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Navicular Disease in Horses

What Is Navicular Syndrome?

Navicular disease or caudal heel syndrome is a degenerative condition of the navicular bone that can appear in horses of any breed or discipline, but is essentially unknown in ponies and donkeys.

Twenty years ago, vets were sure that navicular disease was a degeneration of the navicular bone in the foot, however we now recognise that this is but a small part of the condition. This “classic” disease of the navicular bone is now known as navicular bone disease, and forms one part of navicular syndrome.

The other part of navicular disease is degeneration or damage to other structures in the foot. Overall, the potential structures that can be involved in navicular problems are:

  • Navicular bone
  • Navicular bursa
  • Suspensory ligaments of the navicular bone
  • Impar Ligament (Distal Sesamoidean Impar Ligament = DSIL)
  • Deep digital flexor tendon (DDFT)
  • Coffin Joint (Distal InterPhalangeal Joint = DIPJ)
  • Collateral ligaments of the coffin joint

 

In a particular horse, any combination of the above structures may be involved.

Navicular disease can be limited to one limb. However, it most commonly affects both front hooves, causing bilateral lameness. While veterinarians have documented it in the rear feet, these cases are very rare.

Which Part Of A Horse Is Affected By Navicular Disease?

Navicular is not actually a disease, but is one of the most common causes of forelimb lameness in horses. The Podotrochlear apparatus or navicular apparatus includes the navicular bone, the navicular bursa, the coffin joint, the impar ligament, the suspensory ligament of the navicular bone, and the deep digital flexor tendon (DDFT) and navicular disease can involve many of these structures, not just the navicular bone.

It can involve more of the podotrochlear apparatus than just the navicular bone, such as the navicular bursa or associated soft-tissue structures (e.g., the deep digital flexor tendon [DDFT] and collateral ligament of the distal interphalangeal joint [DIP or coffin joint]).

What Are The Symptoms Of Navicular Disease In Horses?

Navicular or caudal heel syndrome is a cause of lameness that can appear in horses of any breed or discipline. It can be limited to one limb; however, it most commonly affects both front hooves, causing bilateral lameness. Early signs can include a refusal to undertake previous activities such as jumping, extending gaits, etc.

If you think your horse has navicular problems, please contact your equine practitioner immediately.

Can A Horse Recover From Navicular?

There’s no cure for this condition; rather, it’s about managing an affected horse’s comfort. FormaHoof’s reusable mould system offers a highly effective solution that instantly realigns the horse’s hoof angles and rebuilds the heels.

This allows the correct biomechanics of the foot to be restored and supports drug-free management and treatment of the pathology, whilst offering the most comfort for the horse.

Can A Horse With Navicular Be Ridden?

This should be decided on a case by case basis. Depending on the severity of the disease, it may be possible to ride a horse with navicular, as long as your vet okays it. Always discuss treatment and rehab procedures in detail with your veterinarian.

How Do You Manage Navicular?

Whilst there are various traditional methods which include specific shoeing techniques and drugs, equines can gain immediate elevation and comfort from their FormaHoof application. This allows them to bear weight correctly and increases blood flow to the entire foot, supporting healthy natural hoof growth and healing within the structures of the podotrochlear apparatus.

All Navicular Disease treatments should be discussed and followed up with a veterinarian or/and farrier/trimmer.

Effective Support For Navicular Disease Treatment With Formahoof

FormaHoof’s reusable mould system offers a highly effective solution that instantly realigns the horse’s hoof angles and rebuilds the heels, allowing the correct biomechanics of the foot to be restored. Equines can gain immediate elevation and comfort from their FormaHoof application, which allows them to bear weight correctly and increases blood flow to the entire foot, supporting healthy natural hoof growth and healing within the podotrochlear apparatus structures.

FormaHoof can support and assist in the 3 essential elements of correct hoof care for navicular disease:

  • FormaHoof supports correct trimming towards a balanced hoof structure, with the ideal proportions of a 3 to 1 ratio of toe length to heel height easily achievable thanks to the anatomically correct hoof mould.
  • FormaHoof provides 3D lift of the heels, which helps align the hoof pastern axis to P1-2-3. This elevation in FormaHoof is possible without the heel pressure that occurs during a traditional shoeing setup. The vertical mould fit offers effective support as the heels grow down, so they can be brought back under the limb and become more correctly aligned.
  • DIM is easily applied within an application to provide essential support to the digital cushion and lateral cartilages. As the digital cushion has no germative structures to regenerate, the improvement in HPA and balanced fit helps to restore blood flow through the existing blood vessels, filling volume back into the digital cushion. As the digital cushion fills, the lateral cartilages become more upright and expand the heel base, so the sole widens as the heels open.
    With FormaHoof, the recovery timeline for navicular disease can be significantly is reduced and, more importantly, the horses that could never previously rebuild healthy hooves, now can.

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