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Navicular Success Stories

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  • Navicular Success Stories

    I know this has been posted a lot before but I just wanted to resurface the topic. My mom and I have a 20 y/o Quarter Horse who's just the sweetest and we've had him for nearly 11 years. Over the past three years, he has not been in heavy work, just light walk/trot and sometimes canter with my mom who rides for pleasure.

    This spring, he started to show some head bobbing lameness at the trot - he was not ridden much at all throughout the winter due to weather - and we had the vet out who found both front hooves to be really soft and reactive to hoof testers and we attributed that to it. We did tons of hardener and magic cushion and although his feet hardened, the lameness did not improve at all (he was not ridden during this time, just lunged on occasion to see if the lameness was improving). We also had rim pads put on during this time, but did not seem to make a difference.

    We recently had the vet out again who found his hooves to be in perfect condition, and was thrilled about the progress made with that. She performed nerve blocks and he blocked totally sound on his front left. We knew that he had some very very minor navicular changes from xrays unrelated to this lameness done last year but the new xrays showed that the navicular syndrome had progressed very rapidly over this past year. The vet was surprised he wasn't lame at the walk and found his whole body to be extremely tight and stiff from protecting it.

    Needless to say, we are very sad about this diagnosis (and feel awful that we missed it), but we are hopeful that with the help of corrective shoeing and Osphos, that we can return to the light work that we had planned for him.

    That ended up being more of a rant than I meant it to be but I am just looking for anyone to share their experience and success stories. I think we are being realistic regarding his treatment and potential return to the light work we had hoped for him, but navicular is not something I am very familiar with. I welcome your stories and feedback!

  • #2
    I am not familiar with newer treatments for navicular syndrome, but back in the day nerving was popular. I had an Appaloosa that was nerved in his late teens and lived a pain free life until 26 when colic took him. The nerving only affected the navicular area, so he had feeling in other areas of his foot. My farrier took excellent care of his feet. We lightly rode him on even footing and he did trail rides on even surfaces. There was no Tildren or Osphos then. Most people used bute for pain management and then went to nerving.

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    • #3
      My girl was 10 when we first discovered she had navicular in both front. Since then we have treated with osphos and shoes, we tried multiple different shoes before we found what she likes. We also gave her an injection, B something I would have to look it up, which we repeated at three years. She went on as normal. We jumped for years and only slowed down when she injured herself. Now that she’s recovered we are slowly getting back into it. I’ve also seen horses where a different course of treatment was don’t. They were still sound for walk trot but cantering was harder on them. I think as long you work with a vet and stay on top of treatments it really shouldn’t stop your guy from doing what you want.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by hunter51 View Post
        I know this has been posted a lot before but I just wanted to resurface the topic. My mom and I have a 20 y/o Quarter Horse who's just the sweetest and we've had him for nearly 11 years. Over the past three years, he has not been in heavy work, just light walk/trot and sometimes canter with my mom who rides for pleasure.

        This spring, he started to show some head bobbing lameness at the trot - he was not ridden much at all throughout the winter due to weather - and we had the vet out who found both front hooves to be really soft and reactive to hoof testers and we attributed that to it. We did tons of hardener and magic cushion and although his feet hardened, the lameness did not improve at all (he was not ridden during this time, just lunged on occasion to see if the lameness was improving). We also had rim pads put on during this time, but did not seem to make a difference.

        We recently had the vet out again who found his hooves to be in perfect condition, and was thrilled about the progress made with that. She performed nerve blocks and he blocked totally sound on his front left. We knew that he had some very very minor navicular changes from xrays unrelated to this lameness done last year but the new xrays showed that the navicular syndrome had progressed very rapidly over this past year. The vet was surprised he wasn't lame at the walk and found his whole body to be extremely tight and stiff from protecting it.

        Needless to say, we are very sad about this diagnosis (and feel awful that we missed it), but we are hopeful that with the help of corrective shoeing and Osphos, that we can return to the light work that we had planned for him.

