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Q: Could you help my daughter with this problem?

My daughter owns a 12 year old Quarter Horse, 15 hands. She has been troubled for a while now over what she thinks is thrush in his feet - "smelly, and being eaten away".

The horse is kept outside and in winter is subject to wet and soggy conditions in the field when it has rained for example. She does clean the hooves every day and gets dirt etc. out.

Can you suggest any solutions that are easy and relatively inexpensive?

Has she diagnosed the problem correctly?

The horse is shod about every 8-10 weeks. He is used for occasional show jumping and daily exercise short rides/walks.

Thanks very much in anticipation

A: Thank you for signing your e-mail message. You’d be amazed how many people ask my advice and can’t be bothered to sign their name to their enquiry.

Smelly and being eaten away certainly sounds like it could be thrush, especially since you said nothing about the horse being lame.

Thrush only causes lameness if the bacterial infection of the thrush has invaded the sensitive structures of the foot and is causing inflammation. This doesn’t happen very often especially with a horse that is handled and cared for on a daily basis. You should mention to your daughter to be sure that she cleans all the way down to the hoof itself when she picks out the horse’s feet. Many people, especially beginners, are afraid they will hurt the horse and do not clean the commissures (grooves on both sides of the frog) out thoroughly.

If the procedure described below doesn’t cause a marked improvement in three days, get back to me and we’ll try another approach.

I would suggest that you try what I have been doing for years with success. Begin by using a large syringe (no needle attached) filled with hydrogen peroxide. Flush under pressure of the syringe the grooves (commissures) on both sides of the frog and any pockets, dips or other places that anaerobic organisms could hide, until the hydrogen peroxide runs clean. After flushing with about two syringes of peroxide, hold the foot up so that the bottom is pointed upwards and let the hydrogen peroxide bubble for about a minute and flush again. Continue this flushing and bubbling until the foot appears to be really clean.

Then take a wire brush like you would buy in a hardware store and brush the commissures and the frog vigorously. Then flush a couple more times. Dry the foot with a soft cloth and apply Durasole, which can be obtained through most farrier supply houses. If you can’t find it I can sell you some and ship it to you.

If you will clean the foot and apply Durasole daily as I have described you should eliminate the worst possible case of thrush in one week or less. The key here is that you must keep the foot clean and dry. I know that is difficult this time of the year. If necessary put the horse in a stall or in a dry pen. Do not pad the foot. The cleansing, medication and fresh air are your horse’s greatest allies.

You said that the horse is shod which may help in that it does get the foot off the ground. Most horses are shod every 6 to 8 weeks rather than 8 to 10 weeks like your daughter’s horse. Her horse may very well be one that needs longer to grow between shoeings. More frequent trimming/shoeing, however, may help control and/or prevent thrush because a good farrier will trim off dead and diseased frog and sole material each time he works on a horse. This will expose the pockets of infection to the air, which is thrush’s worst enemy. Your daughter could discuss the shoeing schedule with her farrier and they can decide whether to remain on a longer interval or shoe more frequently, at least until the thrush has been eradicated for a while and the ground dries up.

You may be unaware of my new web site (URL below). I have horse owners, trainers, veterinarians and farriers saying that it is the greatest thing since sliced bread. There is a wealth of information there about all aspects of horse care and especially hoof care.

Please do get back to me and let me know how your daughter’s horse progresses.


Geronimo Bayard
The American Blacksmith
Oakland, Oregon

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This entire web site is copyright © protected.  © 1996-2001 Geronimo & Mary Bayard, © 2001-2008 Mary Fitzpatrick
All rights reserved. Contact Mary for reproduction information & permission.