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Navicular Disease?

Discussion in 'Other Pets & Livestock' started by justduckie, Mar 25, 2008.

  1. justduckie

    justduckie Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 30, 2007
    My one paint gelding, whose 14 years old, was just diagnosed with navicular disease. The vet recommends doing some corrective shoeing and says it's pretty mild right now and he should be fine once we get the shoes on.

    Has anyone ever dealt with this and what did you do and how did your horse do? Were you able to keep riding them? Do they ever get over it? Everything I have read is that it isn't curable, but then I've read that it's misdiagnosed a lot and it's just sore tendons that once the corrective shoes go on, heal up and then they are fine.

    Tell me your stories! It's my youngest DD's horse. She is in the Navy and in the middle of the Persian Gulf and I promised her I wouldn't do anything drastic like sell him or put him down.

    (We have 4 horses - two paint geldings, an Arab/QH gelding and an Arab/QH mare and this is the first time in 12 years of owning horses that we've ever come across this)
     
  2. helmstead

    helmstead Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 12, 2007
    Alfordsville, IN
    It's pretty darn common, unfortunately.

    A lesson pony where I taught had severe navicular (crippling) in his LF. At the time, nerving was the treatment de jour. It failed miserably and he had to be retired. He was worse after than before, and was eventually euthed because he wasn't even pasture sound.

    My late App mare, Vickie, had mild navicular in both fores from bad shoeing (long toe, narrow heel). By the time we got her, we had converted to mustang trims (see Pete Ramey). We trimmed her correctively (shortened the toe and opened her badly contracted heels) and she was sound on everything but gravel roads/trails. I just had to boot her for trail rides where I knew there would be some gravel roads.

    It's no death sentence by any means, and a good trimmer can correct it somewhat (like Vickie was) without shoes. Whatever you do - DON'T consent to nerving or tendon cutting. You might, before shoeing, look for a trimmer in your area here http://www.americanhoofassociation.org/ I cannot stress how well this trimming method has worked for us and our customers with both foundered and navicular horses.
     
  3. justduckie

    justduckie Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 30, 2007
    Thank you so much for your reply! It gives me some hope that we will be able to ride him again. I just talked to our farrier and he says he's worked on quite a few like this and is confident he can get those heels up and shorten his toe to make the "break over" shorter.....just what the vet asked for.

    So tomorrow we go to get him worked on and I'm hoping that we won't need to bute him or anything like that. The vet did mention cutting the nerves as a last resort but says he refuses to do it unless it is the absolutely last resort. Even then he really hesitants. But since he thinks this is a pretty mild case, we shouldn't even have to think about it.

    I'll let you know how the shoeing goes.

    ETA - do your horses go barefoot? All my horses normally do to, I've been training both of my arab/qh for endurance and they both are barefoot with no problems what so ever. I'm getting some boots for both so if there are any rocky trails, we can get boots on them. I prefer barefoot, but if shoeing the paint helps him get better, then shoes it will be.
     
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2008
  4. mamaboyd

    mamaboyd Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 6, 2007
    Kendal.Ontario,Canada
    Our older QH mare has this. She is going to be 26 yrs old in May. She had it when we got her but she was fine as long as she had regular hoof trimming and wore Mac Boots when on gravelly ground or icy ground. We also give her glucosamine twice a day to help. My daughter hasn't ridden her in awhile due to her(my daughter) being kicked in the face accidently by our other horse last spring, but we figure at her ripe old age, she deserves a nice retirement and be pampered til she crosses the Rainbow Bridge.
     
  5. helmstead

    helmstead Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 12, 2007
    Alfordsville, IN
    Yes, all of our horses have been barefoot for years now - even my hunters and trail horses. I was a traditional shoe user for a long time - and I know there is a place for shoes, but we haven't had need of them for years.

    I've found with problems like founder and navicular, they do better without shoes.

    Just a note - it's not so much building the heel UP as it is to OPEN the heel. Imagine it this way - the heel either underruns or narrows. The navicular bone is under the frog near the back of the hoof. When the heel narrows or underruns, it applies all the pressure of the hoof (primary weight bearing area) directly to the navicular bone, thereby pinching the nerve coming through it. So the idea is to widen the rear of the hoof to redistribute that pressure, taking it off the navicular bone.

    This page shows some great pictorial examples of narrow heels and the same hoof with corrective trimming where the heel widens. This will effectively "heal" a mild navicular. You CAN achieve the same effect with corrective shoeing, but it can take a little longer and you have to have a superior farrier, not just a cookie cutter. http://www.hoofrehab.com/rehabilitations1.htm

    Also
    , try a product called BL Solution - I LOVE it.
    http://www.valleyvet.com/equine-pain-management/BL-SolutionButeLess

    And invest in some good boots for your endurance horses - I love these http://www.valleyvet.com/ct_detail.html?pgguid=018dfd97-9eb2-4f7e-b9f7-c2997bb9912e
     
  6. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    On the one hand, depending on how 'navicular' has been diagnosed and by whom, it's good not to get TOO invested in that diagnosis for a while yet, since a non-trivial number of horses get the navicular label just from being generally sore in the heels and it turns out to be from a variety of causes, some of them temporary.

    That said, chances are that your horse probably *does* have long-term hard-to-cure or incurable sore heels, call it navicular syndrome or whatever you wanna call it. It is regrettably common. Some horses go from diagnosis to barely comfortable as pasture pets in a year or less; others can be fully sound 'forever' for significant work with good trimming and some discretion about what kind of footing you work them on; the great majority end up permanently lame to one (sometimes-mild) degree or another despite your efforts.

