So we were talking about thrush!
Every horse person I talk to has their go-to, swear-by thrush treatment. There are specialized products, industrial and household chemicals, natural oils, snake oils, and magic beans. There are pastes, rubs, soaks, powders, and the only thing they all have in common is that each one is supposedly THE answer to thrush problems in your horse’s feet.
Well. People tell me thrush is a bacteria, a yeast, or a fungus, or some combination of the above. Last I checked, there were still debates over this. Whatever. I’m not a specifics person. I figured, if it’s one or more of the above, let’s treat for all of it.
I’m also not a chemicals person. I don’t like the idea of taking away, destroying “bad” things, without replenishing or supporting the good. Lysol sprays, harsh antibiotics and antifungals and commercial thrush treatments may do the trick, but destroying the bad only leaves a depleted wasteland waiting to be repopulated by whatever gets there first. That said, some natural treatments still pack a hefty punch.
I’ve experimented with all kinds of treatments, and have realized one thing for sure: I’m kind of lazy. I don’t want to stand there for half an hour per foot, trying to convince a bored horse to stand in some expensive mixture because it’s “good for him” while he dances around sloshing said expensive mixture all over the ground. I also don’t want to treat every day, and can’t when I’m not with my horses all the time.
Last week, I realized I’d been lazy again, and since the warm wet west coast spring is upon us, the frogs I’d obsessively rid of thrush in the winter were starting to close up at the cleft again.
I went to the kitchen. I got a ziplock bag and I made this in under a minute:
1 Tbs manuka honey
1 squirt 97% oil of oregano
2 Tbs olive oil
some warm water to get everything melty
Then I put as many cotton balls as I could get saturated into the mixture, and stuffed said cotton balls into said buttcrack frog clefts. Then I went home for the weekend and forgot about thrush.
On Monday, the horses I’d treated were thrush-free again. Points for laziness.
But, I think I might be on to something.
– Oregano oil is a furiously powerful antibiotic, antifungal, and antiparasitic. It’s so strong, that undiluted it can cause tissue damage. That’s why I added the olive oil. But,
– olive oil is also moisturizing, and together the oils soak into the tissue faster and stay there better than a water-based treatment.
– Raw, organic manuka honey is also anti-all-of-the-above but is very gentle and contains active healing properties. I use it on cuts and infections all the time.
– The warm water really just provided a medium to mix everything together and dilute it enough to soak the
– cotton balls, which could be swapped for oakum or anything else fibrous and absorbent, but which hold the treatment in place without being invasive or awkward.
Maybe you don’t have these things in your kitchen, but what I’m saying is that with a little thought and some experimenting, you can probably concoct your own thrush treatment using what you have and what you know.
This is also specifically treating thrush in the central sulkus, what I’m calling the buttcrack. Basically, you can apply treatment this way until the cleft opens up wide enough that you can’t keep a cotton ball in there anymore. Then you just keep an eye on it, and maybe swab something on now and then.
I’m not addressing more serious or widespread thrush here, simply because I haven’t encountered it in my own herd yet. I would imagine that in serious cases, you’d have to get less lazy than me and do some soaking in order to get ahead of the infection.
That’s all I’ve got for now! Remember, while treating topically for thrush is essential, it is almost less important than biologically-appropriate nutrition and proper, balanced trimming.
What’s your favourite thrush treatment? Leave a comment below!