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Anybody riding/training/competing a horse with navicular? mini-vent

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  • Anybody riding/training/competing a horse with navicular? mini-vent

    I've read that navicular isn't the death sentence it used to be, yadayadayada, but I'm questioning how many horses actually stay competitive with it. Or are even ridden regularly (and I don't mean for the occasional trail ride, nothing against that).

    I'm interested in the following:
    Does the horse you own/know have navicular syndrome or disease?
    What is the workload per week and what level of horse?
    How long was the horse able to remain in work?
    What special steps/treatment was necessary? i.e. certain shoes, injections, etc.

    And now my mini-pity party: I've owned this horse for a little over a year, got to ride him about 8-9 mos of that year and now we (vet, farrier) are almost positive he has navicular (need more diagnostics)--and he's not that old (and a very hard keeper--i.e. no pasture board option for his retirement). This really, really sucks, since I board and can't afford another horse--do I give up the next 15 years of riding? And please don't go off on how I am bad to feel bad about this--don't worry, I am not shipping him to Mexico or anything. Ok, pity party over! Hopefully it isn't hopeless??
    DIY Journey of Remodeling the Farmette: http://weownblackacre.blogspot.com/

  • #2
    Originally posted by TrotTrotPumpkn View Post
    And now my mini-pity party: I've owned this horse for a little over a year, got to ride him about 8-9 mos of that year and now we (vet, farrier) are almost positive he has navicular (need more diagnostics)--and he's not that old (and a very hard keeper--i.e. no pasture board option for his retirement). This really, really sucks, since I board and can't afford another horse--do I give up the next 15 years of riding? And please don't go off on how I am bad to feel bad about this--don't worry, I am not shipping him to Mexico or anything. Ok, pity party over! Hopefully it isn't hopeless??
    Well, it varies greatly from horse to horse--some end up retired, some can do light work, some can spend some time at a pretty significant level of work with a lot of support. You can give it some time with shoeing changes and management, and perhaps he will come around and stay sound for you.

    If you are in a position of only having one horse and having goals which are going to clearly be beyond his ability, you may decide to see if he can be servicably sound and either free lease to someone you trust or sell him on as a light riding horse to someone whose goals and his ability will mesh. I guess one thing I worry about with a horse like this is if his overall working life would be shortened--in other words, he has five years of serious work with support, but maybe 10-15 years with modest work and good support. Does that make sense? And no, I don't know if there is any evidence that it works that way, but it would be my personal gut fear.

    It all sucks and you have my sympathy for the hard road and choices ahead.
    Eileen
    http://themaresnest.us

    Comment


    • #3
      depends if true navular there no known cure.. if sydrome then depends how severe it is as to what can be done with him... but wil be a vet issue and farrier one all his life so his price if sold has to be as cheap as chips as in either case he wont pass a ppe and either way he shouldnt be competed

      Comment


      • #4
        It is often misdiagnosed. Read this article, it will give you a ton of info.

        http://www.hoofrehab.com/NavicularSyndrome.htm

        Comment


        • #5
          First of all let me write that: I've been told by a very good vet that about 90% horses with front leg lameness have it in the hoof area + most of it is concentrated in the navicular region = there is just a LOT of going on in that very small area. 40-60% of navicular issues in horses are not diagnosed since it's expensive to do that. Many of "floating lameness’s can be "navicular" lameness, since there is no swelling or heat in the front legs, but the horse is lame. With some rest it gets better, but with some use it comes back.

          So even if your horse has a problem in the navicular area, it doesn't mean that the diagnosis will be the same as for other horses with pain in navicular area. There are hundreds of variations what can be wrong in navicular area in horses = all different. Keep that in mind and don't bunch all "navicular" in the same diagnosis = it is not the same, but actually vastly different and the difference is in the death on not death sentence (as you say). Depending on your correct diagnosis, there can be several options how you can keep a horse sound. That is the good news. The bad news is that navicular treatments are expensive and had to be done on regular bases to help your horse to stay sound.

          If we'll really "dumb it down" for easier understanding, many treatable navicular issues are related to the lack of lubrication in navicular area = add artificial lubrication and horse is better. Stop adding it and the rubbing, degeneration and inflammation starts again = pain and lameness progressing with every step.

