In a study conducted in England, scientists looked at the records of 95 horses with penetrating injuries that damaged structures deep within the hoof. Almost half of these horses did not survive treatment, and only about one-third recovered sufficiently to resume performance at their pre-injury level. Obviously, preventing these wounds is a far better course than treating them after they occur. To minimize the chance of injury, pass these tips along to your clients:

  • Use care when walking horses through water. Debris such as nail-studded boards might not be visible in muddy ponds. Flowing streams may bring in material from adjoining properties, so just because a creek crossing was clear of dangerous material yesterday doesn’t mean there isn’t something sharp or pointed under the surface today.
  • In construction sites such as where a new barn or shed is being built, insist that magnetic dragging is done multiple times before horses are allowed into the area. Follow this up with a careful visual inspection, and repeat the check frequently because wind and rain can dislodge leftover nails from roofs and gutters.
  • Fence construction may involve nails, screws, staples, pieces of wire, and slivers of treated wood, all of which present a danger to horses. Walk the new fence several times to pick up debris before turning horses out.
  • If a run-in shed is built on skids, it can be constructed in one place and then moved into the field later, avoiding the chance of dropped nails being hidden in the pasture grass.
  • Construction nails are not the only sharp objects that can cause hoof penetration. Tools such as screwdrivers and hoof picks, pieces of wire dropped during fence installation, and hypodermic or mane-braiding needles can be dangerous if a horse steps on them. Keep track of tools, avoid using needles in stalls or other bedded areas, and check stalls, barn aisles, and fence lines frequently to clear sharp items.