Home Remedies for Thrush in Horses

Well, I’m back to dealing with thrush again–Bob has it in his one of his front feet.  Fun, fun.

A deep crevice in central sulcus is often a sign of thrush.

A deep crevice in central sulcus is often a sign of thrush.

Thrush is a nasty little nuisance that can go unrecognized in many instances.  We would probably all notice if our horse’s foot was smelly and rotten-looking, but this isn’t always how thrush presents itself.  Many times, the hoof has no odor at all and looks perfectly dry.

So how do I know that Bob has thrush?  Because he has a deep crevice in the frog that is sensitive when I clean it with a hoof pick.  And even though he’s trimmed regularly with the barefoot trim, he still has some heel contraction.

Several factors are linked with an increased risk of developing thrush, including, but not limited to:

  • wet or unsanitary environment;
  • mineral imbalances;
  • improper or infrequent trimming;
  • poor circulation due to toe-first landing (as opposed to heel-first); and
  • high carbohydrate diets.

My horses are on a diet balanced in minerals, but too much grass may be to blame for these thrush flare-ups.  I’m currently working on a paddock paradise (track system) that should help decrease their grass consumption though.

Thrush is caused by yeast,  fungus, and/or bacteria that invades the hoof, so basically, you want a treatment that will kill the bad stuff while preserving the live tissue. There are quite a few commercial thrush products on the market–most of which I haven’t tried.  But I have made plenty of my own and I wanted to share some of the ‘recipes’ with you.  Make sure you’re working with a clean hoof before using any type of thrush treatment though.  Using Dawn dish soap or a betadine solution to really scrub in those crevices before applying a soak or treatment is a good idea.

Here are a few home remedies for thrush in horses:

  • Pete’s Goo:  50/50 mix of athlete’s foot cream and triple antibiotic ointment.  Mix together and then squirt a small amount in the crevice with a syringe.


  • Oxine/ Citric Acid Soak:  Oxine is chlorine dioxide, a sanitizer.  Citric acid is a weak organic acid that will activate the oxine.  I get both from Amazon.  Mix 1 ounce of oxine with 1/4 tsp citric acid and wait 3 minutes.  Then add 1 quart of water and use immediately.  Fill hoof soaking boot (I like the Davis soaking boots.) to the level of the hoof wall or more.  Soak for 20 minutes.  Rinse hoof and repeat for 2-3 days and then monthly, if needed.


  • Borax Paste:  Make a paste using borax (which you can get in the laundry aisle of most grocery stores) and water in a large plastic bag.  Place the horse’s foot in the bag and press the paste up into the central sulcus of the frog and the collateral grooves.  Put a hoof boot over the bag and let the horse stand in it (eating hay) for about an hour.  Rinse off and repeat several times a week until thrush clears up.


  • Tea Tree Oil: Tea tree oil is an essential oil with anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties.  The easiest way to use it for thrush is to add 10 drops to 16 ounces of water in a spray bottle.  Thoroughly spray onto a clean frog daily.  (see this post and this post for more about using essential oils with horses.)


Probably the most important thing in treating thrush is consistency (which I’ll admit, I’m not always good at!)  Keep using your treatment of choice until you see a difference.  Also, if you’ve been consistent in treating the thrush for several weeks and still aren’t seeing an improvement, move on to another type of treatment.  Not all cases of thrush respond to every treatment.

For more information on thrush, I recommend checking out this post or this article by Linda Cowles.




Frog Management






Hi! My name is Casie Bazay. I'm a mom, a freelance writer, and a certified equine acupressure practitioner.

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8 Responses

  1. Rohnda says:

    I have been using some Donnybrook products – particular the Hoofspray that has applecider vinegar see this site http://www.donnybrookhoof.com.au/index.php?id=23

  2. Patti says:

    Hi Cassie…a lady at my boarding facility uses straight bleach. She sprays it right into the bottom of the hoof and into every crevice. What do you think about this treatment?

    • Casie says:

      Hi Patti,

      The hoof is still living tissue, so I’m not sure I’d want to use straight bleach. But I have heard of people using it. If it’s not something I’d put on my own skin, then I wouldn’t use it on my horse–but that’s just me!

  3. Cheryl says:

    Hi Casie – thanks for the article on treating thrush. Working on our consistency here. We have the issue down to 1 of 8 hooves. 1 more to go….

    Wondering about a slightly different hoof issue. Our horses hooves have spots that are crumbly and white. The trimmer thinks this is due to lack of use – like they are not getting onto the trail enough. This isn’t making sense to me as they have a large paddock area to walk around in and they do get out for longer exercise periods at least 3-4 times a week. I think it is moisture related, although their area is pretty dry. They do always walk through some pile of manure – even if there is just 1 in the area – which makes keeping feet dry a challenge. That part isn’t new, but the white crumbly stuff is. Is there a possibility that this is also the result of a mineral imbalance? If so, any thoughts about what might be out of balance? Thanks so much!!

    • Casie says:

      Hi Cheryl,

      Is the white crumbly part on the sole of the hoof or the wall? This is very normal on the sole and it can be scraped away with a hoof pick or knife. It could be a sign that the hoof is not receiving enough wear or it could also mean the hoof wall could stand to be trimmed a little shorter. (Could also be the wet weather, as you suggested). Just depends on where this is exactly as to whether it’s normal or not.

  4. Melanie says:

    Hello Casie,
    Thrush is mostly situated on or around the frog , it can vary in intensity , from minor to the point where the horse is extremely sensitive in the foot , even lameness can occur.
    I have never considered using bleach or such “remedies” as I wouldn’t use on my horse what I wouldn’t use on myself. There are several possibilities to combat thrush , products one can purchase like “Thrush-off” ( from Wellhorse) , it works well. Although in my experience the best working homemade recipe is :
    30ml pure coconut oil ( summer) or Calendula oil (winter)
    15 drops Tea Tree (melaleuca) essential oil
    15 drops Oregano essential oil
    10 drops Lavender essential oil
    Mix and apply to the clean , washed hoof
    For severe thrush use it can be used on a daily basis , minor thrush 2x a week , for prevention 1x every 2 weeks. One can also make a green clay mix ( kept in a glass jar in the fridge) .
    Mix the green clay add cotton shreds ( cotton balls one uses to clean the face) , add the Carrier oil ( coconut or Calendula) , mix the above essential oils in ( at a higher dosis) , a little honey can also be added. The cotton will keep the clay in place in the collateral grooves , holes in the hoofwall , frog etc. . (This also works well for Hoof abscesses ). Exchange the clay-cotton every day.
    Good Luck

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