Are you fighting it? Have you found a good way to deal with it? I few years back, I found my favorite thrush remedy in the form of a little vial of Tea Tree Oil.

Thrush can be a silent killer for performance horses, often stealthily creating soreness and tenderness in our barefoot horses. There isn’t always the typical black goo or awful smell, but oftentimes a sneaky tenderness, a subtly sore central sulcus or an ever-so-slight heel-first landing. While there are plenty of caustic and chemical “remedies,” the best thing I have found to prevent thrush (aside from layers of pea gravel and no rain) is a thorough scrubbing with Dawn and a generous application of Tea Tree Oil.

A couple years ago I began experimenting with Tea Tree on my very sensitive little red mare. After a particularly wet spring, she was showing subtle tenderness by choosing to travel on the soft road shoulders. She was slightly tender to the hoof pick in the middle of her exaggerated central sulcus. I began injecting small amounts of Tea Tree Oil into her frog with a needle-less tiny syringe. I noticed changes within the week. A year later, I added a soak and thorough scrub with antibacterial Dawn dish soup and all but eradicated our thrush symptoms in just a few treatments. While I realize we are fortunate to live in the “desert,” we still deal with weeks of mud at a time and I’ve always had issues with horses in the spring having slightly tender feet. As thrush is a somewhat catch-all term for infection and/or necrosis of the frog and surrounding tissues, there is no one “perfect” treatment. It can be caused by bacteria, fungus or yeast. Regardless of the cause, it can be a real deal-killer for barefoot horses.

When looking for good treatments, I looked to Tea Tree, which is known to be anti-septic, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal. In addition, it is known to kill yeast. Win, win, WIN. As there are several products available that contain Tea Tree, I figured I was on the right path. Being lazy, I hoped to be able to use what I already had, and chose a small syringe to “inject” the frog with my Tea Tree. You can find these syringes to be used for insulin, and remove the needle. One syringe lasted a few times and was able to fit into the frog to really spread out the oil. After only a few treatments I noticed a huge difference and the next year saw even an quicker change after a few scrubs with Dawn.

Scrub with some Dawn, and treat with some Tea Tree

For further treatment, you can treat the foot, pack some gauze in the central sulcus and slap a set of Easyboot Gloves on while you go for a ride. How do you treat for thrush?