We all know that smell and black ooze that we sometimes encounter when we pick our horses hooves but there can be a lot going on that we don’t notice…
Thrush itself is a bacteria, causing that black tarry substance called “exudate” that we find down deep in the collateral grooves of the frog. Thrush is anaerobic so it thrives in tight damp areas that are not exposed to air.
While thrush is a bacterial infection, countless forms of fungi, microbes, and other bacteria can not only contribute to the development of thrush but cause trouble of their own, as well as making treatment more difficult and complex.
Fungi is harder to pinpoint visually than thrush or yeast that have more distinctive appearance and smells. It can be a big player in White Line Disease and can appear in a blacked white line, and pock marks or dots or lines in the sole.
And then we have yeast. Yeast often doesn’t get the attention that thrush gets but it can be just as dangerous and painful if left untreated. Yeast itself is not a bacterium but a fungus that feeds on bacteria! Yeast also thrives in dark, damp, anaerobic places to hide, like in a deep central sulcus infection. Yeast generally presents as a white material that looks crumbly and has a somewhat cottage cheese like appearance. It has its own very district odor; once you know it, you know it. It's not the knock you over powerful whiff that thrush throws off but almost like a strong aged cheese or yeasty bread dough but in a sickly sweet way.
So If you find black goo in the collateral grooves and white mush down in a deep central sulcus slit then you may have bacteria/thrush in the collateral grooves and yeast in the central sulcus. They all thrive on the same stuff and love to jump in on each other's band wagon when and where ever they get the chance.
Bacteria, yeast and fungi exist everywhere in our environment, the dirt we all live and walk on, our stalls floors and walls, in the mud, muck and manure that is tracked all around in our horses' hooves and even on our own boots. Then take any gateway to enter the hoof that is already in contact with those microbes 24/7, a tiny abrasion on the bottom (even micro abrasions from hoof picking), contraction in the heels, white line separation, a crack, a previous infection or injury, even old nail holes, just about anything! Now add moisture and lack of air and you’re got a full on infection.
So what can you do? Well obviously there are countless products out there but needless to say we use Pure Sole! Fortunately Pure Sole packs a powerful and all natural punch against bacteria, fungi and yeast!
Beware of chemical treatment products as they may seem to help at first but harsh chemicals can also break down hoof and frog tissue which makes them more vulnerable than ever for new microbes to enter and feed on the damaged tissues!
Some things you can do to start tackling hoof infections:
Dry up the living conditions so that all the microbes don’t have a moist environment to thrive in!
Have your farrier, trimmer, or vet remove as much infected material as they can and open the area up to expose it to as much air as possible and make it easier for you to treat.
Nutrition plays a big role in your horse’s hoof and all around health. Adding in a hoof supplement and Omega 3 supplement are a great place to start.
Topical treatment-- all of our Pure Sole hoof care products are 100% natural and safe to use even on the deepest hoof infections and will not harm healthy tissues! Though all of our products are antimicrobial and effective against fungi and yeast, for severe cases the tried and true Pure Sole Hoof Mud is usually our go to! Apply a thin layer deep into the collateral grooves and pack down into deep central sulcus infections. In wet muddy hooves we like to cleanse the area out first with our Pure Sole Hoof Cleanse before applying the Hoof Mud to flush and clean out the area. On dry hooves the flush is optional but can be particularly helpful in deep central sulcus infections; we like to spray the Cleanse in and then floss the “crack” with some bandaging gauze then smush the Hoof Mud down inside as deep as you can; you can even add a bit of pull apart cotton on top to help you keep the mud packed in longer.
You may wonder about using a spray when you’re trying to dry the hoof and prevent the moist environment that the nastys love-- Pure Sole hoof Cleanse is loaded with antimicrobial ingredients which will absorb right in and go to work, while any excess moisture will dissipate quickly. The Cleanse step is particularly helpful to flush away bacteria, yeast and fungi in tight places that are harder for thicker consistency treatments to reach fully, like deep down in the slit of a central sulcus infection.
Once you have the infection under control then maintenance with either Pure Sole Hoof Mud, Cleanse, Oil or Wax once a week or so will help to keep the infection from recurring. We also like painting on Pure Sole Hoof Oil, plugging with Pure Sole Hoof Wax or smearing on a little Hoof Mud in nail holes to prevent microbes from entering there.
Before and after using Pure Sole Hoof Mud
Final note-- when in doubt have the vet out! This article is in no way meant to replace veterinary advice. Hoof infections can be very severe and painful. Some cases can be very sensitive and even routine hoof picking can cause pain, tissues can be eaten away to bleeding, they can cause lameness and even long term damage, so while thrush, et al are common that doesn’t mean that they can’t be serious.