          However, even when you can prolong the usable life of horse with navicular issues = every day is a gift. Some lasts years but others can go back to lame at any day and the worst part is that you never know what will trigger that lameness - it can be several 10m circles... so you might give up some more difficult exercisers or jumping, but your horse might be able to stay sound with just hacking = but this is also a trial and error method. And when the lameness comes back, it's again a long and expensive road to soundness.
          Last edited by Dressage Art; Aug. 13, 2009, 01:48 PM.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by TrotTrotPumpkn View Post
            I've read that navicular isn't the death sentence it used to be, yadayadayada, but I'm questioning how many horses actually stay competitive with it. Or are even ridden regularly (and I don't mean for the occasional trail ride, nothing against that).

            I'm interested in the following:
            Does the horse you own/know have navicular syndrome or disease?
            What is the workload per week and what level of horse?
            How long was the horse able to remain in work?
            What special steps/treatment was necessary? i.e. certain shoes, injections, etc.

            And now my mini-pity party: I've owned this horse for a little over a year, got to ride him about 8-9 mos of that year and now we (vet, farrier) are almost positive he has navicular (need more diagnostics)--and he's not that old (and a very hard keeper--i.e. no pasture board option for his retirement). This really, really sucks, since I board and can't afford another horse--do I give up the next 15 years of riding? And please don't go off on how I am bad to feel bad about this--don't worry, I am not shipping him to Mexico or anything. Ok, pity party over! Hopefully it isn't hopeless??
            I had this happen to me with my first horse (a jumper) when I was 16 years old, so I do feel your pain. In fact, I have never owned another horse when I didn't have my own farm to keep it on-- that's what a profound effect the experience had on me. I gave that horse away to a trail riding back yard home, even though I was very emotionally attached to him.

            This was a long time ago (1970) and veterinary medicine was nowhere near what it is today. But the long and the short of it was that sometimes the horse was sound, and sometimes he wasn't. In any situation like that, it is Murphy's Law that the horse will be unsound when you want to show. In dressage, where you need consistency to build the horse's strength to move up the levels, frequent down time prevents progress.

            You may get a more hopeful prognosis from others, expecially since veterinary science has come a long way, but remember, it is INEVITABLE that horses will get old and/or unsound in the end, even if they do not get sick or injured prematurely. Horses live for many years after their useful riding lives. If you want to ride, and not just to keep an expensive pet, then you may be better off if you lease or find another way to ride without owning, unless you find yourself in a position where you can have your own backyard barn to control costs.

            I'm very sorry to hear that this has happened to you. Believe me, I know exactly how you feel. It's just awful.
            Last edited by Eclectic Horseman; Aug. 13, 2009, 01:48 PM.
            "Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain" ~Friedrich Schiller

            Comment


            • #7
              I had a horse with navicular that competed Medal/Maclay on the A circuit (3'6 equitation division); he was diagnosed at about 9 years old and competed with careful management sound into his late teens. He was a really fancy horse and excellent at his job; we just were careful in how we used him (i.e., when schooling before a class at shows, we'd usually just pop over a vertical and an oxer and go in the ring and at home mostly did flatwork, hardly any jumping). We also only showed him at the most important shows and finals. He was leased to a number of juniors in succession for their last year or last 2 years until they aged out of the division. We had a top farrier but I don't remember him getting anything complicated in terms of shoes; I think he had pads and that was it.

              BTW this was in the mid-eighties / early 90s; I am sure that there has been progress since then in the treatment of navicular.
              Last edited by YankeeLawyer; Aug. 13, 2009, 02:58 PM.
              Roseknoll Sporthorses
              www.roseknoll.net

              Comment


              • #8
                Now off to your question:

                Does the horse you own/know have navicular syndrome or disease?
                ~ Yes. My mare was diagnosed with the "navicular bone degeneration" in early 2007. Her lameness was only 1+/5 on left front only and mostly on the 10m circles. So we were able to catch it and diagnose it early. I had 2 local vets look at her and they were not much help with diagnosing her, since they didn't had equipment needed, so I had to take my mare to the equine hospital and they performed the whole lameness exam with the top of the line digital equipment. Found "lollipops" in my mare's navicular bone.

