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This is a discussion on Navicular. within the Horse Health forums, part of the Keeping and Caring for Horses category

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    10-26-2009, 09:59 PM

My vet diagnosed my mare with bilateral sidebone a year ago. I was having a hard time finding a way to treat her and keep her comfortable. So I called a vet in the area who specializes in Lameness issues. One of his associates came out friday. We did a flexion test, a block and finally x-rays. She has that kind of uncomfortable unsoundness, I wouldnt says she's in great pain, its more like a chronic kind of pain. She was 90% better with her lower right pastern blocked. So we did some (more like 10) digital x-ray (im so excited I got a copy on cd.) She had no sidebone what so ever, in her right leg. I was kind of annoyed at my other vet who originally diagnosed her with x-rays last summer. There was not even a hint of sidebone, in her more lame foot. I guess that's what you get for a $60 diagnosis LOL. The only thing we saw was an irregular navicular bone. The egde wasnt as defined as she would like, and there is possibly a cyct on the bone, but nothing to be really worried about.

So she suggested bar shoes and a wedge pad, glucosamine and msm supplements, bute as needed, possibly a steroid injection into the coffin bone once a year and denerving as a last resort. She has been in bar shoes with no significant difference then a regular shoe (shes been in bar shoes for the past year.) We're going to try a special absorbant pack under the pad (by I don't think I would denerve her, unless I had my own farm. I would have to keep a close eye on her. I don't like to give bute (more than a gram a day), she might over exert herself and make things worse. I might try barefoot in the spring, so she can grow a thicker wall and spread her feet out a little. (Shes got tiny feet for a 1000lb horse) She is on glucosamine sulfate right now, 4000mg per day.

So the reason I posted this was because I would like to hear about how everyone treats their horse, or their friends.. ect do, for navicular disease. Any suggestions, or things you found that didnt work??
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    10-26-2009, 10:22 PM
My horse has some navicular-like changes in both front feet. He has medullary scelorsis [sp? Haha] which basically means his coffin bones are too dense. He has corrective shoeing [rim pads] & he gets his coffin joints & fetlocks injected every year & a half or so. It does get expensive, but its worth it for my horse to be sound & rideable ! He's over 20yo btw
    10-26-2009, 10:46 PM
Never herd of that disease. Does he have any coffin bone rotation?
    10-27-2009, 12:24 AM
I bought a horse knowing that it had been denerved for my son. I keep him shod regularly and I don't ride him myself I just let my sons ride him (6 and 9). He is penned with 4 other geldings and is pretty pain free. Sometimes I can see him favor a foot if he steps just right but he doesn't stumble or fall. If you saw him and I didn't tell you he had navicular you would never know. So if you decide to have your mare denerved don't belive all the scary stories about how they are unsafe to ride because they can't feel thier feet. Your horse will be more comfortable but it will cost you a pretty penny to get it done. After it's done you won't have to do much else but shoe her normally keeping in mind she does still have navicular and the damage is still being done.
    10-27-2009, 10:10 AM
My first horse was a retired Western Please good 'ol gal who was denerved. She did fabulously - I never had an issue with her. I think it's worth it to denerve, especially if you hope to continue riding her.
    10-27-2009, 10:15 AM
Originally Posted by sillybunny11486    
never herd of that disease. Does he have any coffin bone rotation?
it does not have any rotation, but it is very similar in presentation & symptoms & treatment

I also knew a horse that was denerved, she did fine living in a pasture & doing some light riding

If it were me I would probably try some corrective shoeing first & see what happens
    10-28-2009, 03:22 AM

As a hoof care practitioner I've rehabilitated a couple of 'navicular disease'(diagnosed with nav. Bone degeneration) horses, along with many more with 'navicular syndrome'(unexplained heel pain). I believe the 'natural' approach is definitely the best for these horses.

It appears from recent research that nav bone & DDFT damage is a *symptom* of the problem, rather than a cause. It also appears that it is not the cause of the pain, and while it doesn't seem likely that bone degeneration or tendon damage can be reversed/repaired, a horse can become sound & pain free despite it.

Heel pain is most commonly due to underdevelopment of the digital cushions & lateral cartilage. Management is the main consideration, as lack of exercise & good hoof function lead to lack of development. When a horse has weak digital cushions, he tends to 'tippy toe' - that is, avoid heavy impacts on his heels and land toe-first. This further lack of use can cause the heels to fall further from use, grow longer, allow the heels to become contracted & thrushy. The toe-first impacts appear to be the cause of subsequent tendon & then bone damage. It is also likely to lead to founder.

So... vets & farriers have found that padding, bar shoes, then when that no longer works growing overlong heels, then wedging heels even further out of use do indeed give the horse some comfort. However, as you can see, this treatment is palliative at best and can lead to further problems in the future.

I would advise studying & other sources of good information about hoof function & soundness, and considering keeping your horse bare(but booted/padded when necessary for comfort) and getting her *well* & frequently trimmed for starters. If you would like to post a variety of angles of hoof pics, we could give you a critique on them, for more ideas about what might be going wrong.
    10-29-2009, 12:14 AM
Ill post a photo after she gets trimmed. The farrier stopped by to fix her up. She has a trim in 2 weeks. Her one shoe was a litle crooked(it was on straight when he shod her), so the farrier rest it, the other was ripped off so he tacked it back on. Barefoot is an option, but not right now... as the ground is getting colder, if she transitions now I think it would cause her more pain then if I were to wait till early spring. Boots arent really an option, unless I use them just for riding... and I don't ride her. Part of her problems could be small feet, and contracted heals. But it mght be somewhat genetic (shes paint x qh) (her predisposal to hoof problems.)

My vet and I talked about denevering. She considers it a last choice. I personally wouldnt ride a horse with advanced navicular and it would be hard to tell if it advanced, as we couldnt block her, untill the nerve grew back. The nerve usually grows back, and sometimes there are complications. Right now I can't check on her/pick her feed ect. Twice a day, I don't even go out every day, so I don't feel comfortable doing that now. I believe she said only the front portion of their foot has feeling, so, of course riding is possible.
    10-29-2009, 12:37 AM
Is she really that lame when she looses a shoe and the ground is frozen? If no one is riding her and she's able to tolerate not having a shoe or boot, then I would suggest pulling the shoes now, rather than later. Then she has the winter to start rehabing before you want/can ride. I pull more shoes for new clients in the fall/winter to start natural trims for that very reason.

The longer you let her stay in the rigid shoes and angles that are contributing to the symptoms, the more permanant the damage can be to the nav. Bone.

Conformation (large body) can contribute to the likelyhood of nav. Problems, but more often that not, it's the hoof care and lack of sufficient low impact exercise (grazing, moseying around a pasture) that creates more problems like contracted heels and tinier feet than genetics.
    11-01-2009, 03:51 PM
I talked to my farrier and we both agreed that right now is not an optimal time to pull her shoes. The whole point is to get more circulation in her hoof. Farrier- "The only problem I see with taking shoes off now is with the ground hardening with winter she will wear down her feet to nothing and her foot wont grow with it being cold."

Of course he means, the hooves wont grow as fast as it would in summer when she has more protein from the grass. Personally I think it would be a great discomfort for her to be on solid/ frozen ground while trying to transition to barefoot. Hard ground usually agrivates all horses with navicular, so I could definitely see her flaring up even more. She wont even walk up to the barn when she looses a shoe, she just kind of stands there till I entice her to come up to eat dinner. She has been kept in a pasture board scenario for about 2-3 years and I do notice she moves nicer then when she was stalled.

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