Dirty Words for Hoof Practitioners – Thrush

There are several words for hoof conditions that Practitioners don’t like to tell horse owners that their horses have. Here is a review of some common terminology.

  • Thrush: Infection in the Frog
  • White Line Disease: Infection in the White Line (This is not a disease)
  • Seedy Toe: Split/Crack between the inner and outer wall
  • Abscess: Infection within the hoof capsule. There are two types of Hoof Abscess:
    Coronary Abscess ??? Exits out the Coronary Band??(Mild Discomfort)
    Subsolar Abscess ??? Exits out the sole of the hoof (Very Painful)
  • Laminitis: Swelling of the Laminae (Discomfort to Lameness)
  • Founder: Separation of the Laminae (Extremely Painful and Beyond Lameness)

Now that you have these definitions under your belt, lets look at what these mean to you and more importantly, your horse. Due to all the rain and muddy conditions, lets start with thrush.

horse frog no thrush

This frog has no thrush. There are no loose flaps for bacteria to grow.

Thrush is a bacterium that thrives in moist dark areas, therefore the frog is a perfect breading ground. It begins with just a tiny nick in your horses frog. Dirt / manure gets trapped in this little nick and begins to compost. If the horse is unable to stay out of muck and mire the infection soon spreads and deterioration of the frog begins.

Thrush can be as minor as slight discoloration of the frog with little to no smell or as serious as the frog literally being eaten away by the infection.

As the bacteria spreads, the frog becomes sensitive. In most cases the odor is noticed as soon as the hoof is picked up. When picking dirt out of the frog it may bleed. This is a serious case of thrush and needs to be treated immediately.

horse frog with thrush

This is a mild case of thrush. Notice how black and gooey the frog looks. When cleaning, the smell is quite pungent.
At this stage there is no discomfort when picking out the area.

Horses with extreme cases of thrush cannot bear weight on the infected caudal (back) hoof. In these circumstances the thrush has moved beyond the frog and into the Digital Cushion (DC). The DC is inside the hoof structure and once this happens, you have a long tough road to recovery, for now.  It isn’t only  the frog that needs to regenerate, but also the DC.

 

 

 

Suggestions to prevent thrush:

  • Be diligent and check your horses-feet on a regular basis.
  • Cut off ANY loose flaps that could trap dirt.
  • When you see even the smallest amounts of thrush treat it.
  • When cleaning my horses feet (whether they have signs of thrush or not), I spray their feet with Unpasteurized Apple Cider Vinegar with approximately 20 drops of Tea Tree Oil in it. This helps kill any bacteria that may be lurking in the hard to reach places of the frog.

Suggestions to rid your horse of thrush:

  • Minimal to Mild Thrush-Spray bottle with Apple Cider Vinegar and Tea Tree Oil daily.
  • Mild to Serious- Check out your local Agro/livestock Store for available products and treat accordingly. We use White Lightening in a spray bottle for most cases.
  • Extreme – Product from Agro/Livestock Store or ask your vet. We again use White Lightening and soak the hoof every two days and use the Apple Cider Vinegar mix in between, keeping the hoof either booted or wrapped to keep dirt out.

In any degree of thrush if there is a crevasse in the frog, we soak a cotton make-up pad with Tea Tree Oil and pack the frog, changing the pad every 2-3 days. This serves a dual purpose of preventing dirt from entering and providing an anti-bacterial agent (Tee Tree Oil) that kills the thrush.

Your Hoof Practitioner should always inform you if your horse has thrush to any degree. Taking care of the issue before it escalates is always the best course of action. Your horse will thank you for it!

Sharon Leney

Happy Hoof Inc.