                What is the workload per week and what level of horse?
                ~when my mare was diagnosed, we were showing 2nd level. She become lame in January 07, then again in February 07 then again in March 07 and this is when I took her to the equine hospital. She had a 4 weeks stall rest with 12 weeks of recovery program of slowly bringing her back. In September we were doing easy trotting/cantering under the saddle. I was able to progress her to showing 4th level so far (2009) and she is 11 years old now.

                How long was the horse able to remain in work?
                ~From September 07 to now and may be another 5 years if God is willing, but I’m praying every day that she will not go lame “tomorrow” = you never, never know with navicular

                What special steps/treatment was necessary? i.e. certain shoes, injections, etc.
                ~bar shoes with rocked toe with wedge pads. Injections in to the coffin bone/navicular bursa. Isoxsuprine. Adequan. Regular circles of anti-inflammatory several times per year: Bute of Equinox/Previcox. + Ulserguard during those anti-imflamotary treatments.

                Hopefully it isn't hopeless??
                ~ no it’s not hopeless, there is always hope, but it can be taken away from us any day. That’s the scariest thing about navicular. I try to take every day as a God’s gift and live in the fear that yesterday was the last day that I rode my horse. There are no answers with navicular and there are no guarantees.

                Good luck to all of our navicular horses! Hope that they will stay sound longer!

                Comment


                • #9
                  I had an Appendix horse that had severe navicular. We didnt know how severe at the time but he was def. lame. We did the following....

                  1. Stopped doing hunters and focused on Dressage, no jumping anymore per vet and trainer.

                  2. Started a drug called Arquel which was amazing! Legal to show on per USEF and on bad days can also be used with bute. (I showed recognized dressage on the drug and never had an issue)

                  3. wedge shoes with pads and a good farrier

                  4. Lots of turn out time, vet said this was better then becoming stiff in a stall.

                  Long story short I bought him he was 6 and did not show lameness until 8. The above steps kept him sound until it started to effect his back. He then had his back injected along with his hocks. Keep in mind this was my horse of a lifetime, I would do anything for him. Finally after around 8-10 months of being sound with 4-5 days dressage work he went lame and was in too much pain to do anything so he was retired. I made the decision a month after retirement that he was just not sound enough to be a pasture pet (although I would have if he was comfortable) so per my vet we put him down.

                  The vet assured me that we did everything we could and exhausted all options. Turns out he went to New Bolton for a Necropsy and the navicular was far more severe then we ever thought. I then knew that I made the right choice, however it was the hardest I ever had to make.

                  I am not the norm, I have seen tons of horses that live through their navicular with minimal issues. If you take care of it and are on top of things they can live a very long life

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I have a similar story, I leased an event horse for a year, and decided I wanted to own him. I bought him at 17 years old as a prelim packer, and after 6 months he went lame. After a few months I took him to Leesburg, and he was diagnosed with navicular. Prognosis was not good, light riding, monitor navicular, possible injections to the bursa pad but bar shoes with a wedge seem to do the trick...
                    The long toes and limited heal do not help the situation, but he has been sound ever since the shoes were put on.
                    He is now serviceably sound to be a flat dressage packer or trail horse, but i don't think he will event again.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Even in the old days (mid-late 80s) it wasn't the death sentence it was thought to be.

                      My sister's horse Magic (show name Standing Ovation) was an OTTB who was raced until he was 7.

                      In his early to mid teens he was diagnosed with crippling navicular. Euthanasia was discussed.

                      However, they decided to try other approaches, including therapeutic shoeing (a trip to Paul Goodness every 4 weeks) and isoxuprine, and avoiding hard footing.

                      Not only did he NOT need to be euthanized, he became sound enough to progress up to Prelim level eventing (including qualifying for, and completing, the deBrooke).

                      He competed at Prelim into his early 20s, then backed down to lower levels for a few years. He was finally euthanized for kidney failure a few days before his 31st birthday. But he was still sound.
                      Janet

                      chief feeder and mucker for Music, Spy, Belle and Tiara. Someone else is now feeding and mucking for Chief and Brain (both foxhunting now).

