The January/February 2011 email Survey regarding quicked feet continues to draw responses from farriers. In the survey, we asked farriers how they explain to clients that they have quicked his or her horse. We also inquired about indicators that a hot nail is bothering a horse. Below are additional comments from that survey.

Q: How do you deal with a quicked foot when you’ve actually drawn blood with your hoof knife or from driving a nail?

A: If I quick a horse in the sole, I heat a piece of bar stock and sear the sole to stop the blood and toughen the sole. If I draw blood with a nail, I treat it with iodine.
— Barry Denton, Skull Valley, Ariz.

A: I use a topical ointment with lidocaine to stop the bleeding and relieve pain for sole abrasions. I treat a high nail hole with Hot Nail or Betadine via syringe. I do not put a nail in the part of the hoof that was quicked.

Deep cuts into the sole with half rounds or nippers should be wrapped and soaked in Betadine for a few days to insure that infection does not develop. I do not like applying pads because they trap bacteria and the owner cannot inspect the wound. If there’s no sign of infection after a week, I’ll apply the shoe.
— Diane Greene, Redding, Calif.

A: Knock on wood, I have never drawn blood on a horse unless I was working on an abscess/seroma, such as with a laminitic horse. I once had an apprentice “poke” one and we quickly flushed it with 7% iodine.
— Joe-Paul Meyers, Canadian, Okla.

A: I apply Betadine and cover the area or nail hole with a surgical pad. I’ve never had a bad one, so I continue shoeing the other feet and return to that one once I have finished. I then treat the foot as normal.
— Wesley Stewart, New South Wales, Australia

A: Apply gauze and put the foot down. This will apply pressure to help stop bleeding. Finish shoeing the horse, go back to the wounded foot and shoe it, apply gauze and wrap.

If there’s blood from a nail, pull the nail and soak the foot. Wrap the foot for a day or two and watch for lameness.
 — Larry Davis, Custer, Wash.

A: If I’ve drawn blood, I immediately pull the nail. Then I flush the site with hydrogen peroxide followed by iodine. I tell the owner to watch the hoof for signs of infection.
— Mikel Dawson, Lintrup, Denmark

A:  I will re-clean the foot and examine the site of the quickening. Then I apply iodine or any antiseptic (I carry a complete first aid kit) and pack it in an Easyboot with cotton and more antiseptic.
— Tom Nissen, Carr, Colo.  

A: If I cut too deep, I try to stop the bleeding and put disinfectant on it.
— Mona Smith, Sanbornton, N.H.

A: This happens to us all occasionally. Whether knife or nail, the first thing to do is to assess the damage. If it’s just a case of quicking, (rather than the horse kicking/pulling while you’re trimming frog and cutting themselves deeply) then get some Betadine on it, let the owner/handler know about it and note it on the invoice. Don’t put a nail back in the hole.
— Chris Richardson, Delaware, Ohio

A: If the blood isn’t bad, I would clean it and treat with Betadine and go on.
— Kevin Scheerer, Columbia, S.C.

A: Pull the nail and treat with iodine, chlorhexidine or another disinfectant. Check the horse for lameness and continue shoeing.
— Sandy Zeigler, Todd, Pa.

A. We all have an occasional hot nail or minor sole quick, but not often! This is what I do to remedy the problem:

1. If it’s a sole quick, I pack with gauze or any substitute that is handy. Paper towels work well and help to stop the bleeding.

2. If I sole quick a horse, it’s because the horse has a very thin sole to start with. I start by explaining to the owner that I got a little close, but the horse will be just fine. I may suggest a pad at my expense and apply it accordingly, accepting full responsibility.

— Dave Warren, Washburn, Wis.

A: Drawing blood with a hoof knife or nail are two separate propositions. If I’ve drawn blood with a knife I immediately get a bandage on the foot, usually a diaper and duct tape. In the case of a nail, I pull the nail and leave it out, and pour iodine-in-alcohol on the wound.
— Lyle Petersen, Mars Hill, N.C

Q: What do you tell a horse owner if you’ve quicked a foot? Do you ever suggest calling a veterinarian?

