White line disease in horses (WLD) or Seedy toe is quite a common problem, varying in severity. If the area becomes infected, lameness can be evident, generally only in severe cases. The disease is characterized by an invasion of bacteria and fungi, which destroy the hoof wall tissue. Good primary hoof care, including picking out your horse’s feet daily, is essential in treating and preventing white line disease.
What causes White Line Disease in Horses
Seedy toe in horses is caused by the horney and sensitive laminae pulling apart. This leaves gaps, allowing dirt and girt to penetrate the sharp hoof. This, in turn, creates a cavity that rots and causes the breakdown of the laminae. Laminitis is a widespread cause as it does dramatic damage to the laminae, leaving them wide open to infiltrating foreign bodies. Contact your vet if your horse is lame, as there is an excellent chance infection is present, and antibiotics may be required.
White Line Disease Symptoms
In this case, a similar condition to hoof cracks, the white line or where the sole joints of the hoof wall, usually in the toe region, become infected with bacteria and fungi. It then deteriorates into a soft, crumbly texture. This can be caused by the toe getting too long, excess burning by a hot shoe during shoeing, or stones being driven into the horn.
However, the most common incidence is in chronic laminitis cases, where separation of the hoof has occurred through the white line. It changes the typical light color of the white line to a black or dark gray color. A foul odor may present.
Treatment of Seedy Toe or WLD
The bacteria involved in white line disease in horses are anaerobic, which means they live without oxygen. Because of this, a practical solution is to open the cavity to the air. Once the area is clean, your farrier will probably want to treat it with an acrylic or antibacterial putty to prevent re-infection.
After this, you should make sure your horses’ feet are shod or trimmed regularly to nip any potential hoof diseases in the bud before they develop. Correct primary hoof care should also be exercised. This includes picking out feet daily and keeping them as clean as possible.
How to Prevent White Line Disease in Horses
The only way to correct the disease is to remove the defective horn back to normal tissue. This is achieved by opening up and removing the overlying wall. The seedy toe rarely causes lameness in the early stages, but it does cause the separation of areas of the capsule from the inner layers of the hoof. Ultimately, this will affect hoof strength, soundness, and shoe retention.