An extremely common condition in many New Zealand horses and often brushed aside, seedy toe is in fact a symptom of chronic laminitis. If your horse is suffering from seedy toe it's a sign that all is not well with the internal state of its body and you need to take action, now.
What does this mean for my horse?
Seedy toe is a condition which indicates a seriously compromised internal system. Both of the hoof and the horse as a whole. A horse with seedy toe is a horse in distress and pain, even if they mask it to onlookers. If your horse has seedy toe to any degree, its hoof is not functioning correctly and its diet must be addressed immediately.
The cracks compromise the hoof wall and allow damp, cold, fungus and foreign objects to enter into the hoof capsule. This exposes the hoof to increased risk of abscesses and lameness. If the crack reaches the coronet permanent damage can result, along with the formation of scar tissue. Additionally, the pedal bone can become infected leading to bone erosion.
As a pathology, it should be taken very seriously.
How can I recognise it?
This is an easily recognisable pathology, and is sometimes called White Line Disease. Usually appearing as a crack in the toe, it can also form in the quarters or heel region. Looking underneath the hoof will reveal a stretched or separated white line . The crack itself is usually filled with foreign matter, and a fungal infection that eats the hoof wall. The fungus itself is either a slimy black paste, or a grey crumbly material that smells foul.
If left untreated, this pathology can lead to abscessing, lameness, and hoof decay.
How can I help to see this healed?
Two immediate actions are required. First, contact an experienced hoofcare provider and arrange a trim as soon as possible. Secondly, a thorough evaluation of your horses diet needs to be made. Stop feeding out any man made or molassed feeds and if your horse is on sugar rich grasses do whatever you can to limit its access.
Dependent on the extent of the damage caused by the infection, it may need to be treated with an anti-fungal treatment. Such as an Apple Cider Vinegar or manuka oil blend.
Contrary to popular opinion these cracks do not always need to be opened up, if hoof balance is corrected through proper trimming these cracks will grow out themselves. However, in more established infections or unsuitable living conditions opening up the crack may be the best option to prevent further infection.
How can I make sure this doesn't happen again?
Seedy Toe is the usually the result of one of two causes. Inappropriate diet or poor hoof function. Although it is frequently both of these occurring together.
Find and stick with a trimmer who understands the important of hoof balance. This is the single most important factor second to diet that will see this pathology reversed.
To further support recovery restrict access to known problem grasses, and if at all possible reseed paddocks with horse friendly varieties.
If hard feeds are given adjust these as necessary to bring them into line with NHC guidelines.
Commit to the healing. Affected hoof horn cannot be healed, but new hoof can be regrown. This is a process that takes time, and requires the dedication of the horse owner to see overcome.