A: Tell the owner or barn manager what happened and ask if the horse is up to date with its tetanus shots. If the horse is sore, soak and wrap the hoof and call a veterinarian. I try to make that call myself — direct communication saves a lot of misunderstanding.
— Barrie Hulse, Pomfret Center, Conn.

A: I tell the owner what has happened and what I expect to happen. In the case of a small wound, I expect it to heal quickly, but I want them to be aware of the possibility of an abscess. If the foot gets sore, I tell the owner to apply a poultice or soak the foot in Epsom salts. If soreness persists, I suggest they call a vet.
— Lyle Petersen, Mars Hill, N.C.

A: Tell the owner what has happened and ask if the horse has had a tetanus shot. If not, have a vet give one as soon as possible.
— Neal Imeson, Ontario, Canada

A: Be honest and tell them what you did and that you’re going to do all you can to fix the problem. If there’s a vet bill because of your mistake, you should pay for it. I’ve never quicked one where I had to call a vet. I also have never had one turn up lame for an extended period of time.
— Larry Davis, Custer, Wash.

A: Be honest! Admit you made a mistake and handle it to the best of your ability. Trust is what the horse owner wants from you. Most owners understand that we are only human and things can happen. I always suggest calling a vet.
— Mikel Dawson, Lintrup, Denmark

A: Tell them what happened, what steps were done to prevent problems and what signs to look for if a problem develops. A quicked foot will usually heal without any issues. I suggest calling a vet only if lingering problems are getting worse. There is always a possibility of infection, so antibiotics may be needed.
— Bryan Baire, Rock Hill, S.C.

A: If I’ve drawn blood, I let the owner know that I’m doctoring the hoof and not putting a nail back in. I have them keep an eye on the horse and call me if they notice any problems. I’ve never had to get a veterinarian involved with a quicked nail.
— Derek Grimwood, Chapel Hill, Tenn.

A: I tell the owner exactly what I did and then I apologize to the horse. I do not charge the owner for the trim. A vet should be called in case of a possible abscess.
— Tom Nissen, Carr, Colo.

A: I explain what happened and that there is a small chance of abscessing. I tell the owner to call their vet or me right away if the horse shows any signs of lameness.
— Sandy Zeigler, Todd, Pa.

A: If it happens, pull the nail and treat the hole. The other day, I hit blood on a horse that had extreme thrush. A hoof pick could have drawn it out. I let the owner know what caused the bleeding, apologized and treated with Betadine. I let her know the horse may be sore and to give him a day or two and call if there’s a problem. If soreness persists, I would instruct the owner to call a vet for antibiotics/treatment.
— Kevin Scheerer, Columbia, S.C.

A: I immediately advise the horse owner and tell them to watch for soreness, lameness or heat in the foot. I ask to be called immediately if they suspect anything.

I always recommend the owners ask their vet if they want to start the horse on precautionary antibiotics as puncture wounds can be very serious. I make sure the owner checks their horse’s status on tetanus vaccination and have it done if it’s not current. I always call a vet when live tissue is involved. Farriers should have a close working relationship with their veterinary counterparts.
— Walter Varcoe, Port Jervis, N.Y.

A: Most horse owners understand that we make mistakes in this line of work and accept it for what it is. On the other hand, I blame myself and lose more sleep over it than the owner! I find it best to assure the owner that his/her horse will be fine, but don’t hesitate to call me if there are any questions or the horse should suddenly get worse.
— Dave Warren, Washburn, Wis.

A: Tell them the truth — if it’s a difficult nailing (for example, on a long-toed foot with extremely straight quarters the quarter nails can be troublesome) then tell them how it is much more likely to happen. If it’s an easy shot and maybe you had the nail turned the wrong way, tell them that. Don’t lie or make excuses. Tell them straight up and they’ll appreciate your honesty. I wouldn’t hesitate to tell them to call a vet if I felt it necessary.
— Chris Richardson, Delaware, Ohio

A: It’s not a matter of if you make a mistake, but it’s when. Treat your customers with respect and maturity and advise them of your error. It’s really quite simple — if it’s not the truth, then it’s a lie.

