Hoof with white line disease

How to Prevent and Treat White Line Disease in Horses

A proactive approach is the best defense against hoof wall fungal infections

Farrier Takeaways

  • Buffing the hoof wall can eliminate the microscopic crevices that house fungi and bacteria.
  • Medicated wax that’s packed into hoof wall separations can head off infection-causing microbes.
  • Medicated packing that’s applied the duration of the shoeing cycle can provide constant treatment, but all infected tracts must be eliminated to avoid further fungal damage.

As the damp fall weather approaches, farriers will be keeping a watchful eye on hoof walls for signs of onychomycosis, more commonly known as white line disease.

Although it can occur at any time of year, opportunistic fungi that compromise the horse’s hoof wall thrive in damp climates, according to Michael Wildenstein’s 2013 Fellowship dissertation for the Worshipful Company of Farriers. “A Detailed Examination of White Line Disease” found four fungal cultures — Trichoderma sp, Mucor sp, Aspergillus glaucus and Gilocladium sp — in five infected feet. No bacterial cultures were found.

“It’s been scientifically proven that onychomycosis is an opportunistic fungal infection; however, due to the nature of what a horse stands on and in every day, secondary bacterial infections are common,” says Nicholas Denson, a Sagamore Beach, Mass., farrier who counts the International Horseshoeing Hall of Fame member from Sharon, Vt., as a mentor.

Preventing Infection

It’s always best to prevent an infection rather than fight one. Simply put, the alternative often results in a fight that’s difficult to contain. While hoof-care clients can spearhead prevention by providing a clean and dry living environment for their horses, farriers are likely the first line…

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Cota

Jeff Cota

Jeff Cota has been a writer, photographer and editor with newspapers and magazines for 30 years. A native of Maine, he is the Lead Content Editor of American Farriers Journal.

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