April showers bring May flowers… and puddles, and mud, and a whole lot of yuck around the barn! While spring is a welcome sight for every equestrian, it comes with its own set of challenges when caring for horses.
Damp conditions can wreak havoc on your horse’s hooves. After a long winter of ice and snow, with low air humidity, horses’ hooves can be dry and cracked. Add in the damp conditions of spring, and wear and tear from riding, and you have yourself a recipe for a hoof care disaster.
Fortunately, armed with the right products and a bit of knowledge, you can help your horse (and their hooves!) tackle these conditions. In this blog post, we cover some of the more common hoof ailments and offer suggestions on how you can help your horse or pony combat them with panache.
Characterized by an unmistakable odor and black discharge in and around the frog, thrush is often seen in the spring. This bacterial infection of the frog thrives in wet conditions, and every horse is susceptible.
Thankfully, thrush is fairly easy to treat. Our extensive selection of thrush treatments deal with the infection at the source and promote healthy frog growth. D-Thrush is a fast-acting thrush treatment that many of our customers have come to rely on during the wet seasons. Meanwhile, Healing Tree Huuf Magic Thrush Antiseptic is an all-natural alternative that utilizes tea tree oil to destroy the harmful bacteria. The No Thrush Dry Formula is a revolutionary new product that uses powder instead of a liquid to coat the hoof, this is ideal for horses who are still living in wet, non-ideal conditions.
The real trick to thrush is making sure that it doesn’t return. If you notice you are treating for thrush several times a season, talk to your veterinarian to determine whether they think this is an isolated incident or whether you need to change your horse’s environment or lifestyle. Persistent thrush can lead to more complicated issues, so it is best to deal with it as quickly as possible. Use Cavalor Dry Feet as part of your daily hoof picking routine as a thrush preventative.
White Line Disease
Also referred to as Seedy Toe, White Line Disease (WLD) is a bacterial infection of the white line. The white line is where the hoof wall meets the sole of the hoof. Acute cases of WLD are relatively simple to treat, but chronic cases lead to the separation of the hoof wall and extreme lameness. Living in moist conditions can predispose a horse to this disease, making it a well-known spring ailment. Consider using SBS Sav-A-Hoof Spray as a preventive treatment.
Because White Line Disease, characterized by a chalky white appearance on the white line, can be so detrimental to the overall health of your horse, it is best to speak with your farrier and veterinarian. They can help you to properly diagnose and treat WLD. In extreme cases it may be necessary to remove a portion of the hoof wall to fully eradicate the infection.
Mild cases of seedy toe can easily be treated with topical applications. B Gone White Line Treatment is an easy to use treatment that comes in a handy syringe so that you can target the proper area. Grand Circuit White Lightning is a liquid that can be applied over the whole hoof without damaging the healthy tissue.
If your horse walks into the barn limping so badly that you can only imagine that they broke their leg – great news! It’s most likely an abscess.
These are infections that brew deep within the hoof, often stemming from a stray piece of dirt or gravel that has travelled up the white line (there are other reasons abscesses may develop as well). Be sure to call your veterinarian immediately if you suspect an abscess, first to ensure that that is in fact the diagnosis, and then to determine a course of action.
Depending on the severity of the abscess, your vet may choose to drain it through the sole of the hoof or instruct you to soak the hoof with mineral salts, such as America’s Acres Dead Sea Salt Mineral Soak, and encourage the abscess to drain itself.
Soaking your horse’s hoof was previously a difficult job – after all, trying to convince a 1,000 pound animal to stand in a bucket is no easy task! However, we have the right equipment to help. Soaking boots, such as the Step N Soak 911, allow your horse to move around slightly on the cross ties while their hooves stay submerged. As always, bribery doesn’t hurt! Stock up on a few horse treats to help convince your horse to stand still.
The America’s Acres Hoof Hug Abscess Pack is another great option. This unique hoof pad and mineral salt pack helps to cushion your horse’s hoof while slowly drawing the abscess out. It even comes with it’s own easy to use tape, so you can stop fighting with duct tape! We love the abscess packs for more concentrated therapy between soaks, or even replacing hoof soaks.
After walking on soft snow all winter, it can be an abrupt change for your horse when he begins trotting over pebbles and even rocks in the pasture. A hoof bruise is literally nothing more than a black-and-blue on the bottom of your horse’s hoof, but it can be extremely sore and painful. As the blood hemorrhages between the tissues as the result of a blunt trauma, your horse will most likely become lame.
The best cure for a hoof bruise is time off in a soft environment, be sure watch out for stones in the footing of the pasture and your arena. To keep your horse more comfortable, and even hasten the healing, look for a pair of padded hoof boots like the EasyCare Easyboot Cloud or the Cavallo Simple Hoof Boot with Simple Boot Gel Insoles. Hoof boots can also prevent hoof bruises, so consider having your horse wear them when riding a barefoot horse over pavement or rough terrain.
When the mud comes, it is often no surprise when your horse comes in from the pasture missing a shoe. Not only is this an inconvenience that cuts into your riding time and results in an additional farrier visit, it is also detrimental to your horse’s hoof. Oftentimes losing a shoe also means that a chunk of hoof comes with it, and nobody wants that!
When it comes to losing shoes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Using Mustad Tuff-Stuff on the hoof wall makes it tougher and more resilient, making the hoof more capable of holding a shoe, no matter what the conditions may be.
For a more long-term solution, move your focus to hoof supplements. These supplements are specifically formulated to help your horse grow a stronger hoof that is less prone to crumbling, cracking and losing shoes.
Healthy hooves, a happy horse, an ecstatic equestrian. At The Cheshire Horse, we want this spring to be one of new beginnings, and not the beginning of hoof ailments. Our experienced sales staff is always available to answer your hoof care questions and concerns. Together, we can ensure that your horse is in tip-top condition, from head to hoof!