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Finding a Quarter Horse and Navicular

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  • Finding a Quarter Horse and Navicular

    I've been casually looking for a quarter horse or Arabian for a family, all around, trail, English pleasure type horse. For quarter horses, what are the best practices to avoid buying one with navicular? How reliable is the PPE for predicting whether or not a horse will develop navicular?

  • #2
    As someone with a mare with navicular I can say there’s no way to tell ahead of time. We did a full PPE that included X-rays of the front to check for navicular since she is a paint quarterhorse. They were clear and it was all good. Then down the line she developed navicular. I did catch it very early and do treat it very aggressively. She is sound and can still do everything I ask of her though I don’t do a lot at the moment. As far as I know there’s no way to tell if a horse will develop it. Only a way to know after it’s develped.
    Here is a picture of her jumping two years after she was first known to have navicular. Good luck as you look for a new horse.


    • #3
      We had OTTB school horses that had navicular.

      Most any horse can have some kind of "navicular", that is a catch-all name for several foot conditions.

      It is good to have a PPE to rule any that may be questionable, but with "navicular" of all kinds, you can't say until it happens who will have problem or not.

      When you find a suitable horse, no matter what that horse is, then have your vet give you advice in what it thinks.
      Even then, you never know.

      We PPE a 10 year old horse with a badly scarred pastern.
      The x-rays looked bad, vet said he would not stay sound much longer.
      Well, the friend it was for was elderly, said she didn't care, he was sound now and she liked him very much.
      20 years later, friend long gone, he was still sound and healty and happy.
      One day he came in running and bucking from the pasture, took a bad step and, as the vet said, "blew his knee beyond repair".
      It was not that bad foot that finally ended his life, at 30.

      You just never know, but do listen to what your vet will tell you, then decide what chances you want to take.


      • #4
        Maybe have your farrier take a look on PPE as well....


        • #5
          Originally posted by hjbaby View Post
          How reliable is the PPE for predicting whether or not a horse will develop navicular?
          Honestly, the PPE cannot predict if a horse will develop navicular. Nothing will.

          The horse can be 100% sound and perfect for the most complex PPE ... and then be lame the next week. There are no guarantees.

          Usually a PPE is going to find something. It might not be serious, but they almost always find something. Then it's up to the buyer to decide what to do with the information.

          Originally posted by hjbaby View Post
          For quarter horses, what are the best practices to avoid buying one with navicular?
          Well, at the minimum, you can get full x-rays of the front feet.

          However, let me say that my quarter horse with long-standing heel pain and lameness issues has perfect x-rays. But x-rays don't tell you what the soft tissue is doing.

          So doing x-rays isn't foolproof either.

          And as bluey said above, the x-rays could look terrible and the horse may have a great, long life ahead of them.

          I would say when you find a horse you like and are serious about, consult with your vet on what tests you may or may not want to do with the PPE.

          It is not enough to know how to ride; one must know how to fall.


          • #6
            Agree with xraying the front feet, then hoping for the best. I believe hard ground contributes to the development of some navicular issues, so avoid it if you have any doubts.
            "When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in a confederacy against him."


            • #7
              If you can check parents, see if they have age, are still usable, have hooves proportional to body above. Does horse himself have feet in proper proportion to his body? Hooves should have depth, top to bottom, not short toes, no heel depth. This allows sole depth to protect his coffin bone when landing, each step or going at speed. He needs some width to his hooves, not cramping his coffin bone.

              I expect a 15H horse to wear at least a size 1 shoe in front, though a size 2 would make me happier. He should have hooves the same or no more than one size smaller behind. This because he carries less weight on the hind fett than his fronts. You may have a harder time finding QHs with larger hooves, which is part of the reason so many go lame young. Same story with breeds crossed with QHs, because breeding 2 small hooves horses will likely produce another small hoofed horse likely to break down sooner.

              You may have to look at a lot of horses, to find some with proportional sized hooves fitting their bodies. Show ring seems to want the tiny hoof look on winners. Sometimes finding a Farrier who will help the horse have nice hooves under him. Too many Farriers think small hooves are the only way to trim or shoe. They cut hooves too short on large horses causing problems. That horse SHOULD be wearing a 3 or 4 or larger sized shoe, but has been fitted with a 2. I see it all the time.

              So learning to assess the hoof you are looking at, be able to tell if it is too small, too ahort, for the horse above, would be helpful in your horse hunting. You need to look at a variety of breeds, sizes of horses, to be able to actually compare hooves on working horses. The "ideal leg and hoof" is desirable because over time, with a variety of horses in work, it has been the best lasting design to own. Of course there are always less perfect legs/ hooves that lasted too. Much can depend on how hard a horse is used, in how long he lasts sound.

              PPE hoof x-rays are a moment in time. You see nothing wrong on them now. You make the choice on whether to buy or not, with your knowledge, experience, maybe some advice from a trusted source. Then enjoy the horse or keep on looking.


              • #8
                Short, upright pasterns and small feet under a big body size are known to contribute to navicular in any horse but are more commonly seen in some QH families. Avoid that combination. That is not the only cause but it’s a big one in a QH.

                Hard ground, overworking, poor farrier work can aggravate navicular and it can be managed by avoiding these things but it’s not curable and best avoided. No breed is immune to it. Arabs too. None of my QH types had it but one of my TBs did.

                Since you say you are looking for a sensible family type horse assume you will be looking at older horses? If the horse has a lot of mileage doing what you want it to do and has stayed sound for years? That’s the best indicator it will continue to stay sound. Beware of gaps in use regardless of sellers explanation. If horse is proven sound and sane in the job you are looking for to do for you its going to cost a bit more. That is money very well spent.

                Front feet x rayed is not a bad idea and not that $$$. Just be aware older horses in work are always going to have some “ tread wear” and not all is a future problem like navicular. Best to buy from someone you know and trust. But verify.

                When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.