Thrush in Horses
A great many farm and ranch boys and girls of my generation grew up with the time-worn admonition that “Cleanliness is next to Godliness.” Usually, the words came from a determined mother who was shepherding her brood toward the bathtub. There was a good reason for mothers to be determined that their young charges cleanse hands and bodies after a busy day in the dirt, dust, and animal waste of a farm or ranch. Bacteria could cause any number of problems, and some of the powerful antibiotics we know and take for granted today were still on the horizon. Cleanliness was, and remains, a solid defense against bacterial infection.
Nowhere in the equine world is this more true than with the nasty and potentially dangerous affliction called thrush. If one were to compare thrush with a human condition, it would be more like athlete’s foot than anything else.
Athlete’s foot certainly isn’t life-threatening, although it can be extremely irritable. Thrush is not life-threatening either, but if left unchecked, it can cause some serious foot problems in the horse.
The location on the foot where thrush bacteria (many species, but most commonly Spherophorus necrophorus) normally attack is the frog. Specifically, the point of attack often is the sulcus or commissure — that groove along the frog between it and the bars. For some reason, thrush seems to show up in the rear feet more frequently than in the front. One reason could be that the horse carries more of its weight up front than in the rear. Thus, there would be more concussion in the front feet that might jar loose manure and dirt lodged next to the
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