Most horse owners have heard of thrush and there are a wide variety of treatments on the market to help manage it. But what is it? What causes it? The answers may surprise you.
What exactly is hoof thrush?
Thrush is a bacterial infection of the frog of the hoof. The frog is that v-shaped part in the middle of the foot. You may think thrush is the result of our current wet conditions, but surprise, surprise, those environmental conditions only aggravate the problem. The cause is something more basic.Thrush is actually the result of an unhealthy, poorly formed frog, according to
Stephen O’Grady, DVM, MRCVS, in a recent article for Practical Horseman Magazine.
"A healthy, well-formed frog is broad and fleshy. Measured at its base, the widest part, the frog’s width should be at least 70 percent of its length. A healthy frog shares the load-bearing function with the other structures of the hoof and helps to absorb concussion. This, in turn, stimulates continued frog health. A well-shaped frog also has a natural self-cleaning mechanism. When it comes into contact with the ground, it expands, pushing accumulated dirt and debris out of the frog sulci, the grooves on either side of the frog."
When the frog becomes unhealthy, which can be the result of genetics, a clubby foot, low heels or farrier problems, it will appear shrunken and smaller than normal. The problem is usually due to the frog not being on an even plane with the heels of the foot capsule. This results in the frog not touching the ground enough to clean itself and ultimately the frog atrophies and becomes recessed, interfering with balanced load bearing.
Dirt and debris begin collecting in the sulci (grooves on either side of the frog) creating an environment for bacteria to party. Like a frat party, things soon get out of hand, damage begins and then, that gawd awful smell permeates the room.
Thrush can do serious damage..
Thrush can do a lot of damage to the hoof and can cause lameness if left untreated. The frog can even begin to bleed from thrush.
How do we treat it? First and foremost, your farrier needs to trim and clean the frog to remove the infected areas. Then he or she needs to trim the hoof so the frog can work properly.
In addition to those things, using antibacterial products help the hoof heal. Barn Dog Tack carries a variety of products to help manage thrush.