White Line Disease


Hi, I’m Danvers. I’m the Hoof Health
Consultant for SmartPak, and we’re going to talk about
White Line Disease today. White Line Disease
is occasionally referred to as onychomycosis. That is an infection of the
fingernail or the toenail. Basically, it’s a
fungal infection, and it differs from
thrush in that manner. Thrush is a bacterial infection. White Line Disease is a
fungal infection, therefore, it’s more pervasive,
more difficult to fight and get rid of. White Line Disease
causes more of a problem, and it comes in in the
white line or the lamina, and it simply eats
away at this area. It’s a very cheesy-looking
white, almost like, powdery look. And as you start working
at this, it’ll disintegrate and you’ll find
cavities and holes that come up through the lamina. You can take a probe and
run up into that structure, and you’ll find very often it’ll
go that high up into the wall, or even higher. And it may be isolated to an
area of fractions of an inch or it may pervade the
entire hoof capsule and go from one
side to the other. In and of itself, White Line
Disease doesn’t cause pain. It’s not a problem
in that respect. What it does is it detaches
the sensitive structure from the insensitive
structure, and you lose the integrity of the hoof
wall and the hoof capsule. The end result, untreated,
can be a laminitic episode, where your horse
will rotate simply because he’s lost connectivity. What you really need to do is
to get your vet and your farrier involved and make certain that
this is the condition you’re dealing with. The main reason for
that is that you want to make sure that you’re
not dealing with simple balance issues and maintenance issues. To really treat it,
what you have to do is open that area
up and oxygenate it. The minute you do that, you’re
taking a base of support away from the horse. As a general rule of thumb,
if you remove more than 30% of this base of support
in that procedure, then you’re going to have
to support that hoof capsule with some sort of appliance. It may be a bar shoe, a heart
bar shoe, any number of ways that you would provide
support back to this capsule. If you do end up
resecting the hoof walls or dealing with compromised
hoof wall, what you want to do is to get good growth. A hoof doesn’t repair
itself, it replaces itself. So anything you can
do to encourage growth is going to be wonderful. That means exercise
and activity as much as you are allowed to
do given the conditions. And it includes a good
hoof supplement program, so anything you can do
is going to be useful. Once you have a true
diagnosis and you’ve established a treatment protocol
with your vet and farrier, then you want to make sure that
you follow the veterinarian’s instructions on how to
provide care for that. Most often they’re going to have
you apply some sort of topical. In many cases it’ll
be a tamed iodine, a Betadine-type product. But there are a number
of commercial products, and again as always
make certain that you’re using something that is
prescribed by your veterinarian or a commercially based
product for this purpose. I hope this was helpful. Stay with us for more hoof
health tips from SmartPak.


12 Responses

  1. Sophia Brown

    July 6, 2015 5:15 pm

    I'm glad you uploaded this! My horse is recovering from white line, and when he was diagnosed in February, I hadn't heard of it. My vet and farrier worked together to trim back the infected hoof and I used lots of betadine to keep it clean. I wrapped his hoof too, which seemed to help. My horse's hoof has grown back perfectly, and I give it an occasional spritz of betadine to keep it infection free. He's still goes perfectly well barefoot (knock on wood), and I hope he stays that way.

  2. Lexi Feldmann

    July 6, 2015 10:44 pm

    I'm just curious but in the one photo you had like a pairing knife up to the hilt into the hoof.  How was that not painful or even…possible?  isn't that like sticking a pencil under your fingernail?    I've never seen this in horses yet but then again I have only ever owned one and never had to deal with the farrier during all of my 19 years leasing and riding so, maybe I've been lucky not to have issues!

  3. Gabrielle Turner

    July 7, 2015 12:51 am

    Thanks for shedding light on this! My mare got this and luckily my farrier caught it just in time so he was able to cut it out and let the air kill it. I also applied Durasole 3 times a week for 8 weeks and it was gone (:

  4. SmartPak

    July 28, 2015 2:40 pm

    Hi +Lexi Feld! Excellent question. The image you refer to is rather disturbing, as it addresses how insidious and subtle WLD can be. Although the area of the hoof that is being “eaten away” by the fungal and bacterial activity is structurally important, it is in fact dead, connective tissue, non-innervated and non-vascular.  Basically, it’s like a foundation that is crumbling and deteriorating.  Since there are no nerve endings associated with the structural breakdown, the horse does not feel any pain sensation.  It’s only when the foundation weakens enough that the internal structures begin to collapse that we actually see an associated lameness.    

    In this photo, the knife is being utilized primarily to show the extent of the breakdown and decay, but as you can see by the void in front of the knife, it is also being used to debride and clean away the diseased tissue prior to treatment.

    Hope this answers your questions. – SmartPak Hoof Health Consultant, Danvers

  5. bmc06239

    August 10, 2016 6:03 pm

    I discovered something very interesting about fungus while bring in fire wood. It is capable of binding pieces of wood together so tight I could barely break them apart. I would like to challenge your thought process. Most of soil borne fungi once thought to be obligately aerobic are now known to be facultatively anaerobe .   A facultative anaerobe is an organism that makes ATP by aerobic respiration if oxygen is present, but is capable of switching to fermentation or anaerobic respiration if oxygen is absent. Therefore resectioning the hoof wall to remove this type of fungus might be fruitless or even counter productive. White line disease treatment I believe (a term I think misguided) should be more about controlling the anaerobic bacteria where resectioning still seems to be the best option. Perhaps topical solution should kill only anaerobic bacteria leaving the fungus to bind the hoof wall until fungus is out grown.

  6. TheAssholeProphet

    November 6, 2017 12:47 am

    I'm glad this video is out here, my barefoot farrier said my mare had this- of course previous farriers didn't notice, also found a website that suggests leaving it open without disinfectant and keeping dry- probably wouldn't work for me considering my horse and well the UK is pretty wet. Either way I should of done my research on this a week sooner! thankfully it's only small superficial holes, only the one the other I'm not sure about yet but I've been taking care of them both just in case (both her front feet, I don't think her back feet are as bad).

  7. Cashew Nut

    January 25, 2019 7:31 pm

    So my rescue mare has WLD severely to where were pretty sure shes lame in a leg because she does have a cut only in that hoof. I think its a pretty severe infection with very hollow hooves too. Her lame legs clearly hurts her and a farrier is coming out pretty soon but we have no money for a vet. Do you think she has of ever healing from that? Possibly with no lameness? Before we bought her not knowing how bad her condition was we were told she was amazing riding mare. I need to know ASAP!

  8. hrsnrnd10

    July 22, 2019 7:58 pm

    You have said this is not painful but my horse is lame from it. My 25 year old just got shod and was lame afterwards. He was long..guessing that once he got trimmed and re-set it activated something. Once my farrier came back out and removed the shoe, there was separation on one side of his hoof. We cleaned it out and I have been using White Lightning. He is still lame. He is getting his shoe put back on tomorrow. I am pretty stumped.


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