Maintaining Soundness With The Navicular Horse

Recognize when it’s time to change therapeutic applications

Navicular syndrome can be one of the most debilitating diseases of the equine limb, and can be equally as complicated for a farrier to manage.

The navicular region is complex, facilitating a fulcrum point for the deep digital flexor over the distal sesamoid bone, and also a network of connecting supporting ligaments and bursa. The navicular region is susceptible to trauma, bone degeneration and spurs, as well as inflammatory conditions of surrounding structures.1

From a farriers’ perspective, the complexities of navicular syndrome include managing pain in relation to shoeing, through to remedial application or therapeutic shoeing. Also, managing any hoof capsule deformation changes that occur because of changes in loading forces that accompany alterations in shoeing.

All of the previous pathology will need intervention from a veterinarian and farrier to aid soundness. The farrier’s role will be to maintain soundness through shoeing and therapeutic applications and to initiate a sustainable shoeing prescription. Shoeing prescriptions might need altering during the course of the horse’s career to accommodate changes that come with the adapting nature of the hoof capsule. Shoeing prescriptions for differing hoof capsule conformation abnormalities ultimately will aid the rehabilitation of lameness and might also challenge the farrier to think “outside the box.”

Identifying hoof capsule changes and having a clear picture of hoof capsule conformation and further deformation will aid the farrier in seeing any hoof changes. Observing hoof capsule changes in relation to shoeing will allow the farrier to monitor how the horse is coping with the…

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Stewart muir ihcs 18

Stuart Muir

Stuart Muir is a resident farrier at Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital in Lexington, Ky., and president of the Northeast Association of Equine Practitioners.

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