White Line Disease Rambling
First off, there are lots of people smarter than me with the patience to perform a disciplined study of what is known as White Line Disease or “WLD”. There was a good study by Michael Wildenstein, the resident farrier at Cornell Veterinary College. This study observed 5 WLD horses and found four types of fungi.
I was at Cornell when this study was presented and at the time they reported that WLD can be affected by 41 different types of fungi, molds, yeast, and both aerobic and anaerobic bacteria. This information is not included in this study and they also don’t say if each infected hoof had all four types of bacteria. I think this is important to tell you, particularly for people who feel guilty about a horse with WLD. Long story for another time, but I lost a horse to WLD and putting her down was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but I didn’t have adequate facilities to save her.
White Line Disease is the toughest problem once it gets going. The best bet is to learn as much as you can about it, including what are some early signs. Kentucky Equine Research says,” White line disease may be diagnosed during a routine trimming when a farrier notices a small area of crumbly or powdery black or gray tissue at the white line. Paring away the damaged horn reveals separation of the hoof layers leading upward from the toe toward the coronary band.” Now’s the time to catch it. They also say,” Tapping on the hoof wall over the separation produces a hollow sound. Bulges or sunken areas of the hoof are sometimes noticed.” Now it’s too late and emergency measures are called for.
I’m not going to go into all the possible treatments out there or even my preferred treatment, although there is a section on my website that a HoofArmor farrier did. With possible variations of aerobic and anaerobic bacteria, do you seal it off or leave it open to the air? Treatment WLD is still a mystery disease/infection that seems to be getting more prevalent all the time and I don’t know why. More research is desperately needed on this crippling, often fatal disease.