Because horse hooves are warm, filled with crevices, and often wet, they make a perfect environment for fungus. Luckily, horse hoof fungus is easy to identify and treat. In this post we’ll cover everything you need to know to identify and treat different types of horse hoof fungus, including:
Thrush is a common and easily identifiable bacterial hoof infection. The fungus that most commonly causes thrush is spherophorus necrophorus. This fungus creates a black slime on and around the frog, eventually spreading to the sole as well.
To identify thrush look for the black slime as well as the appearance of black veins on the sole. The hoof will also have a cheesy smell.
The fungus causes thinning in the sole by breaking down sole tissue. This increases the likelihood of sole bruising and abscessing, along with other hoof infections. In severe cases, thrush causes lameness.
The white line is the light colored barrier between the outer wall and the sole. White line disease is a fungal hoof infection that causes separation between the outer wall of the hoof and the middle layer of hoof tissue.
White line disease can be identified with the appearance of crumbly or powdery gray or black tissue around the white line. When the damaged tissue is scraped away it will reveal separation between layers of the hoof. The hoof will sound hollow when tapped above a separation. You may also notice sunken or bulging areas on the hoof.
Although the horse will not be lame at this stage of the infection, severe cases do result in lameness. Untreated white line disease causes rotation of the coffin bone because of long term damage to the support structures of the hoof.
Deep central sulcus infection occurs when fungus or bacterial eats away at and seriously compromises the frog, resulting in a serious condition. This fungal infection is trickier to identify since it lives inside the frog.
Deep central sulcus infections are more common in contracted hooves and will generally present first with a crack between the heel bulbs. However, a frog that looks healthy from the outside can also be home to this type of fungal infection.
You can begin to examine a hoof for deep central sulcus infection if you find a deep crevice with your hoof pick. The hoof will give off heat in the heel bulbs and the frog. Deep central sulcus infections usually appear on x rays as well.
Deep central sulcus infections are also very painful--if your horse is avoiding pressure on its heels or not wanting you to touch or pick out its hooves it could be exhibiting symptoms of this infection.
Deep Central Sulcus Infection is essentially a deeper and more severe case of thrush, and therefore should be treated in a similar way.
Taking care of your horse’s hooves is the key to preventing all types of hoof fungus. Proper hoof care requires:
Fungal infections can be painful, cause damage, and slow your horse down but fortunately they are preventable and treatable. Keep your horse clean, dry, and make sure they get plenty of exercise to avoid occurrences of fungal infections. When fungal infections do arise, use this guide to identify and treat horse hoof fungus and get your horse back to healthy quickly.
Enjoy this article? We've covered more topics like this one on the Fauna Care pet care blog!