Does Your Horse Battle with White Line Disease?
It is a nasty, horrible, no good state of affairs, and a pain in the - ahem - derriere/hoof to deal with. For both a horse and it's human!
Let's go into some easy to understand details about White Line Disease, and how you can ensure that your horse's hooves will return to the solid, strong hooves that they're intended to be.
(White Line Disease: Definition, Causes and Suggestions, n.d.)
(White Line Disease in Horses - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost, n.d.)
What Is White Line Disease?
Simply put, it is the separation between the wall of the hoof and the sole of the hoof where bacteria and/or fungus can reside and eat away at the hoof. White Line Disease (WLD) is also commonly known as seedy toe, hollow foot, wall thrush, and stall rot.
WLD can lead to months and months of intensive, time consuming treatment. In worse case scenarios, lameness can develop and if it is left untreated, it can lead to extensive damage to the inner part of the hoof and the supportive tissues.
(White Line Disease Prevention, n.d.)
(What Customers Say About Using B Gone to Beat White Line Disease in Horses!, n.d.)
What Causes White Line Disease?
There can be a number of mitigating factors that cause this condition, including improper trimming of the hooves by a barefoot trimmer or farrier, inordinate amount of concussive work on hooves that are less than healthy, poor sanitation and husbandry, cracks in the walls and even nail-holes in the horse's hoof wall. Other factors may include a less than desirable diet for the horse and interestingly enough, imbalanced jaw and teeth; very interesting correlations between teeth and hooves that are just now being studied and brought to light.
How To Deal With White Line Disease
Dealing with White Line Disease can be frustrating at the best of times, however, there are a few steps that can be taken to help remediate this condition.
Thoroughly clean the hoof and scrape into the infected area of the hoof wall until all of the affected hoof wall has been scraped out of the hoof. Sometimes the infection has gone so deeply into the hoof that mere scraping is not enough and the vet, barefoot trimmer or farrier may suggest a wall-resection. I personally do not do that, and have had complete success with a full whole-horse regiment. Barefoot trimming the hoof correctly is imperative to the success rate of healing WLD; be sure to bevel the wall at a good 45* angle to reduce the leverage upon loading which stretches the white line. As much of the diseased tissue must be removed. Frequent hoof care from your professional barefoot trimmer or farrier may be needed every few days to ensure that all is scraped away.
The hoof must be soaked in an anti-bacterial and anti-fungal solution. My go to solution includes sea salt, to help kill off the bacteria and fungus, as well as specific essential oils along with activated charcoal. The specific essential oils will act as both anti-bacterials and anti-fungals. The activated charcoal will adsorb and draw out the infection as well as help with residual discomfort in the horse's hoof. The hoof should be soaked twice a day for the first week, or so, after that, it can be reduced to just once a day as indicated by the progress of healing thereafter for another week.
The hoof must be kept open to air and kept dry. Hoof boots, such as Scoot Boots, are a good way to help protect and support the hoof as well as keep it dry. They also allow for comfort so the horse will continue to move regularly. Good circulation in the hoof is essential for healthy and rapid new hoof growth. One can use activated charcoal in the boot to aid in continuous drawing of the infection. Simply sprinkle some powder into the area of concern before putting on the boots.
The whole horse protocol requires that all processed feed and supplements be removed from the diet and a good variety of fresh forage be supplied. A good quality 1st cut hay is to be available 24/7, as is grazing on untreated pasture/field as afforded. Fresh 'salads' with various vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds, that are specifically chosen for their anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties, can be offered once a day to supplement the free choice grazing and hay along with specifically indicated dried or fresh herbs that support healing. A good source of free-choice minerals should be allowed as well as free-choice sea salt and, perhaps, kelp.
The stalls and paddock/turn-out areas should be kept as meticulously clean as possible and the stall as dry as possible with fresh pine shavings that help draw out the moisture in the hooves. The horse should not be allowed to stand in manure or urine or in wet-muddy conditions. To help keep the stalls clean, I use EM-1 microorganisms that not only reduce uric acid exposure but help to eliminate odours. I also add it into the horse's water to help replenish the good microbiomes in the gut that feed the immune system.
While treatment of White Line Disease can be totally successful, it is far more economical and efficient to use a preventative approach to feeding and husbandry by following the whole horse protocol with diet, movement and environment as briefly outlined above. Added to this would be good, Neuromuscular Equine Dentistry that addresses the whole of the jaw and proper alignment of the teeth for optimal health.
A little pro-active care of the horse can go a long, long way in ensuring the long, healthy life of the horse.
B Gone White Line Treatment. n.d. What Customers Say About Using B Gone To Beat White Line Disease In Horses!. [online] Available at: <testimonials-for-bgone-white-line-treatment> [Accessed 12 June 2020].
Life Data Labs Inc. n.d. White Line Disease Prevention. [online] Available at: <testimonials-for-bgone-white-line-treatment> [Accessed 12 June 2020].
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Gwen Santagate is the author of "10 Secrets to Healthy Hooves" . For the last 37+ years, she has maintained healthy hooves with natural trimming on thousands of horses and specialized in pathological rehabilitation hoofcare for the last 18 years. She keeps a small herd of her own equines and continues to offer consults for horses in need.