First off, let me start by saying I was hoping to get this finished and posted yesterday. Can you tell by the title? We all see how well that went!
New Horse Mommy was asking about thrush recently. Since we did get a bit of rain over the weekend and our one small arena is still a mess of squishy sludge from the last downpour, this is as good a time as any to talk about it. Cattypex, I am going to do a post on saddle fit and use pictures of our own horses. It may have to wait until this weekend though... I have Not forgotten about it. Another poster just had a clinic here locally last weekend about that very thing.
With things like thrush, the best way to deal with it is to prevent it if you can. While this is not always easy to do and Mother Nature doesn't always help, we all do what we can and hope for the best. Even still it does occur in a lot of barns, so don't feel like a loser or incompetent if your horse gets it. It's not a death sentence, just another thing to learn about and deal with on your journey down the path of learning...
The simplest of things to do is cleaning your horses hooves out daily and having them trimmed regularly as needed. Cleaning the hooves helps to get all the gunk (dirt, manure, small rocks) out of the cleft of the hoof and lets the air in to help dry it out. It gives you a chance to see if there are any rocks in there causing bruising, remove foreign objects such as nails or glass and check on the hoof to see how it is doing. Regular hoof care is a way for a farrier or hoof trimming specialist (whichever you use) to remove the excess, rebalance the hoof and help you find things such as thrush.
This can be a great time of learning for everyone involved. An owner interested in doing more for their horse can step up and ask questions and the farrier can offer advice and information. Or you may both learn things about the other person, like- the farrier doesn't want to be bothered to teach you or the owner may be a person who throws money at things and expects others to fix it all. All four kinds of people exist in the horse industry. Those who want to learn, those who are willing to teach, those who harbor their knowledge and those who can't be bothered.
Just like everything else horse related, there is a number of products on the market, home made remedies and everything in between. Things people hold to as tried and true, works every time on every horse and another list of home made concoctions that others swear by the light of day will ward off anything and everything evil.
The basic findings are that thrush is either a fungus or bacteria, it hasn't been determined yet which. It thrives in conditions of constant moisture and little air circulation. It can be found in the barns of the best bred horses as well as the back yards of low end breeders. Thrush does not care who owns the horse it affects, it just gets in there are whoOoa the smell! ICK!
While not all mud is considered bad, for some horses it can bring on a bout of thrush and get things rolling downhill. This is where Mother Nature doesn't always cooperate. A steady pounding of rain and stall flooding on top of the thrush being present, doesn't make for happy horse owners. Mud with a lot of manure in it as well as under ponds of urine will certainly be a breeding ground of sorts for a lot of issues. If possible trench everything to allow for drainage as best you can. Move the horse to a stall or pen where they are out of the mud or have a dry place to stand. This is why the planning stages way back when, were so important when deciding where to put the barn.
But horses can also develop thrush in a stall or smaller pen too. If the manure piles up, the horse has nowhere to go to get out of it. Some horses urinate a lot and soak the bedding in their stall. This again leaves them nowhere to go to get out of it. Daily hoof cleaning is important, giving those hooves a chance to breathe and getting the horse out to exercise also allows the hoof to breathe as well as moving over the dry (or at least drier) footing of an arena or work area.
Soaking a hoof in apple cider vinegar is recommended by a lot of people as a way of drawing out and sanitizing abscessed hooves, but it also works wonders on the thrush because it gets into those places you just can't. Other folks may recommend using a bleach solution, Listerine, hydrogen peroxide and a number of other disinfectants, antibacterials or anti fungal remedies. This is to reduce the presence of the fungus or bacteria causing the thrush. Keep the hairline and coronet band in mind when soaking the hoof as some horses have sensitive skin. The last thing you want to do is cause another issue while trying to resolve the first one.
A squirt of Kopertox, made by Fort Dodge can do wonders, but the stuff stains whatever it comes into contact with and in my opinion smells just about as bad as the thrush does. In reading the label it states not to get it on the horses leg as it can cause hair loss, avoid breathing the fumes, it is combustible and I found this part a bit unappealing-
"NOTE: KOPERTOX is easily removed from hands, clothing and surfaces with light grade fuel oil or any type of lighter fluid."
Both Kopertox and Thrush-XX from Farnam contain the same amount of Copper naphthenate - 37.5% as their main ingredient. Absorbine offers Hooflex Thrush Remedy which is stated not to stain, sting or dry out the hoof. I could not find a listing of the ingredients or I would gladly put them up.
There are a number of gels, ointments, salves, hoof packing materials, boots and ways of treating thrush as you can dare to think of or care to look up online. When it comes down to it though, the hoof has to be cleaned out and the fungus or bacteria removed. Soaking, packing, booting and moving the horse to a dry pen or higher ground are all things the average owner can do to ward it off. If you are having no luck and the thrush persists, then it is time to get the vet, farrier or both involved and let them do what needs to be done or try something else.
NHM, I hope this helped. Where every situation is different though, it is tough to address the issues and surrounding particulars for each specific horse.