Fungus-Busting Hoof Soaks
Fungus is not our friend. Well, unless it’s a tasty cremini or portobello mushroom (sautéed or grilled, of course!). But fungus and other detrimental microbes in our horses feet are definitely not something to be desired. Many times, these problems can be corrected through diet and/or trimming. But at other times, we may need more help. A regimen of hoof soaking might be called for.
But what to soak with?
Here are a few tried and true recipes that may very well be the final blow to the fungus, yeast, or bacteria invading your horses hooves. They can be used for thrush, white line disease, or any other fungal/ bacterial infection of the hoof.
Apple Cider Vinegar: Mix 1/4 cup of vinegar to 1 gallon of water for a milder soak OR 1 part organic apple cider vinegar : 2 parts warm water for a stronger soak. This mixture can also be used in a squirt bottle to treat affected areas.
Oxine and Citric Acid: Oxine is chlorine dioxide, a popular sanitizer used in the food processing industry. Citric acid can be used to activate the Oxine, but is not always necessary.
Mix 1 oz. of Oxine and 1/4 tsp citric acid first and wait three minutes for it to activate. Then add 1 quart of warm water (Must be used immediately.) Soak to the level of the hoof walls.
Note: Oxine is a potential skin irritant, so don’t mix it too strong or soak hooves longer than 20 minutes. If you know your horse is sensitive, start with a milder solution. Avoid contact with your eyes and don’t inhale fumes from the activating Oxine.
Borax: Borax is also called sodium borate. Known for its antifungal properties, it’s an ingredient in many detergents and cosmetics.
Use 1 tbsp. Borax to 1/2 gallon of warm water.
Tea Tree or Oregano Oil: Both of these oils are known for their anti fungal and antibacterial properties.
Add 1 tbsp tea tree oil or oregano oil (mixed with water) into your soaking boot. These oils can also be used for topical application.
There are several options for soaking, one being a rubber bucket. But if your horses are fussy and won’t stand in a bucket for a long period of time, soaking boots are really the way to go. A variety of options are available, but I really like the Davis Soaking Boot. You can also use your regular hoof boots with a plastic baggie inside (put empty bag on hoof first, then boot, then carefully add soaking solution).
For most soaks, twenty minutes is a good time to shoot for. Thirty minutes might be better for some of the milder soaks. It also may depend on how long your horse will stand there with a soaking boot on! For serious cases of thrush or white line disease, I would soak two times per week. For milder cases, once a week may work well. Another option is to soak for 2-3 days in a row and then go to a once-a-month treatment until the problem is completely resolved.
Sources and Further Reading