WHAT IS NAVICULAR?

"Navicular" is a syndrome of the horse's hoof. A syndrome is a collection of symptoms from unknown causes. Many refer to the syndrome as a "disease" whereupon Navicular is really not a "disease" as much as it is a term used for caudal heel pain. 

The most common cause of navicular issues in the hooves is mechanical. That is, man-made. Navicular pain can be caused from hard concussion to the hooves on hard surfaces, improper shoeing and/or trimming, improper lifestyle. Navicular is NOT hereditary nor is it caused from metabolic issues.

What is the Navicular bone? It is a small bone directly behind the P3 (Coffin bone). It is held in place by ligaments and tendons. The Navicular bone acts as a pulley for the deep digital flexor tendon. It also is a turn on/off valve for the blood flow to the hoof. Every time the horse steps down on a surface, the bone shuts off the blood flow to the hoof and allows the blood to be sucked back up into the Coffin bone and other parts of the hooves.

When the mechanics of the hooves are impaired due to shoeing, imbalanced trimming, heels that are left too long or toes that are left too long, the navicular bone cannot function at peak ability. This malfunction inhibits the correct blood flow to the hoof and increases the vulnerability of the hooves to further physiological damage.

Horses that are high risk for navicular are those that are forced to wear high heels, long toes and bars, confined to stalls for hours and hours on end and are used hard on rough and hard surfaces. Conventional treatments of specialty shoes do nothing to correct the CAUSE of navicular but simply mask the symptoms. As the hooves continue to deteriorate with navicular more and more severe treatments are administered with the last resort of nerving. Nerving is cutting of the nerves so the horse cannot feel pain. Again, this does nothing to "cure" the navicular; only mask the pain. Many horses have been condemned unnecessarily to an early death because the conventional treatments do nothing except provide a short-term quick fix, a band-aid of sorts.

Navicular syndrome can and is treated successfully and cured with correct trimming of the hooves. Lower the heels, bring back the toes, rocker the toes to ensure a heel-first landing, balance and level the soles -- all these play a large factor in the recovery of the navicular horse. A lifestyle that includes 24/7 turnout with free-choice shelter helps to ensure the horse's free movement that will, in turn, keep the navicular bone stimulated to doing its job correctly. Frequent physiologically correct trimmings to see that the heels do not grow too long nor the toe too long will help to keep the stressors at a minimum within the hooves.

For more information contact your Trim specialist. You may also post a question HERE in the FORUM and a hoof specialist from Penzance will get back to you with an answer.

Read a couple of histories of "navicular" horse owners:

ISHMAEL

AIDEN

MAC


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