Questions and Answers on Hoof Wall Disease

by Bob Peacock

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I have been asking questions since the 1980's. The same basic answers keep coming back. Let me explain. The first article was printed in the "F Y I" and distributed at the 1992 A F A convention. People started to realize there was a hoof wall problem but not a lame horse.

I pursued my findings, by attending clinics and listening to farriers that had to deal with it, also read articles on this subject. Some used the "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" approach to fix it now. Most of them had little fact and a lot of fiction.

To keep separate the facts from fiction, I put together a questionnaire about hoof conditions. I have given out 500 or more covering the Continental U.S. and Canada, New England to Texas, California to Florida. The results are amazing and I would like to share them with you. The questions involved owners, trainers, veterinarians, farriers and stable managers and most of all, the horse.

The information you are about to read is fact and practical experience from the questionnaires. Also containing comments from owners, trainers, veterinarians, stable managers and farriers who deal with the problem. I have also given my comments where noted. Included are comments from the recent Global Lameness clinic, lecture and seminar on the subject of hoof wall disease at Vero Beach, Florida.This article will be direct in addressing the CAUSES not the SYMPTOMS of Yeast, Unguilysis (Canker), Stable Foot Rot, Onychomycosis and all other hoof wall terms given. The article will also expose management problems out of love, such as over doing a drug, preventing over feeding and a sensible and practical maintenance program that looks directly at the IMMUNE SYSTEM.

This questionnaire checklist is used as a data bank reference about horses from owners, vet's,trainers and farriers who responded.


Fungus - A general term used to denote a group of eukaryotic organisms, including yeasts, molds, mushrooms, rusts, smuts, etc., which are characterized by the absence of chlorophyll and by thepresence of a cell wall composed of chitin and sometimes cellulose

Yeast - fungi characterized by a single fungal cell, usually ovoid, that replicates by budding

Onychomycosis - any infection of the nail produced by fungi

Conidia - an asexual reproductive unit (spore)

Cellulose - a carbohydrate **(sugar) forming the skeleton of most plants and fungi.**

Host - an animal or plant that harbors or nourishes another organism.

Keratin - a protein that is the principle component of skin, hair and nails

Saprobe - any organism living on dead or decaying organic matter

Canker - a chronic hypertrophy of the horn, producing tissues of the foot, involving the frog, the sole and at times the wall

Stable foot rot - a condition occurring in horses stabled over the winter feeding period; hind feet are commonly involved and usually the medial rather than the lateral.

Prevention - Control measures, include regular foot trimming,improved housing conditions and regular exercise. Turn out in winter.

Immune pathologic mechanisms - (Immune system) - Normal Immune responses are vital in protecting the host against invasion by foreign organisms, tissues and substances. Under certain circumstances, however, these usually protective responses can have a deleterious effect on the HOST; All such unfortunate responses are called allergies or hypersensitivities; autoimmunity is a special type of hypersensitivity, the chief feature of which is tissue (hoof,horn,wall, etc.) injury caused by specific immunologic reaction of the HOST to its own tissues. There are five situations wherein the host's immune system damages its own tissues. WHITE LINE DISEASE; IS DIRECTLY RELATED TO THE IMMUNE SYSTEM.

W/L= Disease=Hoof Wall Infection -White Line Disease


No. 1. Genetic Potential ( CONFORMATION )

A. Stress; Documented is a horse that was very hyper and hard to shoe on her front feet. With a history of white line problem's, she had been resectioned and treated the conventional way, open to air and topical with merthiolate. The condition remained the same.

The owner sent in a Questionnaire with photo's of horses front feet and hair loss with poor quality at the nose. The mare was fed

Sweet-feed; I suggested that she change the diet from Sweet feed to a mix without sugar and add a multi-supplement with 10 mg. of Iodine, Vitamin A, Selenium, Zinc,Choline , Niacin, Biotin Inositol and most important DL Methionine. She was on this Diet for over 60 days; In 30 days, you could see remarkable improvements in hair and feet. She remained on the multi-supplement until white-line problem was visual over. The owner or trainer chose to remove her from the supplement; In 30 day's, the white line problem was back. They returned to the multi-supplement with 10 mg. of Iodine and started using a new topical, made by the same Company in the nail holes and between the shoe and hoof.Everything is normal now. The most interesting thing is the mare is very easy to shoe now, no tranquilizer or restraints. The hoof is supple and clean of infection.

