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The Dreaded Thrush

The Dreaded Thrush

Hoof ThrushThe farrier came out this morning, and it’s official: Valentine has thrush. I’m actually relieved, partly because I know for sure now, and partly because the farrier didn’t seem all that concerned. Whew!

If you remember from my earlier post, Valentine had foot issues. He’d been sort of limping, he had stinky feet, and over the last few days, he wouldn’t let me clean his feet. I decided it was time to call in a professional. So Gabe came out and took a look. His diagnosis was that Valentine’s right front hoof has thrush, and that’s why he wouldn’t let me touch his other feet – it hurts him to to put weight on the right when I lift up the left. Gabe suggested we use Kopertox, but approved what we’ve already been using (Hooflex Thrush Remedy). I told him the pasture was pretty muddy, and asked if we should keep Valentine stabled while he’s being treated. He thought that was a good idea. He also suggested that, once the mud has dried, we trot Valentine up and down the road in front of our house to knock the mud loose, since Val won’t let me lift up the feet for cleaning.

So the plan for the next week or so: keep Valentine in the stall to keep the feet dry; treat with thrush medicine at least twice daily; graze him on our lawn (which is desperately in need of mowing anyway); and amuse the neighbors by “walking” my horse up and down the road.

Gabe also told us that thrush is very common here, because it’s such a wet place – it’s a fungal infection, and as you probably know, fungus loves wet. I also may have mentioned that it’s very muddy here. The mud is actually clay (I’m sure I could get a potter’s wheel and a kiln and have a nice pottery business on the side), which means that once it’s up in that concave hoof, it’s there to stay. Along with anything that gets mixed in with it – hay, rocks, the omnipresent poo. So once this thrush is cleared up, we will dose Valentine’s hooves with thrush medicine once a week to prevent a recurrence.
Have I mentioned that I really hate mud?

Stinky Feet

Stinky Feet

A very important grooming item is hoof care. I have to admit that I have been very lax in this area. It’s supposed to be easy to do, but I tell you, I did it today and I’m beat.

Here’s the deal: You have to convince your 1,000+ lb. (in my case, about 1,200 lbs.) animal to lift his foot for you and then you hold it and pick out the bottom of the hoof. It’s a very strange-looking piece of anatomy. It should be concave, and in the middle is an anatomical structure called a frog. Here’s a pretty good photo of a healthy (and shoeless) hoof:

clean shoeless hoof

All around the frog is the stuff your horse has picked up and packed in there that needs to be picked out, without damaging the frog. Valentine’s hooves, I’m ashamed to say, were quite packed with all kinds of stuff: mud (mostly), manure, straw and even a couple of rocks. There is a pretty good chance, based on the odor emanating from the junk I picked out, that he has thrush. That’s a nasty little fungus that grows in a hoof that isn’t kept clean. Here’s what his hoof looked like while I was cleaning it:

Hoof Cleaning

I’m also sorry to say that Valentine seems to be limping on his right rear leg now. He’s appeared to have a limp on that leg since we got him – that was the hoof that cast a shoe before we got him – but it’s more pronounced now. I think we’ll be calling the farrier out. Updates later.