Friday, September 28, 2007

Q&A Toewall Separation

Hi Pat:As I said in my phone call, our Arab/Quarter Horse mare, Zippy, hasdeveloped a stretched white line on her right front hoof. We have had heralmost 2 years and I have been trimming her for about a year and have neverseen this.We moved her about 2 months ago. She was in a mud free area that was partsand and part dirt. She was with another horse, so she moved around a fairamount. She spent the nights in a stall (large; 12 x 18) and had access tofree choice orchard grass hay. We moved her to a boarding facility muchcloser to our house which is dirt and weeds with a two sided shelter. Wescoop manure daily. She sometimes has another horse in with her, though notat present. Here she is fed alfalfa twice per day. When we bought Zippy, shewas in a very muddy paddock and not very clean stall and fed alfalfa twiceper day. Even at that she has always had good hooves.There is about a ½ "space between the white and water lines, with dirtpacked between. She had developed what looked like a hard ridge around theedge of the hoof underneath. I nipped this and it seemed to be dirt mixedwith horn, although it was too hard for me to scrape off with a hoof pick. This ridge reappeared 4-5 days after I nipped, but when I squeezed it withthe nippers again, Zippy seemed sensitive, so I left it alone. She is not lame (yet) and has no ridges or other abnormalities on the outside of thehoof. Any advice on how to deal with this would be greatly appreciated. TW
Hi TW,

I've seen what's in the pictures a few times and it does generally come on suddenly and usually tenderfootedness is associated with it.
There are a couple possible causes. One is acute lamintis - founder. Possibly caused by a sudden change in feed or sudden over-abundance in feed, spring grass or some form of mechanical founder rather than organic.
Correct whatever caused that incident and grow the hooves out and continue trimming.
Another possible cause is thrush. We think of thrush as being a stinky condition of the hoof which happens now and then during wet weather. But it's a fungal/ bacterial infection which can lead to a very painful condition that can degrade the hoof structures it attacts.
To know if it's thrush, press on her frog and her digital cushion and see if she responds with sensitivity. There might be some other cause of the heel pain, but generally, it's thrush. What happens is that the horse doesn't want to come down on his heel when pain from heel pressure is present, so they start impacting first on their toe and then on their heel. You can walk her around and really watch for how her hoof is landing. That toe first landing will disrupt the toewall/sole/lamelar juncture and cause the separation you're seeing.

Take care of the thrush or whatever is causing the heel pain (an abscess could also be the culprit) and get her landing on her heel again and the toe wall will again grow down tight and the separation will grow out.

Please don't treat it with chemicals, or anything you wouldn't be willing to gargle with, including bleach! There are so many caustic thrush remedies on the market. I use "gentle" iodine.

You might also want to take a look at your horse's diet and see if any improvements can be made. Let me know how it goes.


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