Nail Prick

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Also Known As

Horse shoe nail misplacement


When a nail is misdirected while the farrier is shoeing the horse, it can become the source of numerous problems. The horse will feel pain in the foot shortly after being shod and there will be an increased pulse in the palmar digital arteries. Because of the possible consequences of a nail prick, hoofs should be checked on a regular basis.


  • Evidence of pain upon placing weight on hoof
  • Increased digital pulse
  • Pain when hoof testers are placed over the head of the nail


Nail prick is caused by misplacement of nails when a horse is being shod. The offending nail is driven into the sensitive laminae of the foot instead of the insensitive epidermal part of the hoof.


Careful attention to placement of nails while shoeing the horse is the best prevention. The horse's hooves should be trimmed and shod regularly by a competent farrier. Horses should be checked regularly to make sure that the shoes fit properly and that the placement of nails results in a properly attached shoe, without any looseness or penetration of the sensitive part of the hoof.


In spite of the best intentions of the farrier, accidents will happen in the process of shoeing horses, but when a nail prick is discovered and treated promptly, full recovery should take place in a relatively short time.

Treatment of nail prick includes removal of the shoe, draining any pus that might have formed in the nail cavity, and flushing the nail hole with antiseptic solution. A poultice should be applied to the wound to help draw additional pus from the wound and prevent or drain any possible abscesses.

Tetanus antitoxin should be given if the horse's vaccinations are not up-to-date, or if vaccination status cannot be determined.

In severe cases, or when the wound has spread to other areas of the foot and hoof, surgical removal of the necrotic sole or wall of the hoof may be necessary, along with a course of antibiotics prescribed by a veterinarian.

Once the wound is healed and no discharge from the nail hole is present, careful re-shoeing should be done.

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