                      Comment

                      • Original Poster

                        #12
                        Thank you all for replying!! I was feeling a little alone. My gelding is an OTTB as well. He's my "riding" horse, but not my only horse to take care of (EiRide--I already HAVE other expensive pasture pets!) and was doing soooo beautifully this spring, it's just been a really, really depressing summer. You should see the jumps I built/sanded/painted and have never used *sigh* I paid more than I should have for him, but he was a wonderful hunter and almost ready to show second level dressage. I should have realized something was up last fall when he started jumping a bit flatter (used to be a real back cracker--jumped you right out of the tack) but we thought it was hocks (and maybe it was) and we had those injected this spring when he went back into serious work. Had about 3 awesome weeks and then he came up lame in a dressage clinic on the circle.

                        He pulled shoes so often this summer we ended up barefoot by default, but last shoeing he was in regular shoes and pour in pads (tried a breakover/wedge wideweb shoe with no improvement) and he actually was doing a bit better. I wish I had the farrier support it sounds like you all do!!

                        I'm struggling with going back to our regular vet clinic for more x-rays (they did do flexions, balance x-rays and blocked nerves, he hoof tests positive in the heels and is lame on the circle). I'm almost leaning towards taking him up to one of the vet schools for a lameness evaluation and going straight to the MRI if necessary. I just want to find out what all is going on...

                        For those of you who shod your horses, did you pull shoes in the winter? I hate to leave shoes on, but if he needs them...ugh...I'm just sure he will get hurt slipping and borium has negatives too.

                        Janet, that's pretty awesome, what kind of shoes worked?

                        For those with wedge shoes, were your angles low to start with?

                        Dressage Art--ok your horse was way younger than mine! Wow. When you do the NSAID cycle, how long and how often are you giving anti-inflamatories (don't worry I won't do anything without the vet!). Also for those injecting the coffin/navicular region, how often are you needing to inject? Just curious.

                        I couldn't imagine riding him right now...he's not doing well enough. He's been a pasture ornament since May (he does get about 22 hours of turnout).
                        DIY Journey of Remodeling the Farmette: http://weownblackacre.blogspot.com/

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I took a mare with navicular to dressage championships for our region. She's a great girl. I don't recall that she wore shoes at all, but she got special feed and we only ever worked her on a nice, giving surface. Her owner rode her twice a week before I started riding her, and once I started riding 2-3 times a week, her owner stopped riding.

                          I realize this will vary from horse to horse, but this mare was so well trained anyways that we really only had to work her once in a while to keep her in shape. She knew all the stuff already. I think we were showing at first level.

                          Good luck! It's not hopeless.
                          _________________________

                          http://iamthesprinklerbandit.blogspot.com/

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            My mare was sound for daily riding for two years after her diagnosis (including jumping), thanks to aluminum wedge eggbar shoes (only her R front needed a serious wedge) and injections. Now she's only sound for light riding a few days a week. I had to stop competing her at recognized shows immediately, though, because she MUST wear bell boots at all times or she immediately pulls the eggbars off. It's like she knew the bell boots came of and put it just a little extra effort and finesse to make the connection necessary to pull a shoe. We occassionally did/do schooling shows where I get pre-approval to keep the bell boots on.

                            Good luck!
                            He heard the low voice of mercy, not the loud acclaim of glory.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I've owned/ridden/shown several navicular horses over the years and handled each one differently. It really depends on what is causing the symptoms. My vet said she doesn't even use the term "navicular" these days. It's caudal heel pain syndrom because so many different things can cause it. I recommend getting x-rays to see what is really going on and seeing if you can get a GOOD diagnostic block. That will tell you a lot.

                              This is long so skip over if you're not looking for specific examples. My 3 navicular cases:

                              First was my Appy gelding I got when he and I were both 14. By the time he was 15 he was showing signs of navicular. He would limp when he made a sharp turn to the left. We never could get a good nerve block on him and x-rays eventually proved that it was not true navicular. He had calcifications in his coffin bone.

