Hoof Abscesses and White Line Disease
My 12 year old mare has had 3 abscesses of the hoof in the last year. The vet noted on her most recent episode that "she has lots of separation of the white line of all 4 feet and I feel this is where the abscesses are coming from". He said this has the potential to be a chronic condition but not to worry myself too much at this point. He suggested short rounded trims and a hoof supplement. He said with good foot care and time (8 - 12 month's) the hoof wall should grow back and be ok. Is this sound advice or is there something else that would benefit and encourage hoof growth. She has been an incredibly sound horse up until this last year. Any suggestions or insights would be appreciated.
—Patricia in Indiana
We are pleased to have a guest veterinarian provide an answer today. Dr. Mark Baus of Grand Prix Equine, and current President-elect of the North East Association of Equine Practitioners, was kind enough to answer this challenging entry for us:
Since the separation of the white line is occurring in all four feet, I would guess that the abscesses have also occurred in more than one foot. Your veterinarian's advice to care for this frustrating problem is certainly quite sound. I am concerned about two related possibilities that potentially explain the separation and the recurrent abscesses. I am concerned that your mare may have Equine Cushing's Syndrome and I would want to know if laminitis has subsequently occurred.
To arrive at a more definitive diagnosis, I would ask your veterinarian to perform two diagnostic procedures. Firstly I would ask for blood tests to determine your mare's Cushing's status. Bear in mind that these tests are not as accurate when performed in late summer through the fall of the year. Secondly, I would ask your veterinarian if it would be appropriate to take radiographs to determine the true amount of hoof wall separation and whether laminitis has caused that separation.
Even if both Equine Cushing's Syndrome and laminitis have occurred, the signs may well be managed by paying close attention to hoof care and diet along with the supplements your veterinarian has recommended. With the additional information, you will be able to more confidently manage your mare's long term health and soundness.