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White line disease can invade the foot anytime there is a separation between the hoof wall and the sole of the foot. There can be several factors coming together at the same time that produce the environment necessary for this infection to set in:

  • Disruption or tearing of the hoof wall away from the sole can occur from added pressure on the hoof wall. Examples include the long toe, low heel hoof conformation which causes added pressure at the toe during break-over.
  • The wall of the toe is continually pulled away from the sole with each step the horse takes. This causes leverage on the wall of the toe during break-over … very much like your fingernail being pulled away from the skin bed.
  • Similar trauma can happen from a club foot conformation, increased toe length, excessive moisture, previous or current abscess formation and poor nutrition.

All of these can set the scene for bacteria and or fungus to invade the tissues of the hoof.

Your farrier may recognize the disease before sufficient damage or lameness has occurred. White or grayish chalky matter may be found at the hoof wall/sole junction. Other signs may include:

  • Tenderness on hoof tester evaluation
  • A hollow sound may be emitted when the hoof wall is tapped
  • The hoof may be warm to the touch

Untreated, the disease may progress to lameness and coffin bone rotation.

The most important things to recognize are the inciting factors that may have caused the disease. These factors have to be addressed and corrected, or the problems are likely to occur.

  • Have your farrier address issues with long toe/low heel, excessive toe length, focal area’s of pressure, etc.
  • You will need to address excessive moisture, poor footing, soil quality and stabling cleanliness.
  • The farrier will remove any areas of undermined wall if necessary. This will expose the tissues to air (preventing further multiplication of anaerobic bacteria/fungus), as well as allow for drying.
  • Treat the infected area with daily application of Veterinary Preference White Line Solution to provide a first line attack on the organisms causing this disease. This will also prevent further wall/sole separation.
  • Your farrier will explore the tracts at each visit (2–4 weeks) and remove any debris that accumulates as well as giving you a progress report.
  • Maintain proper shoeing schedules to prevent any further damage to the hoof wall and underlying structures.

Before and After Photos

These slide shows depict actual horses during and after treatment for white line disease. The cases were presented to us by Dr. Larry Metheny from Phoenix, AZ. The cases were treated with removal of the hoof wall, treatment with Veterinary Preference White Line treatment, and the horses were supplemented with Bio Vigor orally.