Procedures that you should be able to competently and safely perform on a horse.


Remove Simple Foreign Body


Many foreign body penetrations (usually splinters) are minor injuries that can be removed easily by hand or with a forceps, pliers or tweezers.

The critical question, as with any wound is where the penetration is located. If a foreign body has penetrated into the lower limb, near a joint, into the hoof, or near the eye, do not remove it. Call your vet and let them remove it because they can determine if the foreign body has penetrated into a critical area.

If you choose to remove the object, take a photo of it in place to show to your vet in case there are complications later. The photo may be helpful to illustrate details that could be helpful in treatment. You may also save the foreign object for your vet to evaluate.


Halter your horse. Do not tie them. Either hold your horse yourself, or get someone else to hold. Depending upon where the foreign body is located, you may or may not need help. Your helper should be at the head of your horse standing on the side of your horse where the foreign body is located.

Make contact with your horse and move your hand towards the affected area. Gently remove debris. If possible, gently clean the area around the foreign object well with antiseptic soap to decrease contamination of the area once the object is removed.

Grasp the foreign body firmly, as you may have only one opportunity to remove it. Pull straight out to prevent it breaking off under the skin. Do not torque or twist. The hole may bleed, which you can manage later. You may need pliers, especially for screws and nails embedded in the hard tissues of the hoof.

Then evaluate the area. Was there much bleeding? Do you think you removed the whole object? At what angle did it penetrate and how deep did it penetrate? Watch your horse for any abnormalities later, including lameness or fever.
A different approach should be taken if there are multiple foreign bodies embedded in your horse. In that case, see the related skill: Remove Porcupine Quills, Thorns or Cactus Spines.

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP