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Hoof nail puncture: What NOT to do

The nail that, miraculously, failed to penetrate the sensitive tissue's of our gelding's hoof - Poudre River Stables - Fort Collins - Colorado - 80621  
Today my daughter found a nail in the cleft of her gelding’s hind foot, and we knew what NOT to do, thanks to an episode from my childhood:

Six months after buying my beloved first horse, a blood bay Morgan-Quarter cross, my mare went down in her stall one morning, with a high fever, hardly able to move. The cause? A few weeks earlier she had stepped on a nail, and an uneducated horseshoer, not ours, pulled the nail out right there, trying to help the rookie horse owners.

That nail hole healed on the outside first, preserving a pocket of infection inside my mare’s hoof, which abscessed, and sent inflammation throughout her body, making her sick enough to go down.

Six weeks later, following antibiotics and three-times-a-day soaks in Epsom salts with hot water trucked from home, plus flushing with betadine, we were lucky that my horse lived and had no permanent damage. We were also lucky that none of us got killed because normally the soul of gentleness, my mare hated the treatments with a passion, and kicked, lunged away, and bit, trying to get rid of us.

Note: IN A PUNCTURE SITUATION, NEVER PULL THE NAIL OUT OF THE HORSE’S FOOT BY YOURSELF. Call your vet, who will bring medicines and tools to possibly cut a bigger hole around the wound, so it heals from the inside first, and drains properly. If your horse is showing pain, the vet may x-ray the nail before removal to see how deep it went.

Today? We were very lucky. Our vet pulled the nail. It turned out to be a short roofing nail from who-knows-where. The nail was barely in there, and never hit anything sensitive.

Chalk one up for the school of hard knocks. You might want to keep this handy reference, above left, from Nancy S. Loving, DVM, on your bookshelf for the next emergency.

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