As I turned out the Diva earlier this week I passed the BFG in his field and noticed he had a semicircle cut away in the hoof wall at the front of his fore foot. If I didn’t know any better it looked like the farrier had changed his mind from a shoe with toe clips to one with quarter clips.
What I did realise though, is that I’ve never blogged about seedy toe, which is what this phenomenon is.
Seedy toe, or white line disease, is when the hoof wall separates from the sensitive laminae at the white line. Dirt then gathers in the cavity and it becomes infected by anaerobic bacteria.
The farrier, or vet, cuts away the dead, separated hoof, and then the hole should be cleaned out thoroughly with hibi scrub to ensure there isn’t any infection and then sprayed with iodine spray. I have seen deep holes packed with cotton wool, which I assume helps stop dirt gathering, especially in wetter weather. The horse should be kept in a clean, dry environment to reduce the risk of infection. If necessary, antibiotics can help clear up the infection. With the cavity exposed there is less chance of the anaerobic bacteria taking residence because the environment has more oxygen in.
The funny thing about seedy toe is that horses aren’t usually lame until it is severe, so it is normally diagnosed by the farrier during a visit and treated before it becomes an issue. Yet another reason to have their feet checked regularly. The BFG wasn’t bothered by his seedy toe, and there isn’t any infection there so the farrier obviously caught it nice and early and just removed the dead hoof and exposed the cavity so it can be monitored and cleaned more easily. Below is a picture of the type of seedy toe sported by the BFG.
Apparently horses with long toes and low heels are more susceptible to seedy toe, as are those with brittle horn. There are also links to laminitis, but in this case seedy toe is a secondary infection and results from distortion of the inner structures of the hoof. Best not to think too much about that. Preventing seedy toe comes in the form of regular exercise to maintain blood flow to the limbs and keeping his bedding clean and dry, and not letting his feet get too muddy in the field. To support the foot whilst the hoof wall grows, the horse can be shod with full bars shoes, or broad-webbed shoes.
Doing my research for this post I was amazed at how bad seedy toe can get, see the case study below. The only cases I have come across have been the farrier making a little hole and everyone continues as normal. Which makes me think that it’s worth having an observant farrier who visits frequently.