Can A Horse With Navicular Be Ridden?

The complex condition known as navicular syndrome is a common one among horses, donkeys and mules. There are a number of different treatments recommended for this condition, and it is difficult to understand why some work better than others. Good knowledge of horse hoof anatomy is very helpful in determining the cause of navicular syndrome and the correct treatment.

So, can a horse with navicular be ridden? In this article we discuss navicular syndrome and explore some of the most common concerns surrounding this perplexing condition. Read on to learn more.

Navicular Syndrome In Horses Q&A

navicular syndrome in horses q&a

Is navicular a disease?

You may hear navicular syndrome referred to as caudal heel pain or navicular disease. These names all refer to the same hoof condition. These days, veterinarians tend not to call the condition navicular disease because it is not just a single problem.

It is a syndrome, meaning that there are many different sorts of problems involved in this condition.

The condition is sometimes called caudal heel syndrome because it causes pain in the rear (caudal) aspect of the hoof. This generalized heel pain can easily lead to lameness.

How do you treat navicular in horses?

Navicular syndrome may present quite differently from one animal to another. This is because the causes of the condition vary. For this reason, precise diagnosis is essential to determining correct treatment.

How can you tell if your horse has navicular syndrome?

In the past, it was very difficult to tell whether or not your horse had navicular syndrome, and if so, exactly which structures of the feet were involved. In the past, veterinarians had to rely on x-rays. X-rays of the hoof can show problems with the bones of the hoof (precisely, the navicular bone).

Now, with the help of MRI technology, it is also possible for vets to examine soft tissues in the hoof, and this can make a big difference. Today, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI makes it much easier for veterinarians to deliver a firm diagnosis).

Navicular syndrome is quite complex, and veterinarians have only been able to learn about the myriad complexities since the advent of MRI technology.

Navicular syndrome can be caused by a number of different types of injury. When diagnosed using only x-ray, many signs and symptoms are overlooked. Without knowing the precise cause of navicular syndrome, it is not possible to devise precise treatment.

What are some of the best treatments for navicular syndrome?

With navicular syndrome there is no simple fix. It’s very important that everyone on your horse’s wellness team, your vet, your farrier and yourself be on the same page and working cooperatively together.

An accurate diagnosis is absolutely essential, and effective treatment consistently applied is an absolute must.

If your horse’s navicular syndrome is caused by changes in the bone within the hoof, your veterinarian can prescribe medications which can be very beneficial. If your horses problem is caused by tissue inflammation, this type of medication may not be effective at all.

The reduction of inflammation can often help reduce symptoms of navicular syndrome. For this reason, some vets believe that injection of corticosteroids into the navicular bursa and/or the coffin joint combined with use of pain medication in the long-term can work well to control navicular syndrome symptoms, inflammation and pain.

Corrective shoes may help with navicular syndrome in some horses. This is why it’s important for your veterinarian and your farrier to work in close association. Their combined efforts may be exactly what your horse needs.

The main thing to remember when determining what kind of treatment your horse needs is that every horse is different and every situation is different. What works well for one horse may not work for your horse at all.

Can a horse with navicular be ridden?

You should also consider exactly what you want from your horse. Your horse may have been a high-performance animal or working horse in the past. Navicular syndrome may change your horse’s purpose, but it certainly does not render your horse unusable.

While your horse may not be able to race or jump any more, he or she may be perfectly capable of providing quiet pleasure riding. On the other hand, some horses who receive correct care early on can continue to compete successfully for a very long time.

Can you lunge a horse with navicular?

Lunging in general is not a good idea. Running around in circles, canted at a 45 degree angle is hard on a horse’s joints and hooves and is a sure way to exacerbate or even cause lameness.

If your horse needs some calming time before riding, try establishing a predictable routine of feeding, grooming and groundwork before saddling up and riding. This will result in a better bond between you and your horse and a deeper sense of calmness and communication between you.

Should I buy a horse with navicular changes?

Generally speaking, you should always buy a sound horse; however, if you are looking for a quiet, gentle mount for light riding, as companion animal or to lead the grandkids around, a horse with navicular syndrome may be fine for you.

Just understand that you will need to commit to good, consistent veterinary and farrier care from the day of purchase and into the foreseeable future.

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