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Managing Thrush with Protection and Sole Support

  • Managing Thrush with Protection and Sole Support

    by Tab Pigg
    In the spring, the wet climate, punctuated by ample rain, sets the stage for thrush to run
    rampant through the barn. Thrush is a bacterial infection that resides in the soft tissue of
    the frog. The moist environment, combined with manure and mud, create unsanitary
    conditions in the stall, and dirt, debris and other bacteria get trapped in the frog. If
    horses hooves are not picked out on a daily basis, thrush sets in and it can be difficult to
    conquer. And, when a horse has beginning stages of thrush, it probably won’t even
    show lameness symptoms unless the infection becomes more severe.
    The Anatomy of Thrush
    When looking at a horse’s foot from the bottom, the hoof wall circles from the outside
    heel around the point of the toe, and on to the inside heel. The frog is a dark-colored
    soft tissue that is triangular in shape, and stretches from the heel to midway toward the
    toe. Because the frog and hoof wall bear equal weight, the frog is always touching the
    ground when a horse is standing, thus, bacteria collects in the frog and remains trapped
    if not cleaned out on a regular basis.
    Thrush thrives under conditions where there is minimal oxygen. The preliminary sign of
    the condition is a strong odor coming from the hoof. Thrush is composed of many
    different types of anaerobic bacteria and usually resides in the soft tissue of the frog. If a
    horse is barefoot or unshod, the hooves are usually self-cleaned as a horse moves
    around and runs, because the debris can escape the hoof cavity more easily. With a
    shod horse, it is harder for bacteria to escape. And if a horse has a silicone pad product
    applied, bacteria can get trapped underneath the pad.
    Managing Thrush
    Traditional methods of managing thrush have changed over time. One evergreen
    approach for preventing and managing thrush is to clean the frog out on a daily basis,
    and sometimes more often than that. This is something that is often neglected, but very
    important for horse owners to pay attention to. Depending on the severity of the
    condition, there may have to be medical attention with a scrub or topical ointment.
    The use of pads (plastic and leather) with silicone or other packing material underneath
    can lead to thrush problems as well. If the area underneath the pad is not completely
    sealed, moisture and debris can migrate to the sole creating thrush issues.
    Newer pour-in pad materials adhere to the bottom of the foot sealing out moisture and
    debris avoiding this problem. Vettec’s EquiPak CS will bond to the bottom of a horse’s
    foot, eliminating the possibility of bacteria being trapped and causing an infection. Equi-
    Pak CS is a fast-setting soft instant pad material, and is infused with copper sulfate to
    effectively manage mild and moderate cases of thrush. Equi-Pak CS provides extra
    protection and support during wet seasons, and also bonds to the sole eliminating the
    need to pick out the feet and apply daily medication. It is also an effective, preventative
    measure for thrush.
  • Managing and preventing thrush helps to avoid lameness. Using a pour-in pad is a good
    way to limit the occurrences of thrush. Advantages of pour-in pad materials include:
    it immediately bonds to the sole, sealing out moisture and debris
    pour-in pad material can be filled to ground level for maximum support and
    effectively absorbs concussion, instead of sending it up the leg like silicone
    it supports the boney column by loading the entire solar surface with a pour-in pad,
    but also positions the weight-bearing load over the entire ground surface and not
    just the wall
    Managing a horse’s thrush can be challenging and tedious, and it’s important to have a
    good care team to diagnose and oversee the condition to ensure recovery. When
    considering care options, choose options that help eliminate the chance of bacteria
    getting trapped in the frog, and one that will also provide support to the horse’s hoof.
    Using liquid pad technology, veterinarians and farriers now have the ability to use
    materials that will bond to the foot, withstand the weight of the horse and help protect
    against debris and bacteria from entering the hoof’s internal cavity.