                              We kept him in wedge shoes up front and on MSM and Cosequin. That was it for special care. He would still come out of the stall a bit gimpy (think minor arthritis) but he worked out of it. I used a TON of leg to make sure he was properly balanced on the left corners because if I let him be on the forehand at all he would limp. That said, I continued to use him for pony club. When I was 16 the work started being a bit much for him and I leased him out to lower level riders while I borrowed a bigger TB but at 18 I "took him back" to use for my C-3 and B ratings which he got through just fine. After the ratings, I attempted to "retire him" at the ripe old age of 19. He wanted none of it and would jump the fence to follow the lesson horses around. He found a second career as a horse for the handicapped where he worked until his death at age 30. Although he always came out stiff, he was kept in his special shoes, lived in a paddock so he could stay active and stayed in work rather than standing around neglected in a field.
                              Between age 14 and 20 he did at least one of EVERY rating in Pony Club from D-1 to B, and carried 5 riders to their C-1 (that was about his comfort level)

                              Second was a fancy QH gelding that I trained but did not own. He was bought as an adult beginner's horse but he showed a lot of talent as a dressage horse. He was lame on and off for about two years (we blamed HORRID thrush for the longest time) before X-rays revealed a navicular cyst. This horse was 11 at the time. We injected him with HA and he had six months of complete soundness in regular shoes. Remember this was a dressage horse though and he was not being asked to jump. Re-injecting every six months seemed like it could keep him sound forever but the owner didn't want to continue to invest in training a horse with a time bomb. Another young rider took him over for herself - she had a lot of talent but no budget and she's thrilled to be showing him at 2nd level now. At our vet's recommendation (and I know it's a touchy subject) he has been nerved but for him it was a fairly simple procedure. He blocked so well that they only had to cut sensation to a very small area of his heel. He trail rides and does dressage however he does NOT jump and we make sure he's ridden in good, open terrain since he's got no feeling in one heel. He is stabled but has 6 hours of T/O every day in a nice grass paddock.

                              Third case was my little arabian mare that I was eventing on. We tried EVERYTHING to get her sound but she stayed off to the right. We tried supplements, shoeing, injecting - nothing really helped to the point that I was comfortable continuing to jump her. She was not a candidate for nerving because we could never get a decent diagnostic nerve block on her. Bute helps - one gram every two days makes her comfortable for light work (lower level dressage - 20 m circles are okay, 10 m circles are not) I made the decision to give her away to a pleasure home and start from scratch. She's perfectly sound for packing her new "mom" down the trails at a walk or trot (in straight lines) a few days a week and for letting her grand-kids hack around the pasture but I would not want to push her to keep performing at the level I want to be riding at. I interviewed at a lot of homes and I gave away a horse that I had turned down a large sum of $$ for the year before but it allowed me to go and get a horse that can do what I want...
                              The rebel in the grey shirt

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Ok, if he hoof tests positive on the heels = it is not the same navicular that my mare has. She hoof tests perfect in her heels. So already, the example of my mare would be irrelevant to your situation.

                                I agree with you that you should take him to the clinic and ask them to make a “navicular set” of X-rays with "skyline of navicular bone". Do that before spending thousands on MRI. You will clearly see and count the navicular “lollipops” + will see if they are centered or not-centered in location. 5 centered lollipops are generally OK. But if there are more of them or they are not centered the diagnosis will be worse.

                                I tried to take off my mare’s bar shoes = it was worse; unfortunately she can’t stay sound with out bar shows, ever. And to stay with out shoes is not a question IF she is ridden.

                                Navicular injections vary by horse, some do it once and that will last a life time, others do it every 2 years and others do it every year as I heard. Vet Sais that the horse will tell you when the lubricant from injections starts to wear out, they’ll go back to their previous lameness. I just had to reinjection my mare; she lasted longer than 2 years. Last time that she was injected she had to go 3 weeks on bute, this time we choose to use Equinox/Previcox instead for 3 weeks as well. Both time 100% stall rest. I tried to do that with out 100% stall rest – it doesn’t work; horse has to stop using his navicular legs to ease the rubbing/inflammation. No hard ground, no lunging, no trot/canter. 100% stall rest for weeks.

