Updated: Feb 27
Hoof thrush is a common and often frustrating problem that many horse owners face. It is a bacterial infection that affects the frog of the hoof, which is the soft, triangular-shaped tissue located between the heel and the sole of the hoof. While it is not usually a serious condition, it can be painful for the horse and can lead to more serious hoof problems if left untreated. In fact we have been called out to many horses over the years who were diagnosed with 'navicular syndrome' that resolved when we eliminated the thrush. In this post, we will discuss what causes hoof thrush, how to recognize it, and how to treat and prevent it.
Causes of Hoof Thrush
Hoof thrush is caused by a bacteria called Fusobacterium necrophorum, which thrives in moist, dirty environments. Horses that are kept in dirty, wet stalls or consistently damp pastures are at a higher risk for developing hoof thrush. In addition, horses with poor hoof conformation, such as flat or contracted feet, are more prone to developing thrush. Overgrown hooves and improper trimming can also contribute to the development of hoof thrush.
Symptoms of Hoof Thrush
The first sign of hoof thrush is usually a foul odor emanating from the horse's hoof. The frog may also appear black, crumbly, and soft to the touch. As the infection progresses, the frog may start to bleed and the horse may become increasingly lame.
Treatment of Hoof Thrush
The treatment of hoof thrush involves keeping the hoof clean and dry and using an antifungal or antibacterial agent to kill the bacteria. The affected area should be cleaned daily with a mild soap and warm water. You can use a solution of napisan, or an antibacterial dishwashing detergent. We find using a scrubbing brush is the best way.
Once the hoof is clean and dry, an antifungal or antibacterial agent can be applied to the affected area. There are many different products you can use - diluted bleach solutions, tea tree oil and apple cider vinegar all help, but take quite a long time and many applications, and so they require vigilance.
We have found the best option is a dry powder which can help keep the hoof dry for longer and that's why we make it! We have been producing Good to Go for almost 20 years. It took us a long time to find the right combination of copper salts, kaolin and diatomite. Originally we enlisted a whole bunch of clients who had three different recipes of Good to Go. They used one on each of three hooves and kept one hoof untreated as a 'control hoof'. Eventually one combination stood out and that's the recipe our clients have been relying on for years to keep thrush at bay.
Prevention of Hoof Thrush
The best way to prevent hoof thrush is to maintain a clean, dry environment for your horse, which is difficult in wet conditions. Stalls and pastures should be cleaned regularly, and horses should be kept out of wet, muddy areas as much as possible. Proper hoof care, including regular trimming and maintenance, can also help prevent the development of hoof thrush. If your horse is prone to hoof thrush, consider using Good to Go as preventative product as part of your regular hoof care routine. Just dust some on when you clean out your horse's hooves. A little bit goes a long way and many of our customers find one bottle lasts a year or longer, and - being clay based - it doesn't go off.
Hoof thrush is a common and treatable condition that can be prevented through proper hoof care and management. If you suspect that your horse may have hoof thrush, it is important to address the issue promptly to prevent the infection from progressing and causing more serious problems. With proper treatment and prevention with Good to Go, you can keep your horse's hooves healthy and happy for years to come.