Thrush 101

Thrush 101

The East Coast of the United States has received a lot of rain recently. With historic rainfall is many eastern states, it's nearly impossible to keep your horse on dry ground. Wet, muddy paddocks will be found even at the nicest facilities and with mud comes thrush. 

Thrush is a common problem, but what is it? Thrush is an infection that affects the frog, causing the frog to deteriorate. The easiest ways to identify thrush are by the foul smell and black discharge around the frog. Though thrush is a fairly common issue in horses, it should still be taken seriously. Without treatment, thrush can penetrate the sensitive tissues of the hoof, leading to temporary or even permanent lameness.

While thrush is often thought to be a springtime issue, it can occur during other seasons as well. The most commonly known environmental factor that causes thrush is mud but any wet, unsanitary environment can lead to thrush, including a dirty stall. Other factors that can make horses more susceptible to thrush are upright hoof conformation and deep or narrow frog sulci.

Prevention is the best strategy for thrush, though not all cases can be avoided. In order to prevent most cases of thrush, stalls and small dry lots should be cleaned daily, run-in sheds should be cleaned at least weekly, though daily would be better. Hooves should be cleaned and inspected daily to remove any wet or dirty material. Regular maintenance from a skilled trimmer or farrier is also vital to avoid long heel growth which leads to the deep and narrow frog sulci mentioned above.

Some horses will still end up with thrush in the cleanest of environments, as mentioned before, not all cases can be avoided. If you notice your horse is showing signs of thrush, there are some simple steps you can take to treat it. First, the horse should be moved to a clean and dry environment. The hooves should be thoroughly cleaned with a hoof pick and if necessary a wire brush or flushed with water. If the infection is not caught quickly, a professional trimmer or farrier may need to cut out the infected areas. Once these steps have been taken, there are several topical products that can be used to treat thrush including Thrush Buster and White Lightning. Treatment should be carried out daily for 7-14 days, depending on the severity of the infection.

The good news is that with timely intervention, thrush should not leave any lasting damage. So pick up your horses’ feet daily and pay attention to what you see and smell. If something seems different but you aren’t sure what you’re seeing, ask someone more knowledgeable to take a look.

To see some of the thrush products we offer click HERE! If you have questions on hoof health, please reach out to us.

Leave a comment