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Navicular Changes - Is this a deal breaker?

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  • Navicular Changes - Is this a deal breaker?

    We had pre-purchase x-rays done on a quarter horse that the vet said showed mild navicular changes. The vet was neutral as to whether this meant health issues down the road.

    Would this be a deal broker for any of you? The owner is not willing to negotiate the price based on the x-ray findings. The horse is kind of pricey so I would hate to buy a horse that ends up with long term health issues. (Don't need or want another horse with issues). Also since there are so many horses on the market that perhaps we should keep looking. However this horse is a super nice mover, good minded and well trained and we really like it.

  • #2
    My horse had bad x-rays but he never had any changes from 6-18 years old. I just took the x-rays because I wanted to know if he got worse even though he was only lame once.

    That said, I wold not have paid a lot of $$$ for him since I would not be able to sell him with bad x-rays very easily. I did not do a PPE and didn't know he had changes until after I owned him.

    Which should tell you something about buying one?


    • #3
      I wouldn't take the chance if he is expensive. If they have older x-rays that confirm the changes were already there, then maybe. Some Quarter Horses have changes and it doesn't affect their soundness, but not in most cases.

      I know a few QH that jumped and as soon as they had navicular changes, it was a battle to keep them sound.


      • #4
        Yes, if the owner is not willing to negotiate the price it would be for me, because you are taking on a risk.


        • #5
          What do the changes really mean? If he's got radiographic evidence of "navicular changes" and evidence of lameness, well, I'd be worried.

          Navicular syndrome is a lameness - radiographic changes without lameness isn't so scary.


          • #6
            Do a search and you will find this subject comes up a lot. In fact, I started a thread just like this about a year ago. And I did buy the horse in question, and he's had no problems at all with his feet.

            Navicular changes on x-rays don't mean much if there are no other signs. Many horses who have significant changes never take a lame step their whole lives. I would not let changes stop me from buying a horse I liked. Although you can use it to bargain on the price like I did.


            • #7
              Is the horse sensitive to hoof testers at the heel?

              Navicular changes on radiographs aren't horribly concerning. Caudal heel pain, aka navicular syndrome, IS concerning.


              • #8
                I wouldn't be worried about the x-rays.
                If he had heel pain then I would be worried.
                "Half the failures in life result from pulling in one's horse when it is leaping."



                • Original Poster

                  The horse was sensitive to hoof testers, but he was was overdue for replacement shoes - going on twelve weeks since his last reset. So of course this muddied the waters - was the sensitivity due to the shoes or was it possibly result of early navicular?


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by lightlee View Post
                    The horse was sensitive to hoof testers, but he was was overdue for replacement shoes - going on twelve weeks since his last reset. So of course this muddied the waters - was the sensitivity due to the shoes or was it possibly result of early navicular?
                    This is a pricey hrose and they cannot get the horse shod any sooner than 12 weeks!!!! I'd walk away, sounds like the care of this horse has been less than stellar! But if you really like him, I'd have him reshod and wait a week or so and then recheck him with hoof testers.


                    • #11
                      How ridiculous, to present a horse for PPE that has been in the same shoes for 12 weeks.

                      If you are really crazy about this horse, tell the seller to have the horse reshod and then THEY can pay for your vet to retest with hoof testers since they wasted your PPE money by allowing the horse to go wearing 12 week old shoes. THEN if the horse did not test over hoof testers, just to CYA yourself, I'd have the vet block his heels and see if he moves differently. AFTER he made sure the horse is not nerved

                      Otherwise, I'd walk away. That is just ridiculous.
                      "Kindness is free" ~ Eurofoal
                      The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances.


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by shawneeAcres View Post
                        This is a pricey hrose and they cannot get the horse shod any sooner than 12 weeks!!!! I'd walk away, sounds like the care of this horse has been less than stellar! But if you really like him, I'd have him reshod and wait a week or so and then recheck him with hoof testers.
                        I agree with this 100%!