If I drive a bad nail, I let the owner know that there’s a chance that the foot can develop an abscess from the injury. If the horse becomes sensitive on that foot, please call me so I can resolve the issue without expense on your part.

If the sole is compromised with a hoof knife or rasp, then I explain my error and let them know that I’m going to place free pads on the horse. Again, I encourage them to contact me if the foot becomes more sensitive or is not improving.

Calling a vet would depend upon the reaction of the client and the value of the horse (unless the damage was significant). Contacting a vet would be for my protection if I thought the client was prone to litigation or very upset.
— Bob Smith, Pacific Coast Horseshoeing School, Plymouth, Calif.

A: I always tell the barn manager or the horse owner what happened. I give them information on what to look for if a problem should develop.

I’ve never told a customer to call a vet. I always tell them to call me immediately if they notice heat, swelling or lameness after a few days. If I come back and open up the abscess as soon as they notice any of these symptoms, we can usually get the horse right back to work.
— James Randall, Sumerduck, Va.

A: I would explain to the horse owner exactly what happened — something spooked the horse, the horse was nervous, farrier mistake, etc. I would tell them how serious it is and what I think should be done. Then I leave the final decision up to the owner.
— Brian Hull, Grand Valley, Ontario

Q: What indicators does a horse give that lend to a hot nail situation? What course of action do you take when you suspect you may be dealing with a hot nail?

A: The horse will flinch or pull his foot away. If you think it’s a bad nail, pull it out and tell the owner what to watch for.
— Jack Millman, Worthington, Mass.

A: Limping, not bearing weight on the foot, not standing comfortably on the quicked foot, heat in the hoof capsule, rapid pulse and stress visible in the eyes are just a few indicators of a hot nail.

I normally test each nail with hoof testers to see if there’s an area with an “ouchy” response. I have the groom walk the horse for me straight away and then in a small circle in each direction.
— Barry Denton, Skull Valley, Ariz.

A: A horse will flinch and pull its foot away if a hot nail is driven. Sometimes you will not know until the foot is put down. The horse will point the foot or perhaps not put weight on it until the nail is pulled out.
— Neal Imeson, Ontario, Canada

A: If a horse doesn’t flinch when the nail is driven, it may be reluctant to bear weight on the foot. Use hoof testers to see if there is localized sensitivity. Based on the results, possibly pull one or more nails and suggest soaking.
—Lyle Petersen, Mars Hill, N.C.

A: Usually the horse starts to lightly pull its foot away from me. If I continue to drive the nail, it will snatch its foot away. I try to listen and feel the nails as they go in and I listen to the horse for any signs that it might be feeling something that it shouldn’t. Pull the nail immediately and apply Betadine. I treat it much the same as I do a quick.
— Wesley Stewart, New South Wales, Australia

A: If a hot nail is driven, the horse will take weight off the foot, limp at a walk and won’t want to turn in a tight circle with weight on the sore foot.

If you suspect a hot nail, get the hoof testers and put pressure on the head of the nail and pressure on the clincher. Apply light pressure on the testers with each nail — the horse will react to the hot nail. Pull the hot nail out and clean the sole, especially around the nail hole. Fill a syringe with a peroxide solution, put the end of the syringe tight against the nail hole and flush out dirt. Dry the foot and try to get iodine into the hole using a syringe.

Keep the foot clean for a few days so it can heal. If stall conditions are dirty, you can put a shoe with a pad on the foot and add packing under the pad. A puncture can take longer to heal than a surface cut. Puncture wounds are deep and there could be bruising in the puncture. Check the foot every day to make sure there’s no heat or swelling in and around the nail hole.

