Over the past five years, vet Stephen Ashdown has written many articles, spoken on equine matters and contributed widely to horse magazines.

Here he reproduces in the form of questions and answers about 100 topics, all of them common problems which afflict horses.

To access Topics click on Vet Advice Menu.

There's a nail lodged in his foot
Q: My horse stood on a roof nail and although the vet and farrier managed to remove most of it, they said some of the nail may remain in his hoof.

This proved to be true, as a year later a foot abcess burst and particles of rust were visible in the pus. The vet administered a large dose of antibiotics but six months on my horse is still sore. I soak the foot in Epsom salts and apply poultices but nothing seems to draw out this elusive piece of metal. My farrier is not in favour of an operation; she says we must wait for the metal to come out on its own. Is there anything I can give my horse to boost his immune system and help his body get rid of the alien object?

A: Foreign bodies lodged in the foot such as you describe can be a real problem but a combination of homeopathic remedies and herbs might help. Silica is good at resolving conditions such as foreign body penetration and herbs help build up the immune system so its better at expelling such material from the body.

Consult a homeopathic vet for the best results. Herbs are commonly used as food supplements to support the immune system in such situations. Continue with the use of herbs for several months or until you see success.

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