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Dealing with White Line Disease (WLD)

White Line Disease, commonly known as WLD, seedy toe, hollow foot, wall thrush, or stall rot, can be a frustrating problem to deal with for every horse owner. However, if handled properly, it can be solved without complications.

What Causes White Line Disease in Horses?

White Line Disease occurs throughout the world. It can affect any horse and can occur on one foot or several feet at the same time. WLD is caused by a mix of fungal and bacterial organisms and starts where damage to the hoof wall allows fungi and bacteria to invade. Such damage can include:

  • Mechanical hoof problems, e.g., long toes, poor conformation, and hoof imbalances
  • Underlying health conditions, e.g., laminitis and founder (WLD likely occurs in combination)
  • Environmental conditions, such as wet, unhygienic conditions, can soften the hoof and allow the invasion of bacteria, while excessively dry hooves are prone to cracks and fissures
  • Deficiencies or an imbalanced diet can play its part in overall hoof health

Fast fact:
In North America, Seedy Toe is often described as a thickened or stretched white line at the toe in horses with chronic laminitis.

In Europe, it is used to describe the separation of the hoof wall filled with a crumbly white material that is not necessarily associated with laminitis.

How To Tell If Your Horse Has White Line Disease

White Line Disease is an infection which starts in an invisible form inside the horse’s hoof. It is hard to detect and gives little indication until it invades the hoof’s deep tissues.

The only noticeable change on the solar surface of the foot may be a small powdery area, as WLD causes the hoof wall to crumble and separate the wall of the hoof and the sole of the hoof, allowing bacteria to eat their way through.

Most of the time, White Line Disease (WLD) or Seedy Toe will be discovered by the farrier during a regular, scheduled trim, as horses are unlikely to be lame from it in the early stages.

Fast fact:
The term White Line Disease is actually misleading; the white line is not affected when a horse suffers from white line disease. The infection mainly appears in the epidermal laminae, which are the tissues attached to the hoof wall that help to suspend the coffin bone within the hoof capsule.

How Can I treat White Line Disease?

White Line Disease can lead to months and months of time-consuming treatment and, in the worst case, also to lameness. If left untreated, it can damage the inner part of the hoof and the supportive tissues. White line disease treatment should always be initiated by a farrier or vet and may require a radical hoof wall resection.

Common treatment routines include:

  • Removal of the infected hoof area (hoof wall resection)
  • Stabilisation of the hoof with specialist shoeing
  • Medical treatments e.g. iodine or copper sulphate
  • Nutritional supplementation with biotin, lysine, and calcium l (Learn more about Hoof Nutrition at the FormaHoof Academy )
  • Keeping the feet clean and dry (this may mean no turn out for some horses)

The treatment duration and recovery time will always depend on the severity of the case and the individual healing and hoof growth progress of each horse.

From the time it sneaks into your horse’s hoof, WLD can progress to a stage where your horse needs extensive treatment, with the associated vet and farrier costs, time off from training and turn out, and an increase in contact hours to ensure your horse’s care.

Why FormaHoof is the ideal tool to treat White Line Disease

FormaHoof helps to correct distortions and imbalances, creating an all-over healthier hoof capsule and allowing the weakened wall to grow out. Providing a clean environment and keeping medication in place where needed, FormaHoof allows the horse to grow a stronger, healthier hoof and resist future bacterial infection.

FormaHoof:

  • Stabilises and protects the entire hoof capsule
  • Allows medical treatments to be kept in place, hassle-free
  • Keeps infected areas clean and dry
  • Allows your horse to enjoy turn out much faster
  • Can bring your horse back into work much faster
  • Can reduce your overall treatment cost and rehab time immensely

Treating White Line Disease with FormaHoof

FormaHoof can be used in different ways and be fully customised. As described by farrier and FormaHoof Certified Applicator (FCA) Aletia Reilingh in the video below, the special FormaHoof Advanced Polymer is designed to leave no traces or damage to the hoof when it is removed at the end of the cycle. The 3D encapsulation gives the horse an entirely new hoof and starts the rehab process instantaneously.

Full encapsulation of the affected area

With FormaHoof’s liquid fill technique, it is possible to treat the affected areas with long-term medication underneath the FormaHoof application. This may include iodine, copper sulphate or additional padding.

The full encapsulation gives the best hoof protection and ensures cleanliness and comfort for the horse during recovery. Depending on the severity and overall conditions, horses can return to training and turn out immediately.

Images above show a White Line Disease case from FormaHoof Ltd.

Partial encapsulation of the affected foot

FormaHoof applications allow you to customise the entire application, taking the best of two worlds. While some vets and farriers decide to long-term medicate underneath the application, others may decide to keep the resected area open for individual treatments, but with the foot stabilised and with the advantage of the three-dimensional FormaHoof application to encourage healthy hoof growth.

Images show a case from farrier and FCA Stéphane Perennes, Bahrain.

Read about or listen to more White Line Disease Cases here:

Treating White Line Disease With FormaHoof

White Line Disease Recovery With FormaHoof

Is your horse suffering from White Line Disease? Get started on your FormaHoof journey today and walk into a healthier hoof future with your horse.

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