Monday, November 26, 2012

White line disease

Does this "cracked" hoof wall look familliar?

 The right hoof was trimmed but not completely finished and the left was untrimmed. You can see in the toe of the right where I rolled it the crack stops in the outer hoof wall.

They don't go down to the white line and the horse has no definite splits in the hoof so why worry, right?

They seem to be more evident in white hooves, which is just a wives tale (there's no difference in white/black hooves but the lack of melanin influenced by the skin above the hoof) but you see blemishes more easily in white hooves.

Farriers have different names for them, grass cracks, weather cracks, dry cracks etc.

The hoof wall seems more reluctant to chip off, thrush that doesn't seem to want to completely go away, falling apart frogs, lack of concavity, ouchiness on rough terrain, can't hold shoes without chipping off, persistent flares are just some of the symptoms.

There is ALWAYS a reason why hooves don't look smooth and shiny without someone running a rasp over them. A common and yet very unknown cause: White line disease!!!

White line disease (Hereafter known as WLD) is an inappropriate name because it actually originates between the pigmented layer of hoof and the unpigmented layer (AKA the water line as some people call it), not the white line. However it can go down into the white line in a severe case and cause it to die and become hollow (Seedy toe). The pathogens get into the hoof wall, be it by injury such as an abcess, cut hairline, compromised laminae (laminitis, founder) etc. or by neglect such as bad living conditions, long time between trims leaving flares and stretching the laminae, allowing the pathogens to invade etc. It comes from the coronet band and makes it's way down the hoof. This is where you start to see the cracks in the hoof wall. Sometimes the hoof will split and it is common practice for a farrier to either "score" the crack with a rasp, burn it or put a shoe on it to stop it from splitting. The problem is this only treats the aftermath of the issue, not the source so it never goes away completely.

Here you can see a black hoof.

The outer wall is black, the white next to it is the un-pigmented hoof wall layer and then the white line appears yellow. This gelding has had a crack for 5 years and was lame without shoes. So farrier after farrier put shoes on him and yet his hoof still cracked. I came along and told the owner about what was really going on. Notice the bad quality of frog and black between the layers of hoof wall were dead, necrotic tissue has been living.

Here's the hoof clipping. You can see where the split occurred, leaving the pigmented hoof wall intact behind it.

This horse is on his way to having nice, new feet.

This mare however the owner reports always flares, cracks and grows next to nothing for hoof wall. Can you guess what I seen when I rasped a little?
See the black crap there, right between the layers of hoof wall? That is the white line disease. Atrophied frog, nasty.

So what does one do to get rid of this nasty, sneaky sucker? Well start by throwing away all those hoof dressings, thrush treatments and hoof ointments that have chemicals in them. If you have coppertox or have used bleach stop right now! Stop it! Stop it right now and say it with me: IF YOU WOULDN'T PUT IT ON YOUR OWN SKIN DON'T PUT IT ANYWHERE ON YOUR HORSES. PERIOD!!
Chemicals like bleach, coppertox, thrush buster etc. kill good tissues and horn in the hoof. This creates a new buffet of compromised structures for these pathogens to invade and make a new home. Make sure you read labels, pick something that isn't going to harm live tissue. My personal favorite and most effective is Clean trax. It takes a bit more time but is far more effective than anything I have used (yes white lightning included which as I personally witnessed, ate a clients denim jeans. Yikes!).

So my question to you guys, have you witnessed these cracked hooves? What have you been told?


Calm, Forward, Straight said...

Sydney -

A timely post for me. Hope you don't mind weighing in on some questions...

My farrier just made it out after an eight week break - it's usually six or seven in the winter.

I trimmed the bars weekly, but am still in the learning stages on hooves so didn't mess with them. It has also been very wet during this time, so Val has some white line working. He usually has an issue with flaring and chipping, but funny enough this go round not so much. Less than half as much as usual.

I'm crediting the bar trims, which btw my farrier (bless his heart) had advised me would take away too much sole. I ignored that.

He also told me to use bleach on the white line. Ignored that as well.

I've been treating his feet with Veterycin, which as far as I can tell is a bleach-like substance, but isn't harsh like bleach - you can use it in eyes and the mouth. It also promotes oxygenation in the tissues. Anyhow - any experience with Veterycin for white line? Thanks!

sydney K said...

You were right to not use bleach. Veterycin is great. It isn't a bleach but also does not penetrate the hoof with any vapors, allowing the new WLD to grow down since it originates at the hairline and grows down.

Calm, Forward, Straight said...


Willow said...

Sarina is running into this issue right now, good reading this post.

Willow said...

My Paso Find Sarina has some problems with white line. Good informative post. Thank you.

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