I already wrote a post about treating thrush, but wanted to write a second one solely for the purpose of sending to my clients after I mention their horse has thrush!
Thrush is an infection (either bacterial, fungal, or both, how fun) of the frog, usually present in the central sulcus and/or collateral grooves. It may or may not have an odor. The area affected is usually tender, if not outright painful, to the touch. If it progresses, it can eat into the sensitive structures below. There are some thrush infections that do not smell, so don’t assume you’re in the clear just because there is no odor. Thrush is an infection – it does not heal on its own. It can be or become painful to your horse and should be addressed immediately.
Step 1: Trimming
Right now I am finding that many horses I trim have dead frog material choking their collateral grooves and trapping dirt and bacteria. I am also finding old, dead frog material and flaps hiding infected areas in the central sulcus (cleft of the frog). I have been opening up the central sulcus just a bit with my nippers to aid in ease of treatment and to keep the area free of flaps that may trap dirt and bacteria in. I have also been trimming some frog material away if it’s covering over the collateral groove in a way that makes it hard for you to treat for thrush.
Once I have the horse on a good trim cycle, this usually stops being a problem, but may continue occasionally depending on the season, weather, and environment (stall or turnout conditions).
Step 2: Topical Treatment
Though I have no current affiliation with the company, I am currently recommending Red Horse Products to my clients whose horses have thrush. They’re made with natural ingredients (all listed on the label) and they are effective. Right now I have these in my truck, but will be adding to the line up soon:
The Sole Cleanse is the spray — great for treating thrush, especially for owners who want the easiest application possible. Just clean the foot well and spray.
The Artimud is a hoof clay that is thick and slightly sticky — great for stuffing into deep central sulcus infections or thrush in the collateral grooves. Sometimes I spray with the Sole Cleanse first and then add the Artimud on top.
The Field Paste has a honey base and is a little thinner in consistency and stickier than the Artimud — I’ve been using it for thrush on the sole or in the white line, or in more shallow crevices.
The Hoof Stuff is a very thick paste with cotton fibers in it – especially effective in deep but narrow central sulcus crevices. It lasts for days and days, so a little goes a long way. I cover it over with a layer of Artimud.
The Stronghorn Spray is for with horses who have soft soles – often the case in wet weather or due to infection.
Option #1: if you want to shop Washington local, either stop by or call Olympia Farrier Supply. They carry many of the Red Horse Products. They are not available on their website, but the owner told me she will ship the products you want to you if you call in! Every client who has ordered from OFS has received their package quickly with affordable shipping rates.
Olympia Farrier Supply in Olympia, WA: http://olympiafarriersupply.com/contact-us/
Option #2: purchase from the EDSS website. Red Horse Products is a UK company and EDSS is their US distributor. They carry a full line up of Red Horse Products, including fly spray, ear balm, and wound care cream.
EDSS website: https://shopedss.com/brands/Red-Horse-Products.html
Option #3: purchase from the original Red Horse Products UK site — shipping will be more expensive, but you might find that prices are cheaper. Some of my clients at the same barn go in on orders together to get a good deal.
Step 3: Application + Consistency
I will let you know when we discuss treatment options if anything specific is unique to your horse, but in general my instructions are this:
- Clean out the hoof – pick out all dirt and brush clean. Focus on the collateral grooves and the central sulcus (if there is a crevice there) to make sure you completely clean it all out with both your pick and brush.
- Apply the topical treatment to any areas that have thrush. This may also include in toe cracks or white line separation. Red Horse products are safe to get on your bare skin (I actually sprayed Sole Cleanse on an open cut I had to make sure it didn’t sting), though I often wear gloves to apply the Artimud and Field Paste, for ease of application. Some may need to use their hoof pick to stuff Artimud or Hoof Stuff in the central sulcus if their horse has contracted heels or a deep infection.
- Treat 2 – 5x/week depending on the severity of the infection. Your hoofcare provider can tell you how often would be effective. Treat until you see and smell a difference! I often request my clients treat until our next appointment, and then we reassess.
- Be as consistent with treatment as possible — some of my clients buy the Sole Cleanse and spray their horses feet every day as part of their routine to make sure they remember to treat. Set days of the week as regular treatment days. Set an alarm on your phone. Do whatever you need to remember.
Your horse’s thrush will heal – it’s just a matter of treatment and time. Some thrush infections are more stubborn than others, and if they are stalled more often than not, it will take longer to heal.
Pictured above: Artimud applied to common problem areas: the collateral grooves near the back of the foot and the central sulcus (middle of the frog). This horse only had thrush in the areas where the Artimud is.
Pictured above: A hoof with a deep central sulcus infection — central sulcus packed w/ Hoof Stuff, collateral grooves sprayed with Sole Cleanse, and Artimud spread on top of everything.
Pictured above: Artimud spread in a thick layer in central sulcus and collateral grooves. The goal is to completely cover any area affected with thrush.