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I just recently was given a 10 year old Appaloosa mare with navicular in both front hooves. The man has owned her since a weanling and said if you get her up daily and lunge her for 5 minutes she is fine and barely will limp. I rode her yesterday on a almost 12-13 mile ride and she did great. Just at a walk/trot. She is very energetic and likes to go. I notice if you let her sit in the field for 2-3 days and get her up she is very stiff and moves slow. As soon as you lunge her and get her blood pumping she is fine for the rest of the day and can do whatever you like. She is currently barefoot but I have read in some instances corrective shoeing can help navicular horses. Any help would be appreciated by people who have dealt with this! :)
Horse Mammal Vertebrate Sorrel Mare

Horse Vertebrate Mammal Mare Stallion
 

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Corrective farrier work is definitely important but if she's doing that well barefoot, she may be better off without the shoes. Give Loosie a minute to find this thread...
 

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Navicular really shouldn't be causing stiffness. Navicular is where the navicular bone has been put under stress and has degraded by either eroding or ossification. It really has nothing to do with "getting the blood" pumping. It can be easily managed and kept from getting worse by corrective trimming, not necessarily exercise. She may have navicular, but I've never really heard of a horse with it improving in soundness with exercise, and getting stiff or off when not exercising.

How was she diagnosed with navicular? Were radiographs taken? That is the only way navicular can be diagnosed. By the way she's standing in the second picture I would say she's got some pain going on, but it doesn't really look like heel pain?

She is very cute, btw. Congrats on getting her.
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Navicular really shouldn't be causing stiffness. Navicular is where the navicular bone has been put under stress and has degraded by either eroding or ossification. It really has nothing to do with "getting the blood" pumping. It can be easily managed and kept from getting worse by corrective trimming, not necessarily exercise. She may have navicular, but I've never really heard of a horse with it improving in soundness with exercise, and getting stiff or off when not exercising.

How was she diagnosed with navicular? Were radiographs taken? That is the only way navicular can be diagnosed. By the way she's standing in the second picture I would say she's got some pain going on, but it doesn't really look like heel pain?

She is very cute, btw. Congrats on getting her.
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The man I got her from said she was vet checked for it 4 years ago and that's what they said. I'm not sure if it's stiffness or just walking slow from being sore, but when she is stretched out at a trot she does fine. We had a retired vet and retired farrier look at her and the way she stands and acts (the retired vet has a older mare with navicular) was signs of navicular. They watched her ride up and down steep hills and she is the slowest thing coming down, but going up hills she is a little speed demon. I'm not sure, but I'm going by what the previous owner told me about what the vet said.
 

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I just recently was given a 10 year old Appaloosa mare with navicular in both front hooves. The man has owned her since a weanling and said if you get her up daily and lunge her for 5 minutes she is fine and barely will limp. I rode her yesterday on a almost 12-13 mile ride and she did great. Just at a walk/trot. She is very energetic and likes to go. I notice if you let her sit in the field for 2-3 days and get her up she is very stiff and moves slow. As soon as you lunge her and get her blood pumping she is fine for the rest of the day and can do whatever you like. She is currently barefoot but I have read in some instances corrective shoeing can help navicular horses. Any help would be appreciated by people who have dealt with this! :)
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Okay, see if I got this straight. A horse with "navicular" and "barely limps" is taken for a 12-13 mile ride and did great? You have to lunge her so she won't limp?

I would seriously get xrays. Then find a farrier who can help with chronic lameness.

In your last picture, is the horse stretching out her front feet? If so, that may be a laminitis or founder.
 

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Could she have navicular? She definitely could. But it sounds like there might be something else going on. Possibly arthritis or like PFB, laminitis. Did you get a vet check done before purchasing her? If I were in your position and knew she had navicular according to the previous owner, I would definitely want some radiographs taken to see the extent of the damage at the least.
 
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Quick note... Agree with others. IF it is 'navicular', want more info - ie 'syndrome' or 'disease'? Diagnosed with rads or...?? If it is, I wouldn't be riding her bare without at least a good, experienced rehab farrier's say so. I would however, choose boots & pads any day over shoes for a 'nav horse'. She has weak, sensitive heels, with maybe some internal damage, so you need to protect & support those heels to allow her to comfortably use them & build their strength. If they stay too sore to use, she'll stay on her toes & that will create/exacerbate internal foot damage - to the nav. region as well as otherwise, & joints further up.
 

