Deep Sulcus Thrush or No Hoof, No Horse

My first colt was a real challenge. I asked every horse trainer I knew for advice on how to handle him. So he was a great learning experience. Someone told me if I could handle him I could handle any horse. Even in his old age he is a challenge. And his feet have also posed a problem.

When he was young we used to pony him on trail rides with his mother. One horsewoman noticed he was knuckling over at the fetlock joint. I supposed it was due to poor breeding as I bred his mother to an ex race horse with a bowed tendon. Now I know bowed tendon is not inherited but weakness in the legs is. So he tends to knuckle over when he is sore.

When he was three and ready for riding training, I had to leave for three days to visit my aunt in San Francisco who was threatening suicide. I paid someone to feed my two horses while I was gone. When I returned his leg was swollen and he was very lame. I just had to guess what happened.

He foundered terribly and his hooves grew out with great ripples. Many years of careful trimming - one hour per hoof - got his feet looking well from the outside. But he always looked sore footed to me. Shoeing or rubber boots seemed to help.

Now he is an old man in his twenties. Last year he started to get even more lame. I saw an ad for No Thrush with a picture of cracks between the bulbs of the hoof. The ad claimed that No Thrush could cure the condition. I tried the product, which I think is a good product, but not for this area. This area is extremely dry in the summer and extremely wet in the winter. The dry No Thrush just did no good for the problem last summer. But the ad did get me thinking that the cracks are not normal.

It seems that the cracks form when the hoof contracts in dry environment. Then the wet weather gets muck in the cracks which irritates the skin and traps microbes - thrush or yeast. Thrush medication is probably okay on the bottom of the hoof where there is no living tissue. But I distrust it. So I started drenching the cracks with Betadine. I got him standing on his better foot okay. But I am still working on his worst foot.

I did some research on the web and found a name for the condition - deep sulcus thrush. Some of the remedies recommended that sounded good to me were soaking the foot in warm epsom salt water, drying the hoof, then packing the cracks with Corona or a product called Today or Tomorrow which is used for cow mastitis. Keeping the hoof clean is a challenge. Even in a clean area he has to step in his manure.

So the moral of the story is: Cracks between the bulbs of the hoof are due to dry environment which causes contracted hooves. The cracks are potentially dangerous as dirt in the cracks can cause irritation or thrush. Clean and medicate the cracks.

Articles Home