Treating Hoof Thrush

This spring as you go about your routine of picking out your horse’s hooves, you may discover an unusual thick black discharge and foul smell around the frog. These are the early signs of the hoof disease thrush. Thrush is an infection of the frog and of the surrounding tissue of the hoof. The bacteria associated with thrush infect the collateral and central sulci (creases) of the frog. The bacteria thrive on lack of oxygen, breaking down the tissue of the hoof. This breakdown results in the foul odor and black discharge. If thrush is left untreated it can turn into a very painful problem in the heel area of your horse.A wet environment that is made up of urine and acidity from manure is a breeding ground for the anaerobic bacterium that are attracted to any dead tissue that is on your horse’s frog. Also, people who have horses in a climate similar to the Pacific North West should keep a close lookout for this disease due to the constant dampness. The good news is that thrush is anaerobic, which means that this bacteria cannot live in the presence of air. The best way to avoid it in the first place is to keep your horse’s feet dry and clean so air can reach the tissue of the frog. A daily hoof picking does wonders. If not caught in the early stages the bacteria will form deep seated pockets and literally drill into the frog eating away the remaining healthy tissue.

If you do happen to notice a pungent odor and a black discharge from your horse’s frog, some treatment will be necessary. Mild cases of thrush can be treated by removing dead tissue by trimming, scrapping, and vigorous scrubbing (debriding), of the frog and hoof wall. Moderate cases will need to be scrubbed with an antiseptic and treated daily with a topical spray after trimming and debridement. Severe cases of thrush will need repeated intense debridement followed by sterile bandaging and a quality topical thrush treatment. Your veterinarian may also recommend a tetanus shot.

With a careful eye, good hygiene, and quick treatment if needed, you will be able to prevent thrush from delaying you and your equine partner’s long past due spring ride.

If you have had any experience with thrush please post your comments here and share your knowledge with your fellow horse owners.

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Premarin Draft Horse - HOOF-it Plastic Horseshoes

Dear HOOF-it Technologies

Just wanted to drop you a note to let you know how pleased I am with the HOOF-it Natural Flex Horseshoes that we’ve been using on our draft-cross Premarin rescue horses for the last three years. The sizes have worked well for their larger size hooves. We do a lot of trail riding in the Sierras for pleasure and we are also members of the El Dorado County Search and Rescue mounted team, so we cover alot of rocky trails and slippery granite. We love the fact that our horses have traction on granite and pavement while other horses are practically “ice-skating” on slick surfaces wearing metal shoes.

Last year we started taking our Percheron youngster out on the trails, this year at four years of age we had him on the trails preparing him for his search and rescue qualification. Considering that he weighs about 2000 pounds and we’d be on rough terrain, we were curious to see how the HOOF-it shoes would hold up. The shoes are so durable that he actually wore the same pair through two shoeing. I ‘d also like to add that his hooves have never been more healthy. Those of us who have adopted Premarin horses, most of them full-draft or draft-cross appreciate that HOOF-it makes the larger size shoes.

Many Thanks and Happy Trails,
Lisa and Brian Warner

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Equine Nutrition

Equine Nutrition

One bit of advice you might hear around the barn is if a horse isn’t in full work, its a good idea to cut back on feed. When you’re making this big decision there are several factors to consider:

Current Weight

If your horse is on the heavy side, then cutting back is a good idea. An overweight horse can develop expensive health problems that won’t occur if ideal weight is maintained during a lower activity timeframe. Some of those expensive health problems include laminitis, fat deposits in the liver (hepatic lipidosis), joint problems, equine diabetes, and Cushing’s syndrome.

“As is the case for other species, obesity appears to promote insulin resistance in horses and it is through this pathophysiological process that many of the adverse medical consequences of obesity are being characterized. Significant current interest is centered on the recognition that insulin resistance plays a role in the pathogenesis of laminitis, a potentially severe and debilitating cause of lameness in the equine species.”
“Other equine medical conditions that are more likely in obese, insulin-resistant individuals include hyperlipemia (hepatic lipidosis) and developmental orthopedic disease (osteochondrosis). Pituitary pars intermedia dysfunction (equine Cushing’s syndrome) represents another common endocrinopathic condition of older horses associated with insulin resistance.”
[Johnson, Wiedmeyer, Messer, & Ganjam. Medical implications of Obesity in Horses – Lessons for Human Obesity. Jan 2009.]

