Tag Archives: equine canker

A Cure for Equine Canker – It Works, Read on!

This is the post that started the Horse and Man blog in February of 2010…  A very important post so I’d like to repost it today.


EQUINE CANKER – THERE IS A CURE! (no affiliation)

If you are frantic like I was, hoping to find a workable treatment for equine canker — let me impart to you my year of Canker-Horrors and the final cure!

First off, to save you from reading the entire post if you don’t want to, here is the information for the remedy from Well-Horse which they call “Purple Mush”.  You have to call or email since the Purple Mush is not available on the website.  This salve, made from plant resin, is a Miracle.  Hallelujah!  It works almost immediately, is easy to apply and affordable.

To Order Purple Mush

Tim Demma:  (419) 295-0474

email:  tdemma@well-horse.com




I did everything known for equine canker.  I consulted many specialists.  I spent, literally, thousands of dollars and thousands of hours on this.

Some products and treatments worked on my mare’s mild areas but nothing worked for her profound front hoof infection.


My mare was pampered, not in a wet paddock with bacteria in mud – as some vets will lead you to believe.

Tess is my National Champion Park Harness Morgan mare who was pampered and healthy her whole life.  I say this because some vets will make you believe canker comes from mud or unsanitary conditions…

It started near the end of her last pregnancy.  Canker appeared in three of her hooves.  I didn’t know it was canker.  I thought it was thrush.  But, it didn’t go away.


After consulting several vets and specialist, the reality is that no one knows what causes canker.

It is widely thought of as an external infection but it could be systemic. (I will say why this might be true for my mare later.)  And, it isn’t breed specific either although it happens more frequently in Drafts.

If you haven’t yet read about canker, take a look at this article which was written by the most learned veterinarians on the topic.  You will see pictures as well as a description and the most popular treatment.  http://www.equipodiatry.com/canker1.htm


I’ll try to state is simply here.  Canker is an infection of the equine frog, sole, bars, hoof wall and/or  heel.  It first presents like thrush but upon investigation, you will see that it is more like a mushroom overgrowth that looks somewhat similar to cottage cheese and smells really bad.  Here is a picture of an advanced case — very much how my mare’s foot looked after we could not get the canker (we thought it was thrush…) under control.

A bad case of canker… different than thrush although most people think canker is a bad case of thrush.



Well canker is fairly rare, especially in Morgans.  So, I had never seen it and my farrier had never seen it.  We kept thinking that her fetid smelling hooves were a bad case of thrush.

I diligently applied every kind of Thrush remedy from Thrush Buster to peroxide to megawatt bleach and nothing was killing it.  I figured I would just have to keep at it. After all, it was winter and the ground was wet…

Lo and behold, our next farrier appointment came around and my farrier said he had done some research and now thought that this bad case of thrush was actually ‘canker’.  ???  We called my vet and sent him a photo via our cell phone.  The vet said that it sure looked like canker but it would have to be biopsied.

Between the time of the farrier visit and the initial biopsy, Tess developed this nasty condition in two other hooves.  The front right was far worse and started to eat away her frog and heel.

We tried the best known treatment designed by the specialists in equine podiatry which is described in the linked article above.  Basically here is what you are supposed to do: have your vet or a surgeon abrade the area (usually the horse is under sedation) to remove all the infected tissue.  Then you treat the hoof once or twice daily by first wiping the area with a compounded mixture of acetone and benzoyl peroxide, then apply crushed up metronidazole tablets, pack that with cotton gauze and then secure the hospital plate (that your farrier has fitted), vet wrap the foot and then affix a duct tape or some other waterproof boot — all with the hoof in the air.  Ugh.  Twice a day.  Double ugh.  You are miserable, the horse is miserable and it is really a pain to do this.

To be honest, this method did halt the minor cases of canker in her hind feet.  Unfortunately, the severe canker up front, was resistant.  It would not abate, no matter what we did.


After 10 months of the above therapy, new treatments http://www.ericnystrom.com/aep.html, several debridements, constant wrapping, many vet calls and one deep debridement surgery at Loomis Basin Equine Hospital, the canker continued to grow back.  Without another option, the foot specialist was considering removing her frog.  I was beside myself with fatigue and worry.

Tess’ hoof after 10 months of trying all the recommended treatments by specialists.


Here is a picture of Tess’ hoof after 10 months of treatment.   Obviously nothing was stopping this infection.  As they say, no hoof, no horse.  I was very resistant to putting Tess through this invasive surgery to remove her frog.  I was terrified that we would have to put down my wonderful mare who had worked so hard for us.  The specialists were saying that this disease was winning…


A Miracle…  Out of the blue, a friend of mine told me that she had heard of a master farrier from Santa Ynez that had a canker cure.  Really?  I had nothing to lose…  So I contacted CoCo Fernandez.

