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Discussion on Lameness with thrush

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Corinne Meadows
New Member
Username: Corinne

Post Number: 1
Registered: 9-2005
Posted on Monday, Sep 19, 2005 - 11:42 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

I have been a horse owner for 1 1/2 years. Thank you for providing such a service, because as nurse, I would rather get the correct information the first time and with only one vet (an hour away)in our area it's not always possible to speak to him.

Anyway, we were on vacation for three weeks and had not had any problems with our Seven year old bare foot Arabian who has never been shod and who normally has very hard feet (three white feet, one black foot) prior to our leaving.

While we were gone I had delegated hoof care to the barn owners where we pay board. My coach rode him down the gravel drive a few days prior to us arriving back in town and said he was a bit foot sore but she could not see a problem at the time.

When I got back I looked at his feet but I didn't see any of the symptoms that are described in your "thrush" article posted on this site so I too did not think there was a problem. He also has had no other injury and the vet sees him regularly.

During our training in the indoor arena he was riding normally. Then we took him to a show at a horse park last weekend and there were hundreds of dry leaves on the footing. I thought this might be spooky to him as we don't have much experience riding outside so when he dropped his head on the left lead at the canter, I just thought he was annoyed at being worked in a new environment. Then red flags went up when during our first class (flat) of the day however, while riding, when he was rompy and throwing a fit...something not typical of this horse. So I got off to check my tack and gave him a general look over. When I could not find any problem with the tack, and no injury that might have happened while stalled that night, I took him over to the workout arena and tried to lounge him and again he elicited the same response. He would drop his head on the left lead at the canter only. Looking at it now in the indoor, at the free lounge, this is while his right leg is going forward. Because this behavior is so uncharacteristic, and I could sense something was wrong, I withdrew from the classes. More experienced folks at the show thought he was acting this way because I was just a bit nervous and perhaps riding apprehensively, thus making him nervous (since this was the first time I was at a show without my coach). But I had a gut feeling something was wrong so we just came home.

In the week since then I have noticed his sole on his right front hoof is rather chalky, and his sulci (which are rather deep anyway 6 weeks into a trim) have the usual black discharge and odor and his frog is wet and white. There is also a pain response when I am picking out the sulci.

As for my care plan, I cleaned his hoofs thoroughly with hydrogen peroxide. Dried them, applied a topical OTC thrush treatment. He will be trimmed in a week or two (as the farrier can't get out before then). I am ensuring the owners of the barn clean the stall and keep it very dry, but the turnout in our weather is dry and wet off and on and they can't help that so I have left him in his stall with turnout in the indoor arena.

I have three questions.

First, is the head drop on the left lead when the right foot goes forward indicative of right leg issues? Can he be so sore from thrush on that hoof that he is a bit lame? That would make sense with the clinical picture, however I am not sure and no one seems to be able to answer that one.

Second, I am not crazy about using formaldehyde as I am looking to start a family soon and it is a carcinogen, and I really don't have access to it anyway. What other treatment, can I use? I know one of your responses said Peroxide helps with anerobes but doesn’t provide prevention.

Third, could anything in the footing that is unusual hurt a thrushy hoof even dried crunchy leaves?
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Rick Obadiah
Username: Onehorse

Post Number: 83
Registered: 9-2003
Posted on Monday, Sep 19, 2005 - 12:05 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post


I happened across your post and offer the following till you hear from Dr.O:

If your horse has a case of thrush, it can cause lameness. The head bob (as you describe) is NOT caused by the right front moving forward, but by the weight on the left front. If I've read your post accurately, the head bob occurs when your horse has his weight on the left front hoof ... meaning that's where the problem lies.

You also described that the terrain has been wet. That causes the hoof to soften and it is conceivable that your horse, in addition to a case of thrush, may also have a stone bruise.

Neither of these are serious issues that can't be alleviated.

RE: Thrush

Continue to keep the hoof clean and dry. Your OTC remedy should suffice.

The fact that his hoof is chalky indicates that it's very moist which contributes to a softness of the sole and possible stone bruising. This should go away as the hoof dries and grows out.

The best thing is to get your ferrier out as quickly as possible to access the situation. In the meantime, you seem to be doing what is necessary.
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Corinne Meadows
New Member
Username: Corinne

Post Number: 2
Registered: 9-2005
Posted on Monday, Sep 19, 2005 - 6:39 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Thanks! Just in from the barn. The 24 hrs inside a dry stall and arena seem to have helped, in addition to the OTC care of hydrogen peroxide and thrush remedy. He doesn't seem to be as sensitive to cleaning out the sulci and the frog while still white in appearance on the right side seems firmer. The left front hoof (which I neglected to mention has a bit of thrush as well) seems to be responding too. The bobbing seems to be gone, but it's nice to know what it was possibly indicative of...trying to get the weight off that left front. That will be good info to know for future reference.

