Navicular in Jumping Horses

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Navicular in Jumping Horses

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    01-18-2011, 06:27 PM
Question Navicular in Jumping Horses

I bought my new horse in last May (may 8th) and I did a vet check at Uc Davis and she was clean, the only thing they were kind of worried about was side bone because of her age ( 6 years old). I know when I bought her she was jumping about 3'6 'soundly' a month or two later she had some hind end issues so we injected the hocks and she was fine. Then I switched trainers and my new one wanted the vet to look at her front end. He found navicular changes in the front left, (BY LOOKING AT THE SAME X-RAYS DAVIS DID!!!!) she was slightly off on that foot. He injected the coffin bone and he came back to look at her 4-5months later yesterday and he was very impressed with how well she was doing. He wanted to continue the treatment of her foot and injected it again. Lameness wise she isnt really super off, davis didnt even really notice it!!!! She has been jumping 3'6 in this condition before treatment and they thought she was fine too! I havent jumped in her in about 4 months because she has been in dressage training but the vet said I could start jumping her again. The upsetting thing is this was my prelim prospect horse or 4foot jumpers horse. She has the movement, scope, breeding, conformation, and brain to do it, but I don't know if she has the body to hold up to it????? What do you guys think? Do you think there is any hope for her going prelim or more eventually??? Should I sell her and start again?? Should I breed her and get a nice foal out of her???? WHY DIDNT DAVIS SEEEEEEE THISSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!!! I know they can't for see lameness but this vet looked at the same x-rays davis did and he saw navicular! Besides injecting the coffin bone is there anything else we can dp???? Sorry this is so long I am just really freaking out here!!!!
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    03-07-2011, 01:05 AM
Bump! Please help!
    03-07-2011, 01:12 AM
I am sorry you are experiencing this, but I would like to suggest that every horse does not meet our own goals.

Your horse could jump the course you put in front of him, but is it fair to ask that?

If I were you, I would sell or free lease. I know this is not what you want to hear, so I am sorry.
    03-07-2011, 08:30 PM

If competition in the near future is your biggest concern, then I don't think she sounds a good prospect. But if you're willing to keep her & give her the time & effort required, there's a very good chance, esp with her age, that with the right management, it will pay off.... especially for her.

It seems that different people see 'navicular changes' in different ways & there seems no hard & fast diagnosis, as there is often little understanding of the processes at work. I for eg. Would take ossified lateral cartilages('side bone') as one sign. It is a condition that IMO effects the whole caudal hoof, not just the navicular region. As the digital cushion doesn't begin to develop as an effective shock absorber until around 4-5 years old(and growth plates in the spine haven't 'closed' by then anyway), I would not want to be jumping horses at all until at least this age.

There are a number of different 'treatments' for 'navicular', including injecting, pads, wedges, etc, but most such as these are purely palliative and also temporary - they don't treat the problems, only the symptoms. I suggest you check out Dr Robert Bowker's research and his website is Also another source of info on how you can help her is
    03-08-2011, 10:02 AM
Paragraphs are your friend.

I am guessing it is less a case of UC Davis not seeing something as your current vet interpreting something differently than how UC Davis did.

Your first clue might have been that you were buying a 6yo who was already campaigning at 3'6". It sounds like this horse has done quite a bit in its short life.
    03-09-2011, 01:00 AM
Originally Posted by Alwaysbehind    
Paragraphs are your friend.
Just had to say, that comment made me giggle! Must remember it!
    03-10-2011, 04:56 PM
I've seen horses w/ nav changes go on to light work while being barefoot w/ proper trimming. As for jumping, the prognosis isn't so good though they can be kept going (for a while) w/ proper shoeing and usually injections.
    03-10-2011, 05:47 PM
I wouldnt breed her as nivacular is passed on to yougstock hence why theese young horses get its not from jumping big tracks young and it only gets worse best option would be to sell her and start again. I have seen horses get slowly worse from nivacular and it is defantly not nice in the slitest the diese slowly eats away at the nivacular done until it is almost none exestint causing horses a lot of pain

Exucse my spelling
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    03-10-2011, 09:13 PM
Originally Posted by jess93    
I wouldnt breed her as nivacular is passed on to yougstock hence why theese young horses get its not from jumping big tracks young and it only gets worse best option would be to sell her and start again. I have seen horses get slowly worse from nivacular and it is defantly not nice in the slitest the diese slowly eats away at the nivacular done until it is almost none exestint causing horses a lot of pain

Exucse my spelling
Posted via Mobile Device
Spelling is excused, but not your assumptions! Just being cheeky there, but would like to give my perspective on some of what you've said... Firstly, remember even for those that have studied this problem in depth, there are still a few unanswered questions about it, and there are also many incorrect or dubious assumptions abounding still. So IMO we have to be careful about being too definite & closed about what we 'know' about it.

Genetic factors; of course genetics plays a part in everything, and some breeds - such as heavies & arabs for eg do tend to innately have stronger caudal hooves than other breeds, according to research done(not sure how widespread that study...). There are also some unfortunate lines of horses, such as some QHs who have been bred to have extra small feet for eg, who tend to be innately problematic - should not be allowed to breed IMO.

BUT generally speaking, the evidence seems to have mounted far & away in favour of environment(eg. Management, footing, hoofcare, work, etc) being by far the biggest 'cause' of strong or weak hooves, particularly in the caudal region. Dr Robert Bowker of University of Michigan is one person who has done a lot of research in this area and you can actually read the basics in a paper you'll find online titled "Contrasting Structural Morphologies of 'Good' and 'Bad' Footed Horses"

....So above explains 'hence' why young horses DO INDEED develop problems such as this from jumping or galloping young. One more interesting point that seems to be rather recently gleaned is that even healthy, well conditioned(such as mustangs for eg) horses don't BEGIN to develop caudal hoof strength(the fatty tissue of the digital cushion doesn't start to become fibrous cartilage) until the horse is around 4-5 years old!

There are many environmental factors which influence this development and unfortunately many horses never develop much strength & energy dissipation capacity in their heels. This leads to caudal hoof pain(NS), when the horse is forced to do more than his feet are capable of, and leads to problems of the actual bones(ND), tendons & joints(particularly navicular & P3 bones), which seems to be largely due to lack of circulation & lack of shock dissipation in those areas.

and it only gets worse best option would be to sell her and start again
Aside from me personally having a moral problem with just palming an animal like this off, especially selling her for money, 'navicular' is not at all necessarily a death sentence, or even a career finisher. Unfortunately conventional treatments(developed long before current understanding) are effective only palliatively - they (usually temporarily) treat the pain but not the cause, so the condition continues & can worsen. But with the right treatment there is evidence that it can be reversed. It is now clear that with good management(and time) horses can return to (pain free) usefulness, even assuming bone & tendon damage/changes couldn't be reversed. But recent research on bone remodelling(again you'll find some papers online; Dr Mark D Fisher's is one) suggests that even this may be able to be reversed!
    03-11-2011, 11:43 PM
You really can't make a blanket statement like "navicular horses can/can't jump." It depends on exactly what is going with this particular horse, at this particular moment in time.. "Navicular" is a very ambiguous diagnosis, anyway. I would monitor her progress with periodic radiographs and rechecks, and I would let her comfort assess where you are at. If she is staying sound jumping, I would continue to use her. If she starts to give you trouble or exhibits further deterioration of the bone, I would reevaluate. I would certainly not give her anything to mask her pain as the problem will continue to worsen. And I would not breed her, since there definitely is a genetic component to navicular, or at the very least to conformational attributes that contribute the the eventual development of navicular.

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