Q: My horse has just recovered from a bad case of thrush. My farrier has advised that I look at his diet, as well as some other management issues. I can understand the concerns about management, but I’m not sure what role diet could have played in this?
A: We are learning all the time about the complex role that diet plays in hoof health in horses. However, one of the major certainties is that diet can be a major contributor to cases of thrush. This is particularly the case in situations where the infection lingers or keeps recurring, despite management changes. Diets high in sugar and starch are the main culprits in cases of thrush, but diets with a poor mineral balance have also been implicated. If your farrier has suggested you look at your horse’s diet, it is probably worth getting an equine nutritionist or your vet involved. They will be able to advise whether a dietary change is likely to help in your case, and if so, how best to go about cutting down the sugar and starch, or balancing the minerals in the diet. You will need to give any dietary changes a few months before any effect is seen, as it takes the body some time to heal from the effects of am imbalanced or carb-laden diet.