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What is white line disease?

There have been a rash of posts on Facebook lately about "white line disease". The way many farriers go about "helping" horses with this is absolutely appalling. They do resections to the hoof in an attempt to clean out the infection. In many cases this results in damage to the coffin bone. How could it not?

One thing to note is WHERE the infection seems to be most... in the toe and in the quarters. Both places that if left long will begin to crack. This clearly shows what can happen when the outer wall is load bearing. This clearly shows why the outer hoof wall should NOT be load bearing.

The hoof in these photos was trimmed 7 weeks before these photos were taken. The state that this hoof is in is horrendous.

There isn't a frog at all. And there isn't a back of the foot either. The soft tissue above the frog is all smashed and in terrible condition. This horse would not want to load the back part of it's foot at all, causing it to walk toe first and since there is too much outer hoof wall left, this is causing the split and then the infection. This could all be solved with a good trim that addresses the outer hoof wall, cleans up the frog so healthy tissue can grow and by giving this horse a comfortable place to land, heel first.

Below are the photos of this same hoof after the trim:

Can you see that sharp point at the heel buttress? And the frog looks so painful and atrophied.

Here are a few photos of Zorro's front feet before a trim and then after - His Left Front:

You can see that his frog is plump and healthy. The back of his foot provides a nice place to land which encourages a heel first landing. When a horse is landing heel first this encourages the back of the foot to get stronger and more developed.
Nice rounded edges on the heel buttress.
This angle really shows how I clean up the edges of the frog and bevel it so it's all smooth.

His Right Front:

In the before photo the central sulcus is closed and there are flaps of dead frog laying over onto the sole. In the after photo you can see where I trimmed that away so thrush and infection won't fester in there.
The central sulcus is all cleaned up!

This led me down a long winding path this morning... Our horses really survive in spite of us. They try to thrive in spite of what we do to them.

They live at our whim. Sometimes we don't understand something or think we know everything and fail to reach out to learn more. Often at the expense of our horse. They pay the price. Sometimes an unfortunate occurrence such as laminitis pushes us to research, to do better for our horses, sometimes this makes us better at feeding and exercising and trimming our own horses. In these cases I'm sure our horses feel a great amount of relief.

For some there will never be relief and they will just have to learn how to make do. For some reason, today, that is weighing heavy on my heart. As I drove to town, I had to drive around a few horses that were lounging in the road and saw that they had old shoes on. The ice and snow has built up in their hooves so they were standing all askew, ankles twisted painfully. A few were lucky and had thrown a front shoe or a back shoe so that hoof looked a bit less painful. They were enjoying the sun shining in their backs but shifting from one foot to the other over and over. Trying to find comfort.

I just couldn't stop thinking about these horses and others with painful feet, or horses that hang on for dear life as their owner drives the truck and trailer like a sports car, with little thought to the horse in the back trying to stay standing, or horses that have to do a long days work with a saddle that is pinching, or pull a heavy cart that is not balanced and pushes on their withers all day long. There is nothing I can personally do for these horses, aside from writing down my thoughts and sharing them here, in the hopes that someone who needs to see my blog, will.

If you made it this far then thank you! I'm just feeling a bit sad for those without a voice today...

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