Saturday, October 10, 2009


Question: Would you use a wood sealer/preservative on your horses’ hooves?

Some of you have and some still do. Anytime you smell a little thrush and run down to your local feed store to purchase one of the most popular hoof treatments on the shelf.

That's what I discovered today. There is a wood sealer that you can buy for less than $18 a gallon and its main ingredient is 10% Copper Naphthenate. The other 90% called "inert ingredient" is likely petroleum products like kerosene. That's according to Rich.

Rich purchased several gallons of this stuff today to treat the lumber for our bridge over the pond in our playfield. While he was treating some of the lumber, I was outside and the aroma was so strong and so familiar to me, but I couldn't place it.

Then Scrunchy, the curly coated cattle dog, jumped up and sat her little curly white butt down on one of the beams and her butt turned very bright green.

As she turn and mooned me with her neon green bottom and wagging tail, it slowly dawned on me. That color! That unmistakable smell was the same as the hoof treatment that I've warmed so many owners NOT TO USE!

I checked and sure enough. Copper Naphthenate is the main ingredient in a popular hoof treatment, a product name that ends with the first syllable in the word “toxic" by the way.

The ads brag that it's antifungal, and it seals and preserves the hoof. Why yes it does. I find this stuff inside horse's hooves months, sometimes years after the owner has applied it.

It has the same affect on hooves that it has on wood! Only the percentage prescribed for wood (10%) is much less than what is prescribed for your horse's delicate foot - nearly 40% in some of the products I found on line!

And the price! You can get a whole gallon of wood preservative for a buck or two more than you’d pay for an 8 ounce bottle labeled "hoof treatment."

Whoever thought of using a “wood sealer/preservative” on a horse’s hoof?

Probably the same folks who are okay with suggesting old timey remedies like turpentine, acetone, aluminum chloride, formaldehyde, alcohol, bleach or Lysol, or Oxine/Citric Acid combinations.

And please allow farriers to use CS (copper sulfate) treated sole packs typically used under shoe pads. CS destroys thrush and frogs and sole.

Copper Sulfate treated hoof packing (commonly used with NBS - Natural Balance Shoes) was used under a pad on this hoof. It's not a clear photo, but trust me, the frog is missing.

Dang, as I list this so many "chemicals" come to mind that have been recommended to horse owners to apply to their horse's feet!

This has got to stop!

This only product I will recommend to soak a horse's hoof is Epsom Salts. I have no idea if it helps anything, but I'm pretty sure it can't hurt. It doesn't have any antibacterial or antifungal properties, but it helps the owner feet better about doing something to ease their horse's discomfort. That's important.

(This product can be found at your local farrier supply store or on-line.)

Mild iodine is all I will treat thrush with and lately I’ve been using Hawthorne Sole Pack to treat thrush (inside boots) and fill in large areas of separation, splits, etc. It’s a pine tar/mild iodine combination that packs like playdough. When it’s packed into large areas of separation it keep other foreign materials out and the horse can still go barefoot.

From now on, let's take time to read the labels on products we apply to our horses's feet. It could be harmful to their health.


Jeanne said...

Egads! I don't know what they're thinking, but I know that I'm going through the tack box and if I still have any jars of hoof glop leftover from the days BNHC (Before Natural Hoof Care), I am pitching it. I would not want anyone else to use that on their horses.

Thank you for pointing this out.

Rachel said...

First off... can I say a big THANK YOU for being willing to answer my questions when I panicked as Kona abscessed? It's difficult to know what to do to HELP your horse, rather than make it worse - especially if there are products on the shelf at the feed store that are advertised as good.

Everything I read about epsom salts was that it was to help clean out the area as well as draw more pus/infection out. I have to say, I think Kona figured it was helping because I got essentially no fight about it. And you know darn well if she didn't think it was cool, she would have kicked that bucket to kingdom come.

I was unable to find the pine tar pack you were suggesting... the regular pine tar was really thin and difficult to keep under wraps.

I've been using that low-grade iodine spray too.

Just amazing what we learn about chemicals, no?

Pat said...


You're very welcome. Yes, Epsom Salt soaks is a good drawing agent. And soaking in itself softens the hoof offering a flexibility that may allow an abscess to draw back down. Something that is fairly rare in abscess treatment. There are also a few poultices that have that same affect. Which is the best outcome for an abscess to be drawn back down rather than to make its way to soft tissue to rupture, which is the usual progression.

The Hawthorne Sole Pack can be found at the farrier supply stores. I don't think I've seen it at the feed stores. I'll go back to the blog post and clear that up. Good point!

Thank you! I hope Kona is feeling better:-)

Pat said...


That's a good idea! I think we all need to do that! And yes pitching is a good plan.

You just reminded me that I forgot to mention a product called White Lightening. I'm not sure how I feel about that, but I haven't seen a anyone have success with it, and it's a chemical that I personally wouldn't use on my horses.

Mustang Heritage said...

It have use WL on sissy. But I foiund it a pain following the way to do it. So I ised cotton balls to pack into her feet and soaking boots to keep it in place. It helped to get the false sole shedding more. I am guilty of bleach. I usually find bad thrush with my clinets. I recomend such a weak mix of it and spray it ONLY where thrush is. I reccommend foot soaks for brusies and abscesses.
The biggest thing people use here is Koppertoics! I have had many talks against that.
I also tell people if they clean out hooves 1 or 2 times a day and keep hoofs dry, thrush will go away.
If only they do it would I not be dealing with it 2 or more months later.

Solely Equine said...

Hi Pat,

Funny you should post this topic, I just had a gal ask me the other day about using Venice Turpentine on her horse's feet to toughen them up. I don't have any info on it, told her I'd ask your opinion and let her know. Is that anything you would use? I know turpentine isn't good, not sure about this stuff.

Pat said...

I don't believe there is anything you can put on the bottom of a hoof to toughen it.

I'm not sure how that could be possible.

Mostly what we see on the bottom of the hoof is dead sole material that is constantly being exfoliated. If we apply something to that sole, it will just be exfoliated off.

However, if it penetrates, as I believe Turpentine possibly can, it might simply irritate (cause heat and pain) to the sole to the point that it generates new sole. That's the premise anyway, but I don't think it's a good idea and I sure wouldn't do it to my horse's feet.

I wouldn't risk injuring the hoof in this way when I can accomplish the same goal with correct trimming and bringing abrasive material into the horse's yard.

firecoach said...

I find it interesting that you do not like Oxine/Citric Acid (Vit C) to soak hooves in. The barefoot list I am on touts it as a very good soak and not expensive. I bought some and used it on Cowboy and did not really find an improvement. What I found that really helped the inside the hoof thrush is a product called Clean Trax. It was formulated specifically for hooves. It takes a long time to soak but for my Cowboy is sure has been worth it. It cleared up a persistant case of thrush. I find that I have to soak him him every 4 months or so. But before I used the Clean Trax no matter what I did he had white crumbly frogs. Yes, it is a chemical and I do tend to be anti-chemical but it is a product that has really helped Cowboy who is IR.
I also use betadine scrub, but it did not help him clear up the persistant thrush.