The winter-wet weather is when the majority of horses have issues developing thrush. As you learned last week, thrush is the thick black smelly discharge that is commonly found in the sulcus of the frog and in the collateral grooves alongside the frog. There can be several organisms associated with thrush but the most common is Fusobacterium necrophorum. The truth is, thrush can occur year round when the bottom of the hoof is exposed to moist conditions including mud, irrigated pasture, wet bedding or trapped moisture in the frog from wearing shoes with pads. Gaited breed horses like Saddlebreds and Tennessee Walkers are thought to be more prone than others horse breeds because of their naturally deeper frog sulci and long feet.
Can thrush cause lameness? Most cases are superficial and do not cause lameness. Severe cases can affect deeper structures in the hoof causing positive reactions to hoof testers and variable degrees of lameness.
Prevention includes good management practices like making sure water troughs do not over flow causing large puddles, routine hoof care like regular trimming/shoeing and daily hoof picking. Having raised areas available with rubber mats where horses can get out of the muddy conditions also helps reduce exposure to moisture.
Treatment includes picking feet regularly and daily to weekly use of topical hoof solutions like Kopertox, Thrush Buster, dilute bleach, formalin, etc.
Routine hoof picking (using your Noble Outfitters Hoof Picks, of course) and good management practices should help get your horse through wet winter conditions.