If your horse’s weight is ideal or a bit light, you’ll want to utilize a maintenance feeding program that follows proven guidelines based on your horses’ ideal weight. The following chart will help you determine the approximate amount of feed per day for your horse:


How to figure out your horses’ weight:



Another factor in feed adjustment decisions, is the quality of your horses’ hoof and coat condition. Healthy hooves and coat condition are a good sign of balanced nutrition. If your horse falls short in this regard, it’s a good idea to involve your vet in the feed cutting or increasing decision before you run into hoof deterioration problems after the fact.
“Nutrition also plays a key role in hoof health and maintaining proper growth rate. By keeping an animal well fed with the proper nutrients such as zinc and biotin, it is much more likely that they will produce good-quality hoof horn and have stronger feet.”
[Hoof Anatomy, Care and Management in Livestock. K. Hepworth, M. Neary, S. Kenyon. Purdue University]

Here’s a handy feed reference chart with nutritional estimates for equine feed:


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Carriage Horse Operator Question:

Q: “I own a carriage company and the town we service just told us we may no longer use steel horseshoes because they are damaging the roads.   How does your Natural Flex Plastic Horseshoe do on roads?”  – A Desperate Carriage Operator

A: Our HOOF-it Natural Flex Plastic Horseshoes have proven them selves over and over again.  We have many carriage operations successfully using our shoes for heavy working road horses.  They not only have better traction than steel shoes, they also offer concussion dampening from standing and walking on pavement.  We are proud to offer our alternative horseshoes in a wide array of sizes.  US size 00 all the way through a draft horse size 10.

HOOF-it has been offering alternative horseshoes for well over 15 years.  Our shoes have been used on endurance horses, cow horses, dressage horses, jumping horses, mounted police horses, carriage horses, roping horses, parade horses, vaulting horses, trail horses and many more.

  • Lighter Weight
  • Reduced Concussion
  • Frog support
  • Durability
  • Increased traction on all terrain which prevents injuries to your horse both under saddle and during turn-out.

Draft horses and all horses ridden on pavement perform far better when shod with composite shoes. Composite horseshoeing provides therapeutic benefits for chronic conditions such as ring bone, laminitis and navicular disease. Traditional nail placement is easy due to the transparency of the shoes.

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Manual Equine Therapy

Lamesness Rehabilitation - Symmetry

Lameness rehabilitation is a full-body, symmetry balancing and re-conditioning process. For example, if your horse is experiencing a lameness issue in or near the hoof, you will also notice muscle changes in the haunches, back, shoulder and neck area. Atrophy and weakness on one side and stiffness on the other can occur from lower limb pain compensation and stall confinement. Therefore, effective rehabilitation requires our awareness of how a lameness can affect everything from hoof balance to saddle fit.

It’s common for a lame horse to manifest pain and inflammation in other areas of the body in addition to the source area of the lameness. Tuning our radar to notice symmetry imbalances while we are grooming and working with our horse, empowers us to become more proactive in early detection and in adjusting the horses’ training or rehab schedule to facilitate healing.

Narelle Stubbs’ video slide presentation through the Michigan State MHU programoffers relevant information and demonstration photos on this ‘full body’ approach for lameness rehab.

One of the important issues that is addressed approximately 40 minutes into Narelle’s presentation, is to be diligent in monitoring and gradually progressing workout time to insure the horse is worked evenly in both directions and is not overworked. She reiterates the importance of symmetry awareness and demonstrates ‘carrot’ stretch techniques to reduce stiffness and weakness asymmetry in the horses’ core.
Have you worked with a Farrier, Vet, Trainer or Equine Physio Therapist, who is outstanding in lameness rehabilitation? If so please enter their name, profession, and location in the following form:

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Case Study - Humphrey's weak hoof wall issues.

Case Study - Humphrey's weak hoof wall issues.

Humphrey is a rescued 18 yo dark bay TB gelding. He was seriously underweight when his new owner found him and brought him home. He was put on a carefully monitored nutrition plan to improve his weight and physical condition and was successfully re-shod with nailed-on HOOF-it Natural Flex plastic horseshoes for additional heel and hoof support. Humphrey was thin but going sound under saddle at all three gaits.

April, 17, 2013
During the second shoeing attempt, Humphrey had grown out enough hoof to fully manifest thin weak hoof walls from previous lack of care and nutritional deficiencies. He went totally lame from a farrier’s and horse owner’s worst nightmare – hot nails (hitting him in the quick).

May – July, 2013
Humphrey’s lameness and poor hoof condition required stall rest and hand walking with limited turnout. His feet were trimmed periodically to re-balance his long toes. Natural Flex plastic horse shoes were applied with Hoof Glue after it was determined he had no abscess problems. His overall condition continued to improve and energy levels during turnout made it difficult to keep the shoes on him for a full 4-5 weeks with this method.

