Could Kodak have navicular? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 87 Old 09-05-2019, 07:56 PM Thread Starter
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Could Kodak have navicular?

As some of you know, my journey with Kodak has been full of bumps. And bruises. And a concussion. I've had her over three years now, and she is no better, in fact, she has gotten worse over the last year or so. It's not so much her spookiness that is causing issues, but she's been consistently "ouchy" in the fronts. To the point where anytime we ask her to canter, she will do a stride or two, then stop suddenly, put her head down between her legs, and act like she is going to buck. She doesn't, however. But we haven't pushed her further to see if she would actually follow through. I will usually just regroup, and try the canter again. It doesn't improve.

After having her treated by two chiros, a massage therapist, and looked at by a couple of vets, we've had no luck identifying any issues. Her back seems fine. She probably doesn't have the best fitting saddle (though I have tried her in several), but here's the thing - she does it on a lunge line too, without a rider on her. And she's had lots of rest, because we hardly ever ride her anymore.

A new person moved into my area, however, providing all sorts of treatments. They include red light therapy, and equine podiatry. I figured I'd give it a try, desperate to see if there's any way to help Kodak. After an assessment, three treatments and a reassessment, she believes Kodak suffers from navicular syndrome. Essentially, she has identified a few symptoms, specifically, some inflammation around the pastern, a very choppy gait (I'd always found that with Kodak, but moreso in the last year), thin soles, and a strong reaction to hoof testers around the frog area. She suggested I get radiographs to confirm or rule out navicular.

On the other hand, my barefoot trimmer does not think it's navicular. She is of the opinion that Kodak's central sulcii are causing the problems, as they frequently open up, requiring me to treat them. I'm using a version of Pete's goo as per Pete Ramey's suggestions (my trimmer follows Pete and just did a workshop with him). Is the equine podiatrist just seeing problems in the hoof because that's her specialty? Or are the hoof problems a symptom of something else? But is it worth doing the X-rays anyway to see if we can see something, or even rule it out?

Hoof gurus out there, what are your thoughts? Is it worth having her feet x-rayed? Will they give us an answer, or just be a waste of money? Keep in mind it will have to be done with a portable X-ray machine since Kodak has severe anxiety and doesn't trailer her well so traveling to a vet is not feasible. Also, despite all appearances to the contrary, I do not have unlimited amounts of money to throw on this horse. If we can't ride her, that's fine, she'll likely remain here as a pasture pet since I've grown rather fond of the girl, despite everything, and I can't sell her anyway. But if we can make her more comfortable, then maybe we should... but even if we fixed this, it's likely there will be other things going on. The list is long, I'm afraid. What would you do?
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post #2 of 87 Old 09-05-2019, 08:18 PM
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Well, there's a problem with doing xrays for navicular. From what I've read, more modern technology has shown us that what has been called navicular in the past can be caused from a variety of issues.

Seeing changes in the navicular bone is like seeing issues with the spine on xray. There are people walking around with terrible looking back xrays that have no pain, and people who have great back xrays but have a lot of pain. That's because of the role of soft tissue issues in pain.

So a horse can have changes in the navicular bone, but they've found these incidentally on many horses that don't have pain. But when they do MRIs on horses with bilateral heel pain issues, they have found anything from lesions or tears in the deep digital flexor tendon to an injury to other small tendons or ligaments in the hoof.

I'm not saying you should do an MRI, but I'm saying xrays may lead you down expensive pathways that might not be actually treating the cause. If the navicular bones have changes, you will probably be recommended to have special, expensive shoeing. But those bony changes might not be the cause of pain.

Horses that have corrective shoeing for navicular often do have a relief of symptoms. Yet many of those issues with the tendons and ligaments in the hoof are caused by low heel/long toe hoof trimming, which can cause things like the deep digital flexor tendon rubbing over the navicular bone and causing bursitis (and some of the bony changes). So changing those angles can help, but you could do it more cheaply. Or with some horses, they do have chronic thrush in the deep central sulcus, or weak digital cushions, and the shoeing relieves those from the ground which helps the pain.

You could do other things to see if they help, which are less expensive. Have you tried riding her with boots on? Have you tried doing a more intensive treatment of her frogs to see if you can clear up the thrush better? Something like White Lightning followed by a couple weeks of soaking and Pete's Goo, etc. Does your trimmer think you are making progress with her thin soles? With a year of good trimming, a barefoot trimmer ought to be able to make some progress there. Still, many horses might always need to be ridden in boots.

https://horseandrider.com/health/image-52820
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post #3 of 87 Old 09-05-2019, 08:57 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gottatrot View Post
Well, there's a problem with doing xrays for navicular. From what I've read, more modern technology has shown us that what has been called navicular in the past can be caused from a variety of issues.

Seeing changes in the navicular bone is like seeing issues with the spine on xray. There are people walking around with terrible looking back xrays that have no pain, and people who have great back xrays but have a lot of pain. That's because of the role of soft tissue issues in pain.

So a horse can have changes in the navicular bone, but they've found these incidentally on many horses that don't have pain. But when they do MRIs on horses with bilateral heel pain issues, they have found anything from lesions or tears in the deep digital flexor tendon to an injury to other small tendons or ligaments in the hoof.

