6 Steps to Cure a Microbial Infection

Treating thrush, white line and other infections require an approach that is effective without causing harm to a horse’s foot

Farrier Takeaways

  • Microbial infections have several causes, but always look first to the horse’s environment.
  • When choosing a treatment, check the list of active ingredients and become educated about which ingredients are the least damaging, as well as effective.
  • Mineral clays of kaolinite and bentonite are an effective method of drawing out a microbial infection. Wet poultices can also produce a desired result, but used too regularly can soften the foot.

Many farriers have a tried-and-tested method of working with microbial issues on a horse’s feet. But from time to time, a case might come along that is particularly stubborn —when nothing seems to work or it just keeps recurring, despite a hoof-care professional’s best efforts.

Sam Austin, from Red Horse Products in the United Kingdom, shared his treatment protocol for microbial infections during a How-To Hoof-Care Product Knowledge Clinic, sponsored by Equine Digit Support System, at the 2020 International Hoof-Care Summit in Cincinnati, Ohio.

The type of microbial infection —
bacterial or fungal — will depend largely on geographic location but the most damaging microbes are keratolytic, which means that they feed on hoof matter or keratin. Microbial infections can include thrush on the surface of the foot or the deep central sulcus, white line disease, seedy toe and, in extreme cases, canker.

“I don’t like to get too hung up on what the exact microbe is because we often find that the same treatment protocols tend to work with all of these particular microbes,” Austin says.

“Canker we’d…

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Kristen Kubisiak

Kristen Kubisiak has been a writer and photographer with newspapers and magazines for 15 years. A native of Wisconsin, she served as the Managing Editor of American Farriers Journal.

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