Thrush example

How to Prevent and Treat Thrush in Horse Hooves

Foot trimming basics can reduce the risk of anaerobic bacterial infections

Farrier Takeaways

  • Thrush is one of the most prevalent hoof conditions farriers see with more than half saying they see cases year-round.
  • Maintaining a healthy hoof capsule is critical to preventing and treating thrush.
  • Copper sulfate is a common treatment but can pose health risks to horses and humans.

Proportionally speaking, the frog is close to one of the smallest structures in the equine body. Yet, despite its size, it plays a central role in maintaining healthy, sound horses. A healthy frog shares in the load-bearing function of the hoof and absorbs concussion each time the hoof contacts the ground.

In healthy hooves, the triangular-
shaped frog tissue expands and contracts within each stride, pushing dirt and debris out of the crevice known as the frog sulci. The sulci crevices serve as a self-cleaning mechanism to “pop” foreign materials out of the hoof.

When the central sulci or the grooves on either side of the frog are compromised, the hoof structure is predisposed to developing thrush. When the sulci are deep and if the cornified frog has ragged edges or pockets, the frog has an increased risk for anaerobic bacteria to invade and deteriorate healthy tissue.

Unsanitary living conditions and excessive hoof dampness are largely to blame for thrush, so encouraging horse owners to keep horse hooves clean and give the hoof time to dry out is a fundamental horse-keeping skill.

“We see a lot of thrush here in Missouri because of the snow and mud with our often wet…

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Katie navarra

Katie Navarra

Katie Navarra is a freelance writer who draws from her experiences owning and showing horses, and inter­viewing the industry’s leading pro­fessionals.

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