Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Horse Hoof Care –Recognizing and Treating Thrush

The normal Horse has four hooves (that’s supposed to be humor). A Horse’s hooves, sometimes we call them feet, are at the same time both durable and susceptible to problems. Horseshoers have a saying that is timeless in its truth: “No Hoof, No Horse”. Horse owners must regularly look at their horse’s feet to keep on top of problems. One of the most common problems is Thrush, or to be more correct a “bacterial caused pre-thrush condition”, as real Thrush is mostly due to neglecting your horses feet over time.

Thrush is a common bacterial infection, normally affecting the Frog and the Cleft of the Frog which is the groove between the Frog and the Sole. Bacteria will grow in a damp or wet conditions, with damp or bacteria laden manure or dirt constantly packed into the hoof, this is a condition many horses get. Even in dry conditions a horse will step on manure which gets packed into the Cleft of the Frog and basically starts to rot. If left untreated the bacteria will grow into Thrush.

When picking out the hoof, bacteria will be noticeable by the nasty odor and may appear black…..smells much worse than your Grandpa’s spit can sitting in the Sun. Bacteria will turn good Frog and Sole in a powdery like substance and easily break off parts of the hoof sole and pieces of the frog.

Treatment includes prevention with regular Hoof Care by cleaning (picking the hoof) paying particular attention to cleaning out the Clefts of the Frog. Some of us don’t bother to clean the hoof prior to riding as the material (dirt and manure) packed into the sole acts as a natural cushion for the hoof, however bacteria needs an oxygen deficient environment to grow. Cleaning the hoof is and exposing the bacteria in the hoof to oxygen, then riding, often clears it up.

Commercial Thrush treatment medicine like Koppertox or a home remedy such as 50% diluted bleach will make short work of most Thrush cases. Sometimes it is necessary only to treat once. In fact, I don’t think I have ever had to treat a hoof with bacteria more than once.

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