Helping Navicular Syndrome With Heel Height, Angles

Navicular Heel Height

Q: I’m currently working on a mare that has navicular syndrome. Her hoof capsule is in alignment with her pasterns and I have a wedge pad on her. The angles are at 54 degrees and she’s shown improvement since I’ve started working on her.

I’ve found it difficult to raise her angle much more with a natural foot, but the owner insists that the hoof angles be raised. Can putting too much heel on this horse make her worse?

I’m thinking of building up her heels to the requested angles with Equi-Thane, but I don’t believe this practice is best for the horse. Any comments would be greatly appreciated.

— Keane Timmerman,

A: You can raise the hoof angle too high. The horse’s comfort level should dictate the correct angle. With many horses, (not all, of course) when you raise the angle of the hoof, you lower the angle of the pastern, which means the fetlock is now positioned farther back and down.

This should put more tension on the deep flexor which should, in turn, put more tension on the navicular bone. I’ve noticed this in particular with horses that have developed spurs on the wings of the navicular bone due to tension on the suspensor ligament of the navicular bone because of a very upright conformation.

This is why the use of hoof testers coupled with radiographs are important to determine the exact location of the problem in suspected cases of navicular syndrome.


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