What is Seedy Toe in Horses?
How does Seedy Toe Occur?
What happens if Seedy Toe is left unchecked?
How do I manage Seedy Toe?
Should my Farrier treat Seedy Toe?
Seedy Toe is an anaerobic bacteria that invades the white line in horses hooves.
WHAT IS SEEDY TOE?
Seedy Toe (sometimes referred to as White Line Disease) is an opportunistic bacteria that invades the white line in horses hooves. These microscopic bacteria thrive in an anaerobic environment - meaning that they thrive in the absence of oxygen.
Seedy Toe can be hard to detect for the average horse owner who is not familiar with hooves and who has no hoof trimming experience. Thorough cleaning of your horses hooves daily and using a gentle but effective hoof spray such as our Hoof Spray with Kunzea Oil can help with extra cleansing but is still no guarantee that at some stage your horse will not have an issue with Seedy Toe.
Generally, it is located in the "10-2" area at the toe on horses although it can appear anywhere around the hoof capsule within the white line.
Pic: A tell-tale sign that the horse has a Seedy Toe infection thriving within the hoof is a hole within the white line at the toe.
HOW DOES SEEDY TOE OCCUR?
Present in the horses environment, these anaerobic bacteria enter via small deviations in the horses hoof at the white line. Commonly seen in horses with compromised white lines, horses overdue for trims (hoof wall leverage), laminitic horses (stretched white lines), metabolic horses and high heeled horses (creating leverage at the toe).
Climatic conditions play a role in this as well. Obviously, horses standing around in wet boggy paddocks will be more prone to hoof conditions such as Seedy Toe, White Line disease and Thrush as the hoof will be softer and more prone to bacteria, fungi and yeast infections taking hold.
If you horse is on a regular maintenance schedule with your farrier or trimmer (trims are optimal at 4 weeks, no more than 6 weeks) then any small issues with Seedy Toe starting should be able to be nicked out quickly with a hoof knife to stop the progression.
Maintenance trim - Bacteria starting to invade at the toe area (note stretched white line).
Seedy Toe bacteria quickly nicked out at maintenance trim to prevent further infection.
It is imperative your farrier attends to the first signs of Seedy Toe. Seedy toe in hooves can travel and spread rapidly up inside the hoof wall. What may look like a small defect in the horses' hoof at the toe can eat away the internal tissue and create pockets of ongoing infection.
WHAT HAPPENS IF YOU OR YOUR FARRIER IGNORE OR DO NOT PICK UP ON SEEDY TOE INFECTIONS?
Your farrier or trimmer SHOULD be well versed in what it will mean for your horse if they leave Seedy Toe unchecked. They should be able to quickly identify the infection and remove as much of the infection as possible by opening up the pockets of infection. This is commonly called a Seedy Toe resection and may be a small cut out which is barely noticeable when the hoof is placed on the ground or if left unchecked it can be a huge resection which will take owner commitment to manage.
Smaller resection to remove seedy toe from white line.
Large resection - long term infection left unchecked by farrier resulted in 1/4 of the hoof capsule being eaten away by bacterial infection.
Larger resection to remove infected tissue.
Part way through a resection, opening up infected tissue at toe with resection nippers prior to paring away with a hoof knife.
Seedy Toe left unchecked can also cause abscessing in your horse. Commonly seen as abscesses that will blow out at the Coronet band. If the infection travels straight up through the laminar towards the coronet band, eventually it will blow out in the form of an abscess which is extremely painful for the horse and not the ideal management technique.
Abscess blown at coronet band due to unchecked Seedy Toe infection.
HOW TO MANAGE SEEDY TOE
Keep your horses on schedule with your farrier and trimmer (4-6weeks max) and ensure your farrier is keeping an eye out for any signs of the start of Seedy Toe.
If the infection takes hold and the farrier needs to open up and resect, let them! As this is an opportunistic bacterium which thrives in an anaerobic environment, it needs to be exposed and resected and a topical management plan put in place.
After resection, we recommend keeping the area as clean as possible and applying a topical product which will work on the infection, keep it clear of debris and excess moisture and be easy to apply.
This is where our Beeswax BLUE Balls step in. They are malleable and can be "squished" right up into the top of the infection to ensure it remains free from debris and further moisture and pathogens entering the site.
Pre-Trim overgrown hoof Seedy Toe identified as a problem.
Mid Trim same hoof - Seedy Toe invasion prior to resection
Resection starting to open up the pocket of infection.
Resection nearly complete. Just a little more black line to be cleared out.
Beeswax BLUE Ball in place
Beeswax BLUE Ball "squished" into place
The pony pictured above was overdue for a trim and due to Covid restrictions was not kept on a regular schedule with a farrier knowledgeable (or unwilling to) in resecting Seedy Toe. The infection can travel 1cm per month so if left unchecked for 2 or more trims cycles, this is the result. Fortunately for this owner, Beeswax Blue Balls®️ by THE HOOF CO were able to come to the rescue in helping manage the Seedy Toe infection and were replaced every 3 days by the owner.
Several weeks later we were able to attend (in between Covid lockouts) and clear out to the hoof to see how it was travelling.
The infection is being managed with the Beeswax Blue Balls®️. Pictured is the infection cleared out to check. Just a little knife work to be done to remove the black lines and Beeswax Blue Ball reapplied to continue to help owner with keeping this area free of debris and further pathogens.
Julie Wright is an Equine Podiotherapist (Dip.Ept) and has been working as a Professional Hoof Care Practitioner since 2004.
With a special interest in Hoof Pathologies and topical applications she developed The Hoof Co - Hoof Care Product line which is aimed at ease of use.
For Professional and Owner use.
Stockist enquiries welcome from Trimmers and Farriers along with Retail and E-Commerce stores within Australia.