He was quite personable.  He put me at ease and said that he had much success but wasn’t quite ready to put the product on the market.  I begged him to send a sample.  He said if I was willing to test it for him and be a case study, then he would send it.  I jumped at the chance.  He called it the “Purple Mush”.


I applied the Purple Mush (a textured goo pictured below) to her very clean and dry hoof, added some cotton padding and then wrapped it — very easy.  I waited pensively for three days.  I knew how much damage the canker could do in three days if left to its piranha ways.

When I unwrapped the hoof, I noticed the canker had not grown and was actually dry.  I was amazed.  I heard violins! I couldn’t believe it.  Something was actually halting the growth of this insidious, nasty packman-like bacteria!  I held my breath and re-applied the mush.

Three days later, I swear, the canker was gone.  Absolutely GONE.  I kept applying the Mush for two weeks as I watched healthy foot grow.  I could not believe it!  I called everyone I knew and then asked for a meeting with my vet.
My vet thought he was coming out to discuss my mare’s upcoming, last ditch effort, canker surgery.
I asked him to look at her foot once again before we made the decision.  I stood back as he lifted her foot. ..

OMG!  He repeated his disbelief about 100 times in succession.  OMG!OMG!OMG!OMG!  He could not believe what he was seeing either.  After almost a year of struggle, the beast was gone after just two weeks of Purple Mush Magic!

The last of the miracle mush pictured here!


I admitted to my vet what I had done without his sanction…

Now my vet carries Purple Mush on his truck.

I promise you.  Use it.  Your days will become yours again and the nightmare of pastes, wraps and horrible infection will be gone.  Gone.

Please let me know if you try this and it works for you, too.  Also, please ask any questions!  I can tell you how to apply it for success!

Tess is happy, healthy and retired into motherhood thanks to Well-Horse Purple Mush!


Tess lives canker-free!







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Equine Canker Redux and What Type of Boot Will I use?…

The farrier was out yesterday and found a new little spot of Canker in Tess’ heel. Drat. I was so proud that she was canker-free for over a year and that she had made it through this very wet winter… But alas, I didn’t look deeply into the crevice of her sole.   And, I probably should have removed her from her majestic but wet paddock and put her uphill where no standing water can survive.  I guess I got cocky — or forgetful. I truly almost forgot that she was a canker survivor. It had been soooo long. Sigh.

The good news is that I don’t have to panic because now I know it can be cured quickly.  And, luckily, I had a small schmear of Purple Mush left.

Let me pause for a moment and give anyone who needs it, the information for the Holy Grail of cures for Equine Canker.  Call CoCo and ask for his “Purple Mush”.  Do not pass go, do not do anything else but call him immediately if you have canker…  I waded in a year of canker hell before I found him.  You have to call him, however, because the Mush is not on his website:

Coco Fernandez
Master Farrier
(805) 801-8365

OK, back to today…

So, I gathered my wrapper game face and headed to the tack room to pull the needed supplies.  Hmmmmm, let’s see, how will I wrap this then?…  I took some cotton pads, the tiny amount of left over Mush, vet wrap (I had bought 2 cases (!) of vet wrap from Ebay just before I found the cure so I have lots left…), a hoof pick and lemme see… which boot… Hmmmmm, again.  I decided to use my Davis Boot because that was all I had, really.  I was just not up for creating the little duct tape lattice work bottom wrap thing.  Ugh. I  HATE making those.  OK, I was set.

I tied her up in her usual hoof wrapping spot and she fell right into the old pattern.  “OK, I sit here patiently and you give me grain, right?”  Uh huh.  I hate lying to her… but I did.  She is a bit too portly to get any more grain, in my opinion.  Besides, being a bit round is not good if you have canker.  It could lead to founder.  So, no grain.  Poor girl.  Anyway, it is so much easier to apply the Mush instead of that horrible concoction/wrap we had in the days before the Mush.  If you haven’t read my previous post about the horrors of Equine Canker, you can read it here. Anyway, today’s wrap was pretty easy.  In fact, Tess hardly had time to dream about her non-existent grain.   Here is what I did for those of you interested.  First I cleaned the area and I made sure it was very dry.  Next, I dug out some mush and squished it into the cankerous crevice.  The Mush gets everywhere so be careful, wear clothes you don’t care about when applying it and wash your hands immediately!  Anyway, I shoved the gooey Mush down in there and then packed that spot with cotton gauze.  I wanted to make sure the goo stayed deep to reach the infection — this is key.  Then, I wrapped vet wrap (a lovely red color) around the area to keep the cotton in place and to keep it clean.  Finally, I put her demure foot into the huge Davis Boot and wrapped the boot top with the vet wrap because the boot is way too big.

