Opinions on Preventing and Treating White Line Disease

Hoof wall separation opens the door to the dreaded bacterial and fungus infection

Pictured Above: Bacteria and fungi keep each other in regulated balance in a healthy foot. In an unhealthy foot, they take advantage of the rich blood supply and create an infection in the stratum medium.

Theoretically, treatment for white line disease should be simple — kill infection-causing bacteria and fungi. In reality, treating white line disease can be far more complicated.

Bacteria and fungi naturally exist inside the hoof wall in a mutually beneficial relationship. In “Taking the Mystery Out of White Line Disease,” SBS Equine researchers Dr. M. John Partens and Dr. Richard Shakalis explained that each organism breaks down in the hoof in a different manner.

In a healthy hoof, these organisms keep each other in a regulated balance. In an unhealthy foot, they take advantage of access to a rich blood supply and create an infection, most often in the stratum medium. Because these organisms counteract each other and prevent one another from over-generating, one can’t be corrected without correcting the other.

Farrier Takeaways

  • Regularly scheduled hoof-care visits provide an opportunity to
    head off white line disease.
  • Effective treatment of white line disease includes eradicating the
    defect and addressing underlying foot pathologies.
  • Less is more. Avoid removing too much hoof tissue and use
    antiseptics judiciously.

Although bacteria and fungi cause white line disease, there are several misconceptions about why some horses are more prone to the disease than others.

“The most important thing to remember is that white line disease is a secondary issue,” says Dr. Raul…

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Katie navarra

Katie Navarra

Katie Navarra is a freelance writer who draws from her experiences owning and showing horses, and inter­viewing the industry’s leading pro­fessionals.

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