B. Alignment = Balance; this is the key roll of the Farrier and rider or trainer. The Questionnaire again showed that if a horse had W/L in one hoof it was a Balance/Alignment Problem. If it involved the two front feet, it could b e Stress, Founder, excess toe or race shoe toe grab or Balance. If it showed up in all four feet, it was a Environmental or Nutritional problem or both causing the Fungi Problem.

No. 2. Environmental

(Refer To Question No.5. Housing.)

130 horses were in a grass pasture they had no problems.

47 horses were in a paddock and stall they had problems.

33 horses were kept in stalls they had w/l problems.

6 horses were in a paddock/feed lot and they had no problems.

8 horses were stalls only in winter, they had a few problems.

65 horses had no stalls they had no problems with w/l disease.


23 Said YES.

49 Used Lime

17 Used bleach and water.

78 Said they did not use any disinfectant.

The one's that answered YES had few problems. The one's that answered NO to disinfectant had MULTIPLE PROBLEMS WITH W/L DISEASE.

7. Do you open and air stalls ?

72 Said Yes

14 Said No. They had infection.

A. Nutrition or lack of it.

Do you feed Sweet-Feed?


No.10. What do you feed?


43 = OATS,

Notice of the 68 horses fed Sweet Feed; 54 horses had fungi problems???


Do you feed a multi-supplement with 10 mg. of Iodine in it?YES TO THIS QUESTION IS A NO TO FUNGUS INFECTION.!!!

B. Housing - Severely controlled environment;

The horses that live in Stalls are prime Targets for W/L Fungi Problems.

No. 3. Activity Level - Horses use, day and night.

(Ref. #19. Exercise)

27 HORSES HAD LIGHT EXERCISE. These horses that were stall bound Pets all had W/L infection or other hoof diseases.

110 HORSES HAD NORMAL EXERCISE; These horses had other problems with their Immune System that led to Fungi Problems.

5 HORSES HAD NO EXERCISE THESE 5 WERE INFECTED. This shows the Effect of Exercise on the Immune System and the relationship to Fungi.

Race horses have very little if any w/l fungi; when it appears it is in the buttress or corn of heels , from rundown heel's or short shoeing and at the toe , because of excessive toe grabs.please note that the race horse's stall is cleaned,opened to air, and limed daily. The hoof and hair is constantly exposed to alcohol and other antiseptic chemicals

4. General Health

Follow a nutrition, exercise and shoeing program that works for your horse and follow your vet advice, read the label on any supplement that you choose for your horses needs, not from what everyone else says or most advertised. Insist on a guaranteed analyst showing what your are paying for each day, and amount of active ingredients per. Oz. Example; the most popular supplement on the market today that is feed and recommended by some farriers today contains filler, has less vitamins and minerals than the multi-supplement Nu-Foot™ with all the ingredients need to produce a healthy hoof and healthy horse, containing 10 mg. Of iodine. It cost $44¢ a day to feed and has more valuable nutrition in it. Read the Comparison Chart. The multi- supplement with 10 mg of iodine (A safe level for brood mares 40 at the recent 1996 bluegrass laminitis symposium, the question was raised and answered about the use of iodine in the feed as a thyroid and fungi combatant to the balance of the immune system of the horse. The nutritionist steve jackson,ph.d, said that more iodine (EDDI) is being added recently, the use of iodine (EDDI) as a equine anti-fungus stops the spread of fungus and dreaded bacteria,viruses,etc. In hoof and skin, certain amounts work through the thyroid gland to produce good bacterial ante-bodies needed for good hoof and hair health.

