Thrush, a disease of the hoof, loves to live in the most airless clefts of a horse’s frog and other tissue. Winter is one of thrush’s favorite times of year because it thrives in wet, dirty bedding and areas where mud, mixed with manure, can be found. Thrush has a very strong odor that comes from dead, rotting tissue. You will usually also see a dark-colored slimy substance along the edge of the frog.
You can help prevent thrush by eliminating its preferred environment of damp, dirty conditions and keeping your horse on dry, clean ground as much as possible. One way is to use Classic Equine Equipment’s stall mats to help keep the stall dry from damp conditions below. Stall mats can also be used in paddocks or in entry areas to the barn or stall so that your horse can step on the clean and dry stall mat instead of in puddles or mud.
Creating mud free turnouts is also important. Despite the weather, horses seem to be happiest when outside, so they tend to spend time in their paddocks even in the rain and snow. This leads to mud and manure becoming mixed – a perfect breeding ground for thrush. Consider using Classic Equine Equipment’s Stable-ity Grid, an interlocking grid like flooring system. Adding your gravel or other material on top of the Stable-ity Grid keeps it from mixing with dirt and ultimately becoming a wet dirt-gravel (and sometimes manure) mix where thrush can thrive.
Prevention is the key to avoiding thrush. Make sure to preform daily hoof care checks to make sure everything looks healthy and normal. A case of thrush is not life-threatening, but left untreated the infection can spread under the sole and penetrate the soft tissue of the hoof, including the laminae. Not limited to thrush, any sign of infection should never go untreated, always call your vet if something looks abnormal.