        That ended up being more of a rant than I meant it to be but I am just looking for anyone to share their experience and success stories. I think we are being realistic regarding his treatment and potential return to the light work we had hoped for him, but navicular is not something I am very familiar with. I welcome your stories and feedback!
        In Europe half a century ago, we had the occasional school horse that developed navicular.
        We then quit riding them outside on trail rides and relegated them to mostly light arena work.
        One of those horses was a very good dressage schoolmaster in his mid teens.
        He was kept in light work and competing with a handicapped rider for at least 5-8 years after he was diagnosed.
        I eventually left, so can't say for how long.
        All we had in those days was to shoe carefully for what the horse preferred.
        For him, it was keeping his hoof upright, a bit long heels, so that is what our master farrier did.
        As long as he was shod like that, he was completely sound in work and on groomed ground.

        He was a lightly made TB and a sweetheart and he never did quit trying.
        It was hard to assess where we were with him, to be sure he was not uncomfortable.
        He sure was not slowing down any on his own, even with sore feet.
        Our vet said that he still wanted to work and was in regular exerciser is why he kept doing better than expected.

        My point with his story, every horse is different and the best is to cater to what works for that horse.
        Good luck getting yours comfortable, then see how much he still wants to do.

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        • Original Poster

          #5
          Originally posted by Bluey View Post

          In Europe half a century ago, we had the occasional school horse that developed navicular.
          We then quit riding them outside on trail rides and relegated them to mostly light arena work.
          One of those horses was a very good dressage schoolmaster in his mid teens.
          He was kept in light work and competing with a handicapped rider for at least 5-8 years after he was diagnosed.
          I eventually left, so can't say for how long.
          All we had in those days was to shoe carefully for what the horse preferred.
          For him, it was keeping his hoof upright, a bit long heels, so that is what our master farrier did.
          As long as he was shod like that, he was completely sound in work and on groomed ground.

          He was a lightly made TB and a sweetheart and he never did quit trying.
          It was hard to assess where we were with him, to be sure he was not uncomfortable.
          He sure was not slowing down any on his own, even with sore feet.
          Our vet said that he still wanted to work and was in regular exerciser is why he kept doing better than expected.

          My point with his story, every horse is different and the best is to cater to what works for that horse.
          Good luck getting yours comfortable, then see how much he still wants to do.
          Great feedback from everyone, I appreciate the responses. Thanks Bluey, I agree that we will have to see what he is up to once we get his angles straightened out etc. to ensure he's as comfortable as possible and then play it by ear.

          Comment


          • #6
            We found navicular changes along with soft tissue injury in my 17 year old Paint almost a year ago at this point. We have been treating and rehabbing the soft tissue injury and the navicular damage. We changed his shoes and he’s had Osphos done twice now at 6 month intervals. He is sound WTC and we are getting ready to slowly start him back over fences (15 months out from his initial injury and when we found navicular changes we weren’t really looking for).

            I would currently count him as a positive story. He’s happy, sound and a horse that likes having a job. We will let him dictate how much of a job that continues to be!

            Comment


            • #7
              Along with Osphos, you could consider ProStride, PRP, or IRAP if it is available in your area.

              My gelding has heel pain (but no navicular changes) and I will be trying ProStride on him in a few weeks!
              It is not enough to know how to ride; one must know how to fall.

              Comment


              • #8
                We (as a society) have come a long way in the treatment of navicular, in particular the bony changes. I have a horse with significant navicular changes diagnosed about two years ago with palmar hoof pain and after one navicular bursa injection, Osphos every six months, and excellent shoeing with a heavy wide web steel shoe, he is now better than ever and showing at a high level. Don't lose hope!

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                • #9
                  No direct experience, but discussed it with my vet when we thought there was a chance that navicular changes could be causing some of my gelding's chronic lameness. Turned out they weren't in his case, but she had told me that one of the first treatments she goes to for navicular horses is coffin joint injections. If those don't suffice, she'll inject the navicular bursa. Obviously corrective shoeing and trimming has to go hand in hand. She considers nerving a salvage procedure--an "if all else fails" effort to keep a horse comfortable, especially if they need to maintain some level of riding "usefulness" to have a home.

