Thrush, Seedy Toe & Hoof Cracks
Thrush is a degenerative condition of the frog which results in the accumulation of black, foul smelling, moist material in the frog clefts. In the early stages, the horse is sound. If the condition is allowed to progress and extends into sensitive tissues the horse may become lame. The condition usually develops due to poor hygiene, failure to clean the feet regularly and leaving the horse standing in dirty, moist conditions. A horse with deep clefts is particularly susceptible. Horses with long toes and contracted heels will tend to develop frog clefts.
The treatment of thrush in horses is to eliminate the cause, to clean the foot thoroughly and to control any infection. The frog and frog clefts must be aggressively trimmed to remove all loose dead tissue. The foot should be thoroughly scrubbed with a dilute iodine solution. An antibiotic spray should be applied to the affected tissues. This will help to dry and harden them. The feet must be cleaned and treated daily until the thrush is resolved. The horse should stand on a clean, dry bed.
Seedy Toe or Separation of The Wall:
Separation may occur at the white line. The separation is usually greatest at the sole and becomes progressively less higher up the wall. If the separation occurs at the toe, it’s called seedy toe. The zone of separation is filled with dry, dead, cheesy like material. It is often seen in horses who’s toes have been allowed to grow too long. it does not cause lameness unless infection occurs or there is severe instability of the attachment of the wall to the foot resulting in inflammation of the sensitive laminae.
The cause of seedy toe is not properly understood. Provided that the horse is not lame, then the condition can be managed by the farrier by careful trimming of the foot. Gradually the defect should simply grow out. The toes should be kept short because the tip of the toe tends to act as a lever and may increase separation between the laminae.
Hoof Wall Cracks (Sandcracks)
Vertical cracks in the hoof wall either develop from the lower, baring surface of the wall and extend upwards (grasscrack) or develop at the coronary band and extend downwards (sandcrack). Sandcracks develop as a result of injury to the coronary band so that the secretory function of the horn producing cells is impaired either temporarily or permanently. The length of the sandcrack reflects the severity of the injury. If the cells permanently lose function, there will be a permanent crack down the length of the wall. If the cells recover function, then the crack will grow out slowly, at a rate of approx. 1 cm per month. Cracks developing at the baring surface of the wall are usually the result of the foot being overgrown and splintering. Some feet seem particularly prone.
Cracks which are superficial usually require no treatment other then regular, careful trimming of the foot. Applying a shoe can help stabilize the crack. If a deep crack becomes infected, then the infection must be controlled before and attempt can be made to stabilize the crack. Cooperation between vet and farrier is essential.