Feet 999 – what should you do in a hoof-related emergency?

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We know how important our horses’ hooves are – even small injuries and puncture wounds can lead to lameness. However, sometimes when you notice something isn’t quite right with your horse’s feet it can be difficult to know what to do.

Phil Hodgson, farrier, goes through a few of the more common emergency situations: 

A twisted shoe

If your horse’s shoe gets loose and becomes twisted it can be very dangerous. Your horse could step on a nail and injure himself further. 

So, it’s a good idea for owners to know how to safely remove a shoe themselves.

Most farriers will show you how to do this on your own horse in case of an emergency. You can buy shoe removal tools from equestrian retail outlets.

If possible, leave your horse where he is with someone holding him to keep him calm. If you can, remove the shoe yourself.

It may be advisable for your vet to check your horse over afterwards to ensure the shoe hasn’t punctured the hoof already. 

If you can’t remove the shoe yourself, call your farrier or vet immediately.

Puncture wounds

You should call your vet straight away with puncture wounds, as these can be very serious depending on the location.

If you can see the foreign body, leave it where it is – once it’s removed it will be difficult to find the puncture site.

Clean the foot thoroughly with anti-bacterial wash, pack and bandage the foot, and if possible put your horse in a clean, dry stable until the vet arrives.

Foot abscess

If you suspect a foot abscess your first point of call should be your farrier.

They will be able to use hoof testers to locate the site of the abscess and drain it.

Your farrier can then advise you of the severity of the abscess, and whether to also contact your vet.

For more advice from Phil, read the full article in issue 449, back copies available here.

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