White Line Disease!

WHITE LINE DISEASE - WHO KNEW?

"White Line disease is an infection and the causes are bacteria, fungi or a combination of the two. It is usually more prevalent in countries with a humid climate. When discovered at this point, it can be treated in various ways."

White Line Disease can affect all types of horses although those prone to laminitis are more likely to get it. It's important that you pay attention to your horses nutrition and hoof care and practice good horse management avoiding this ailment. Detected in the early stage, it's easily treatable. Most equestrians will not come into contact with large enough numbers of horses to be able to recognise the early symptoms. Often the farrier is the first person to notice the early signs of the “disease” when the white/yellow line becomes crumbly. Although it seems to have reached epidemic proportions, it is not contagious and therefore seems rather strange that it is called WLD.

White Line disease is an infection and the causes are bacteria, fungi or a combination of the two. It is usually more prevalent in countries with a humid climate. When discovered at this point, it can be treated in various ways. In the pictures above the hoof wall was removed and the area treated with a Thrush Buster.  If the condition is not treated or if it has already reached the later stages White Line Disease can be a very serious problem resulting in the separation of the inner and outer wall of the hoof. The following information should help you to not only recognize this ailment, but also find out how to treat it. Tell-tale signs can be a bulge in the hoof or a hollow sound when the hoof is tapped with a hammer. Usually the horse does not seem lame until the later stages when the walls of the hoof have already separated. Do be careful in your choice of anti-fungal treatments,as some of them can cause permanent damage to the hoof. 

The farrier, the vet and the owner need to work as a team to achieve a good outcome.  It may take up to 10 months - long enough for the hoof to re-grow, but, in most cases, there is a positive outcome. However a horse which has apparently made a full recovery should be monitored on a monthly basis when having his feet trimmed.  Depending on the extent of the damage, The Farrier may need to make shoes with a bar that will help support the horse until the hoof has regrown. Sometimes farriers are asked to do a “patch up job” so that a horse can go to a show. This can cause even further damage to the hoof as the deterioration continues inside the walls of the hoof.

Good nutrition can improve hoof growth and it can be advisable to reduce the starch and increase the fibre in the diet of a horse that has been diagnosed with WLD. The horse should not be confined in a stall but should be given the opportunity to walk around to encourage circulation in the foot (or feet as more than one may be affected).
His/her bedding should be kept as dry as possible and if he is being turned out to grass during the day, it should not be until after the morning dew has gone. Moisture (or lack of moisture in hot climates) can cause WLD and it can also sometimes be caused by moisture and bacteria entering the foot via the holes left when shoes have been removed to put the horse out to pasture. As is the case in most horse ailments, prevention is better than cure and time spent developing the “stockman’s eye” is time well spent. That includes paying attention to your horse’s demeanor, his gait and his feet in particular -as Mr. Jorrocks -the well known horseman from ancient times said - “no foot - no horse!”