What Is That Awful Smell?
You have just cleaned out your horse’s hooves and notice a pungent, offensive odor. It is much stronger than the normal earthy smell of hoof grunge.
Upon closer inspection of the foul smelling hoof or hooves, you also see an ooze – a blackish discharge around the frog area and in the frog itself. That is equine thrush. You need to treat it at once and continue treatment in order to prevent the condition from attacking surrounding tissue, manifesting itself in the foot and eventually also spreading to the other feet – and worse case scenario – causing lameness.
Your veterinarian can tell you the technical terms and, of course, treat your horse for thrush. However, if your horse’s thrush has not progressed too far and you are willing to commit to the every-day care and treatment required to eliminate it, you can successfully treat the condition with the guidance of your farrier and by using available medications.
What Is Equine Thrush?
In lay-person language, thrush is a fungal infection – caused by bacteria that thrive in moist, soiled conditions. It occurs most frequently in stalls that are not regularly mucked out, that retain moisture, or that have the combination of moisture and dirty conditions.
As you can see, therefore, thrush can infect your horse’s feet if your stall management is a bit sloppy. Your horse may also contract thrush if you don’t regularly clean out his feet so that moisture, feces, urine and dirt are retained in the hoof, allowing bacteria to thrive. Finally, a horse with super sensitivity may be unusually susceptible to the bacteria that causes thrush.
Generally, the condition affects the frog and the surrounding tissues. It presents as a moist, black discharge with a truly nasty odor. You will find there is no mistaking that odor – it just plain stinks.
Cure Thrush with Daily Treatment
The treatment for thrush is not difficult, but it does require your daily commitment. It is important to immediately change your stall management and grooming routines. Read The Old Gray Mare’s discussion (“Care for Horse Hooves – Inspect and Clean”); it can be found on www.DressYourHorse.com under The Old Gray Mare Articles.
Basic Steps to Treat Equine Thrush
1. Enlist the immediate help of your farrier. He or she will trim the hooves, angle them correctly and remove much of the infected tissue. If possible, let your horse go barefoot. You can also discuss packing the feet and adding pads at the next shoeing, once the thrush