This is a nightmare for horse owners: A runny, black, foul-smelling, swollen area around the hoof sole of horses or ponies. This is the classic sign of Thrush, a bacterial infection that affects the frog. It includes the grooves on either end and the cleft between your heel bulbs.
“It can affect any area of the frog, but it’s most common in the flanks of the frog,” Equine Podiatry, said at Haggard Equine Medicine Institute. Fusobacterium necrophorum is one of the most commonly isolated bacterial agents for Thrush. Thrush can be a petty thing. It doesn’t seem possible in a healthy, normal hoof in good condition.
Explained that a healthy hoof is good for its health.
He said that the normal foot is slightly concave and that the laminae attaching the coffin bone to the hoof wall have slight elastic properties. The horse’s weight pushes the hoof sole slightly inward, making it flattening or convex.
Stated, “That’s a natural, self-cleaning mechanism.” A horse who doesn’t get enough exercise or isn’t getting out enough can have thrush risk. Horses must be picked up when they have to go in.
He said that throbbing could indicate a problem in the foot. “Either the horse is putting too much weight on foot, or the foot hasn’t been properly trimmed to allow it to clean itself.” It could also be an indication of poor hygiene. Even if the horse is in unsanitary conditions, the foot will regress into the mud, poop, and other organic matter.
Horses suffering from navicular diseases can also be more at risk of getting Thrush. He said that the horse’s foot might not function as it should. Fraley explained that the frog’s cleft gets deeper, and bacteria can get into it and digest sensitive tissue. Thrush can cause lameness in most cases.
He stated that horses who use pads to treat lameness or as part of a shoeing program will often have medicated sole packs placed under their feet. Silicones can also be used to fill that gap. However, silicones can trap moisture and air. Farriers often dust the feet with copper sulphate powder or granules before applying the silicones. This is a good practice.
He said, “I love natural materials like leather pads and I’ll pack underneath those leather pads with a medicated sole pack.”
Stated that Thrush could often be treated quickly, without causing lameness or other serious complications.
He said, “But if you ignore it, that’s when your problems can start.” “Thrush isn’t a cause of lameness unless it eats away the frog and gets to the sensitive tissue. It can then cause lameness.
Thrush can be found in the area between the heel bulbs. This is known as the central sulcus. It runs through the middle of the frog. Fraley stated that Thrush could cause a deep gash in the area. This can be treated with antiseptics and gauze.
Your veterinarian or farrier can trim the frog’s edges and remove any bacteria-hosting ragged edges. Then, soak the foot in a chlorine-based solution. Fraley warns that it is important to avoid using a harsh substance. For example, strong iodine’s might not be enough for a thrush victim who has already been infected.
He said, “You don’t want to dry out and irritate sensitive tissues, especially if you already have thrush.”
Before you decide on a product, consult your veterinarian to ensure your horse receives the best possible treatment.
Canker can sometimes be confused with Thrush. Fraley stated that canker could be much more severe. It’s called a proliferative condition. This means that it doesn’t just digest the frog-like Thrush but grows. The frog’s tumour-like growth is unpleasant-smelling and has a cauliflower-like texture. It grows from a small beginning.
He suggests asking your farrier if your horse has a frog in a particular area. They can pick up thousands upon thousands of feet and will likely direct you to the right veterinarian when it is appropriate.
You can take many steps that will help your horse prevent Thrush. These are some of the things to keep in mind:
- Exercise and regular turnout are important for hoof health.
- Keep your horse’s feet clean Regular use of a hoof pick helps prevent organic material from building up on the horse’s feet, leading to Thrush. Fraley stated, “And when horses come into the pasture, pick them feet before they go into the stall.” “They’ll be standing on any manure that may have been under their feet.”
Fraley suggests calling your veterinarian if your horse’s feet feel sensitive after picking them up.
- Keep your horse’s stall clean and dry. Stalls that are damp or dirty can lead to Thrush. This will expose your horse’s hooves to organic material.
- Make a bedding switch. Sometimes, switching to shavings is a good idea. Shavings or wood chips can dry the feet faster and help dry them. As long as owners pick out their feet often, it can be a great option. Horses ridden on sawdust or shavings are the most difficult to trim.
He said that it’s not true that horses who slept on shavings or sawdust won’t get the Thrush. Sometimes a change of bedding to straw can help if there is a problem.
Part 2 is the second part of the two-part Hoof Help Series. He explains what makes the White line disease “insidious” and how you can prevent it from weakening horses’ hooves.