                  But yes, all of this is a really long way from how navicular was treated even when I was a teenager and whatnot. It really isn't the sort of catastrophic diagnosis it seemed to be a decade or two ago.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I'm a big fan of using boots to keep the horse barefoot and comfortable. Heel pain and navicular changes have kind of a chicken/egg relationship. There is evidence that heel pain and the associated toe first landing and incorrect distribution of shock up the leg can actually be the cause of bone remodeling. I would try to find a "barefoot" farrier that is familiar with fitting hoof boots and see if you can get this horse walking comfortably with a heel first, or at least whole foot landing. You might have to start with a wedge pad in the boot to get this to happen. The idea is to get the hoof functioning correctly as a shock absorber again. This is a very basic rundown of this method of treatment, but you can find much more information on the rest of the internet if the more natural rehab approach appeals to you.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      My 19 yo APHA was diagnosed with navicular as a 9 year old. It has not prevented him from having quite an extensive jumper career. We found he could not tolerate nails. He has been barefoot or in glue ons for many years now. He really likes his glue ons, and as the rubber shoes are a bit larger than regular steels I think it helps with weight distribution.
                      When he was first diagnosed the treatment schedule was stall rest and wedge pads. I don’t think either of these things helped him. Going barefoot really did though.
                      He now gets coffin bone injections too. Luckily these seem to last for years in him.

                      another thing to think about is that many horses have navicular changes with absolutely no issues whatsoever. It may not be the navicular bone that is causing the problems, but the DDFT. DDFT issues look a lot like navicular in lameness, but are much more treatable!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Copied from Brock Veterinary discussing surgical procedure:

                        ************
                        Navicular

                        Since I first became a veterinarian I have hated this disease in horses and my goal has always been to defeat it. It used to be called navicular disease and over the years the name has changed many times.

                        Whatever you want to call it....it is extremely common in the kind of horses that we practice on and has been the end of more athletic careers than anything else by far.

                        In 2012 a veterinarian in England named Ian Wright described a surgical approach to the bursa of the navicular bone and began carrying out surgical procedures in that area that had never been done before.

                        He works on mostly sport horses and we work on western horses. We wanted to see how well it worked in the horses that come to our practice.... and we were amazed at the good it did.

                        We have modified some of the surgery to adapt to the quarter horse and added some cyst drilling osteostixis to the procedure. This surgery is done through two very small incisions with the arthroscope, working inside the hoof. It is the most exciting thing I have done in my career.

                        A few weeks ago I gave a talk to veterinarians in California about the procedure and, in preparing for the talk I gathered some statistics on the effectiveness of the surgery that we have seen so far

                        Most of the horses we have done the procedure on are what we title as “end stage”. Which means no other treatment is working on them and they are effectively no longer able to be used for their intended purpose.

                        I used the first 100 cases we did the surgery on and found that 72 percent that had the lesions described by Dr. Wright were back to doing their athletic event. These numbers are in line with what Dr. Wright found in England.

                        The surgery is of course coupled with mechanically corrected shoeing and physical therapy post-op.

                        I have been a vet for 30 years and I have spent the entire course of those years trying to find a way to help these horses continue doing what makes them and their owners smile. It has been a blessing to still be so excited about being a vet after all these years. And this procedure, developed by the vets in Lamesa, Texas, has kept me motivated and feeling so lucky to get to practice veterinary medicine.

                        The use of MRI diagnostics on the equine foot has opened many doors on this front. We can see problems in this area that we never knew existed just a few years back. Now we can identify them and as time goes by, we are developing ways to correct the problems. Veterinary medicine is at the forefront of the mechanics of motion and we are making strides that I never dreamed of thirty years ago.

                        *****
                        There are more images and discussions on their FB page.

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