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Walter Koepisch has seen his fair share of navicular horses. With over 50 years of shoeing experience, the farrier and manufacturer of the Aluma Flight shoe, who operates DutchTown Forge in Belle Mead, N.J., is often called on for advice, tapping into his vast wealth of experience.
“Dealing with navicular is a big subject,” Koepisch explains. “Today, we’re just going to discuss your options as far as what’s available and how they can be used."
Koepisch prefers to demonstrate what a navicular horse may be feeling by asking farriers and clients to simulate the landing phase. To do this, he says you simply need to place your palm on a table with your forearm making a 90 degree angle from your wrist. The further you move your forearm forward, the more strain is placed on the wrist.
“That’s what a horse is going to feel when he’s traveling and has navicular disease,” he explains.
After you’ve gotten a better idea for the pain and strain the horse may be experiencing, Koepisch says the next step is to ask a series of questions.
Question 1. How is the horse used?
“If you turn a horse out in a pasture, you’ll shoe him differently than if you have him confined to a stall,” Koepisch explains. “Determining what the ultimate use of the horse is will play a factor in determining what kind of shoe you use.”
Question No. 2. Are the heels contracted?