Help! Why has my farrier found maggots in my horse's feet?

Maggots in your horse's feet can be a nasty surprise. Here's Farrier Ben Benson with his advice on what to do.

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Q: My farrier's found maggots in my horse's feet. Is this normal and why would they be in there? 

A: This tends to occur in the spring and summer months when there's a period of warm weather, and is usually found in horses with overgrown feet, ones with deep clefts or flappy overgrown frogs. 

These then create cavities in the frog, which in turn harbours bacteria (thrush), faeces and muck - a rich environment for flies to land on and lay their eggs.

If you find maggots in your horse's feet, the first thing to do is to clean and scrub the feet out with a dandy brush and warm soapy water.

Let the foot dry naturally, making sure the area he's standing in is clean, then use a good quality antiseptic spray to use over the bulbs, frogs, and clefts.

This will help dry up the frog and help prevent the flies and maggots reoccurring. 

If there's an area or gap that keeps holding muck, soak some cotton wool in disinfectant and use to fill the area to plug it.

Don't press too hard on surrounding areas as you don't want to cause inflammation by overfilling it. 

The cotton wool acts as a disinfectant 'bung' and keeps the area clean to enable it to grow out without getting re-infected.

This bung can and should be kept clean and changed and replaced every few days.

You should mention this to your farrier on his next visit but if it reoccurs, or you think your horse is in pain, it would be advisable to mention it sooner so either your vet or farrier can come out and treat it.

How to prevent it

The best prevention by far is good housekeeping, pick hooves out daily and use a good antibacterial hoof oil inside and out.

I use Kevin Bacon's hoof products. Regular hoof care can also help reduce the chances of maggots by keeping them healthy and at their optimum.

Part of this regime would be to make sure you get your horse's feet trimmed on a six to eight week cycle to make sure there are no areas that it can reoccur in.