                                Unfortunately, in most cases, navicular is a death sentence IF you will not do anything. But with the regular support from shoes and medicine your horse can stay sound for unknown time. But don’t expect him to get better if you will just put him to pasture and stop riding him. Navicular is “degenerative” = it will never get better, it will only get worse. With medicine you can SLOW down the degeneration process, but by doing nothing you are just letting the Mother Nature take its toll.

                                All of us who have navicular horses have very difficult decisions to make: let it go and your horse is an expensive pasture ornament (or may be a very light kids packer) or spend lots of $$$$$ for monthly upkeep and ride the sound horse. Letting your horse be a pasture ornament, eventually he will degenerate to the point of the severe navicular pain. It’s just a question of when = and nobody can answer that, thus we need to take it day by day.

                                PS: I enjoy stories of other COTHers with navicular horses. Thank you for sharing.

                                Comment

                                • Original Poster

                                  #17
                                  Originally posted by Dressage Art View Post
                                  Unfortunately, in most cases, navicular is a death sentence IF you will not do anything. But with the regular support from shoes and medicine your horse can stay sound for unknown time. But don’t expect him to get better if you will just put him to pasture and stop riding him. Navicular is “degenerative” = it will never get better, it will only get worse. With medicine you can SLOW down the degeneration process, but by doing nothing you are just letting the Mother Nature take its toll.
                                  He is lame--it seems like riding him would be rather mean? Plus there is a good chance he would either go bronc or flip when I mounted--he lets you know when it hurts. We just got arena footing in this past Monday (no lights yet), but can't open the big door yet (so it is hotter than h*ll) and the outdoor just has the hard packed base down (both the indoor and outdoor have been under construction/torn up all summer). Our ground is very hard right now. He doesn't have enough hoof wall to shoe right now so we are waiting for his hooves to grow out. Glue ons work for like a week, and he was having none of the hoof boots I tried (very hard to fit wider than long hoof). Farrier looked at him today when he was over trimming my mare and said we really need to wait another cycle before putting shoes on.

                                  I guess I'm not sure what I'm supposed to do with him until he has shoes and some more sole protection?...
                                  DIY Journey of Remodeling the Farmette: http://weownblackacre.blogspot.com/

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                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by TrotTrotPumpkn View Post

                                    I guess I'm not sure what I'm supposed to do with him until he has shoes and some more sole protection?...
                                    Stall rest unless your vet says otherwise.
                                    Eileen
                                    http://themaresnest.us

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                                    • Original Poster

                                      #19
                                      Originally posted by EiRide View Post
                                      Stall rest unless your vet says otherwise.
                                      He kicked out an actual 6 by 6 supporting beam for the upper story when we first tried stall rest. Tried a different stall and he kicked holes in the wall. (By the way, this is how he lost some of those shoes--really loosens the nails). We left his buddy in two (and gave him all the hay he could eat)--didn't make a difference. He HATES being inside.

                                      When I asked about turnout I was told it was fine (by vet)? I suppose I could talk to them about long term sedation, but we are talking a couple months more for the feet...

                                      I will talk to the vet again when I bring my other horse down on Sat (I'd throw him on the trailer too, but 1)doubt I could get in at this point and 2) they just kick the wall at each other--mare and a gelding who thinks he's a stud).
                                      DIY Journey of Remodeling the Farmette: http://weownblackacre.blogspot.com/

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                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by TrotTrotPumpkn View Post
                                        I guess I'm not sure what I'm supposed to do with him until he has shoes and some more sole protection?...
                                        Originally posted by TrotTrotPumpkn View Post
                                        He kicked out an actual 6 by 6 supporting beam for the upper story when we first tried stall rest. Tried a different stall and he kicked holes in the wall. (By the way, this is how he lost some of those shoes--really loosens the nails). We left his buddy in two (and gave him all the hay he could eat)--didn't make a difference. He HATES being inside.
                                        Yes, in the perfect world you would put him on stall rest... I'm surprised that he didn't fracture anything kicking out 6x6 beam... It seems that your horse has some other issues (other than a navicular). So follow your vet suggestions, he/she knows the whole sutation.

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