Resuscitation practices of old: The Trotting Horse Method.

Museum of the Order of St John Judi McGinley, Museum Assistant

The Trotting Horse Method of resuscitation dates back to the early 19th century and was used to revive near-drowning victims who came a cropper while swimming in Europe’s inland waterways. The victim would be draped over the back of a horse which would be encouraged to gallop or trot. It was believed that the bouncing of the victim’s body against that of the galloping horse would result in the alternate compression and relaxation of the chest cavity.

In 19th century America, any lifeguard worth his salt would have been equipped with a horse on standby to treat any unfortunate individuals who got into difficulty in the sea. However, the Trotting Horse Method of resuscitation was banned in America in 1815 due to a large number of public complaints relating to the mess that the horses created on the beaches.

A galloping horse on the beach.


License: CC0 Public Domain


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