Q. Many veterinarians and farriers have told me that white line disease is becoming more common. Is it ridiculous of me to purchase my own blacksmithing tools for the farrier to use exclusively on my horse? This practice is common in nail salons for protection against the spread of fungal and bacterial infections (as well as HIV). It seems logical that stronger sanitation or exclusivity would be prudent, especially in terms of nippers and rasps. Any comments or opinions?

Ellen, via e-mail

A. White line disease is a condition in the equine hoof seen as separation in the white line between the sole and the hoof wall. The separation can be caused by trauma, a medial/lateral imbalance (which is most common), or a fungus, but rarely by bacteria. Fungal hyphae (interwoven threads that make up a fungus) will very likely not live on metal tools, according to a microbiologist at Colorado State University's veterinary school.

In a salon, the tools are often kept in a moist environment where fungal hyphae can live and thus be a source of contamination. Another consideration is the great finesse and detail in trimming the hoof. Farriers might be particular about the specific tools they prefer.

About the Author

Barbara Page, DVM

Barbara Page, DVM, practices at the Colorado Equine Clinic in Littleton, Colo.

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