Navicular Problems in Horses
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Navicular Problems in Horses

August 29, 2019

Hi, I’m Danvers. I’m the Hoof Health Consultant
for SmartPak. And today we’re going to talk about Navicular concerns. The navicular bone is also known as the distal
sesimoid bone, and it’s nestled at the back side of the short pastern and the coffin bone.
It’s slung to form a false joint by the deep digital flexor tendon, that would be similar
to our Achilles Tendon. It functions in the same way as the proximal sesimoid. So you
have the distal sesimoid and the proximal sesimoid, and they both create false joints
that allow for hyperflexion and attend to issues of hyperflexion. As our diagnostic procedures have improved,
our ability to understand that this is not a condition, but a myriad of conditions has
improved greatly. They would be a history of lameness, an intermittent lameness, a horse
that when you block one leg and he goes sound on it but he goes lame on the opposing limb,
lameness on tight circles, lameness on hard surfaces, and, of course, radiographic evidence.
So, it’s that preponderance or collection of concerns that comes up with the navicular
syndrome issue. Veterinary diagnostics have done wonders for
our ability to address navicular concerns. So now you don’t see so many references to
navicular disease. In fact, we don’t even see as many people talking about navicular
syndrome. We talk about heel pain, caudal pain, and then we start isolating to very
specific locations and looking at the issues in a more specific manner. In terms of trimming and shoeing, the traditional
approach has been to protect this area. You can see from the bottom, the navicular bone,
and putting a bar across that bone to protect from concussion is a traditional approach.
Using a heart bar shoe to not apply pressure, but apply protection to that area has been
an approach. And of course, using pour-in pads and other materials to provide cushion
and support in the caudal aspect of the hoof is a traditional approach. Many of our approaches have involved wedging
the foot and increasing the angle of the hoof. Dr. Bowker’s recent research says that we
need to re-examine that. Potentially, actually, go the other direction. So it’s a wide open
arena for further study and more involved research. I think the most important thing you can do
is to encourage good vascularity and circulation. Getting a good blood supply to this digit
is never easy, but it’s a key thing, and one of the best ways we can do that is to encourage
activity. Don’t let the horse stand idle, don’t let him be static. Let him be dynamic,
let him move and stimulate blood flow. In addition to that activity, we can encourage
that with a good supplement. So a good supplement that supports vascularity is also a key element. Issues related to the navicular bone, navicular
disease, navicular syndrome, caudal heel issues are very complex. This is just the beginning.
You’ll definitely want to involve your health care professionals in any further discussions. Stay with us at SmartPak for more issues related
to hoof care.

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  1. Interesting video! My OTTB has navicular disease and is on wedges and has thrived with them. (Not to say it's the best for every horse) Luckily we are still able to rise regularly- basic dressage, trail riding, and hunter paces! It stinks for your first horse to have this condition but we're very lucky 🙂

  2. When you vet is leaning towards diagnosing Navicular, it's important to rule out an abscess through the whiteline of the bar.  Very often the symptoms referred to in this video are exactly the same as what we see in whiteline abscess at the bar.  So if no issues can be seen in the navicular bone, that syndrome is likely not the culprit. But whiteline abscesses cannot be seen in xrays or even MRIs often.  Once shoes have been applied, the progression and finally rupture and healing from whiteline abscesses is stalled out so the off/on lameness continues for a very long time.  Often until the horse is deemed useless and put down.

  3. We used Gluquestrian to deal with the Navicular Syndrome in our horse. It was the only supplement on the market we could find that actually didn't just block the pain, and allow things to get worse.

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