Q. Last year I deep-littered my stable to save time but my friend says I should be careful in case my horse gets thrush. What exactly is this?
A. Thrush is a very smelly horrible problem - basically it's an infection of the horse's foot and is often caused if the horse's feet are not picked out regularly and the horse is standing around for long periods in a dirty stable. Dirt, droppings and wet, mucky bedding can become trapped in the crevices alongside the frog. It's vital that this is cleaned out at least once daily, preferably two or three times, to keep that area clean and dry. If care is not taken, then thrush can develop.
Then bacteria in the area eat into the frog tissue and the resulting stinky liquid is disgusting. The frog can start to fall apart and if nothing is done, more serious problems can be caused to the soft sensitive tissues in the foot.
This is an easy problem to prevent but if your horse does have thrush then your vet or farrier can remove the affected parts of the frog. Then an antibiotic spray or iodine solution will be applied. If the problem has gone into deeper tissues your vet may need to operate and it may take a long while before the infection is totally resolved.
It really is worth taking care of your horse's feet - remember the old saying of 'no foot, no horse'. Deep littering a bed, done properly, should be okay, but if you are at all concerned, maybe you should consider changing your regime.
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