Equis ISSN 2398-2977

Hoof: seedy toe

Synonym(s): Wall separation, Gravel, White line disease, Onychomycosis, Hollow wall disease

Contributor(s): Robert A Eustace, Graham Munroe, Vetstream Ltd


  • Cause: chronic founder, conformation (club feet; DDFT contracture; long toe, low heel), nutritional deficiencies, poor/infrequent footcare   →   penetration of dirt between white line and laminae.
  • Signs: separation of the hoof wall at the toe, widening of the white line, concave or 'dished' dorsal hoof wall, variable lameness (none, acute or chronic), discharge at coronary band.
  • Diagnosis: foot and sole examination, radiography.
  • Treatment: farriery, treatment of primary problem, removal of all infected horn and drainage, topical horn treatment.
  • Prognosis: guarded with chronic laminitis, recurrence likely; good for environmental/nutritional causes.
Print off the Owner factsheets on Caring for your horse's feet and Seedy toe to give to your clients.



  • Chronic founder   →   tendency for dorsal wall to separate + 'heel-toe' action   →   reinforces separation of hoof wall.
  • Poor hoof care/conformation   →   overgrown toes   →   increased force separating dorsal wall from sole.
  • Poor hoof quality - brittle, flaky hoof wall, hoof cracks   Foot: hoof wall fracture  .
  • Nutritional deficiencies, eg methionine, biotin, essential oils   →   poor hoof quality.
  • Primary bacterial and secondary fungal infection of weakened white line.

Predisposing factors

  • Laminitis   Foot: laminitis  .
  • Flexural deformity   MCP / MTP joint: flexural deformity  .
  • Poor hoof care.
  • Poor husbandry conditions, eg wet, muddy, stall housing.
  • Poor environment, eg drought or flood conditions, wet-dry-wet-dry fluctuations.
  • Lack of exercise.


  • Separation of the dorsal hoof wall from the sole is predisposed to by abnormality of the dorsal white line; usually following founder, flexural contracture; or poor foot conformation:
    • Biomechanical: poor hoof conformation, eg long toes, flexural deformity.
    • Nutritional: weakens epidermal/dermal junction, eg excess selenium in the diet.
  • Only thestratummediumis usually affected   →    dry cavity filled with necrotic debris   →    little or no lameness.
  • Less commonly, secondary bacterial or fungal infection   →    the condition extending into thestratum lamellatum  →    pain and lameness.


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Further Reading


Refereed papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
  • Pickersgill C H (2000) Recurrent white line abscessation associated with a keratoma in a riding pony. Equine Vet Educ 12 (6), 286-291 VetMedResource.
  • Cripps P J et al (1999) Radiological measurements from the feet of normal horses with relevance to laminitis. Equine Vet J 31 (5), 427-432 PubMed.
  • Eustace R A et al (1999) Factors involved in the prognosis of equine laminitis in the UK. Equine Vet J 31(5), 433-442 PubMed.
  • Ley W B et al (1998) Effect of season and diet on tensile strength and mineral content of the equine hoof wall. Equine Vet J Suppl 26, 27-35 PubMed.
  • Reilly J D et al (1998) Effect of a supplementary dietary evening primrose oil mixture on hoof growth, hoof growth rate and hoof lipid fractions in horses - a controlled and blinded trial. Equine Vet J Suppl 26, 58-65 PubMed.
  • Ritmeester A M et al (1998) Digital perfusion, evaluated scintigraphically, and hoof wall growth in horses with chronic laminitis treated with egg bar-heart shoeing and coronary grooving. Equine Vet J Suppl 26, 111-118 PubMed.
  • Kempson S A (1990) Ultrastructural observations on the response of equine hoof defects to dietary supplementation with Farrier's Formula. Vet Rec 127 (20), 494-498 PubMed.

Other sources of information

  • Dabareiner R M, Meyer A M & Carter G K (2011) Trauma to the Sole and Wall. In: Diagnosis and Management of Lameness in the Horse. Eds: Ross M W & Dyson S J. Elsevier. pp 312-313. ISBN: 978-1-4160-6069-7.
  • Kempson S A & Robb R (1998) Proceedings of NAFBAE and BEVA joint meeting, Stoneleigh.(Summary available at: www.equilife.co.uk/products/Hoof Disinfectant.)
  • Knottenbelt D C & Pascoe R R (1994) Color atlas of diseases and disorders of the horse. Mosby-Year Book Europe, UK. ISBN 0-7234-1702-4.
  • Rose R J & Hodgson D R (1993) Manual of Equine Practice. W B Saunders Company, USA. ISBN 0-7216-3739-6.