Q: What exactly is thrush?

A: Thrush is a bacterial infection that commonly affects the frog. It is often associated with wet and dirty bedding, poor hoof management, inadequate trimming, or shoeing with pads that have trapped dirt and moisture.

Thrush is commonly noticed due to the unpleasant odour it produces and the black discharge that is often seen in the frog clefts. However, in some horses it will be severe enough to cause foot tenderness and lameness.

Treatment usually requires that the farrier trims the frog and removes loose pieces of horn and all of the diseased tissue. The hoof must then be kept clean, and the horse must be on clean and dry bedding in the stable. Feet must be picked out at least twice a day. Cleaning with Epsom salts can be useful, and there are also specific preparations for thrush that can be applied to the affected area.