Last Updated on February 19, 2022 by Allison Price
A. Thrush refers to a bacterial infection in the tissue of a frog. It is located in the V-shaped structure between the sole, wall, and bars at the heel of the hoof. The bacteria infects the outer horn or epidermis of the frog. The disease progresses and the frog’s tissue becomes swollen and discolored. In extreme cases, bacteria can get to the inner dermis which is the delicate tissue underneath the frog and cause pain and lameness. The hoof pick may have bloody spots on its end, which can be a sign that the frog is being cleaned.
Thrush does not occur in unhygienic environments, contrary to popular belief. Thrush is only a problem in horses that have unhealthy frogs. A horse with healthy frogs can be kept in the most extreme conditions, such as a damp and dirty stall, and he will not get thrush. However, even the most well-cared-for horses can get thrush even in the best conditions. This is because their frogs don’t seem to be healthy. Here are the facts:
A healthy and well-formed frog should be broad and fleshy. The frog’s length should be approximately 70 percent when measured at its base. Healthy frogs share the load-bearing role with other hoof structures and help to absorb concussion. This encourages frog health. A well-shaped frog has a natural self cleaning mechanism. It expands when it touches the ground and pushes dirt and debris out of its frog sulci (the grooves to one side).
A recessed frog, which is shrunken inwardly from the surface of the rest is an unhealthy frog, is smaller than it should be. It can happen for many reasons. The main problem is usually caused by the hoof capsule and frog not being on the same plane. This reduces contact between the ground and the frog, which causes the frogs to become less active. Because the recessed frog is not able to support the horse’s weight, it shifts too many of the burden onto the heels of its hoof capsule.
As the frog becomes less active, the sulci that are between it and other hoof structures become more dense. These grooves become anaerobic and allow bacteria to thrive. The reduced protection of the outer horn makes the frog tissue more vulnerable to bacteria penetration and the eventual development of the disease.
To prevent thrush from returning, you must first correct the hoof-capsule abnormality. The farrier will have to trim your horse’s hooves so that the hoof capsule’s frog and heels are on the same plane. This may be as simple as rasping his heels, depending on the horse’s past trimming and conformation. It will be easier to promote healthy, new growth once the frog is back on level ground with the rest.
Your farrier may treat the thrush like a wound. He will trim away any diseased tissue and apply dilute bleach. A mild astringent such as Betadine (r) or another anti thrush product can be applied to the area. Note: Iodine solutions stronger than 2 percent are extremely harmful. You can speed up the recovery of severe cases by switching from straw bedding to shavings and sawdust. This is because straw holds more moisture than sawdust, and this will make it easier for horses to hoof. These treatments will not work if your hoof is properly trimmed. The frog will be healthy once it is placed on the same hoof plane as the rest.
I’m Allison, born and raised in San Diego California, the earliest memory I have with horses was at my grandfather’s farm. I used to sit at the stable as a kid and hang out with my Papa while he was training the horses. When I was invited to watch a horse riding competition, I got so fascinated with riding!