Thrush in Horses

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Horse hooves

When picking out your horse’s hooves you expect to find a mixture of dirt and manure. Instead, your hoof pick produces something that is black, it stinks and it’s unmistakably thrush.

Thrush is a bacterial and fungal infection of the frog. You can tell it by the foul smell and black tar-like discharge. If thrush is not treated early the infection can spread to other sensitive parts of the hoof.

Thrush is often attributed to dirty, muddy conditions. Water alone will not lead to thrush, but moisture combined with dirty turnouts and stalls can lead to thrush. Thrush can also be found in horses that are kept in immaculate condition.

Treating thrush can start by letting your farrier keep your horse hooves trimmed on a regular schedule. There are several products that you can purchase to treat thrush. The best thing to do is consult your farrier or veterinarian for advice.

If not treated properly thrush can cause pain to your horse eating its way to sensitive tissues to the frog and off to its side. This can be prevented by cleaning your horses’ hooves out daily, also keeping their stalls and paddocks clean. Try to avoid letting your horse stand in mud or water. Again, if your horse has thrush consult with your farrier or veterinarian for proper treatment.

For more information on this and other 4-H and Equine Husbandry, topics contact Tom Harrell at 252-232-2262 or email