Treating Thrush

This common problem in horses can be handled with regular maintenance.

From Knack “Leg and Hoof Care for Horses,” by Micaela Myers. Published by KNACK, an imprint of The Globe Pequot Press, Guilford, Connecticut

Thrush is a bacterial and fungal infection of the frog. You can spot it by its foul smell and black tar-like discharge, which often ends up on the end of your hoof pick. If thrush is not treated early or the infection progresses too far, it can spread to the sensitive parts of the hoof.

Micaela Myers offers her strategies for preventing and treating thrush.

Regular Hoof Cleaning

    • Daily cleaning allows you to catch any concerns early.
    • It also removes manure and other debris that can lead to thrush.
    • Be sure to thoroughly clean the sides of the frog as well as the frog itself.

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Liquid Treatments

    • Ask your farrier or vet if he or she recommends a brand of liquid treatment.
    • Read the directions carefully. Most liquid treatments need to be applied daily.
    • Bleach is not recommended because it is too harsh to use on hooves.

Packing Treatments

    • Your vet or farrier may recommend a hoof-packing treatment to combat thrush.
    • Hoof-packing treatments are the consistency of thick tar or putty and can be packed around the frog.
    • Packing remedies have the benefit of helping to seal out debris, which can be especially helpful if you are not able to treat the hoof daily.

Living Conditions

    • Water alone won’t lead to thrush, but moisture combined with a dirty pen makes prime conditions for thrush.
    • If your horse lives in a stall, keep the bedding clean and dry to prevent thrush.
    • If your horse lives outdoors, remove manure regularly and be sure he has dry places to stand, such as a three-sided shelter with rubber mats on the ground.

AQHA's "Your Horse's Health" DVD helps you keep your horse healthy. This 3-disc set is a must have for any concerned horse owner.

If thrush is not responding to treatment, or you suspect the infection has progressed too far, call your farrier or vet to evaluate the situation.

To read more of Micaela's strategies, check out her book "Leg and Hoof Care for Horses."

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AQHA members have a great opportunity to win a trip to QuarterFest: A Celebration of the American Quarter Horse. This one-of-a-kind event, May 1-3 in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, will be a chance to ride, touch, observe and learn how to care for your American Quarter Horse.

If you’ve visited AQHA’s new web site, – and you want to visit QuarterFest – here’s the deal: In 200 words or less, tell us which tip on you have benefited from most, and explain why. On the site, you’ll find tips and advice on training, recreational riding, showing, horse health and breeding – so you have lots to choose from.

Send us your entries no later than March 27. And please adhere to the word limit; longer essays will be disqualified. We’ll only accept one entry per person. The contest is open to AQHA members over age 18, and the winner will be notified by April 3.

The prize includes airfare to Murfreesboro from anywhere within the contiguous United States, hotel accommodations and event admission. Visit America’s Horse Daily for complete rules and to submit your entry.