    Be careful with wedge pads or wedge shoes... I have seen an awful lot of horses have some short-term relief from them BUT get much much worse in them long-term, as the alignment of the foot and the growth of the hoof is distorted. I know some people find them useful, I'm just saying, they are NOT a panacea and not infrequently can actually make things worse if used for a long time.

    The biggest two things are probably: First, the trimming, (and shoeing if you're doing that, which is a very reasonable thing to try on an already well-trimmed barefoot horse diagnosed w/ navicular, if you ask me) needs to be done REALLY REALLY WELL. It can be exceedingly difficult to find the right farrier for a sore-footed horse but it is the one thing taht will make the MOSt difference. Unfortunately you can't judge by how much Technology they use, or how good an explanation they give, or how much they charge, or anything like that. Shoeing a sore horse is not a simple formula of 'raise heels shorten toe', it's relative to the horse's structure and the whole enchilada has to be right. To some extent, recommendations from other people are useful, but the main thing is to trust what the horse is telling you.

    Secondly, you'll want to keep the horse off of hard or rocky footing. Not 'as much as possible' but *period* (except that he can be on *flat*, non-lumpy hard footing, like baked pasture in summer or frozen in winter, if it's unavoidable and if he will stay calm and not run around). This may be a problem if he's a trail horse and all your local trails are stony, or if your ground is punched, frozen and pointy all winter... but you *need* to find a way to keep him off that kind of ground, even if it means constructing a small gravel or sand paddock for him to occupy when your regular turnout is going to be too lumpy for his tootsies. Staying off rocky/lumpy footing, and never riding him on any hard footing whatsoever, will go a LONG ways towards preserving his soundness for as long as possible.

    Also no tight circles, longeing, sharp turns.

    It definitely is manageable in most horses, for a good while, although unless it was caused by poor trimming/shoeing or overuse in the first place, it is unlikely to actually get *better* as such. But so much of it depends on the individual horse. Good luck,

    Pat
     
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2008
  7. justduckie

    justduckie Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 30, 2007
    Thank you every one for your replies. Pat, you said almost exactly what my farrier told me today. We are going to work with him to get him out of the pads by mid/late summer as long as he eats well and his hooves grow the way they are suppose to. He told me that his back toes were too short and his front toes were too long and he thinks that the soreness was actually from him over reaching with his back feet and taking short steps with his front feet and catching his front heels. Because we have rock around here called scoria, which can be VERY sharp, we decided instead of just trimming, we put shoes on all the way around. He's going to stay in the pasture in front of the house which I work over with a drag quite a bit and tends to stay nice and smooth and soft and gives him good access to the barn. We don't stable any of the horses, they just have access to the barn if the weather gets bad or they want quite a bit of shade in the summer.....the barn stays pretty cool in the summer.

    He did tell me to get him out and moving and don't let him stand around once he starts feeling better. So we'll start taking him to the arena with us a couple times a week just to get him out and work him in nice soft dirt. Not hard, just enough so he feels needed again. He loves my DD so much and when she left, he was pretty much a pasture pet. No one worked with him and he was just a hay burner. But I promised to keep him and now that I can ride again ( I recently lost about 100 lbs.) I will work with him.

    I feel so much better about his prognosis! He will never be used hard, but he will be ridden. [​IMG] And hopefully he will have a few more good years in him. Between us and our farrier (who is GREAT and we have used before and recently switched back to after some really bad experiences with another farrier -- we stopped using him before because we couldn't match schedules....he recently went to shoeing full time and it's easier to get a hold of him) we hopefully will keep him sound.

    And already this afternoon, he's walking better than he has in a while![​IMG]
     
  8. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    Ontario, Canada
    Marci,

    That sounds like a GREAT plan. And if your farrier's trimming is as good as his advice-giving then you will be all set [​IMG] Best of luck to you,

    Pat
     
  9. bluerose

    bluerose Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oct 21, 2007
    San Diego, CA
    OK, well, here is my opinion (which you won't like I'm sure).

    For one- were x-rays done?

    Navicular is a DEVELOPED CONDITION... 'syndrome'/'disease' makes it sound flashier. It is essentially 'caudal heel pain to the point of lameness'. How is it developed? Poor trimming. Heels that are too high and contracted. Landing toe-first or flat consistently over time. It all adds up...

    Corrective shoeing is palliative care... it doesn't fix anything... and will usually need to be 'escalated' to 'keep the horse sound' (keep destroying the foot, actually).

    It can be *healed*... by, as helmstead mentioned, a correct barefoot trim (whether you use a Ramey/Jackson/AANCHP, Strasser, Equinextion, LaPierre trained trimmer doesn't usually matter as long as they trim correctly).

    Have one in the backyard who recovered fully from suspected mild navicular with a good barefoot trim. (He was never diagnosed, but had all of the symptoms and his hoof form reflected that his internal structures were severely compromised.)

    Your farrier, chances are, is not doing your horse a service. Farriers as a whole tend to leave heels and bars and walls high and overtrim toe and frog and sole and toe callous. Shoes hide the damage and increase damage done by peripheral loading... although a poor trim can also cause peripheral loading and subsequent damage.

    Just my opinion and experience... education is key.

    http://www.equinextion.com
    http://www.hoofrehab.com
    http://www.thehorseshoof.com
     

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