Whether you drive a hot nail or pare a little too much off the sole, drawing blood from a horse’s hoof is bound to happen at one point or another. It happens to the best of farriers. 

“Within the foot, there is a lot of blood, as we all know,” Ronald Aalders told attendees at the 2014 International Hoof-Care Summit in Cincinnati. “I’ve encountered that blood more than once, either through a nail or cutting in a little too deep. It happens.”

When it does, and you don’t have the usual methods on hand to stop the bleeding, the Amsterdam farrier has an unusual method for stopping the bleeding.

“You know what is great to stop bleeding of the foot?” Aalders asks. “Cobwebs. Just get one off the ceiling or whatever and put it on. It will stop the bleeding immediately.”

He isn’t horsing around. Apparently, using cobwebs is anything but a new remedy — they were the gauze pads of the ancient world. Native American tribes and traditional European medicine used cobwebs on wounds and cuts to stanch bleeding and stimulate healing. Galen of Pergamon, a prominent Greek physician, surgeon and philosopher in the Roman Empire, reached for protein-rich cobwebs first to treat wounds. Even Shakespeare weighed in on the healing properties of the web in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

“I shall desire you of more acquaintance, good master cobweb,” he wrote. “If I cut my finger, I shall make bold of you.”

So, what makes the web so effective? According to Vicki L. Glembocki in a 1995 article titled, “Arachnicillin,” a chemical coating — which is released by the spider as it spins the web — on the silk protects against microbial attack.

Although cobwebs aren’t the cleanest way to dress a wound, Aalders stands by it.

“It might not be too hygienic,” he says, “but I’ve tried it a couple of times and I’ve had no infections, nothing.”