THRUSH? Or ... and ... what? CONTINUED

OK ... so y'all got an inkling of what's going on when your horse has thrush, you're treating, but there is a crack between the heel bulbs ("Interbulbular Dermatitis") and the hooves are still mighty tender. 

What to do?  What to do? 

Let me first repeat from last week's post that YEAST is a SYSTEMIC situation. It MUST be addressed by treating the WHOLE horse - not just the hooves. 

Remember -- everything lands in the hooves. 

If a horse is exhibiting tender heels, has a white, cheesy exudate coming from a crack that's between the heel bulbs that smells 'cheesy' then guess what ... that's NOT thrush. Thrush is a BACTERIA;  Yeast is a FUNGUS. 

And, yeast THRIVES on dead bacteria and sugars! 

So while you're plying the Sugardyne on the horse's hooves you may be killing off the thrush but you are FEEDING the YEAST!!!  

So what's the answer? 

Well, first I look at the WHOLE HORSE ... the diet is CRUCIAL to getting these hooves healed up. CRUCIAL!  

When I see this situation I KNOW there're too many simple carbs (turn into sugar in the body) NSC (non-structural carbs) and sugars in the diet.

Why are simple carbs bad?  Because they are low in fiber and are digested quickly, eating refined carbs (think processed grain/feeds) cause major swings in blood sugar levels AND affect the insulin levels in the body greatly.

This all stresses the body out and causes the immune system to weaken AND ... it all lands in the hooves. 

Now, the fiber in fruits and vegetables changes the way the body processes their sugars and slows down their digestion, making them a bit more like complex carbohydrates. Complex carbs don't cause the insulin spikes that simple carbs do. Thus, the sugar is slow to enter the bloodstream and causes little to no effect on the insulin levels and, as such, little stress to the body. 

Simple carbs as in processed food and there's no such thing as 'carb-free' or 'sugar-free' in processed, bagged pellets or sweet feeds.  It's impossible. All plant matter produces carbohydrates and sugars. Its the FORM of these carbs and sugars that are important to understand ... 

ALL horses need structural carbs - "structural carbohydrates (fiber) are typically found in the the cell wall of the plant and are often referred to as FIBER.  These are the COMPLEX carbs. Structural carbohydrates are resistant to enzyme digestion in the small intestine and must be fermented by bacteria in the horse’s hindgut. 

Non-Structural Carbohydrate (NSC) is the SIMPLE carbohydrate associated with the inner portions of the plant cell, or plant cell contents. NSC is made up sugars, starches and fructans. These are the troublesome carbs. The ones that go into the blood stream QUICKLY and, as I noted above, cause abrupt increase in the insulin level of the horse.

AND produce too much sugar in the body .. .and as such, the hooves.


This being said, I won't go into the more complex descriptions but need to note this ... ALL HORSES NEED SUGAR!  Sugar produces ENERGY.  BUT -- 

It has to be the 'RIGHT' type of sugar ... it needs to be COMPLEX carbs that are found in fresh, raw forages. Remember -- complex carbs are digested SLOWLY in the hind gut through bacterial fermentation. 

I prefer to keep things simple ... and the crux of the matter is, there's nothing more simple than feeding a horse like a horse -- forage and more forage and more forage - hay and RAW, FRESH forage.  This feeds the immune system AND THE HOOVES.


Feeding the immune system is ESSENTIAL to the hooves/body being able to combat fungus and bacteria. 

Now I can hear some of you already -- Oh my gawd!!  She's gonna kill horses with this stuff!  Raw, fresh forages?  Like vegetables and fruits? Grass? 

Well, quickly let me just say this ... and I'll let you do your own research.  Just as there's a big difference between complex and simple carbs, there's a big difference between Glycemic INDEX and the Glycemic LOAD ... it is the LOAD that we want to look at; not the index. CONTRARY to what is popularly advised and spoken. And, to keep this simple ... for me and for you, Glycemic INDEX is how much carb/starch/sugar is in a vegetable or fruit and the Glycemic LOAD is how fast it is assimilated into the blood stream. An apple has a GI of 67%.  The Glycemic LOAD is 6%.  Apples, contrary again to what is said, will HELP a horse with a 'sugar' issue simply because it is SLOWLY assimilated into the blood stream and, as such, has little to NO affect on the insulin levels AND -- in fact, can HELP lower blood sugar! 

(Have you been told to stop feeding your horse apples, carrots, etc?  Well, do some self-research and studies on glycemic index vs. glycemic loads and you'll see. Connect the dots and things will become very clear for you.) 

Now to get back to the topic of YEAST .. what's all this got to do with that? 

Remember?  Yeast THRIVE on sugars!  If your horse is getting nothing but hay and bagged feed with some processed supplements then your horse is getting mostly ALL SUGAR! 

And, as we've briefly (and probably confusingly) seen - sugar FEEDS YEAST!

So, that's the cornerstone of the systemic treatment of Interbulbular Dermatitis. The DIET. 

I'll jot down some 'treatments' that will address yeast AND thrush below. But let me go on a bit about HUSBANDRY ... 