NU-FOOT WAS THE FIRST MANUFACTURER ADDING 10 MG/15 MG (VET FORMULA) IODINE (EDDT) TO THE SYSTEM, 30 mg. for 21 days and 20 mg. for 21 days. This level should be held until infection is gone. Then feed 1 oz. or 10 mg. a day for hoof maintenance. This concentrate also is fortified with Choline, Niacin, Biotin, Inositol, Copper, DL Methionine,Vitamin D3, Vitamin E, Zinc selenium, Vitamins A. ALL ARE SPECIALLY FORMULATED TO GIVE PROVEN RESULTS AS A EQUINE ANTI-FUNGUS FORMULA CONCENTRATE. Developed and proven BY Bob Peacock Ms Farrier,INV.

Most recently, a Organic Trypanocide topical was developed and proven to aid in the control of fungus even under a patch repair. It is an antiseptic and wound-healing agent, used in nail holes and affected areas (FUNGIDYE ) It gives dormant organism an opportunity to grow healthy hoof and hair. It stops the growth of the Fungus.

No. 5. Effects Of Drugs

Over doing it, not following veterinarian's instructions; becoming your own veterinarian and your HORSE'S NIGHTMARE.


166 Said Yes,

9 Said No. The vet's do!

In 1980's paste DE-WORMER was introduced and available to the general public. So was the increase in hoof wall infection.? How often do you de-worm your horse ?

13 Said every 6 wks.

12 Said every 8 wks

21 Said every 90 days

30 Said 4 x 1 yr.

66 Said 3 x 1 yr.

10 Said every 6 mos.

It was found that the horses that were de-wormed less often and rotated de-wormier chemicals under the advice of the veterinarian had less or no hoof problem's using old practical method's.

How do you de-worm your horse ?

15 Said by the vet.

13 Were tube de-wormed by a vet. They had no hoof fungus infection.

65 Were PASTE DE-WORMER (W/L fungi problems were prevalent.)

What type of drug.

69 Used Ivermectin.

72 Were rotated with other's such as STRONGID etc. (These horses had fewer problems.)

No. 27 Do you medicate damaged hoof wall?

59 Said Yes.

88 Said No.

The horses that used mild or no medication had no problems.

No. 29 Do you use a commercial medication.

60 Said Yes

27 Said No.

10 Used merthiolate(successful to a degree)

34 Used bleach (these were all unsuccessful and caused more problems.

29 Used benzol peroxide,(successful to a percentage)

51 USED Iodine ( with little or no success)

3 Used betadine (with little success).

4 Used HOOF FREEZE.(had little success),

3 Used hydro/peroxide.

2 Used ichthamnol etc.

5 Used S.B.S. (with some success).

The new formula FUNGIDYE, made from chemotherapeutic agents and organic dyes,has been tested and found affective in controlling and wound-healing agent,diagnostic tool,insoluble in water or urine. You can bond to it, not creating food for fungi. It is most effective as a topical, used in combination with the multi-supplement Nu-Foot.(with a success rate of 90% using all good maintain practice). Such as disinfecting stall’s, no sweet-feed,turn out,shoe only when needed using preventive topical as fungidye in nail holes and between the shoe and the wall.or use other alternatives.

In the Old Days they used a lot of Pine Tar and Vienice of Turpintine, also Okam. They were messy , but the helped the hoof wall.

No. 14 do you feed anything to promote hoofgrowth?

25 Said Yes.

58 Said No.

No. 11 Do you feed supplements; how much, how often, what kind?

5 WERE FEEDING NU-FOOT 3oz.daily for 21 days, after 21 days feed 2 ozs.a day, for preventive maintenance feed 1 oz, daily balance diet, (WITH SUCCESSFUL RESULTS).

No.17 Feeding other supplements with some growth results to no visual results.

By asking these questions on all the horses that you see, you will be able to analyze each horse and their immune system to combat and control the wide spread of this w/l fungi disease.for the benefit of the horse industry and the horse, send for questionnaire or make your own. Start charting these horses and asking questions. Make comparisons to other findings.

For your sake and the horses, take your time, don't expect fast results. Do not experiment with horse paying for mistakes.only shoe when necessary. Listen to professionals. Follow recommended directions, do not overfeed any individual vitamin or additive, experimenting with your horse's health. Most of all, if it is working, do not change it at your horses expense.

