Navicular or Balance-Related Navicular Syndrome

Suspected and unproven navicular disease concerns should sound a warning bell

I’ve lost count of the number of times when owners have explained that their horse has to be shod with bar shoes, rolled toes, egg bars, wedged heels or a similar type of shoe. The reason, they say, is that their horse was diagnosed with suspected navicular disease 2 or 3 years ago.

The owners indicate the horse is tripping and stumbling and has never been sound. Even X-rays — sometimes taken years ago — were never really positive. But if there is navicular degeneration, the previously mentioned style of shoeing may be appropriate and should be continued.

Vague Symptom Concerns?

It’s very important to fully understand the basic principles that may be causing stress to the navicular bone area and heels. As seen in Photo 1, the deep flexor tendon travels down the back of the leg and passes over the navicular bone before being attached to the underside of the pedal bone. If a hoof is long in the toe, it will cause pressure at the heels and excessive tension in the deep flexor tendon at the location where it passes over the navicular bone. Yet high heels and short toes will give the same indication due to concussion at the heels.

While the resulting lameness looks like navicular disease, is that the real problem?

The golden rule in solving problems is to always go back to basics, especially with lame horses. But you must first gather historical information from the owner. Common symptoms of navicular disease are…

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