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The phrase, “Your horse has navicular disease,” brings disappointment to a horse owner. That statement is nothing they want to hear. It may limit the horse’s performance career and the enjoyment that the client expected from that relationship with their horse. Second only to laminitis, which may be life threatening, navicular disease triggers a continued struggle to maintain soundness at a level that previously existed or is required for performance demands.
There is so much known and unknown about navicular disease, and the mechanics that “cause” it, that this syndrome has been one of the more confusing and frustrating dilemmas in my career.
I have a short list of some of the items I am talking about with confusion and frustration. Some of what we think is known:
A) An increased lever arm (length of hoof) causes increased deep digital flexor tendon (DDFT) tension, resulting in an increased compression force on navicular bone.
B) Low (or negative) palmar angle causes an increase of both DDFT and impar ligament tension, causing compression on navicular and stretching of the impar ligament at the distal border of the navicular bone and inserting…