As you can see from this x-ray, you never know where a nail goes from the outside! If you find a nail in your horse’s foot, this is an emergency. Please call your veterinarian immediately. We ask that you NOT remove the nail. This may seem crazy, but without taking radiographs with the nail in place, it is impossible to know what structures are affected.

While waiting to get in touch with a veterinarian, put you horse in a deeply bedded stall. Wrap his foot with something such as cotton. If necessary, you can tape a block of wood, taller than the nail to the b0ttom of the foot NEXT to the nail. This will allow him to stand without pushing the nail further into his hoof. Conversely, you can cut off part of the nail, making sure to leave enough for the nail to be grasped.

If for some reason you must pull the nail, first circle the nail on the hoof with an indelible marker. Then place the foot in a clean, waterproof bandage.

Many nail punctures result in penetration of the superficial layer of the sole only. But some can be in vital areas of the hoof. These structures will become traumatized, broken and infected with the puncture. It is this ensuing infection that must be prevented and treated if it is to be successful.

In the case pictured, the horse has a life threatening nail puncture, as it enters the deep digital flexor tendon and possibly the navicular bursa and coffin joint. This carries a grave prognosis. If this horse is to survive, early and aggressive treatment is required.