold were in the
back part with a lot that had
just been purchased. There was a
great contrast between the
strong young horses and the worn
"This week as well as last,"
said the starter, "has been hard
on the horses. We have had to
run large numbers of extra cars
in order to accommodate the
visitors at the circuses, and
the horses have been constantly
worked. I never saw so many
people before on this line of
cars except at the beginning of
Additions are being made to the
Fulton street stables and the
ventilating skylights are being
replaced with others which will
admit more air. The officials
take great pride in keeping the
place neat and clean.
The Greenwood stables, on Third
avenue, were visited, revealing
a similar state of affairs. But
about a half dozen horses were
on the sick list and the
remainder appeared in
comparatively fine condition.
These stables are newer than the
ones on Fulton street, and
contain a few more improvements.
The floors are laid in concrete
instead of wood, as in the
others, and the system of
drainage keeps the place neat
No Fear of the Epizootic
The Superintendent was asked if
a fear of the return of the
epizootic was entertained.
"No," he answered, "although we
can't tell. The other time it
came on us pretty suddenly. We
have never got at the root of
the disease, and scarcely know
what it is. That spinal
affection you noticed in some of
the horses resembles one of the
symptoms of the epizootic."
The Primitive Treatment
"Don't you think your treatment
is somewhat primitive?"
"Yes," was the answer, "but it
suffices. There was some talk
not long ago of introducing
improved apparqtus, in the way
of slings, &c., but the plan has
never been carried into effect,
except during an epidemic. We
use the best horse liniments and
powders, and these, with our
mustard plasters and oils,
combined with careful attention,
soon bring about a recovery in
nine cases out of ten."
"Do you have many deaths among
your horses?" was asked.
"No; the majority of the horses
live until worn out by the
severe labor. Most of the horses
are taken sick on the street. By
this way, you would think that a
horse, after spending a good
part of his life in dragging a
street car, would lose most of
his sagacity; but it is not so,
for they are very intelligent,"
and he patted one of the animals
A great many horses are lamed by
their feet catching in the frogs
which occur at the intersection
of the streets. These are also a
fruitful source of complaint on
the part of other horse owners.
The flanges of the car wheels
are constructed to fit the frogs
in certain turnings, when one
line runs into another. It is
proposed to abolish these frogs,
by having automatic switches at
the turnings, thus doing away
with the dangerous frogs."