Thrush is a common anaerobic bacterial infection of the horse’s hoof tissue characterized by a black, necrotic material. This condition typically affects the central or collateral sulci, but in severe cases thrush can also invade the white line, sole, and sensitive layers of the foot, potentially resulting in permanent lameness.
Contributing factors are those that disrupt the horse’s innate hoof-cleaning mechanism. In the normal foot, as weight is borne on the limb, the third phalanx descends, causing the sole to flatten. The coffin joint descends as the navicular bone gives in a distopalmar direction, pushing against the navicular bursa and the deep flexor tendon. This continuous change in structure prevents the accumulation of material in the bottom of the foot that can lead to thrush.
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