The cool Fall weather brings more than just bright colors and crisp autumn air. The changing climate has everyone’s immune systems working overtime and is one of the things that has the largest impact on your horse’s hoof health. The constant wet then dry then back to wet again opens the door for infection or structural issues in the hoof. Here are a few things to look out for this Fall when it comes to your horse’s hooves.
Thrush is an infection of the horse’s frog that presents as a thick, black discharge with a distinct foul smell. These symptoms are easy to spot while cleaning out the bottom of your horse’s hooves, often presenting in the grooves on either side of the frog. Thrush is a common hoof ailment because the frog is a dark, non-vascular area, creating a breeding ground for bacteria. While it can occur in clean conditions, the risk of thrush is heightened in muddy, damp climates that are super common during the Fall months. Thrush can also cause sensitivity or soreness to the hoof or leg, and prompt treatment is necessary to avoid a progression of the infection.
A healthy hoof in a clean, dry climate is the best way to avoid thrush, but unfortunately, that’s just not always the case. Luckily, we have many available treatment options to combat this common infection.
SteriHoof Hoof Treatment Spray from MacKinnon Ice Horse is rapidly gaining popularity as a go-to for thrush treatment. Unlike many other effective remedies, SteriHoof is a non-staining formula, making it easy to apply mess-free. SteriHoof’s patented formula also will not cause a burning sensation upon application, which is common amongst other hoof antifungals. Remember, it is important to stick to a thrush treatment regimen until the infection is fully subsided to avoid recurrence of the infection.
Another go-to for thrush treatment is Jim Riken’s Foot Formula. This formula is not only designed to treat the thrush but will also help alleviate soreness on the hoof sole or frog. Its ingredients promote overall hoof health in combination with the thrush treatment.
No Thrush by Four Oaks Farm Ventures is another option with a unique formula – the first ever dry thrush treatment! The all-natural ingredients are ground into a fine powder that provides excellent coverage of the hoof. The powder is easily able to penetrate deep crevices of the hoof where bacteria like to hide.
White Line Disease
As its name suggests, white line disease is an infection of the white line on a horse’s hoof. The white line is the junction of the hoof wall and sole. The infection creates a widening of the white line and causes separation between the layers of the hoof wall. If untreated, the infection will progressively work upwards towards the coronary band. This leads to structural issues and eventually causes lameness. The infection will produce a white or gray powdery material that classically indicates a case of white line disease.
Treating white line disease requires working closely with your farrier to ensure the hoof wall separation does not progress in the wrong direction (up the hoof towards the coronary band). Frequent trimming alongside infection treatment will ensure the hoof wall regrows properly, restoring the structural damage.
Topical treatment will also be necessary to get rid of the infection. Grand Circuit White Lightning Liquid is an effective option to eliminate disease without drying out healthy tissue. When mixed with equal parts of white vinegar, White Lightning Liquid produces chlorine dioxide. This has been proven effective in neutralizing bacteria, fungus, and yeast within minutes of contact. To use White Lightning Liquid, you will create a soaking mixture of the liquid and white vinegar and soak the hoof a few times per week until it has completely grown out again as a healthy hoof wall.
You may want these Hoof Wraps Soaker Sacks from MacKinnon Ice Horse as well to simplify the soaking process!
Ah, the dreaded abscess. The classic “my sound horse is suddenly dead lame” scenario we’ve all heard of, if not experienced ourselves. A hoof abscess is a bacterial infection within the hoof, creating soreness that can take days or even weeks to fully subside. It is often the result of some sort of puncture, crack, or even misplaced nail that allows contamination of bacteria inside the hoof. The constant climate changes that come with Fall, unfortunately, result in a heightened risk of this hoof infection as well.
If left untreated, abscesses will often travel upwards in the hoof and burst out at the coronary band. This can create a disruption of normal hoof growth, however. So, the preferred method of treatment is to draw out the abscess through the bottom of the hoof. Work closely with your vet and/or farrier, who will carve a small opening in the hoof sole. This will allow the abscess to work its way out without causing damage. It will then be your duty to help convince that abscess to work its way out by soaking the hoof and packing with poultice, ichthammol, or another drawing agent.
The EasyBoot Remedy Boot is perfect to have on hand for any hoof soaking needs, and especially for abscesses. This strong waterproof and flexible short-style horse boot simplifies the process and creates a reusable soaking solution fitted to your horse’s hoof and leg.
Animalintex Hoof Poultice is an ideal option for packing the hoof. It can be used as a hot poultice to draw out the infection and is already pre-cut to fit the hoof.
Secure the Hoof Poultice in place with the Deluxe Equine Slipper by Bluegrass Equine Products for the simplest, mess-free hoof pack solution.
Prevention and Maintenance
Although sometimes these hoof ailments are unavoidable, maintaining proper hoof health prior to the season changes will help decrease the risk. Key factors for maintaining a healthy hoof include a good relationship with your farrier for healthy growth and shape, proper nutrition to nourish from within, and in some instances, topical products. Introducing a topical product will help strengthen the hoof and can help reduce that extra risk we’re up against this fall.
Cavalor’s Dry Feet is an excellent product to keep in your hoof care routine and can be especially helpful to combat these autumn ailments. Damp and changing weather can weaken the hoof sole or frog. But Dry Feet hardens and dries the foot and kills thrush-causing bacteria. This will give you an extra defense this fall.
Shop more products for hoof care here. Or, you can shop all our products at FarmVet.com 24/7. You can also call one of our friendly Sales Associates at 1-888-837-3626 or email your order to email@example.com.
While often not serious, hoof abscesses are a painful nuisance for both you and your horse. Read here to learn more about our top tips and tricks for treatment.