Horse Hoof Thrush
Thrush is an affliction that is found on the underside of a horses hoof and can affect the sole, cleft and frog. Thrush can be caused from fungus or bacteria that develops in damp airless areas of the hoof that are most often packed with manure, dirt and other debris. This affliction can be harmless in the early stages, but if it’s left untreated, it will cause damage to the hoof and even lameness.
What causes thrush?
Its not yet clear whether a type of fungus or bacteria causes this affliction, but most professionals agree that the organism lives in the soil. There is also a theory that the organism responsible for thrush already exists in the horse itself, thriving in the poorly oxygenated areas like the clefts of the hooves. This may not be noticeable in dry weather, but when there is an increase of moisture in the air, then an infection could make itself known.
What are the signs of thrush?
When you are cleaning out the hooves, if you notice a moist, black, foul smelling substance, this is the first sign that thrush is hiding in the cleft. The foul smell is unmistakable and once you smell it for the first time, you will remember that distinct odor. You will be able to scrape out all of the black substance, but there will be a dark stain left behind.
How is the horse affected?
A small amount of thrush can be harmless and even very treatable when caught in the early stages. The most obvious signs are a black tarry substance and a foul smell. If thrush is left untreated, it can spread and damage the hoof and permanently lame the horse.
Can thrush be avoided?
Cleaning the hooves on a regular basis to remove all the debris will allow fresh air to the affected areas, along with keeping the foot dry. Trim the hoof on a regular basis to prevent deep clefts, where the thrush organisms can hide. Most importantly, keep all the areas of your horses environment clean and dry. Remove all manure, soiled bedding or spoiled food and any other damp places that are inviting to bacteria and other organisms.
What is the cure for thrush?
If you discover that your horse has thrush in the early stages, then it will be fairly easy to clear up. When beginning treatment, first make sure that all areas of the horses environment are clean and dry. Too much moisture in the environment can cause thrush to remain in the area, thus causing more problems. Next, you will need to clean out the debris from the hooves with a hoof pick. Be sure to clean the deep areas of the cleft very carefully and thoroughly and then scrub the areas with a stiff brush, being careful of the frog and heel, to get it as clean as possible.
Now apply Thrush Relief Gel generously on the bottom of the hoof, making sure that the solution penetrates every surface and crevice. Repeat this process as necessary. When the thrush is gone (usually overnight), continue to maintain the dryness and cleanliness of the horses environment to keep this uninvited organism at bay.
Home remedies such as betadine and iodine are usually not very effective in the long run. If a home remedy doesn’t get rid of the thrush within a week or if the thrush advances to the point of hoof damage, causing the horse to be lame, then the horse will need to be seen by a veterinarian and may even need the services of an experienced farrier. There are other traditional treatments like hydrogen peroxide, chlorine bleach, or copper napthennate that may be effective against thrush but these can also stain or burn the healthy skin and foot tissue, along with hair and clothing. These harsh chemicals are not really necessary and would not be recommended by seasoned horse owners.