What is thrush? Thrush is a bacterial infection of the hoof, most commonly seen in the sulci (or grooves) and frog area. The bacteria is anaerobic, so it lives without oxygen, which makes your horse’s hoof the perfect spot for thrush. Advanced cases can extend to the sole and white line, and when thrush affects the sensitive areas horses can become painful and lame. It’s always advisable to work with your Veterinarian before you begin any treatment, as there are dozens of things that can happen to horse hooves. You want to be sure the proper diagnosis and treatment are in place.
What we see during a case of thrush is a black paste. However, it’s likely that you will smell it before you see it! The distinct, rancid odor of rotting flesh is a sure fire sign of thrush.
So how do you treat a case of thrush? Most over the counter topical applications are affordable and easy to use. Make sure the hoof is clean and dry before you apply! Begin by cleaning away the blackened, diseased tissue. You may want to have your farrier or vet help you with this. You can touch up the area with your hoof pick and brush several times a day. After the hoof has dried, apply your topical treatment. A mild case should clear up quickly (under 3 days.) For cases that don’t clear up quickly, or have gone deeper, please consult your Veterinarian again. Lameness is a very real possibility.
I know some of you like to use bleach or hydrogen peroxide. Do not suggest using these products, the hoof is living tissue that is damaged and wounded by thrush. Research tells us that bleach and hydrogen peroxide actually lengthen the healing time and can cause significant pain. There are lots of great options available to you at your local tack or feed shop, and most of them come in fancy colors.
After application of your chosen medication, try and keep everything clean and dry. Hoof Wrap Bandages work over the hoof and shoe to help the healing process. These hoof bandages keep the medicine in while helping to keep the dirt and debris out. The bottom line is to be diligent about picking and inspecting your horse’s hooves. If you see (or smell) something funky, start to treat right away!
The horse’s hoof is an amazing structure, with layers and layers of tissue and function. The hoof wall is the barrier between the bones inside, as well as the soft tissue structures that hold your horse up!
The hoof wall is a changing structure, as is grows about 6 to 9mm a month. In a year’s time, most horses will have totally regrown their hoof wall. The majority of tissue in the hoof wall is keratin, and it’s about 25% water. If your horse is shod, the horse shoe nails go through the hoof wall.
In some parts of the county, the frozen ground is a welcome occurrence! Bugs are gone, snow might be coming, and the earth gets a time to rest. BUT - you horse’s hooves might not appreciate it so much.
Frozen ground is wickedly hard - harder than any concrete or asphalt road. It also likes to freeze rocks into place, creating little spikes in the ground. Your horse won’t be able to kick them out of the way, so tripping is a risk, as are nasty bruises from landing on one of those - even at the walk.
It’s almost inevitable that at some point, your horse will need his hooves soaked or iced. Common reasons for soaking a horse’s hoof include an abscess, white line treatment, or even icing for hoof bruises or laminitis. The best way to get this done is also the easiest way - with a Soaker Sack.