Navicular Syndrome

Navicular Syndrome

Leslie Batistich
Navicular syndrome is a critical problem with the riding horse. Navicular is usually suspected when your horse is showing pain in the caudal aspect of its hoof. Typically when this problem is diagnosed the horse owner will not only need to revise the horse’s training program, but will also need to look at corrective shoeing. I have found the composite shoe to be a more than competent corrective shoe for navicular problems. Every horse owner or caretaker should fully understand hoof mechanism, proper trimming, and how it affects the horse’s entire body, health and longevity. Navicular problems are not hereditary. Many horse people may believe that navicular problems are hereditary. Do not mistake this for a hereditary weakness. It is a very common health care problem. Navicular problems are almost always man made through improper trimming, short term or long term shoeing, and/or inadequate natural environment throughout the horse’s life. This type of improper care can cause problems in the navicular area of your horse’s hoof. The navicular bone is located directly behind the coffin bone, held in between the short pastern and coffin bone by tendons and ligaments. The navicular bone has two main functions: To protect the joint and tendons from pressure and concussion; and to act as a valve for blood flow to the coffin bone and corium in the hoof. An insult to this region causes pain and lameness in the horse. When your horse is diagnosed with navicular syndrome by your veterinarian a common drug therapy will normally include isoxsuprine hydrochloride, a drug which causes dilation of the small blood vessels. This is a long course of drug therapy which can become quite expensive. Corrective shoeing is always going to be required in more chronic cases of navicular syndrome. Your horse should be trimmed according to its own conformation and properly fitted with a corrective shoe. The main point is that to be able to continue using your horse, you are going to need to be proactive in making your horse comfortable while he is working. Remember, you are never going to be able to cure navicular problems, you and your farrier can, however, assist in relieving him from pain.

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