How to Prevent Thrush in Horses

POSTED ON May 30th, 2013 - by tdemmaNo Comments »

Thrush is one of the most common problems for stabled horses.  Your animal’s hooves are designed for roaming around the open plains, and even if you take your horse on daily rides and schedule in pasture time, its hooves aren’t getting the kind of wear that they’d get in the wild. The hoof is designed to expand when it hits the ground and contracts when it breaks over . In the wild this horses walk, trot and gallop for an average of 20 miles a day. Stabled horses don’t get this kind of mileage needed to keep this natural cycle which creates healthy horse hooves. As a result of this stabulation bacteria and fungi can build up in the sole and frog of the foot, eventually causing an infection.


With regular hoof maintenance, you can know how to avoid thrush. The first step is to speak with your farrier and make sure that he or she knows to keep frog and sole growth under control. Bacteria has a much harder time taking hold in a well-managed hoof, which is one of the reasons that wild horses don’t typically experience serious problems with thrush.  Hygiene is also extremely important, so keep your horse’s stable clean, check and clean the animal’s hooves every day.  Cleaning should be a regular part of your schedule, and if you can’t make it out to the stable every day, you should have someone else take care of the task.


Invest in a good hoof pick with a wire brush on its opposing side.  This will help you get at the packed-in manure, dirt and shavings that collect in the frog’s cleft and sulcus.. Whisk away the dirt with the brush as you pick it out.  If your horse has healthy hooves, the frog should have a bit of give to it. The hooves are made from some of the same substances that make up human fingernails, so a little bit of flexibility is a good thing.


If you notice a crumbly, black-and-white substance around the frog or if you smell a strong odor coming from the horse’s hoof during your daily cleanings, you’re not doing enough to ward off thrush. The good news is that this is a common symptom, and you don’t need antibiotics at this stage. However, you will need to take a more proactive approach to prevent an infection from setting in.

If this thrush issue becomes chronic and you can not get rid of it for a few months (2 months), have you VET check for “CANKER” which is a different monster than thrush. Well-Horse products have a canker treatment as well.

We use PURPLE MUSH for canker.


Clean the frog with a wire brush, then use a thick nylon brush with only water and scrub the soles and frogs clean. Pat dry them with a towel. Apply  product and brush it until it foams up. Check the hoof every day to make sure that the crumbly substance doesn’t build up again, and make sure you’re keeping a clean stable. Make sure that your horse has a properly formulated diet, as poor nutrition can often contribute to hoof issues. You may need to cut back on pasture time, but call your vet for advice as soon as you notice recurring issues.


Some horses have trouble building up enough collagen to ward off thrush.  If you’ve checked your horse’s diet, cleaned its hooves regularly, and you’re still seeing a foul-smelling crumbly substance in the frog from time to time, it’s time to supplement your regular hoof care. Use a natural, non-toxic product like Thrush-Off to promote collagen formation in the frog of the hoof. Carefully read product ingredients; don’t use any product that works caustically, as this could damage the sole and frog and sensitive tissues. Your horse will also associate the pain of the caustic ingredients with daily cleaning and may refuse to let you see its hooves.

Be diligent and get into good hoof care habits.  By giving your horse a clean environment, checking its hooves regularly, and creating an appropriate feeding plan, you’ll keep thrush from becoming a serious problem.

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