White Line Disease

Following a bout of laminitis (founder), Beau, a 12-year-old Tennessee Walking Horse, was continuing to have intermittent lameness on both front feet that would only temporarily resolve with bute. On thorough examination of his foot, Dr. Paul expressed concern about the integrity of Beau’s white line. Radiographs (x-rays) of Beau’s feet revealed fairly advanced white line disease.

What is white line disease?

Also sometimes called seedy toe, white line disease is a term used to describe anytime that an abnormal separation occurs between the hoof wall and the sole. The white line is the area on the external surface of the hoof that marks the connection between the hoof wall and sole. Weakness can result in this area from mechanical stress (overgrown feet), a wet environment, chronic abscesses, or laminitis. The weakness leads to a breakdown of the whiteline which allows dirt, debris and bacteria to become packed into the foot and worsen the stress on the whiteline. If left untreated, the entire hoof wall can become undermined causing pain and loss of integrity of the weight-bearing structures of the foot.

What was done for Beau?

In order to resolve Beau’s condition, Dr. Paul had to debride (remove) all of the undermined and abnormal hoof wall (Photo 1 and 2). This looks quite dramatic but everything that was removed was no longer functional. The undermined hoofwall simply served to trap debris and although the white line disease to worsen.

Beau was bandaged with betadine to clean and dry out the exposed tissue.

To support Beau’s feet and compensate for the missing hoof wall, the farrier fashioned special shoes for Beau.

It took several months but Beau’s feet grew out very well. He now has a normal strong hoof wall. The owner is able to ride Beau again and he no longer has to wear his special shoes.

The old saying “no hoof, no horse” is very true. Good hoof care is essential to the health and well-being of your horse.