I guarantee the story below will make you Barrel Racers, Ropers, Jumpers and Eventers take a closer look at your horse’s feet. We are once again in the midst of thrush season. This is not a sales pitch, it’s a true story. It can make a difference to so many of you. The attached video is included to give you the visuals.
Long story short – if your horse has a heel crack, there is a problem.
Thrush is a MUCH bigger deal than most think.
** Early this Spring I was manning a No Thrush booth at a big barrel Race. I was chatting with a pretty young woman about how and why heel cracks are such a problem. She was clearly a big hitter in the racing world, as all the little girls nearby were goggling and pointing in rapt attention. The woman and I finished up our chat and she said she would take a look at her horse’s feet when she headed back to the barn.
A few hours go by and she stops back by the booth. “Wow,” she said, “I checked my horse’s feet and both hinds have big cracks between the heels [the sulcus area between the bulbs]. Honestly,” she added, “I’ve never noticed them before. I just thought the cracks were normal. A lot of my horses have them.”
I asked her to show me.
At the barn we picked up the front feet. They both looked great. No cracks, no problems. I asked her to push on the bottom of the heel bulbs and they were nice and firm.
We picked up the back feet and there they were. Narrow but deep cracks in between the heel bulbs. There was no visible thrush whatsoever – none of the black goo in the clefts that most people associate with thrush. In fact, she didn’t see any of the black goo so thrush was the furthest thing from her mind.
I asked her to push on the bulbs. They were soft, almost squishy. Finally, I slipped the hoof pick inside the crack and it came out black and smelly and gross.
The young woman put her hands over her mouth and her eyes went wide. In a horrified monotone she said, “I am the best horse mom on this planet. How could I have not seen this?”
She then turned even whiter, a realization hitting her, “This horse is my rock star. He’s my main horse. But for the last six weeks we have been horrible! We are nowhere near the money. Are you saying THRUSH could be the problem?”
I nodded, “Think about it. Your horse has infected heels. That means they are soft and sore. When you start your run, you are expecting him to plant that sore, infected heel into the sand and make a hard turn. He won’t do it. He can’t. Instead he will only plant his toe, which is not good enough to hold the torque of the turn. His feet will slip out of the sand. I’m guessing he is taking his turns too wide?” I asked. She gritted her teeth, blew out a frustrated sigh, nodding.
We dusted her horse’s feet twice that day, twice the next day, and once on the morning of the 3rd race. She and the horse came in third – in the money for the first time in ages.
Obviously No Thrush powder didn’t “regrow” the heel crack in 3 days. But it did absorb and eliminate the damp thrush breeding ground that had infected his heels (without damaging the live tissue because it is not caustic.) Ultimately, the heels firmed up and he was able to plant his feet properly into the sand.
Important Note. No Thrush powder is going to get rid of the sulcus thrush fairly quickly. BUT please don’t stop there. That heel crack is made by thrush. It should not exist. If you just stop treating as soon as things are firm, bacteria will head right back in there, keeping you forever in the “Thrush Cycle.” So keep dusting until that crack regrows. Take a look at the video or the photos at the No Thrush website. It is supposed to be a “Dimple” not a “Crack.” This regrowth will typically take 20-50 days, depending on the severity of the crack.
Once you get back to the dimple, you will want to dust once a week for prevention. Thrush is not curable. A thrushy horse will always be susceptible.
Another note: If you have been using caustic store-bought products, or things like bleach or peroxide to combat thrush, these products will kill live tissue as well as the bacteria. Please, please do not use these inside an open sulcus crack – and Definitely do not “soak” with anything caustic. If you do it can take many months for the deep tissue to recover and begin to grow back into the proper dimple.
Here is an example: You would not willingly put your cut hand in a bucket of 10% bleach water every day. It will sting like mad, it will damage the tissue at the edge of your cut, and the result will be a jagged, ugly scar that looks like nubby proud flesh. Not good.