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