Helping A Horse With Navicular Disease

The vet said my horse has navicular disease, I just wanted to know how he can have a good pain free life and be able to still go out hacking.

The navicular bone is located in the hoof, directly behind the coffin bone and is held in place by tendons and ligaments. It protects the joint and tendons from pressure and concussion and acts as a valve for blood flow to the coffin bone and corium inside the hoof. Navicular disease (or Caudal Heel Syndrome) is where this bone has become immobile, resulting in poor blood flow within the hoof. Navicular disease occurs almost exclusively in the front feet and usually affects both feet.

While walking, the horse with navicular syndrome tends to place its weight on the toe to avoid placing pressure on the heel area, which contains the inflamed navicular bone and bursa. Since the horse will not place weight on the heel, it takes longer to stop the stride. Your horse will also probably show signs of irritation such as head tossing or tail swishing.

There are 4 main approaches to helping to cure a horse of navicular disease, the most effective is probably good foot care. Numerous styles of shoes have been developed to help relieve pressure of the deep flexor tendon, therefore relieving pain in a horse with the condition. Horses showing signs of navicular disease should be shod more frequently than other horses (every six to eight weeks).

Other options include raising the heel or rounding the toe – both thought to relieve pressure on the deep flexor tendon; and setting the shoe under – which means leaving hoof beyond the edge of the shoe and then rounding it, as if to act as a rocker. This results in less effort being required to lift the foot and move. You can also try feeding your horse feed supplements specifically designed to aid in joint regeneration and lubrication.