Conflicting Advice for Lame Horse

Q: I’m working with a 9-year-old gelding Quarter Horse with bone spurs and possibly early onset navicular. X-rays and an ultrasound taken last year show mild, decreased vascularization of the navicular, an anterior/superior spur (small and slightly rounded) on the coffin bone and a sharp spur on the navicular bursa. The horse has been lame for 18 months.

Another set of X-rays and ulstrasounds were done yesterday and they show a new navicular bone spur and decreased blood flow, but the horse is 100% sound after a heel nerve block.

The horse is well cared for. He weighs 1,500 pounds, stands 16.1 hands high, is big-boned and has smallish feet. He is not heavily used, but sometimes is ridden for field hunting. Except for turnout, he’s had 18 months off. 

The diet consists of pasture grasses, grass hay, Nutrena’s Safe Choice feed and fresh water. He’s stalled only when weather and flies are bad and then it’s in a 12- by 12-foot box with mats. His lameness increases when stalled or if the ground is dry and hard. He’s barefoot and trimmed every 4 weeks.

Online treatment options are conflicting and offer mixed outcomes. I’ve also had two different vet recommendations. There are so many different approaches that I don’t know what to do. Is there anything I can try that has a consistently good outcome? This is a super horse — one of those rare finds with fantastic performance and personality.

— Kerry Warren-Couch

A: You have a pretty…

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