As cold, wet weather sets in, combined with busy schedules, it becomes more difficult to squeeze in basic hoof care. While some horse's bodies may slow down hoof growth in colder months, hoof care is still required to maintain a healthy hoof. Regular hoof trimming and daily picking out of the feet is a good start.
Importance of winter hoofcare for horses: While some horse's bodies may slow down hoof growth in colder months, hoof care is still required to maintain a healthy hoof and prevent thrush and seedy toe.
Soggy terrain in many areas because of winter snow and rain can lead to hoof problems that can develop rapidly and seriously impact the health of horses. Thrush and seedy toe are common troubles during wet months. Left untreated, these conditions can become painful and debilitating for your horse.
Thrush is an infection of the frog in the foot of the horse and is usually caused by the anaerobic organism Fusobacterium necrophorum. A hoof that is infected with thrush will exhibit soreness and contain black, pus-like liquid. Some bleeding may occur, and a strong, foul odor is emitted by the infected area.
Proper care of the horse's hooves is the best prevention of thrush. Horses that are kept in stalls with clean, dry shavings and have their feet thoroughly picked on a regular basis very seldom develop thrush.
Treatment of thrush is best done by a farrier or veterinarian, although a daily scrubbing routine to accelerate the healing process using a scrub or wire brush to get the frog and all the cracks immaculate will help combat the infection. Flushing the frog with running water, drying it with toweling and proceeding to soak with Lysol, Oxine, Clean Trax or White Lightning will often help.
After treatments, dry the frog off and apply Zinc Oxide ointment or Desitin over the frog and work it into all the cracks and crevices.
In cases of seedy toe, also known as white line disease, bacteria, yeast, or fungus invades the hoof wall, the infection begins at ground level and works its way up the white line to the coronary band.
Again, a change in the horse's environment is necessary. The feet should be kept as dry as possible, with clean, dry bedding and without turnouts in rainy or wet weather.
A well-balanced diet with the addition of biotin and methionine can be helpful. The shoeing schedule should be maintained at four week intervals until all signs of the disease have been eliminated and the hoof wall grows out.