White Line Disease
White Line Disease
White line disease is caused by a dysfunction of the area between the hoof wall and the sole.
The white line's job is to allow for expansion between the hoof wall and the sole as well as preventing infection from entering the inner hoof. A normal white line should follow the circumference of the hoof wall and down the bars to finish two-thirds of the way down the frog. It should be opaque in colour with a width at about 3mm wide.
The separation can involve a considerable amount of capsule and in some cases extend up the capsule wall and could cause structural integrity or mechanical failure of the hoof.
As every animal is an individual they can respond in many different ways when they have a problem in the white line of the hoof. Some horses will become extremely sore or lame with just the first indications of any problems while other can show no signs of soreness and remain sound with an advanced amount of separation of the white line. It will depend on the animal and the amount of infection that gets in behind the hoof capsule wall as to how the animal deals with the problem.
These changes in the white line tend to be through an imbalance in the feet and the breaking down of the tissue usually happens over a long period of time and then just seems to suddenly appear in the foot. When any of these changes persist you should have your horses checked by a qualified professional to ensure correct orthopaedic balance.
What Can You Do?
The treatment of this complaint depends on the amount and depth of the damage to the foot. If it is mild, then a good rebalancing of the foot will usually fix the problem, however if the damage to the foot is deep and the infection is in behind the wall, you should pack the opening with copper sulphate and cotton wool impregnated with hoof grease. The copper sulphate will kill the germ and the cotton wool will prevent anything for being forced up inside the hole. It is not recommended to open up this area of the hoof wall and leave open as removing the hoof wall will only cause more strain and stress to the inner tissue and prolong healing of the structures involved.
Have the feet rebalanced on a regular basis of about 5 week intervals and monitor the progress to ensure the damage is growing out and the foot is becoming healthy again.
Please contact your consultant if you have any additional questions. Download Factsheet