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The old saying is don't look a gift horse in the mouth, but you know this is a fairly young mare. ( So that wouldn't apply)-LOL. Take it easy w/her I would absolutely not do any jumping, but as a trail horse you could have years of fun w/her. Boots might help-if you go the shoeing route, maybe just front shoes & possibly pads-but then very important to keep her on your farrier's schedule-don't stretch it out. Very pretty mare, but because of the foot problem, probably not a good idea to breed her.
 

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Regular work by a competent farrier is a good thing. I tend to think that most horses with mild cases of navicular is kind of exaggerated, as they do well most of the time.

You have to be an expert to pinpoint lameness issues. So many bones, so many causes, etc. What some think is navicular could be totally a different thing....sometimes worse, sometimes better.
 

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As for working the lameness out of a navicular horse, a vet will tell you to do a lot of "long and low" exercises with a navicular horse, they'll also tell you that blood flow in the hoof is important. They'll recommend things like magnetic boots and isoxuprine as well. A lot of people think the magnetic bell boots are crazy, but I see a noticeable difference when I use them. My horse will also work out of a navicular lameness. Occasionally he won't but if I start him off slow and give him time, he will work out of it. (my horse was diagnosed via x-rays and we are still working on the perfect treatment for him. As of now, his APPEARS to be syndrome and not degenerative but only time will really tell).
 

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My mare is navicular in all 4. We did corrective shoeing for almost 6 years, fixing the angles and having wedges and pads on. It worked for her if she was getting steady daily excersize, but the thrush she would get was HORRID. and if she was off for long periods of time it got worse with shoes.

Shes been barefoot for 4 years now (lots of discussions, and help with vet AND farriers) and is completely sound.

I would get the vet and farrier out to discuss oprions/see what would best benefit her.
 

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Has anyone kept up on modern thinking about treating navicular? It is now believed that wedging is not doing any favors to the horse except putting extra pressure on the horse's heels. The most recent is that they need to get shod and rocker the toe of the shoe. One of the newer methods is called a "Banana shoe" which the whole shoe rocks abit to let the horse stand at the most comfortable angle. There is another shoe or two that helps that is not at lift up padded shoe.
 

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The stance shown is not typical of navicular (as already noted). It would be more indicative of laminitis (weight off the toes and on the heels....just the opposite of navicular).
As loosie said. More information is needed.
 

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Has anyone kept up on modern thinking about treating navicular? It is now believed that wedging is not doing any favors to the horse except putting extra pressure on the horse's heels.
Not up with current shoeing practices for it, but yes to 'modern thinking' otherwise. 'Wedging' feet onto their toes puts more pressure on the *toes* rather than heels so much, which is the point - to relieve them. Agree that it is not helpful, except in a palliative way, but *depending how it's done*, more 'pressure' on the heels is a good thing.
 

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The stance shown is not typical of navicular (as already noted).
Actually that stance IS typical of severe navicular disease. Horses with navicular bone lesions on the flexor surface of the bone will typically stand that way to relieve the tension in the deep flexor tendon where it wraps around the bone, over the lesions . Gene Ovnicek and once drove into a barn were we were to see a horse we had never sen before that had been diagnosed with severe navicular diseas. We didn't know what kind of horse, what color it was or anything. In a row of about 20 paddocks, there was one horse standing just like that. I said "I bet that is our case" it was. Ypu can spot the, from a mile away every time.

Those are the ones who benefit greatly from a proper shoeing package, with wedges and enhanced breakover all around the foot . Amd wedges do NOT cause secondary issues IF the foot is correctly trimmed first to take off all under run heel. IF there is medicated packing under the pad to prevent thrush and , IF nd the toe / breakover is also treated correctly. In cases where wedge shoes or wedge pads caused other issues, I can guarantee one of those criteria was not met.
 

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Oh yes, forgot to comment on the 'stance' comment. While 'navicular' horses typically have weak & frequently high heels & stand with their fores 'camped under'(Altho too low heel/ground parallel or neg. P3 is also common), it's toe first landings & long toe causing stress at breakover that appears to do the most damage - to the extensor process region(low ringbone), not just the back of the foot & puts more pressure on the DDFT & nav joint. So the rocking back stance doesn't only mean sore toes. Relieves the EP region as well as DDFT too.

I disagree with your comments Patty, about the wedging of heels having no 'side effects'. I do agree that *much* of the issue is about *correct* application & I know that it can indeed make the horse feel better, in the short term at least. But the simple mechanics of rotating P3 & putting the horse even more on his toes is generally unhelpful in the long run - unless perhaps there is no 'long run' & the condition is too far past hope of rehab, so palliative measures are best.

**Oh just thought of a think... I'm thinking of traditional type wedging, being raising the entire back of the foot, walls & all, but if we're talking about wedging under the frog only, then I don't disagree with it necessarily.
 
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