Q: My farrier says she
quicked my horse. What does this mean?
A: Quicking is when the
horseshoe nail is driven into the sensitive laminae of the foot. The horse is
said to have been quicked. That is the shortest possible way to answer
"What does it mean when a horse is quicked?" Your question infers more
than that brief answer. Does it mean that my farrier doesn't know what she is
doing? Does it mean there will be things for me to do as a result of the
It means these things and more. First of all, let me say that your farrier
appears to be honest and professional because she informed you of the incident.
Every farrier quicks a horse from time to time and it is very unprofessional not
to tell the client because of the dangers of infection, tetanus, etc. The
correct and professional thing to do is to remove the nail and leave it out. The
nail hole should be treated with iodine. The horse owner or trainer should be
informed that the horse is quicked and be advised to be sure the horse is up to
date on his tetanus shots. Chances are nothing will come of the incident if it
is dealt with in this manner.
Even if a quicked horse is treated in the above manner, it will occasionally
come up sore. If this happens, soak the foot in hot water and Epsom salts daily
and consult with your veterinarian about recommended treatment and/or pain
Quicking a horse can be the result of many factors.
It could be the farrier's fault because she does not yet have the skills
to accurately drive nails. A farrier can also be careless due to being in too
big a hurry or not paying full attention to the job at hand.
It could be the horse's fault because he has walls that are so thin that
it is virtually impossible to drive even the finest nail without quicking him.
Nails should not be driven into these walls. You might consider glue-on shoes as
a temporary solution until you can improve hoof wall quality and thickness. Hoof
walls appearing to be perfectly normal may have an extra hard spot that would
deflect the nail in the wrong direction. The horse might also be at fault by
jerking his foot just as the hammer strikes the nail, causing the nail to be
directed in rather than out. Hence the importance of a horse being properly
trained to accept shoeing.
If the nail manufacturer fails to bevel the nail point on the correct
side of the shank of the nail, the nail will turn in instead of out. If the
shank of the nail is weakened through the manufacturing process, it can split
while it is being driven and is liable to go in any direction. So farriers need
to check nails over very carefully with their eyes and their fingers. Also along
these lines, we are often told not to put the horseshoe nails in our mouths,
that it is a dangerous practice. Many of us do it anyway and I have often
detected a bad nail by the feel of it between my lips and have discarded it,
thus preventing another horse from being quicked.
After an experience of being severely quicked, a horse may be resistant to being
shod again on that foot. It behooves the horse owner to work with this horse
extensively after the foot is healed and is no longer painful. Get yourself a
tack hammer. Pick your horse's feet up and gently tap the shoe and the nail
heads daily until the horse accepts it. Be sure and hold the horse's foot in the
same manner as the farrier would when shoeing. The horse knows the difference
and will not make the association otherwise.
To summarize, no one wants to experience quicking. Not the owner; not the horse;
not the farrier. It is not the end of the world and it is going to happen
occasionally. Accept it and determine the cause so you can take a proper course
of action and lessen the chances of it happening again.
The American Blacksmith