Thrush - hidden cause of some hoof and lameness problems
Thrush in horses is more than just an annoying, stinky affair. The black and smelly pasty substance under your horse's foot is caused by a bacteria that is present in most fecal and moist soil samples.
It is anaerobic, thrives on moist and airless conditions and therefore loves the moist and hidden environment of cracks and crevices, deep grooves and in the central sulcus (the deep cleft between the heels) as well as the collateral sulcus of the frog.
Risks: The potentially damaging effect of thrush cannot be underestimated. Thrush can slowly disintegrate the entire frog, even to the point of bleeding, if left untreated. Symptoms range from traces of a slightly unpleasant smelling black pasty residue to stinky, pasty and crumbling hoof mass. As the hoof substance is destroyed, the horse can display various stages of lameness or appear 'tender-footed'. If the thrush hides in the central sulcus, this can often go undetected for a while, and even result in hoof deformities such as contracted heels.
On the other hand, horses that tend to have contracted heels or upright feet (club foot), will have deeper clefts and tend to pick up thrush easier than other horses.
Prevention: Good hoof hygiene is key. Keeping your horse's feet as clean as possible and providing dry grounds to stand on whenever possible.
This can be a challenge if the horse is on 24/7 turnout, like my horses are. During the spring time or an especially wet summer, thrush causing bacteria cannot be avoided in this type of environment.
Case study: One of my horses spent a rainy summer in a low-lying pasture that was just a bit too wet. He picked up thrush, starting with his 'club foot', then spreading to the other front foot. The hind feet remained unaffected. After I moved him to a dryer environment, I started treating him with various remedies, store-bought or home-made. Here what I tried:
1) The famous dark violet toxic stuff that can be found in any tack or farm store
2) The supposedly non-toxic alternative (not blue) by a leading manufacturer of hoof conditioner and liniments
3) Soaking in dove dish detergent
4) Soaking in Borax
5) Soaking in vinegar solution (now I know this would not work since it's a bacterial, not a fungal problem)
6) A 'natural' product sold by many natural farriers
7) And last not least: Aspire natural, non-toxic (and dark violet) thrush treatment.
Treatment: Once you determine that your horse has thrush, create the dryest and cleanest possible living conditions, practice a high level of hoof hygiene AND skip remedies 1 through 6 and go straight to No. 7: The Aspire natural, non-toxic thrush treatment. You will save yourself a lot of grief and money and you'll get results fast.
How to apply Aspire Natural Thrush Treatment: Clean the hoof thoroughly with a (dedicated) hoof pick and hoof brush. Wash the hoof with hot soapy water with a hoof brush. Rinse off with clear water and pat dry with a towel. If the ground is dry and clean, let horse's feet dry while standing for a while. Then apply the thrush treatment to the affected areas. Tip: Use a piece of cotton or tissue, soaked in a bit of Aspire Thrush Treatment and push it into the central sulcus. Leave it there, it will fall out while the horse is moving. This way, you will get this hidden area treated very well. Repeat this treatment every day for a week or until the thrush no longer smells. Then repeat once per week to prevent reoccurrence.
Here images of a thrush afflicted hoof in the spring (before) and in the fall (after). It took a while for the frog to grow back into a healthy, substantial frog, of course. But this was only made possible by the almost instant effect of Aspire thrush remedy.
After this experience, I decided to sell this product in our online store in order to make it available to more folks who may be struggling with their horse's thrush.
If you have any questions about thrush or this product or if you'd like to share your story, please email me!
Enjoy your horse!