Pictured Above: The “nail panel,” as diagrammed in the photo, is Scott Lampert’s preferred placement area. A nail placed in the area represented by the red stars can cause discomfort for the horse.
Photo: Scott Lampert

You don’t always have to drive a hot nail to induce lameness. Sometimes, all it takes is a close one.

Ask Lake Elmo, Minn., farrier Scott Lampert about the potential risks of placing nails too close to the toe of the hoof, and he explains that the real issue is avoiding interference with the natural forward movement of the coffin bone, especially upon landing. He notes that on most horses, the coffin bone is positioned slightly medially in the hoof capsule, and that most horses are prone to breaking over the outside toe.

Lampert cautions that nails placed inside of the natural unrollment arc of the coffin bone — between 10 o’clock and 2 o’clock of the true point of the coffin bone, usually in line with the central sulci of the frog — acts as leverage or a pinching opportunity within the laminae between the coffin bone and inside of the hoof capsule. The inflammation of the soft tissue at or around those nails can cause sensitivity so the horse is reluctant to utilize its full stride or is hesitant to jump in its best form. If continually abused, it is likely to cause real pain and lameness, although the effect usually remains subtler.

Lampert estimates that 80% to 90% of horses with toe nails can sense some level of pressure. He and Hall Of Fame farrier Mitch Taylor have dissected numerous feet and recognize the large amount of laminae activity within this area.

“If you ever wonder if there is inflammation around a nail, use a crease nail puller and pull it out,” Lampert says. “Put the foot down, and if within 15 to 30 seconds the horse starts licking its lips, lowers its head or seems more relaxed, it was.”

For more nailing tips, read “Feet Move, Nails Don’t” in the April 2017 issue of American Farriers Journal.