Even icing horses was challenging in the 1920s and 1930s because that most ubiquitous of modern appliances— the freezer— wasn’t in widespread use until the 1940s.
Treatment options for musculoskeletal injuries were also limited in the first few decades of the 20th century. Even icing horses was challenging in the 1920s and 1930s because that most ubiquitous of modern appliances---the freezer---wasn’t in widespread use until the 1940s. Trainers and veterinarian instead turned to methods we’d consider barbaric today.
“They ended up using a firing iron and blisters for a lot of things,” says Bramlage. “They had nothing better to use.” “Pin firing” involved pressing a hot iron against the tendon area. Blistering was done by applying an irritant chemical on the area. Both were intended to trigger massive inflammation and jump start the healing response.
These practices did have some foundation in physiology, says Bramlage. “The idea was to increase blood flow to an area by irritating it. It’s not without any basis because that will happen, but we have become so much more sophisticated today and know there are better ways to accomplish the same thing. Trainers will still use liniments but rarely to the point of blistering that damages tissue. Pin firing horses has