Visible here are older abscesses that erupted above the hairline while the nail was still in the foot. The puncture wound contained a nail only minutes before.

Bo Brock, an equine veterinarian who practices in Lamesa, Texas, says most people don’t realize that certain puncture wounds can be career ending if neglected. Brock understands the difficulty people have leaving a nail for any extra time, though.

“I think the hardest thing to do as a human being is to pick up a horse’s foot and see a nail and leave it there,” says Brock. “If you see a nail, you want to pull it out because you think that if it’s in there one more second it will cause more damage.”

With proper care, which begins with a radiographic determination of what has been damaged, Brock says most horses, even those that have punctured bone, tendon or the navicular bursa, can be completely cured.

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