He is now free lunging fine at all gates now and does not feel footsore under saddle.

Going to take it easy and leave the dressage and jumping alone for a week until the farrier can get out and pear away any exposed sensitive tissue. He has been called, but like waldo we don't know where in the earth he is. Hopefully he will be out by weeks end.

In the mean time I will continue with the OTC treatment and hopefully when the good doc writes back he can let me know what to do prophylactically (besides Formaldehyde) in addition to keeping a dry environment to prevent future occurrence.

Very respectively,
Corinne C Meadows
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Ramona Haskin
Username: Ramonah

Post Number: 16
Registered: 1-2005
Posted on Tuesday, Sep 20, 2005 - 5:32 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

I know I am not Dr. O, but the only OTC thrush treatment I found to work was Thrush Buster. It is in a really small container, and is quite pricey. It is more than worth it. Follow Dr. O's articles exactly, then apply the Thrush Buster. It does contain formaldehyde, but it is not straight. I am a mother of 5, and I understand your concerns. I think pumping gas is more harmful though. I wore disposable gloves. When you apply the Thrush Buster, just drip it in the crevices. Make sure you do not use it on any live tissue, like in the bulbs of the heal. Luckily this stuff has genetin violet in it also, so you can see exactly where it is going. Good luck.
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Robert N. Oglesby DVM
Username: Dro

Post Number: 13738
Registered: 1-1997
Posted on Tuesday, Sep 20, 2005 - 8:16 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Welcome Corrine,
Thanks for the kudos.

Let's see, first I am uncertain we have a head bob that would indicate lameness. Corrine you say he drops his head but does he keep it dropped or does he bob his head up and down with each step?

Concerning question 2: Rick is correct just keeping the foot and the environment clean and dry will usually effect a cure. I would use betadine or the over the counter copper sulfate preparations as a safe replacement for the formaldehyde.

Thrush itself is not painful. However in time an unchecked thrush infection can digest away the horn and expose sensitive tissue resulting in lameness. Is the sulcus raw and bleeding? If you cannot see the bottom because the crevise is so narrow a piece of cotton run through might show some blood.
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Corinne Meadows
New Member
Username: Corinne

Post Number: 5
Registered: 9-2005
Posted on Tuesday, Sep 20, 2005 - 10:04 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Thanks for your response. In relation to the head bob, when it was happening, it was a complete head drop when the right forehand struck forward and the lift came when the left struck forward. It was very pronounced and uncharacteristic since he usually carries his head high.
Sometimes he will drop his head once or twice on the lunge to protest, and if I am in a lunge lesson and on him I use a bit more leg. That is why at the show I thought he was just being a little "excited". If I am on the ground and he protests, sometimes a firm command is all he needs and he gets back to work.
What worried me was this severe head drop and lift was not only on the left lead on the line, which he seemed clearly uncomfortable working on, but while free lunging and was still consistent while at the canter on the left lead. So there was no line to annoy him.
The sulcus was not bleeding that I could tell, but I did not do the cotton swab thing and will today. The frog seemed to have rotted on the right front, and the smell was awful but they too seem to be getting better as well. You are right, if it was mild lameness, it might have been musculoskeletal r/t our training. I was just curious because the two events seemed to happening at the same time. Thus the question to the vet.
While I am in town I never let his feet go out of check as I am at the barn almost every day and he is always groomed and his hoofs are picked out before and after the training session. I think it was a prolonged vacation in the muddy paddock and damp stall, when I was not there, that a small problem might have turned into a big one because my coach, who rode him once, said he was footsore a week before we got back. I just did not notice it on soft arena footing and his thrush was not real evident.
But the good news is, since I have been treating his feet for a few days however, the head bob has resolved. I guess we will never know whether or not it was not related to his feet or if he was a bit sore else where, but he has had sufficient rest.

I am in grad school full time and the semester just started so I can only get to the barn three or four days a week. Will it be a problem if his feet are not picked out for a day or two when I am not there? The winter will be snowy. Or should I have the barn management do it each day? (which I am sure they will do for a cost)

Very respectively,
Corinne Meadows
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Corinne Meadows
Username: Corinne

Post Number: 12
Registered: 9-2005
Posted on Tuesday, Sep 27, 2005 - 10:08 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

I would just like to say the farrier was out on Sat (although they could not get in touch me with me so I was not there). He said all signs of thrush have been eliminated.
Also his lameness whether r/t the thrush or r/t musculoskeletal issues because of our training, or even a bruise on his sole as my instructor said could have also been the problem with him being footsore is resolved.
Thanks Dr O and everyone for their advice and support.

Corinne and Demetrius
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