Any time when the hoof structure is compromised, there is potential for a dangerous, even life-threatening, situation for your horse.? Puncture wounds to the hoof are particularly devastating and require immediate attention.? Most hoof punctures occur through the sole and are usually caused by nails, either during the shoeing process or picked up on the property.? Punctures can also be caused by glass, needles, and even sharp pieces of wood or rock.
Punctures to the frog or the back half of the sole are far more serious than those at the front of the hoof.? Wounds to the heel area can cause damage and infection to the navicular bursa and bone, and can also cause damage to the deep digital flexor tendon in your horse?s leg.? These types of wounds should be considered an emergency and your vet called immediately.
The first thing to do is remove the foreign object so that the horse does not continue stepping on it, and clearly mark the wound so that it can be easily found later.? If you cannot remove the object, or if the wound is deep, do not delay in calling your veterinarian.? If, however, you are satisfied that the wound is relatively superficial, you can clean the wound and hoof and apply a poultice.? Ensure that your horse is up to date on his tetanus vaccinations, and if he is not, have your vet administer an immediate tetanus anti-toxin injection.
If your horse shows lameness over the next 24 to 48 hours, it is likely that the wound is either infected or has caused damage to the structure of the hoof.? At this point in time, call your veterinarian for further treatment and bandage the hoof to keep it clean and dry while waiting for his arrival.? In most cases, your vet will drain the wound and possibly use a poultice to continue drawing out the infection.? In some cases the wound will also be packed to keep it clean.? In very serious infections, part of the hoof may actually need to be cut away, a special shoe applied, and clean dressings used.? These types of injuries take a relatively long time to heal and require patient doctoring.