Firstly, I’m no hoof expert, just an interested, if slightly obsessed horse owner. If you’re anything like me, you’ll know that thrush in horses is commonly identifiable as a black, tar-like, revoltingly smelly frog. This is of course true, and something I learned over the years whilst growing up with my own pony. You may know that our four natives are all unshod, it came naturally to 3 of them who were never shod and we never questioned it. Saf has been a little more of a challenge. Learning about barefoot horses is fascinating and I feel like I’ve learned so much about hooves and how they work already. Something I wasn’t aware of in any detail was thrush. Looking at the underside of Saf’s front hooves here as far as I was concerned the was little or no thrush, certainly can’t see any black goo and they smell fine.
However Lucy Priory (Barefoot Trimmer Extraordinaire) saw the photos and commented that there was extensive thrush. Alarmed, I got a tub of Red Horse Field Paste and some soap and water and commenced daily scrubbing and application of said paste.
Around this time I started googling photos of thrush, to see what I was up against. I came across a few photos of a thrush-free frogs, and was astonished. I genuinely don’t remember ever seeing Saf’s frogs looking like that. They have always look liked the above photos and I considered this normal. And there’s the problem. Some lovely people from a facebook group I’m a member of kindly posted some photos of thrush free frogs for me to share with you here. So here they are…
Shall we play spot the difference? Saf’s frogs are noticeably narrower at the heel than these. The thrush is eating away at the frog, and causing discomfort, so she’s less inclined to use the back, shock absorbing, part of her foot. I understand they need stimulation to grow so it’s a vicious circle. The central sulcus (the dent in the middle, back of the frog) is deep and closed. There are many worse ones out there, but compare it to the open, flat ones in the thrush-free photos. All those tatty, ragged parts are a haven for thrush so I’m making sure I’m working the paste right in there.
It’s early days yet, but I hope to do an update when I’ve got it under control, and we’ll see what frogs Saf can grow, given the chance!