What you see. The starting point for addressing any equine health related issue is your observation.


Quicked, Pain or Bleeding from Horseshoe Nail


Occasionally, a horseshoe nail is accidentally driven into the sensitive tissue in the hoof. This is known as "quicking" a horse. The horse usually withdraws in pain and there may be a bit of blood when the nail is pulled. When a horse is quicked, bacteria are carried by the nail into the sensitive tissues of the hoof, setting up the conditions for the development of a hoof abscess. In many cases, no problem results.

Your farrier will pull the nail immediately, and may open the nail hole with a hoof knife to facilitate drainage. They may flush the nail hole with antiseptic solution. In most cases, they will go ahead with the shoeing, placing nails away from the quicked site.

  • Code Yellow

    Contact Your Vet at Your Convenience for an Appointment
    • If the lameness persists after the farrier has addressed it.

your role


What To Do

The horse will be at risk for developing a hoof abscess over the next few days. Your farrier will likely give you instructions to monitor the horse. You may soak the hoof once or twice daily for the next several days, and be on the lookout for lameness, which usually indicates the formation of an abscess. In most cases, if you detect a problem, you will contact your farrier first. If the horse is significantly lame despite treatment by the farrier, talk to them about whether or not to involve the vet.

Assess the horse's general health using the Whole Horse Exam (WHE) paying particular attention to the rectal temperature, and evaluating for any lameness at the walk. Assess for digital pulse and heat in the quicked foot.

If you notice gradually increasing lameness, an abscess is likely. Contact your farrier first. Call your vet if lameness persists or worsens despite your farrier's treatment of an abscess.

your vet's role

In most cases, your vet localizes the problem using hoof testers and may open and clean the nail hole to facilitate drainage and reduce contamination.
Questions Your Vet Might Ask:
  • Does the horse show any signs of lameness or resistance to move?
  • Do you notice a digital pulse or heat in the foot?
  • When was the farrier visit?
  • Has the farrier tried to resolve the probem?

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP