Have you ever cleaned out your horse’s hooves and noticed a terrible odor? Or maybe you saw an off-color or texture of your horse’s frog. These are both telltale signs of an unpleasant infection called thrush. In short, thrush is an infection of the frog that comes with moist, damp, or dirty conditions.
So how can you know for sure that it’s thrush? The foul smell that the infection produces is usually the first indicator. Thrush also produces a black discharge in the frog, which is the source of the terrible smell. In addition, the frog is painful to the touch. In severe cases, the lower portion of the affected limb can swell. Horses can also go lame in bad cases of thrush. In general, horses’ hind feet are more often affected by thrush than the front feet.
Thrush is caused by a fungus called Spherophorus neaophorus. The fungal organism eats away at the horses’ frog. It thrives in damp and dirty conditions. This is why horses standing in wet, muddy conditions or dirty stalls are prone to thrush!
Thrush can be scary, but preventing this infection is relatively easy. Good stall management is essential to keeping your horses’ feet healthy and happy. Make sure your horses’ living conditions are as clean and dry as possible.
Regular hoof care and inspections are also important in the prevention of thrush. Regular hoof trimming by a farrier will enforce correct heel conformation. This is essential to keeping the frog healthy! You should also regularly pick out your horses’ feet. If you can do it daily, that’s great! This will help you keep eyes on anything abnormal developing in your horses’ feet.
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The first treatment step is moving the horse to a clean and dry environment. Next, the infected feet should be thoroughly cleaned out. You must remove all debris and dead tissue from the frog to do this. Then, you should pare the frog down to healthy tissue. This will help air reach any lasting damaged tissue.
The second element of treating thrush involves daily care. Your vet can recommend a product to use to get rid of the infection. Your farrier can also recommend products and help you apply the treatment. Whichever medication is chosen, it’s essential to get it into the cracks and crevasses of the damaged frog to treat the infection properly.
You can wrap a hoof pick with a cotton swab and soak it in the medication solution. Apply this all over the frog, almost as if you were picking out the hoof. The idea is to get the medication into the cracks and remove all the fungus.
You might notice that the swab turns grey and dirty after application. Keep replacing the swab and clean the frog until the swab comes out clean. If you do this daily, you’ll be well on your way to banishing thrush and returning your horse’s hooves to normal!
I’ve been around horses my entire life, but my Friesian journey started just over 20 years ago. Our horses have always been a part of our family. They have traveled with us as we relocated from Vermont to New York to Iowa and finally, to Arizona. I can’t wait to share our story with you!
May 8, 2022
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