Hoof Nutrition Intelligence Hoof Nutrition Intelligence is a twice-a-month web segment that is designed to add to the education of footcare professionals when it comes to effectively feeding the hoof. The goal of this web-exclusive feature is to zero in on specific areas of hoof nutrition and avoid broad-based articles that simply look at the overall equine feeding situation.

Below you will find Part 1 of the latest question and answer installment that you can share with your footcare clients.

Q: Is there a connection between diet and white line disease?

By Susan Kempson, DVM

A: Nutrition has long been known to be an important factor in developing healthy equine feet, but diet also can play a role in causing the feet to break down. This is particularly true with dietary problems that open the way for the bacteria that causes white line disease to enter the hoof.

White line disease as an infection of the hoof horn, which starts in the inner layer of the distal dorsal wall, then spreads to the outer layer of the wall, the sole and occasionally the frog. Once the bacteria works its way out into the outer layer, the hoof wall breaks down until it can no longer support the shoe or the weight of the horse.

In order for white line to develop, the hoof horn must be compromised in some way. Three factors that typically cause compromise are nutrition, laminitis and trauma.

Nutrition can play a very important role in compromising the hoof horn due to both deficiencies of certain nutrients and excesses of others. As a result, nutrition can be a “double-edged sword,” in causing problems with hoof horn.

Equine veterinarian Susan Kempson for a number of years was a hoof researcher and senior lecturer at the Royal (Dick) Veterinary School in Edinburgh, Scotland. She presented the “Burney Chapman Memorial Lecture” at the first International Hoof-Care Summit in 2006.


Click here to read part 2 of the Nov. 1, 2020 installment of Hoof Nutrition Intelligence: Will quarter cracks have an impact on equine performance? Click here to read more installments of Hoof Nutrition Intelligence.