Using Solar Support to Aid Healing of White Line Disease
by Tab Pigg
No matter the season, anytime wet conditions are present, bacteria and fungus can get
trapped in a horse’s hoof wall. Similar to human toenails, once fungus and bacteria
have set in, it’s very difficult to conquer. This combination of pathogens in the hoof wall
is a recipe for White Line Disease.
The Anatomy of White Line Disease
When looking at the bottom of a horse’s hoof, there is a white line that divides the
outside of the hoof wall and the sole. This part of the hoof is also known as stratum
internum, which is the innermost part of the hoof wall, and attaches the wall to the
underlying soft tissue. When bacteria and fungus get trapped within this area, the white
line becomes wider as it separates, thus the name of this condition – White Line
Disease. Depending on the severity, the horse can become lame because the infection
causes the hoof wall to deteriorate.
When a hoof is already unhealthy or compromised in any way, it’s more prone to
infection. Once White Line Disease has set in, the hoof wall begins to disappear as the
anaerobic bacteria eats away the lining. White Line Disease consists of anaerobic
bacteria, which thrives in conditions with little-to–no oxygen. If a hoof is left untreated,
the infection can become more severe as it moves up the hoof wall. Eventually, the
attachment to the hoof wall is eaten away completely.
Managing White Line Disease
Depending on the severity of the hoof damage, there are different ways to manage this
condition. If White Line Disease is caught early enough, it can be managed with
different topical treatments and exposure to oxygen. If the hoof wall is drastically eaten
away, there are different shoeing and booting options. If the condition is very severe, re–
sectioning of the hoof wall may be necessary. Similar to humans, in order for a new,
healthy nail to grow in, the infected nail needs to be removed. This is called re-
sectioning, and in severe cases this is the last option. During this process, the hoof wall
is carefully removed to expose the area to oxygen which will kill the bacteria.
After a hoof wall is reset, shoes cannot be nailed to hooves, but a horse still needs
support. Modern solar support and pad materials can assist with not only providing
support, but also sealing out moisture and debris during the healing process.
Vettec’s solar support products like Equi-Pak CS and Equi-Build help provide necessary
support and also allow the hoof wall to regrow. Super Fast can be applied to help
provide more support as a “temporary shoe”. Super Fast is a durable, fast- and hard-
setting, urethane formula that is ideal for creating custom shoes directly on the foot
when nailing is not an option. This product also allows hoof care professionals to make
small hoof repairs quickly and easily. Equi-Pak CS will bond to the bottom of a horse’s
foot, eliminating the possibility of further bacteria being trapped in the hoof wall. Equi-