Farriers should pay attention to what they’re doing. This shouldn’t happen. Work in well-lit conditions and get your eyesight checked.
— Brian Hull, Grand Valley, Ontario

A: Horses are very sensitive and a good farrier knows how to use those senses to his or her advantage. A horse will almost always let you know when the nail is too high or your work is near a sensitive area. The horse will flinch, jerk the hoof out of your hands or hesitate on putting weight on the foot when you release it. Many times they will test the foot with weight and, if you have hit sensitive laminae, they will not want to put weight on it. If you haven’t hit the sensitive laminae, but are close, they will paw or hold the foot out in front of them at rest. Some horses are so well trained or have such a high pain tolerance that they don’t exhibit any signs until they move. I always watch my horses walk out after I’m finished shoeing because they will exhibit lameness on the turn if there is a problem with nail or shoe placement.

Perhaps the best way to deal with quicking a horse is to prevent it in the first place. Horses that do not stand for the farrier are likely to be quicked and I make sure the owner understands this before I drive a nail. I won’t “own” that problem — it’s a risk the owner assumes if they do not take the time to properly train their horse.

Horses whose hooves have steep, straight walls have a higher risk of being quicked by a nail. In this case, I use my driving hammer to bend the nail point so it will exit the hoof at a lower position. Horses that have thin soles or shelly walls are also at higher risk for quicking and I am especially careful to drive my nails slowly, with gentle taps, until it safely exits the wall.

Sometimes a nail will draw blood even if it exits low in the hoof. Closer examination will usually reveal a deep bruise on the outside of the hoof wall where the nail came out. In my experience, sensitivity or bleeding from a low nail or multiple nail holes is an indicator of some kind of serious inflammation in the hoof and should be evaluated by a vet. I once had a pasture horse that walked up to me sound, showed sensitivity standing on a hoof after the shoe was pulled, and then bled from nail holes placed low in the lateral corner of the toe when I put a new shoe on him. Digital X-rays showed a small fracture on the solar margin of P3, an injury that took months to diagnose because conventional X-rays didn’t show the fracture. If the horse shows signs of a problem that doesn’t seem to make any sense, something more is going on and you should trust your instincts!
— Dianne Greene, Redding, Calif.

A: When a horse flinches out of the ordinary it always arouses my suspicions. This, coupled with the horse suspending the foot above the ground when released or placing it down and picking it up repeatedly is a great indicator when there is no blood. I’ve found it is worse with a hot nail than an obvious quick with blood. For me, these are the ones that always abscess.

If anything is going to occur, it’s usually within 3 to 4 days with horses here in the northeast. I’d love to hear about warmer, wetter or drier areas to see if there are any variations.
— Walter Varcoe, Port Jervis, N.Y.

A: The horse will generally not show signs immediately. If he does, you are very close and he will be reluctant to put weight on that foot. The first thing I do is take my hoof testers to each nail and tap with my hammer to see if I get any response. Once I find the hot nail, I immediately pull it out.
— Brian Cook, Washington, Ill.

A: When you talk about puncturing the sensitive tissue with a nail it can be a big problem. Some horses flinch with every hammer blow as you drive a nail in. In some cases, it’s from past experiences of close or bad nails. Other horses may flinch for no reason. This makes it hard to determine if the nail is in hard tissue.

The best way to determine a bad nail is to develop an ear that will detect the nail as it drives through the different layers of wall. Some nails that break the sensitive tissue when they first enter the wall will not bleed out the top. Many horses will never show any indication that anything is wrong. Other nails that break the sensitive tissue farther up will bleed out the top. The best way to treat these is to pull the nail out and use a needle and syringe with Hawthorne Products’ Hot Nail. Apply it in the hole at the top and bottom. This is usually enough to take care of a problem.

Close nails are the most difficult to work with because they don’t show any signs of a problem and take longer for a problem to develop. If the nail is resting against the sensitive tissue as the horse moves, it can develop an abscess. This may take as long as 2 weeks and abscesses are always much worse.

The horse breeds that we work on also affect the outcome. A thin-walled Thoroughbred won’t have nearly as many problems as a draft breed. Draft breeds are prone to terrible abscesses in their feet. Whether it is from a puncture through the sole or a misplaced nail, they can develop life-threatening infections.
— James Randall, Sumerduck, Va.

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