Last Updated on March 27, 2022
Horses can have many problems with their hooves, and when a horse has horn on frog in the hoof this is one of them! Let’s find out everything we need to know about this painful condition of the horse’s foot.
What Is It Called When A Horse Has Horn On Frog?
If you find that a horse has horn on frog it may be because they are suffering from a condition called canker. This painful and debilitating disease causes the hoof to overproduce horny tissue, often starting around the frog. It is thought that canker is caused by an infection, although the causative bacteria has not been definitively identified.
The name canker was first used as people believed that this was a cancerous problem, with the hoof producing large numbers of abnormal cells. However, it is now thought that canker is caused by bacteria that thrive in the absence of oxygen, deep inside the tissues of the hoof. This disorder is similar to diseases such as footrot in sheep and digital dermatitis in cows.
Luckily, equine canker is relatively rare, so it is unlikely that you will find a situation where a horse has horn on frog of the hoof. But if you do think there is something odd going on with your horse’s hooves, read on to learn all about canker and how it is treated!
What Does Equine Canker Look Like? – Horse Has Horn On Frog
To understand canker of the horse, we need to learn a few basic terms of hoof anatomy:
- Horn – the solid outer layer of the hoof.
- Sole – the base of the hoof, only seen when the hoof is picked up.
- Wall – the part of the hoof we can see when the hoof is standing on the floor.
- Frog – the triangular part of the hoof on the sole, that is softer than the horny tissue.
- Sulci – the deep grooves on either side and in the center of the frog
- Heel Bulbs – the two slight bulges at the back of the hoof, adjacent to the frog.
When a horse has an equine canker, the hoof will grow in a very odd and unusual way. This is caused by a microorganism that stimulates the abnormal production of keratin. Keratin is one of the key components in the hard tissue of the hoof called horn.
The odd thing about canker is the way in which this growth occurs. The infection spreads through the layer of the hoof called the epithelium, underneath the solid horn. The excess growth will first be seen as a moist and spongy appearance to the sulci of the frog.
This appearance leads many people to first think that canker is thrush, but this disease develops in a very different way. The excessive growth of tissue continues, leading to a profusion of tissue growing from the frog. This tissue is best described as similar to white or gray cauliflower florets, and it has a distinctive discharge that looks like cottage cheese.
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How Is Canker In Horses Treated? – Horse Has Horn On Frog
Canker in horses can be difficult to treat, and aggressive therapy will normally be required. Your veterinarian and farrier will work together to implement the following treatments:
- The abnormal tissues should all be cut away over the entire affected area. This can be quite painful for the horse, so local or general anesthetic may be required. Only the superficial abnormal tissue is removed, and then cryotherapy may be used to reduce the level of infection.
- The treated area must be kept clean and dry. The bacteria that cause canker thrive in moist, dirty conditions.
- Your veterinarian may prescribe topical treatments such as antimicrobial drugs or antibacterial solutions. These are spread over the affected area after debridement. A gauze dressing can be soaked in the medication, then applied as a dressing that is bandaged in place.
The response to treatment of canker is variable and depends on how quickly and aggressively treatment is implemented. This deep-seated infection can be difficult to drive out and may take a long time to eliminate. Often it is thought that the horse is cured, only for the infection to recur – hence the reason that people thought that it was cancerous.
As a best-case scenario, treatment for a week or two can completely cure canker. However, some cases last for several months, despite a consistent treatment regime.
Horse Has Horn On Frog Summary
So, as we have learned, you can find that a horse has horn on frog because they are suffering from a condition called canker. This causes the the hoof to overproduce horny tissue, often starting around the frog. It is thought that canker is caused by an infection, although the causative bacteria has not been definitively identified.
We’d love to hear your thoughts on why a horse has horn on frog in the hoof! Have you got a horse that suffers from overgrowth of the frog? Or maybe you’ve got a good way to help when a horse has horn on frog? Leave a comment below and we’ll get back to you!
Why Is The Hoof Of A Horse Called A Frog?
The hoof of a horse is not called a frog. The word frog is used to describe a very specific part of the hoof, but not the whole hoof. There are various theories about how it got it's name, but none of them can be proven!
What Is The Frog On Horse Hoof?
The frog is located on the underside of the horse's hoof. If you lift the hoof, you will see a triangular-shaped structure running from the heel bulbs to the center of the sole - this is the frog.
Should A Farrier Trim The Frog?
The frog will naturally shed excess tissue as it grows, but this does not always happen evenly. Your farrier should give the frog a gentle trim to tidy it up at regular intervals.
Can A Horse Get An Abscess In The Frog?
A horse can get an infection in the frog, but this is less likely to get trapped and form an abscess than elsewhere in hoof. A more common problem found in the frog is a bacterial infection called thrush.
Kate Chalmers is a qualified veterinary nurse who has specialized in horse care for the vast majority of her career. She has been around horses since she was a child, starting out riding ponies and helping out at the local stables before going on to college to study Horse Care & Management. She has backed and trained many horses during her lifetime and competed in various equestrian sports at different levels.
After Kate qualified as a veterinary nurse, she provided nursing care to the patients of a large equine veterinary hospital for many years. She then went on to teach horse care and veterinary nursing at one of the top colleges in the country. This has led to an in-depth knowledge of the care needs of horses and their various medical ailments, as well as a life-long passion for educating horse owners on how to provide the best possible care for their four-legged friends.
Kate Chalmers BSc (Hons) CVN, Dip AVN (Equine) Dip HE CVN EVN VN A1 PGCE