I've seen an IMMACULATE stable and paddock housing for a horse that had MAGGOTS in the frogs from thrush AND yeast!  No, they were not put there intentionally. They were wild maggots and they were destroying the shod and padded hooves. Yep -- the hooves were in pads AND shoes. No air, no light .. and damp all the time. The perfect breeding grounds for thrush AND Yeast. (and yes, this horse also had interbulbular dermatitis) ... BUT ... I mean IMMACULATE, when I say the stable, paddocks, horses were immaculate. Cleaner than my own kitchen!  (And I can be pretty fussy about that!) ... 

Thrush bacteria and yeast are wild. They are in the environment regardless. It is the HOST'S capabilities of thwarting an infection from them that is all important .. the IMMUNE system. And, as I said, that starts with the diet.  Yes -- that goes for Thrush, as well. 

Secondly, the TRIM of the horse's bare hooves (and incidentally, shod as well)  is all important for proper FUNCTIONING of the hooves.  When a horse has an infection on the hooves I like to see them tended every couple of weeks; not every 6, 8 or 12 weeks!  So timely and CORRECT trimming is important here, too. Making sure the toes are kept back, the heel buttresses are sufficient but not too tall, the frog is kept clean and trimmed of any flaps or other hiding places where thrush likes to hide ... 

Thirdly ... MOVEMENT ... as much movement as the horse can handle. Walking the horse on a tarred road for 10 mins once or twice (or more, even) a day will go so much further in conditioning and healing the hooves than merely letting the horse roam about a grass pasture!!  Movement is absolutely necessary to getting the hooves in good form and function!

Fourthly, topical applications to help kill off the thrush and yeast. Here are a couple of suggestions. Remember, I said, using a topical that ONLY addresses bacteria will cause yeast to THRIVE!  So -- ya gotta git 'em both at the same time. 

Pete's Goo -- Pete Ramey has a 'goo' that he formulated that works well: 

Daily topical treatment with a 50-50 mixture of Neosporin Plus Pain (or generic triple antibiotic ointment plus) and human Athletes Foot Cream (1% Clotrimazole) 

I mix the concoction in a sealable jar, top-load 30cc at a time into the large 60cc syringe with a butter knife and keep the large syringe loaded for storage (in my truck). Then, as needed, I load 3-4cc at a time into the Monoject 412 by pulling out the plunger and squirting it in from the larger syringe. It fits easily in a pocket on my chaps, and seems to double the effectiveness of treatment, while cutting the volume used/wasted in half." Pete Ramey   

I, personally, like to soak hooves in activated charcoal water and then use a blend of essential oils that are known to take care of bacteria and yeast. (Please contact me if you'd like to know more about what oils to use.) I've found this to be most effective! 

One can use a product for dry mastitis in cows -- that is a strong chemical and very effective. Here in the US we have "Tomorrow" .. .it contains cephapirin benzathine in a stable peanut oil gel.

Colloidal Silver can be effective as can a Copper Sulfate Hoof Wash intended for hoof rot in livestock.  Colloidal silver can be used both topically AND internally as needed. The Copper Hoof Wash is intended for TOPICAL USE only. 

And there are other products out there, too, that profess to be able to handle yeast and bacteria at the same time. 

But, again, the DIET is all important -- one must feed the immune system (by feeding the horse appropriately) with a species specific diet. ... FORAGE!!!  Fresh, raw forages ... along with free choice, good quality clean hay, minerals (raw, naturally chelated, ancient minerals are best!), salt and water and grazing proper pastures as allowed.


So, I hope this has been helpful to you.  I've kept to the simple stuff ... and of course, EACH HORSE IS AN INDIVIDUAL and will need individual assessment and attention. Please feel free to contact me via FB private message or email: if you'd like to discuss YOUR horse. 

Til next week ... 


Gwenyth Browning Jones Santagate is the best-selling author of 10 Secrets to Healthy Hooves as well as a noted author for various international equine publications includingThe Horses Hoof, Equine Wellness, Natural Horse Planet as well as a contributing author for the 2001 United States Federal Mounted Border Patrol Training Manual. For the last 37+ years, she has maintained healthy hooves with natural trimming on thousands of horses and specialized in pathological rehabilitation hoofcare for the last 18 years. She and her husband John keep a small herd of their own equine in SW Florida and continue to offer consults for horses in need. For further information please click here:


May I please have the recipe for your soak you use?

Amanda September 03, 2019

Hi Gwenyth, For those of us not as familiar with blending oils, what is FCO? Also, is it possible to get the “recipe”? Thanks

Jay December 06, 2017

Hi Gwenyth i do give apples and carrots to mine she’s an Icelandic tho people tell me not a good idea am still doing it .. could you tell me which minerals brand to buy.. and the oils you use?.. pleaseee?
Thank you so much for all your info and concerns advice dear.

Ana Freitas October 24, 2017

Hi Peggy! Thanks for asking! While there is “a recipe” for “a blend”, what will work best for the individual horse is to be determined as to what that individual horse needs. A general blend of oregano, lemon, protective blend and melaleuca (diluted in FCO or other carrier oil/liquid) can be used each time the horse is trimmed and, even, more often if needed. However, again, this might not be the needed recipe for the horse in question, if that makes sense? grin

I’m glad to know that you use alot of essential oils with your horses. That’s awesome! I love essential oils and the benefits they offer!!

Gwenyth Santagate October 19, 2017

I would like to know what blend of essential oils you use for thrush and yeast. I use a lot of oils with my horses. Thanknyou

Peggy Froehlich October 18, 2017

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