Busting Thrush

Busting Thrush

Submitted by: Shannon Carner
Phone: 1-434-581-2007
Email Address: Shannondoa(at)hotmail.com
Date Added: 6/18/2011

Busting Thrush

Are you frustrated over the never-ending battle of the crud? Are you fighting thrush year round or finding that the hoof infection clears up only to return weeks later? Understanding the enemy is the first step in eradicating it from your horse's feet, forever.

Thrush is a combination of fungus, bacteria, and occasionally yeast. The bacterium in thrush is anaerobic, meaning it needs an airless environment to survive. The clefts and fissures of a horse's foot make an excellent environment for it to live, especially in hooves that are not regularly cleaned or trimmed.
It's easy to understand why horses in damp, muddy pastures develop hoof infections. The wet environment provides an easy access for the bacteria that naturally lives in the soil to infect the hooves of horses that are constantly wet, but why are horses with feet that are cleaned and trimmed regularly still battling thrush? Circulation is one reason. Horses on limited turn out move less, and less movement means less blood flow.
The application of a horseshoe is also plays a factor in limiting circulation. With shoes, the natural expansion and contraction of a horse's hooves in shoes is hindered. The heels may be able to expand and contract but the distal/proximal (up and down motion) of the hooves is severely hindered if not stopped completely by the application of a horse shoe. One of the functions of the horse's frog is to provide resistance to the hoof capsule during distortion. During distortion the frog stimulates internal structures (frog spine, digital cushion and collateral cartilages). When a shoe is on the foot, the frog is unable to properly distort. When the frog is not stimulated, it becomes thin and weak, making for weak internal structures, the foot itself begins to loose proper circulation. Lack of blood flow, means lack of oxygen, and thrush is provided a happy home.
Other factors such as obesity, poor diet, and irregular hoof care play a roll and must be addressed before thrush is eradicated. But what if your horse is at a proper weight, his feet are cared for on a regular schedule and he has adequate turn out in a clean, well drained pasture? An all natural solution may be some real help.
Traditionally thrush is fought using an arsenal of chemicals from Copper Sulfate (Koppertox) to bleach, while these chemicals work, killing the fungus, yeast and bacteria; they also kill healthy tissue in your horse's foot. Have you ever touched bleach and noticed your hands had a ‘slimy' feel afterwards? The ‘slime' you feel is not the bleach itself, but the outer layer of your skin. The chemicals in bleach kill the germs, and the skin on your hands. When you spray your horse's hooves with bleach, you are killing the thrush and a layer of healthy skin. Remember that thrush is not only bacteria, but a combination of fungus as well.
When you use a traditional necrotizing product, you are killing the fungus, but not the fungal spores present on the hoof and in the environment. The spores ‘hatch' a few days later, digesting the healthy tissues just killed by the bleach, or other necrotizing thrush killer. A vicious cycle begins. Your horse's hooves appear healthy for a few weeks, and thrush begins again. Even products that claim to be ‘natural' are still not killing the fungal spores, and thrush continues its life cycle.
What can you do to stop the thrush insanity? First clean up your act. Keeping a clean and dry environment is the first step. Thrush needs a wet, dark environment, by moving your horse to drier acres or by cleaning up what you have is a great step. Daily picking of his hooves will help keep moisture out, and regular trimming by a professional can help. Overweight horses are at risk by overloading hoof structures and damaging tissues.
There are several products on the market now that are highly effective against thrush, but are safe for the environment and even your own skin! The best product I've found for serious infections is Clean Trax by Equine Technologies. Clean Trax is a non-necrotizing hypochlorous compound originally used to treat fungal infections on human finger and toenails. It is safe to use on open wounds, where bleeding has occurred due to deep infections involving sensitive structures of your horses foot. It can also be used to treat abscesses, white line disease and canker. Clean Trax is extremely safe, and effective, often requiring only one treatment to wipe out thrush. I use this in my practice whenever chronic infection is present.
For less severe infections, I will often recommend Hoof Rx, another non-necrotizing product that is a sliver particle mixed with citric acid. This is the only known compound effective against the flesh-eating bacteria, and is often used as a disinfectant in hospitals.
It is effective against fungus, yeast and bacteria, and when applied as directed, is effective for 24 hours after application. The silver particle in Hoof Rx disinfects and stabilizes the area, and the citric acid ‘tricks' the cells of the fungus and bacteria into thinking that its food. The cells take in the citric acid compound, and then are destroyed. This is an excellent product to use on tender footed horses, as the citric acid works as an astringent and can dramatically and safely harden the bottom of your horse's feet. Hoof Rx is available at my website www.NaturalFarrier.com, a 30 day supply is only $15.00

In the battle against hoof infections, be sure to know your enemy, and know you have an arsenal of safe, environmentally friendly products that can help end the fight, naturally.

Visit us on the web: www.NaturalFarrier.com
Facebook "The Natural Farrier"

Shannon Carner D.A.E.P.
Degreed Applied Equine Podiatrist has been practicing Equine Podiatry in Central Virginia for the past 5 years. Specializing in natural hoof care, founder and navicular recovery. Learn more at www.carnerequinepodiatry.com.

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