In recent years, a growing problem has been noticed in horses’ hooves. This is called White Line Disease. The places where it is most prominent include hot and humid places, but lately it has been seen all over the United States at much higher rates. It is not something that is the result of poor hygiene, and that makes it hard to prevent because the causes aren’t well known.
What is it exactly? When it comes down to it, it is the deterioration that happens on the inner part of the wall of the horse’s hoof. The reason it is called White Line is that this is in reference to the area of the inner layer of the hoof wall, which is distinctly non-pigmented.
In the earliest stages of the disease, there is only a noticeable change on the ground surface of the hoof or foot, which is a small area that looks powdery near the place where the hoof wall meets the sole. It might stay just in this location, but it also might progress into a much larger
area of the hoof. This disease might show up in only one foot or up tot all four. It always begins with a separation that occurs between the wall of the hoof and the sole. It might happen in either the toe area, the quarter of the foot, or the heel. The process itself will actually remove the part of the hoof that is meant to protect it, and this will open the door to bacteria and fungus. These bacteria and fungus that will enter the hoof of the animal are those that are found every day, in every environment. Once the white line has been breeched, these pathogens will enter and destruct and deteriorate the inner wall of the hoof.
Even though the causes might not be completely known, there are several things that might contribute to this separation of the hoof wall and sole junction. These include moisture that is excessive, feet that are unbalanced, trimmings that are improper, a hoof angle that is acute, deformities in the flexure, lick contracted tendons, as well as club food, concurrent hoof problems, infections that are chronic, and also a trauma that is direct and bleeds.
White Line Disease might also occur in a secondary fashion, along with chronic laminitis. It doesn’t pose a threat to the soundness or health of the animal until the damage is already done. After everything has happened, this is when the horse will appear to be lame.
There are some early warning signs with this disease that you can look for. These include tenderness in the sole when hoof testing is done. Also, there might be things such as an occasional heat in the hoof, a flattening of the sole, or the forming of a dish alongside one side of the hoof. You might also see a bulge on the opposite side of the area that has been affected, growth of the hoof wall that is slowed, consistency of the hoof wall that is poor, or a hollow sound if you tap the outer wall of the hoof.
If you want to catch the disease in the early stages, the only thing to do is have your horse observed by a farrier. Most of the time, this disease will go unnoticed until the horse is actually being uncomfortable and showing this discomfort. At this point, you can see the affected area by an examination of the food, and you can also see how far the disease has progressed by using an X-ray.
There are a few ways to treat White Line Disease once you have discovered it. The most common way is to direct the treatment at the affected area. You will support the foot with shoeing if the wall has been damaged. No matter how much the wall of the foot has been damaged, you have to treat the affected area by a removal of the outer hoof wall so that the diseased area can be exposed and the damaged tissue can be removed. You will debride the exposed area at least once every two weeks until you can detect a solid junction that occurs between the hoof wall as well as the lamina. When this happens, the area can be left on its own, and it will grow out. If it does not, it can be repaired most times using an acrylic substance.
There are also medications that can be used. These include merthiolate, betadine ointment, or even two percent iodine. You can apply these medications to the area. These mediations will have a drying affect. You should apply them to the area and pack it with gauze. A good tip is to hold the gauze tightly with duct tape.
Yet another treatment method would include taking sheet metal and cutting and molding it to fit over the ruined part of the hoof wall, and attaching it with screws. This will keep the area clean and let you change the packing at regular intervals.
Keep in mind that you will need to base your choice of type of shoe on the needs of the horse, based on the exact extent of the damage done to the hoof wall. With a small defect, the horse can be shod normally. However, if the defect has been large, you will need a full-support shoe. Remember that whatever shoe is used, there must be allowance for the treatment of the affected area to be done while also providing support to the horse.
Remember also that depending on how much damage has been done, the time of recovery is going to differ. It must be treated, and the affected area must be allowed to grow out.
Discuss your options as well as what the problem is with your farrier, and have him examine each foot as it is being shod. The key is to find and treat this early, so that the health of the foot of the horse can be maintained.