When one hears the word thrush we immediately recoil in disgust and rightly so, the infection is an unsightly and smelly annoyance. Here’s a handy little breakdown and how we can battle the foul and repulsive pathogen that can seep and colonise your horse's hoof.
The Invading Force:
Thrush can be the result of a variety of bacteria and fungi which enjoy living in warm, humid and low oxygenated environment. Having narrow and contracted heels will provide the perfect opportunity for an infection to start.
You will likely notice thrush when cleaning the hoof due to the foul smell. You can differentiate the odour of thrush from other smells that have arisen from dirt and mud as thrush can be accompanied with damaged tissue, black pus, cracked heels, swelling and a sore and tender frog. Left unchallenged Thrush has the potential to grow from smelly inconvenience to a much more threatening enemy and can lead to lameness.
The Battle Plan:
As a first defensive measure be sure to keep the hoof wall trimmed, so the frog is in contact with the floor. This will remove the environment the pathogen requires to take hold for an infection.
The second defence is to ensure a healthy diet with low sugar content, and research has shown Copper and Zinc to assist in the prevention of Thrush.
Third defensive line includes keeping the hoof as dry as possible. Regular cleaning of the hoof and the paddock will help prevent infection.
If defensive measures fail, there are many topical treatments available to help attack the infection. From chemical solutions such as colloidal silver or iodine products to more natural remedies including tea tree oil and simple good old-fashioned salt water, there are many options to try. None will cure the infection but will assist the immune system in destroying the culprit.