I was hacking this week when we had a little accident which I thought was worth sharing in case anyone has a similar incident so that you know how to respond.
The two of us were hacking along a byway track, which is used regularly by cars and horses, when suddenly my friend’s pony staggered and started hopping along. The little mare tried to put her left fore to the floor, but couldn’t weightbear. As soon as she’d stopped trying to walk (I’d already stopped) my friend jumped off.
I could see her trembling with what I could only assume was pain. I genuinely thought she’d broken her leg or popped a tendon. My friend cradled the left fore and looked at the foot.
She told me there was a stick caught, so I hopped off too and had a look. It wasn’t a stick, it was a large nail. Embedded in the poor mare’s frog.
We decided to try and remove the nail as we needed to get her home, which was only five minutes away, and being a smooth nail we were likely to remove the whole thing.
I held the horses while my friend wiggled the nail out. Thankfully her pony knew we were helping and stood like an angel. The nail had blood on, and had penetrated the frog by about half a centimetre. You can see the darkened area at the tip of the nail on the photo below, which is dried blood.
Immediately the pony seemed more comfortable and was sound so we started walking home and discussed treating the wound.
As it was a puncture wound we want to keep it as clean as possible and avoid any infection, which can be very tricky to treat so I suggested flushing out the wound, applying some form of antiseptic – iodine spray for example – and dry poulticing the foot to keep it clean. We talked about turn out versus box rest and decided that whilst it was warm and dry it was much of a muchness as to which was more beneficial. Given that the mare doesn’t like staying in my friend preferred the idea of turning her out in a poultice.
Given that the foreign object was an old nail, I checked that the pony’s vaccinations were up to date, and I did suggest it would be worth ringing the vet for advice and to see what they recommend with regard to tetanus boosters. I know that with serious injuries they often give a booster as part of the course.
When we got back to the yard there was a farrier there, so my friend took her pony over for him to have a look at. After all, the foot is their area of expertise!
The farrier said that she was lucky; the nail had gone in at an angle so whilst it was still a puncture wound it hadn’t gone up into the foot. The lack of blood was a good thing as only the frog was damaged. And the nail had pierced the frog closer to the toe than the heel, which is preferable.
I think we had a lucky escape in that the mare is fully up to date with vaccinations, and with the location of the injury so hopefully after a few days rest and keeping the wound clean she’ll be back to her normal bouncy self!
I did send a few messages to local yards to warn them to be vigilant along that track in case there was more debris on the track to cause another injury as it had the potential to be so much worse.