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DC E Dave Sauter, DVM

Dave Sauter, DVM, a Minnesota native, graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1987. Following graduation he interned at Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital in Lexington, Kentucky. After this internship, he continued to work exclusively with horses for another fi ve years in Kentucky before moving out west to join Kulshan Veterinary Hospital. He is a member of the AAEP, AVMA and the WSVMA.

Outside of veterinary medicine, David enjoys hiking, photog- raphy and spoiling his two daughters.

Kulshan Veterinary Hospital’s mission is to provide our patients and clients with high quality, team-oriented veterinary care emphasizing respect, dignity and compassion. We strive to deliver this care in a relaxed setting, combining exceptional customer service with modern veterinary medicine and technology.

We are committed to:

• Care and compassion • Excellence • Integrity and respect

For more information: Call 360-354-5095 Email Visit

Doctor’s Corner

White Line Disease

An Inside Look at a Serious Hoof Malady by Dave Sauter, DVM

nglishman Jeremiah Bridges appears to receive the credit for coining the expres- sion “no hoof, no horse.” Over 260 years

ago he wrote his essay No foot, no horse: an essay on that noble and useful animal, a horse. It is as true now as it was then. This month’s article is about White Line Disease

(WLD), a term introduced during the 1990’s by veterinarian/farrier Ric Redden. Although techni- cally a misnomer, WLD is much catchier than the more accurate “unpigmented horn keratolysis.” It is a serious malady of the horse’s foot. The equine foot is an amazing example of

biological engineering. Just fi ve inches wide, it supports much more than the resting weight of this 1000-pound-plus animal. At a gallop the peak force exerted on each foot approaches 2 V times the weight of the horse or 2500 pounds. Equine anatomy is designed for awesome speed.

Having the

bulky muscles high on the limb and moving on the “nail” of an extended digit allows the horse to move fast. At racing speeds each foot strikes the ground 150 times a minute or a total of 600 foot- prints per minute. The energy demands and forces the equine foot is subjected to are phenomenal. A horse’s foot can roughly be divided into

The hoof is composed of various layers. The

outer layers are pigmented like the skin whereas the deeper layer is unpigmented. Normally this deeper layer is sealed off from the outer environ- ment. When there is a separation of the layers or a break in the barrier, dirt and contamination can enter introducing microorganisms. Some microorganisms grow and feed on

unpigmented horn. We are unsure whether these microorganisms are bacteria or fungus or both. Once these microorganisms invade and proliferate, they continue to eat away at this unpigmented horn, expanding the area of sepa- ration of these layers of horn. This destruction is White Line Disease. Because this process is happening deep

below the hoof surface, it often goes unnoticed. In severe cases, more than half the hoof wall can be separated and can threaten the very support of the rest of the foot. Key to the develop-

A hoof after carving away inner horn damaged by White Line Disease

ment of WLD is a break in the normal barrier to the deeper layers. Predisposing factors can be environmental. Wet weather results in softer, horn that

saturated allows

two parts which together form the foot. The outer part is the hoof, composed of avascular (no blood supply), insensitive, hard and protec- tive horn. The inner foot structures are sensitive tissues composed of connective tissue, nerves, tendons, ligaments and bone. It has a huge supply of blood provided by numerous networks of arteries and veins that provide for the foot’s tremendous energy needs.

12 March 2012 The Northwest Horse Source

easier penetration of dirt and debris. Very dry, arid conditions can result in brittle horn that cracks and breaks easily, allowing contamination of deeper horn layers. Foot problems can result in mechanical stress on the hoof that leads to separation. Some examples include long toe/low heel, sheared heels, and clubfoot. It can be sequel to founder (although it is not the same as “seedy toe”) or to a serious hoof abscess. Often the farrier is the fi rst one to notice a case of WLD. Probing the area of separation helps to confi rm the problem. By tapping on the outer


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