The most important reference of all is the horse of the 1990's. This is the reason for this article, not to sell product but open the eye's and minds of the industry.


Sporotrichosis is a subcutaneous mycotic infection caused by the dimorphic fungus sporothrix schenckii. An organism found in soil and vegetation. It usually gains entrance in to the skin or horn through wounds. The organism in the horse seems to spread most commonly through the lymphaticus, causing cording and nodular lesions resembling beads on a chain. The nodular can ulcerate and drain a serosanguinous or blood-tinged purulent exudate. Abscesses may also form. Diagnosis is confirmed by biopsy and culture. Biopsies show a pyogranulomatous dermatitis; special stins may or may not show the organism. Exudate or a biopsy specimen should be submitted to a mycology laboratory for culture confirmation of the diagnosis.

The classic treatment for sporotrichosis is iodide theraphy. Sodium iodide can be given orally at a dosage of 20 to 40 mg per kg daily for several weeks. Theraphy with smaller dosages of 10 to 20 mg per day have been successful in controlling the fungus in the hoof. Nutrition and Skin Diseases; Harold F. Hintz, Ithaca, New York


Iodine deficiency in the mare can ersult in weak, hairless foals with goiter. animals with hypothroidism may have a rough hair coat. Excessive iodine was reported to cause alopecia in a horse being treated with ethylenediamine-dehydroiodide for dermatophilosis. Free choice feeding or iodized or trace iodine requirements 1978 = 0.1pp, 1989=0.1pp. Reference: Current Theraphy in Equine Medicine edited by n. Edward Robinson, 3rd. Edition.

Diagnosis of Common Mineral Imbalances: by Sarah L. Ralston, New Brunswick, New Jersey.

This chapter discusses tests for the diagnosis of dietary imbalances of the most commonly imbalanced minerals in horse rations; calcium (CA), phosphorus (P), copper (CU), zinc (ZN), selenium (SE) and iron (FE).

There is no mention whatsoever of any imbalances of iodine or any mention of iodism in mares in foal, to the contrary, there is a deficiency of iodine in horses.

Don’t you think it is time to update our minds on the use of iodine as a supplementary diet need?


“On The Horse's Foot, Shoes And Shoeing;” Compiled By Henry Heymering

The Sixteenth Edition “The Merck Manual Of Diagnosis And Therapy’

“The Merck Veterinary Manual,” Fifth Edition

“Scientific Horseshoeing,” by Prof. William Russell

“Bio Mechanics of Lameness in Horses,” Dr Roony

Livestock Enterprises Kary C. Davis,Ph.D., 1928 pages 210 and 211.

“Sanitation- For Horses And Mules.”

Printed Articles By Robert L. Peacock 1992 In FYI, “A New Threat,”

“Hoof Wall Problems & Solutions,” Published In Anvil Magazine, July, 1993 Editorial Review by Burney Chapman.

The Use Of Information Compiled At The Truth About Hoof Wall Disease/White Line Disease, November 17th, 18th, & 19th, 1994. Vero Beach, Florida, Dr. Richard Scher, Professor Of Clinical Dermatology, Columbia University, Attending Dermatologist Presbyterian Hospital, NY,has published 182 medical papers.

Dr. Susan Sharp Director, Clinic Microbiology, Mount Sinai Medical Center, Miami Beach , FL, Assistant Professor, Dept. Microbiology, University Of Maine School Of Medicine.

Burney Chapman, Farrier, Lubbock Texas Technical Consultant, Lameness Consultant, B.S. Animal Science, Texas Technological College.

Thanks for the use of the testimonies received from many such as:

JOHN M, ARKLEY, Farrier,

CISSY MC CABE, Horse Owner,

R.E.EPPELY SULFORK VA., Farrier, Owner,


ABBY G. SLOEN, Gemstone Farm,



JIM KIETH, Farrier


Author of many articles, FRAN JURGA (FYI) “Hoofcare & Lameness”

ROB EDWARDS, Anvil Magazine and Staff.

All statements are derived from the A.T.I.E.B.S.,INC. DATA BANK, P.O.BOX 154 SHANDON, OHIO 45063

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