If you smell a foul odor while picking your horse’s feet, chances are he has contracted hoof thrush, a frog-eating, anaerobic bacterium. Thrush is a primary concern, whether your horse lives mainly at pasture or in a stable, especially in wet weather. In my natural hoofcare practice horse hoof thrush is the main cause of pain and lameness in horses.
Thrush problems for horses are essentially fostered by poor hygiene. It’s difficult to comprehend the seriousness of something that appears so subtle, but due to the horse’s hoof construction, it can be detrimental if not dealt with properly. Horse hoof thrush can cause excruciating pain and lameness.
Is hoof thrush dangerous?
The frog has two distinct layers–the external skin is called horn tissue and the corresponding vascular layer of tissue is called the sensitive corium. Beneath the inner sensitive layer lies a pad-like shock absorber that reduces concussion for the horse’s hoof and his entire limb, called the deep digital cushion. A properly functioning frog is absolutely necessary for the hoof to function. If the frog is infected with thrush, the horse shifts weight to the front of the foot, landing toe first instead of heel first. According to Dr. Robert M. Bowker VMD, PhD, toe first landing is the primary cause of navicular disease in horses.
The signs of thrush will be noticeable at the deep crevices of the frog (sulci) when a black, puss-like discharge accompanied by a foul odor is present.
Thrush is likely to take over a hoof that is left in unsanitary conditions. A wet environment that primarily consists of urine and acidity from manure is a breeding ground for the anaerobic bacterium that are attracted to any necrotic (decayed) tissue that exists on the horse’s frog. Not stopping at that, the bacteria will form deep-seated pockets and literally drill into the frog, eating away at the remaining healthy tissue.
How to treat hoof thrush
One way to prevent thrush is by a thorough, daily hoof picking. It’s not necessarily true that horses at pasture won’t get thrush. They can, in certain seasonal situations. Horses left in muddy areas, particularly in the northeastern part of the U.S., may have to cope with wetter climates most months of the year, increasing the odds of contracting thrush. Horses that spend time in unsanitary conditions are also more susceptible to the bacteria.
If your horse already suffers from thrush you must take action immediately. Clean the infected area and apply No More Horse Thrush daily until all infection is gone and the frog has completely grown back. Depending on the severity of the infection it could take several weeks for the frog to regenerate itself. Don’t stop treatment until this has happened.
[quote style=”boxed”]I recently purchased a rescue horse with a raging case of Thrush. Over a period of 3 months I tried everything – assorted commercial treatments, “secret” home remedies – nothing seemed to work. Two weeks ago I started using No More Horse Thrush. At the end of the first week of use there was noticeable improvement. Now at the end of the second week of use my farrier tells me “we’ve turned the corner” on the stubborn problem. And the bonus is that it’s so easy to apply! Ok, maybe it’s not a miracle – but it’s close enough for me. This is a “must have” that should be in everybody’s equine med cabinet![/quote]