Thrush is one of the most common ailments that horses get, but it does not have to be traumatic or even serious. It is easily diagnosed and treated by any horse owner, but it requires immediate attention.
Thrush is a bacterium that lives in the ground, so sometimes even if you take the best care of your horse, he will still get it. Like many bacteria, thrush thrives in moist environments where there is an absence of light and oxygen, so cleaning the hooves regularly is a big step in keeping thrush under control, along with regular treatment.
If his thrush seems to be uncontrollable no matter what you do, consult your veterinarian. However, in most cases, it is easily controlled and should be treated as soon as possible–thrush that is left to fester without treatment can eat away at the sole of the hoof, working its way into the laminae (sensitive tissue inside the hoof) and causing lameness and compromising the structural integrity of the hoof. What starts out as a simple condition can become a very major problem in extreme cases!
How to Recognize Thrush
Thrush is a bacterial infection that affects the horse’s frog, which is the triangular structure on the sole of hoof. When you pick the horse’s hoof, you will see a crumbly white substance, particularly in the creases around the frog and along the outer edge of the sole, along the hoof wall. There might be soft black tissue, as well. Thrush has a foul odor that gets worse as the condition progresses.
How to Treat Thrush
While you may not be able to completely prevent it, taking good care of your horse’s feet will help to prevent thrush from attacking or at least from getting worse. Clean your horse’s hooves daily and keep up on his regular farrier visits. When this doesn’t work, there are several things you can do to treat the condition.
Clean the horse’s hooves as thoroughly as possible, using the hoof pick and a hoof brush, if you have one, to clean out all the dirt and manure. Scrape out as much of the necrotic material–the infected crumbly white substance–as you can.
Apply your thrush remedy. There are numerous commercial thrush ones on the market, such as Thrushbuster and Kopertox. Most seem to work as well as the next, but the product by Well Horse seems to work very well. There are also several non-commercial remedies that work well, such as a betadine, iodine, bleach (diluted–10% solution in water), hydrogen peroxide, vinegar, or alcohol. Ask your farrier, veterinarian or trainer what they recommend for thrush treatment.
While thrush is not a scary or difficult condition to treat, it does need to be addressed immediately in order to avoid more serious problems. Regular hoof care and treatment are key in keeping thrush under control.