You put your horse in the cross ties and lift their foot to pick their hoof. That's when you see it. That's when you smell it. Black, foul-smelling ooze on your horse's hoof. Thrush may be a common infection, but it is not something to toy with. Thrush will destroy the hoof if left alone and cause lameness. So what can you do if your horse gets thrush? What can you do if you want to prevent thrush? Choosing the right thrush treatment is your only offense and your only defense. Let's dive deep into what thrush is, how to get rid of it, and how to keep it at bay.

What is Thrush in Horses?

Thrush is a bacterial infection of a portion of your horse's hoof called the frog. Thrush will attack the grooves on either side of the frog, called the collateral sulci, and the central sulcus, otherwise known as the middle of the frog. While fungus can also cause thrush, the most common bacteria creating thrush is called Fusobacterium Necrophorum. This bacteria is also a common cause of infection in gastrointestinal tracts. The bacteria and fungi that cause thrush are not contagious but will continue to spread and disintegrate the frog if not treated.

What causes thrust in horses?

Thrush is commonly thought to be caused by wet and dirty environments, but there is more to the infection than meets the eye. Horse hooves are ergonomically designed to keep out disease, however, certain factors can cause the hoof to be unable to self-clean. Some of the causes of thrush include:

  • An abnormal hoof shape, such as deep and narrow grooves.
  • Chronic lameness and poor circulation of the foot.
  • Poor maintenance of hoofs and improper trimming.
  • Horses that don't get enough exercise, stay in the stall too much, or have a poor diet can get thrush.

How to identify thrush in horses

Thrush is generally diagnosed based on sight and smell. It has a strong, strong, foul odor and a black, oily ooze. Other signs include pain or sensitive sensitivity to the hoof or leg. Your vet may also use a hoof tester to check for pain along different parts of the hoof.

How to prevent your horse from getting thrush

Prevention starts with good, regular, professional hoof care to ensure your horse’s hooves are well-supported and trimmed smoothly. The farrier’s work will ensure your horse maintains proper low distribution, promoting circulation. Make sure your horse sees a reputable farrier at regular intervals. Daily, you should pick out your horse's feet to remove dirt, rocks, manure, and any other debris, and make sure to use the brush to clean out the sulci of the hoof.

Exercise is crucial, and should be daily, to promote blood flow in the hoof and overall health. And, of course, keeping your horse in a clean and dry environment with stall cleaning regularly done to remove urine, moisture, and manure is essential.

How to Treat Thrush in Horses

Luckily, because thrush is so common, there are many ways to treat thrush in horses. It’s so important we’ll say it twice: provide dry, clean flooring for your horse, and be diligent in keeping their stall as clean as possible. Also, follow a strict regimen of hoof cleaning every day. This is good whether or not your horse has thrush or not! In addition, you can use the following treatments for thrush:

  1. Topical treatments (commercial thrush remedies): Many different types of commercial thrush remedies are on the market today. Everything from Kopertox to Thrush Buster products not only kills the organisms that cause thrush, but many create water-resistant protection so that you do not have to bandage the hoof. The cons are that some of these remedies can be pricey and have to be something you may not be able to grab quickly. They can also take some time to come off your body if you accidentally get them on your clothes or hands!

  2. Home remedies and DIY treatments: Treatment doesn't necessarily mean running to the store: iodine, vinegar, or hydrogen peroxide can treat thrush. These remedies, often found in any medicine cabinet or kept for cleaning, work best with mild cases, so if your horse has a severe case, home remedies and DIY treatments are probably not your best bet. These remedies can also sting, especially if the infection has broken down the tissue, making it difficult for you to treat your horse. One note of caution: some DIYers suggest using a 50/50 mix of bleach and water. Never use anything caustic on your horse's hoof, as these methods can harm your foot and do more harm than good. Always talk to your vet before applying a homemade solution.

  3. Veterinary-prescribed treatment: Horses with advanced cases of thrush may be administered oral or injectable antibiotics to kill the bacteria or prescribed an antifungal. Your vet may also want to work with your farrier to perform more extensive cleaning to remove dead and infected tissue. In some severe cases, a vet will add a hospital plate to the hoof and give your horse a tetanus shot. These treatments are best for horses who have significant thrush infection. They can also be costly, and antibiotics have side effects, such as stomach upset and potential allergies.

The Best Thrush Treatment and Preventative Products for Horses

Good preventative treatments and products in your stable are essential to keeping thrush at bay. Keep these items in your tack box or your tack room to keep your horse's feet clean and thrush-free.

    Mustad Thrust Buster

  1. Mustad Thrush Buster
  2. Mustad Thrush Buster lasts up to eight days without reapplication...even in the wettest, muddiest terrain. A single application relieves the agonizing, crippling effects of thrush and dramatically reduces the chances of reinfection. This treatment forms a clean barrier and deters the penetration of dirt and manure into the healthy frog. Its unique color tells you where it's doing the job, with a fresh coat needed only where the color has faded. Mustad Thrush Buster can be used before applying sole pads and silicon to toughen thin-soled feet.


  3. Kopertox
  4. Recommended as an aid in treating horses and ponies with thrush, Kopertox is water-resistant protection for treating thrush. It’s also effective for treating thrush, hoof rot, and ringworm. This thrush treatment contains the active ingredient Copper Naphthenate (37.5%), which kills thrush infection.

    Farriers Fix Hoof Oil

  5. Farrier's Fix Hoof Oil
  6. Farriers' Fix Hoof Oil has all-natural ingredients. and will test negative under FEI guidelines. The unique all-natural formula is developed for health and healing and helps balance moisture contact. Proven to fight bacteria that cause thrush and white line disease, it also effectively treats sore feet, dry, cracked hooves, quarter cracks, and bruising.

    Woof Wear Medical Hoof Boot

  7. Woof Wear Medical Hoof Boot
  8. This close-fitting medical hoof boot can be used in the stall or for turnout to keep wounds clean and hoof dressings intact, perfect when treating thrush. The medical boot has a durable Kevlar interior, a rugged grooved sole to optimize traction, and an asymmetrical zipper to enhance a snug fit. This boot is designed to fit tight, so measuring the width carefully is imperative to order the correct size to maximize the benefits of the boot. Using these hoof boots with bell boots or overreach boots is recommended to prevent damage if horses should step on the boots.

    Dura-Tech Protective Rubber Horse Boot

  9. Dura-Tech Protective Rubber Horse Boot
  10. These protective rubber horse boots are ideal for hoof protection between trims or when a horse loses a shoe, needs some extra support when barefoot, and prevent bacterial and fungal growth from occurring. The 1" wide adjustable web strap holds the boots secure, and the rubber traction on the bottom has a non-slip finish. These boots are not intended for riding.

A thrush infection may sound daunting, but if caught early, it can be remedied quickly. Mild cases can show improvement within a week of cleaning and treatment. More severe cases however can take several months for the frog and hoof tissue to grow healthy. But once treated, keeping your horse's hooves cleaned daily, their stall dry and free from wet spots, and daily exercise can keep thrush at bay and keep your horse happy and healthy.