I have so much practice with wrapping that I felt like I should have yelled, Ole! when I was finished.  Or perhaps, “And that son, is how it is DONE!”  But, Tess would have just rolled her eyes at me and I would have been humiliated by my stoic and Aunt Bea type mare.  So, I refrained.

Now, I did contemplate all the other boots I should have had here for her…  After all, I really should have a boot for her in case this happens periodically.  And, since I need to keep this Purple Mush wrap on for three days, I better figure out a plan.  So, what to do, what to do?  The Davis Boot is kinda clumsy.  I mean, it works GREAT and is very durable, but it is too big and I’m too cheap to get a smaller size — it works well enough.  At least I didn’t use duct tape to keep it on… at least I used a sassy red wrap.  But still, in my conscience, I think I could have done better.

So, I started to research what I could and should use.  Let’s go over the particulars… She will be in the barn at night so that won’t be too hard on a boot.  But, I do want to let her out to graze for a few hours so she can put her face into the sunshine and clean air.  Grazing on the irrigated pasture (my front lawn and don’t tell Hubby — let’s check if he reads my blog, shall we…?  ;)  )   is uneven and could be tricky in a balloon boot.  Today, I let her graze in her floppy Davis Boot and she sounded like a kindergartener in new galoshes.  It was a good thing she had a fly mask on or I would have seen the disgust in her face.  “Is this the best you can do?  Sheesh.”

I gathered all my calculations together…  Needs to be kept dry and clean, cannot wear through at night in the barn, needs to be able to go outside on the uneven lawn and she needs to be able to wear it comfortably for three days.  Oh, and it has to stay on and Mommy needs to be able to afford it.  OK.  I knew what I needed, sort-of.

My first inclination was to get another Easy Boot RX.  Do you know these?  They are fantabulous when it comes to any foot wrapping needs.  It is the obvious answer except I am too cheap to purchase another.  Even on Ebay, they are not discounted.  So, I really tightened my thinking cap.  I could do the duct tape lattice wrap temporary shoe and wrap that in a thick plastic bag.  Hmmmmm.  Ugly.  And, I don’t have any more IV bags left anyway.  (Oh, that is a tip, everyone… IV bags from a vet hospital or your vet work great for wrapping hooves.)  Thinking.  Thinking.  I think a thought is forming… Yes… Yes!  I remember seeing something in the Valley Vet catalog for a temporary shoe that can fold up and be put in your trail pack for when you lose a shoe on the trail…  What was that called?  I skipped to my computer and onto the Valley Vet website and punched in “temporary shoe”.  Alas, it popped right up.  It is called the Quick Fix Hoof Wrap. Ahhh, sounds Perfect!

I looked at it and read the description: This rugged nylon bandage was designed to allow horses to be turned out to pasture during hoof treatment. Makes treating hoof problems like abscesses and stone bruises easier, or can provide temporary protection after shoe loss. The wrap-around design provides a custom fit that is double reinforced under foot. Tough hook-and-loop closures keep the wrap on, yet allow it to be removed, cleaned and reapplied. One size fits most horses. EVA foam hoof pad included.  Hmmmmm.  Sounds pretty good.

So, I purchased one (and several other things I coveted because I’m a sucker for free shipping if you purchase “X” amount…).  It will arrive here probably after I don’t need it anymore.  But, I will have it for next time!  In the meantime, the poor girl will have to galumpf around the place in her big ol’ clown boot.  I don’t feel too badly for her, after all, she is head mare.  No one is going to mess with her or call her a name…  Besides, she is Queen for a week anyway because she gets dibs on the barn.  Yup, she has a luxury suite in the Big Grey Inn.  Tess has a master bedroom (large stall) filled to the brim with fluffy down shavings and a look-out window where she can watch over her subjects stuck in the valley below.  Her room opens to the wide and luxurious aisle way for the Queen’s strolling pleasure.  In the bath area Tess will find two large matching Temptress Red buckets of fresh water as well as her favorite potty corner all clean and ready.  And, as our lovely guest saunters down the aisle, she can nibble on green grass growing for her dining pleasure, she can feast on a variety of grass hays at her disposal and she can hunt around for any other sweet morsel dropped outside the feed room.  Lastly, Tess can put her lovely head and neck over the entrance gate and survey her queendom as the sun sets.  Not bad for a girl in an ill fitting shoe.

So, I’ll keep you posted on the death of the canker.  I am fully expecting it to be gone in the three days.  And, won’t I be surprised if it isn’t… But, I will show you the pics and tell you the honest truth.

Thanks for taking this Canker Cruise with me.  I’m going to put on my chamber maid apron and mosey down to the Big Grey Inn and check on Her Royal Highness.  At this hotel, we offer tuck-in service, of course!   Long Live the Queen.  I remember her when…

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