I'm not saying you should do an MRI, but I'm saying xrays may lead you down expensive pathways that might not be actually treating the cause. If the navicular bones have changes, you will probably be recommended to have special, expensive shoeing. But those bony changes might not be the cause of pain.

Horses that have corrective shoeing for navicular often do have a relief of symptoms. Yet many of those issues with the tendons and ligaments in the hoof are caused by low heel/long toe hoof trimming, which can cause things like the deep digital flexor tendon rubbing over the navicular bone and causing bursitis (and some of the bony changes). So changing those angles can help, but you could do it more cheaply. Or with some horses, they do have chronic thrush in the deep central sulcus, or weak digital cushions, and the shoeing relieves those from the ground which helps the pain.

You could do other things to see if they help, which are less expensive. Have you tried riding her with boots on? Have you tried doing a more intensive treatment of her frogs to see if you can clear up the thrush better? Something like White Lightning followed by a couple weeks of soaking and Pete's Goo, etc. Does your trimmer think you are making progress with her thin soles? With a year of good trimming, a barefoot trimmer ought to be able to make some progress there. Still, many horses might always need to be ridden in boots.

https://horseandrider.com/health/image-52820

Thank you! And yes, this is exactly how I feel. From my very limited reading, it seems like MRI is the best tool. That's not available here. X-Rays may or may not reveal something, but as you point out, it doesn't seem like changes in the navicular bone or supporting structures always correlate with pain. Furthermore, I'm really not keen on corrective shoeing. I have no problem with the idea of riding her in boots, however, and we've had great success riding Harley in Easyboot gloves.


I'll talk to my trimmer again. I have not tried White Lightning, but I did soak at one point last year. Probably not enough to make a difference. I like the idea of trying to treat the frogs more aggressively and investing in boots rather than x-rays. Because even if we did get a confirmation of navicular, boots would be my preferred management option anyway.
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post #4 of 87 Old 09-05-2019, 09:09 PM
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Wouldn't a horse with something that caused hoof pain balk at trotting as well as at cantering? How does she trot out?
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post #5 of 87 Old 09-05-2019, 11:14 PM
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Navicular comes in two flavours, navicular syndrome and navicular disease. The syndrome is non-specific heel pain. Disease has changes to the navicular bone. Syndrome can lead to disease, but there's other things can cause the non-specific heel pain that don't involve the navicular.


I never turn down the chance to do xrays. At the least it can give insight into the internal structures vs her trim that could be contributing.
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post #6 of 87 Old 09-06-2019, 12:00 AM
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From what you described it seems like navicular syndrome, especially with the central sulci opening up. Syndrome is different from disease, syndrome is caused by her not being balanced when she's trimmed. It means pain in the navicular bone and an x-ray won't pick that up, a good farrier will. Actual navicular disease will show up on x-rays.
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post #7 of 87 Old 09-06-2019, 03:31 AM
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I would x-ray tonsee what you're dealing with in the feet. It may give you an answer, and it may not, but it won't hurt and can serve as a baseline. You can decide with your vet where to go from there. Perhaps a mild pain med may make a big difference for her comfort.
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post #8 of 87 Old 09-06-2019, 06:55 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tinyliny View Post
Wouldn't a horse with something that caused hoof pain balk at trotting as well as at cantering? How does she trot out?
She'll trot right away when I ask, but is choppy. Then again, I always found her movement somewhat choppy, and assumed it was because she holds so much tension in her body. She doesn't really have an extended trot, just a very choppy and fast trot.
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post #9 of 87 Old 09-06-2019, 07:04 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ApuetsoT View Post
Navicular comes in two flavours, navicular syndrome and navicular disease. The syndrome is non-specific heel pain. Disease has changes to the navicular bone. Syndrome can lead to disease, but there's other things can cause the non-specific heel pain that don't involve the navicular.


I never turn down the chance to do xrays. At the least it can give insight into the internal structures vs her trim that could be contributing.
Thanks for the clarification on syndrome vs disease. The equine podiatrist (still don't know exactly how her credentials are different from a regular certified trimmer) says it would be a mild case if it is navicular. I'll ask if she is thinking syndrome or disease. If it's mild, there's a good chance we won't see it on X-ray right? The equine podiatrist told me that the vets probably wouldn't see anything, but that if I sent her the X-rays, she'd probably be able to read them better than the vets.

My only hesitation is that money is tight, and I am reluctant to throw 500$ on X-rays when I could use that money to buy good hoof boots. However, @SilverMaple 's comment on having a baseline is a good one.

I could also ask the equine podiatrist if she'll trim her hooves for a few months to see if Kodak improves. It will insult my regular trimmer a little, and I have a great relationship with her (she'd continue to do Harley and Rusty), but I think she would understand that I just need to try something different.
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post #10 of 87 Old 09-06-2019, 07:37 AM
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I think getting xrays isn't a bad call - they always use portable ones for Katie. I also got hers done as a baseline. I know it sucks :< Hopefully they can eliminate something if not diagnose!
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