August 7, 2013
Care was taken not to bring Humphrey’s long toe back too quickly. At this point, although his toe was still too long, his hoof balance was steadily improving. Natural Flex plastic horse shoes were again shaped to fit him, leaving room for hoof expansion. The hoof wall was still weak and missing in some areas, so nails were not an option yet. The shoes were applied again with Hoof Glue. After the glue set, Wrap-n-Ride was applied to hold the shoes securely in place. The goal for adding the Wrap-n-Ride, was to increase the possibility that the glued on shoes would stay on Humphrey as his energy and activity level increased. He needed fragile hoof wall protection and prevention of further hoof damage as the healthier hoof growth progressed.

August 21, 2013 – 2 weeks after application
The shoes are securely in place with slight wear of the Wrap-n-Ride at the toe.

August 28, 2013 – 3 weeks after application
Humphrey is enjoying longer turnouts now.
The shoes are securely in place with more Wrap-n-Ride wear in the toe region.

September 4, 2013 – 4 week follow up
Wrap-n-Ride and the shoes were removed, and Humphrey’s hooves were trimmed to balance. He’s showing solid healthy hoof growth and improvement in the hoof wall. There was a small trace of thrush, so we treated him with the Hoof Maintenance Kit and reshod him with Natural Flex shoes, HoofGlue and Wrap-n-Ride.

November 3, 2013
After 53 days, the September shoeing treatment with Wrap-n-Ride was removed and Humphrey is now barefoot, going sound again at all three gaits under saddle.

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How to Sharpen a Hoof Knife

How to Sharpen a Hoof Knife

As a farrier or hoof trimmer, do you share in the challenge of keeping a good edge on your hoof knifes?

There is nothing more dangerous then a dull hoof knife.
First, you must start with a high quality steel hoof knife blade.  High-grade steel will always hold an edge better and longer.  We suggest the carbon steel blades made by F. Dick.  As a general rule of thumb, high carbon steel is harder than stainless steel and will stay sharp for a longer period of time.

Second, take the time to learn how to properly sharpen your hoof knifes.
How to sharpen your Hoof Knives:

How to sharpen a hoof knife.

To sharpen the hoof knife please draft the blade several times on the inner side (cutting edge) along the overall length of the sharpening steel. The cutting edge should be conducted at an angle of 15-20° along your diamond coated sharpening steel.
High quality farrier tools are a sure fire investment in the success of your business.

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Hoof Wraps Brand Soaker Sacks

Does Your Horse Have a Frog Infection?

Frog infections are more common than most horse owners realize. Infection in the frog causes lameness and soreness issues that can be overlooked or mis-diagnosed when a horse is shod. If you horse is suffering from frog infection, you’ll see separations and sloughing in the frog tissue. Frog tissue separation traps mud and manure, causing a perfect environment for bacteria and fungus to thrive. The bacteria and fungus invade the central sulcus of the frog, creating a deep crack that can penetrate into the soft tissue of the coronet band. A healthy frog does not have this cleavage crack.

Frog infections contribute to heel contraction and alter a horses’ gaits. Diagnosis and diligent treatment are important in reversing and healing infection in the frog. In our next post, we’ll discuss treatment options and monitor treatment progress in healing this painful hoof condition.

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Horse Frog Infection Treatment

Effective frog infection treatment includes thorough cleaning under the sloughing frog tissue and in the compromised cleavage area of the central sulcus. The best way to accomplish this is with soaking in a Borax solution or Clean Trax.

For the Borax solution, mix 1 Tablespoon of Borax with 1 gallon of water. I’ve found that Borax doesn’t liquify in cold water, so I mix the Borax first with a 1/2 cup of warm to hot water, then add it to a gallon of water in a bucket. I put the soaker boot on first, then add the Borax solution with the measuring cup. Soak each infected hoof for approximately 15 minutes. Remove the boot with the soak and dry the hoof with a rag.

Next, I inject a dose of ToMorrow® cephapirin benzathine for Dry Cows into the sulcus crack. The shape of the Opti-Sert® tip makes it super easy to insert the medication deep into the crack where it’s most effective for healing the frog. Runoff from this treatment will also help reverse thrush around the frog.

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The Salary of a Farrier

The Salary of a Farrier

Are you wondering what to charge for your shoeing services? Maybe you’re a horseowner and have some questions about budgeting for proper hoof care for your horses. Here’s an interesting article from the Houston Chronicle regarding Farrier Salaries, including some of the training and credentials that can increase a farrier’s earning potential.

Read the full Farrier Salary article here

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