What Is A Hot Nail? Definition & Description


Farriers are a horse’s best friend right? That is until they mess up. If a farrier drives a hot nail, it can lead to a number of issues. But what is a hot nail? Are hot nails actually hot? And do they cause permanent damage?

What Is A Hot Nail?

A hot nail is a name given to a nail when it is driven into the sensitive part of a horse’s hoof. A hot nail is a painful thing for a horse to have to deal with. Hot nails are ‘given’ to a horse when a farrier is shoeing the hoof and pounds the nail into the sensitive part of the horse’s hoof rather than the insensitive hoof wall. This causes instant lameness on that hoof and the lameness won’t be fixed until the nail is removed. If the nail is not removed in time, issues that can prolong the lameness can occur including infections, abscesses, and other painful conditions or issues. Hot nails are not necessarily common, but they aren’t unheard of either. Having an experienced farrier who knows what he is doing can help to lower the risk of a hot nail.

Do Hot Nails Hurt The Horse?

Yes. Hot nails are incredibly painful. Imagine piercing your toenail with a pin and then having to wear shoes over it, causing every step you take to be painful. This is much like what a horse would experience in the case where a nail is pounded into the sensitive part of the hoof.

When a horse is wearing shoes, the nails that hold the shoe on are pounded through the insensitive hoof wall to help hold the shoe in place. Shoes will generally cause the horse no pain.

All the farrier has to do to cause a nail to be considered a ‘hot nail’ is to pound the nail too close to the center of the horse’s hoof. The nail should be as far to the outside of the hoof as possible while still securely holding the shoe on the hoof. When it isn’t this is when the nail is considered a hot nail and the horse will be lame until the issues are fixed.

Do Hot Nails Cause Lasting Effects On The Horse’s Hoof Health?

Whether or not the horse suffers lasting side effects cause by a hot nail depends on how long the nail remains in the foot.

If a farrier pounds a hot nail into the horse’s hoof but removes it as soon as they realize their mistake, the horse will likely be okay as soon as the nail is removed. This would only be the case if the farrier realized his mistake right after the mistake was made.

If a horse is left with a hot nail in its hoof, a number of issues can arise. Some of these include:

  • Hoof abscesses
  • Soreness
  • Infections
  • Scar tissue

How Can You Tell That Your Horse Has A Hot Nail?

Hot nails are really painful for horses do deal with. Because of this, it is quite easy for you to tell if a horse has a hot nail. Some ‘symptoms’ for this issue include:

  • Limping
  • Walking Three-Legged
  • Resting the injured hoof (even if it is the front hoof)
  • Obvious discomfort
  • Obvious lameness

Are Hot Nails A Common Thing?

Hot nails are not necessarily a common thing, but that are not rare either. This mistake is more commonly seen in new farriers or apprenticing farriers as opposed to experienced farriers who have been in this industry for a long time.

What To Do If You Suspect Your Horse Has A Hot Nail

There are a few things you can or should do if you suspect that your horse has a hot nail. These include:

1. Call Your Farrier

Unless you do your own horse’s shoes, you should let your farrier know as soon as possible if you suspect any sort of issue regarding the horse’s soundness, especially if the issue might be related to the farrier’s work. If your farrier is not available to come out and take care of the situation, a veterinarian might be the next best option.

2. Pressure Test The Hoof

Another thing you can do is use a clamp-like tool known as clinchers to see if the horse reacts to pressure applied to its hoof. To do this, you will take the clinchers and use them to squeeze down on the hoof to see if the horse flinches or seems to hurt from the pressure.

If the horse doesn’t have a hot nail or other thing causing pain, they won’t react to the pressure test you perform on their hoof.

If the horse does have a hot nail or other thing causing pain in its feet, it will flinch or try to take its hoof away from you when you apply pressure to the hoof. This is the indicator that it does or might have a hot nail in its hoof.

3. Remove The Nail

If your farrier or a veterinarian is available, have them remove the shoe and the nail that is causing the pain and lameness. If the hot nail is a fresh injury, the horse should be cured of its lameness almost immediately after the nail is removed. The horse might show a little soreness in that hoof but that too should go away quickly with the removal of the nail.

4. Clean The Sole & Wound Well

Clean the sole of the hoof and the area around the injury well to prevent dirt and bacteria from entering and infecting the hoof at the site of the hot nail.

You can clean the outside of the entry site with disinfecting soap and sterile cleaning materials to reduce the risk of bacteria or infection making its way into the hoof.

Other Names For The Term Hot Nail

Believe it or not, there is actually a few names that the term ‘hot nail’ can go by. These include:

  • Pricked Nail
  • Quicked Hoof
  • Nail Prick
  • Hoof Puncture
  • Pinched Hoof
  • Quicking

Hailey Johnson

Horses have been my passion ever since I can remember. At school, I was known as that weird horse girl, and I would read horse encyclopedias for fun. Over the years since those days, I have only learned more. My experiences with horses of a variety of breeds have taught me a lot. Now I want to share what I know with you!

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