                        • #13
                          There are a couple different ways to look at 'navicular'. Were the changes noted on the films boney changes? Navicular syndrome is a broad dx and in leymans terms covers any sort of pain that could be associated with the navicular bone, bursa or the ligaments surrounding it. Navicular disease is a definate dx where there are boney changes and abnormalities of the navicular bone on film. Digital xrays or MRIs are the best way to see and monitor this.
                          While navicular disease is not necessarily a death sentence, it doesn't bode well either. Navicular disease is degenerative. It will get worse over time... it could be 5 months, 5 years or 5 decades... but it will get worse.
                          That being said, there are many options out there to work with. I put shoes on my Jumper/ Barrel Racer and while we retired him to trail buddy status after that, he remained reasonably sound 90% of the time. He had a bad day every now and then, but for the most part was comfortable. We put the EXACT same shoes on... put on by the EXACT same farrier... on a mare that was diagnosed and she showed no improvement. The owners made the decision to put her down after trying several options with no success. A lot depends on the horse, their pain tolerance and how far along it has progressed.
                          If I were you, I would pass on this horse. You'll invest a lot of time, money, sweat and heartache into a horse that may be fine most of the time, but is never predictably lame. It's not just hard on the horse, but on the owners too.
                          Good luck!
                          'To do something common, uncommonly well, brings success' -HJH
                          'Shealinator'- My Saratoga/ Finger Lakes Finest


                          • #14
                            Yes, this would be a deal breaker for me. Not just one single thing perhaps, but as they say... "the totality of the circumstances...."

                            There is no perfect horse, but going into a pricey horse knowing navicular is already a risk would put it over the line for me.


                            • #15
                              I think there is an education issue here tho'.

                              Horses regularly show navicular changes on film and have absolutely ZERO clinical symptoms.. their entire life.

                              Then again, many MANY horses have heel pain and perfectly clean xrays.

                              It actually means very little, which is probably why the vet didn't have much to say about it.

                              The 12 week shoes and heel pain are a whole 'nother story tho'. I think my vet would have refused to PPE a horse wearing the same shoes for 12 weeks, since her job is to have my best interests in mind and to spend my money wisely for me.
                              "Kindness is free" ~ Eurofoal
                              The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances.


                              • #16
                                There is no such thing as the perfect horse - you as a buyer must weigh what issues you can live with and which you can't. As others have said the changes wouldn't bother me as much as the same shoes on for 12 weeks! I have a horse that can't go past 6 or 7 weeks without heel pain and he doesn't have navicular!

                                You haven't mentioned how old this horse is. If he is under 10, it would give me thought. If he is over 10 and still sound, it would make it less of an issue. Knowing that your horse has these changes will just make you more mindful of his shoeing shedule and types of shoes, work surface conditions, how often you jump him and how high, and how many weekends a month you want to show him.

                                Good Luck!!


                                • #17
                                  Maybe, maybe not

                                  My QH mare has navicular changes on xrays, diagnosed after several weeks of mild intermittent lameness last winter. The lameness occurred at a absolutely frigid time last January when everything was frozen and the ground was like concrete, and got better as the ground got softer. However, since then I switched her to a different barn, with more turnout. With more turnout and a different farrier, there has not been any sign of lameness (at least not from the navicular--mare was laid up for 4 months from an unrelated injury). She's been in training for about the last month, and feels and looks great. I should add that we don't jump if that makes a difference to the OP.

                                  I don't know what to think. Without the xrays, I might have just assumed that the lameness was a temporary deal from hard ground. On a day to day basis, the changes on xrays don't seem to have any effect on her soundness. I'll probably just ride her like I would have before the xrays, but just watch her even more closely. When the xrays were first read, I admit I was in a panic but since then, I've realized that these mild changes are at this time not the end of the world.

                                  In the OP's situation, I'd be less concerned if the horse has been doing the job for which he's intended for some period of time with no problems and more concerned if the horse has been sitting around not doing much.

                                  Proudly owned by 2 chestnut mares
                                  Crayola Posse: sea green
                                  Mighty Rehabbers Clique


                                  • #18
                                    Mine had a moderate nav. change in the PPE exam/Xray a year ago. He's older and we haven't had any problems whatsoever. We wear boots on the rocky trails. Otherwise he is barefoot. When I got him his shoes were too small, heels under-run, bad thrush. He had intermittent soreness from all of that as we transitioned to barefoot but never any lameness and he is sound and rides well. I chose to take the chance because his other qualities were wonderful. So far so good and I honestly forget about the nav. Xray until I read a post on navicular. Fingers still crossed though, and if he needs corrective shoeing or other things in the future of course I'll do what is needed. But so far we haven't had any problems.


                                    • #19
                                      I am finding this thread very interesting. My horse has very mild modeling on his navicular bone. The MRI showed the navicular bone was mainly intact there was inflammation in the bursa. He is non reactive to hoof testers but the main source of lameness is coming from his medial collateral ligament in his pastern. Navicular is not mentioned in the actual diagnoses. Would these findings on MRI indicate he may have navicular pain in the future.


                                      • #20
                                        Great article on navicular in this month's Equus!