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Navicular – Seek the Truth

Horse vet

Navicular Disease is also referred to as Navicular Syndrome or Caudal Heel Pain. Overly diagnosed and grossly misunderstood; symptoms appear slowly. You will see subtle signs such as pinned ears, swishing tail, overall discomfort or an inability to pick up the correct lead. Your horse seems uncomfortable, but you can’t pinpoint why. He has a peaked eyelid, becomes unwilling to stand square, starts tripping going downhill, won’t pick up his foot for the farrier, begins lifting a foot or frequently shifting weight. As horse owners, we have all experienced any number of symptomatic challenges. They seem like nuisances which are easy to dismiss. The truth is, they are warning signs.

Daisy - recovering in her Cavallo Hoof Boots

Daisy – recovering in her Cavallos!

Unsure how to proceed, we may choose stall rest, increase the exercise program, change the farrier, give him pain killers or anti-inflammatory medication or alter the feed program. The situation abates for a time, but if we only address the symptoms, this or another indication appears again later. When we can’t substantiate the reason, we must query the cause. Don’t wait until your horse becomes very irritable, aggressive or has a bout of colic from the stress of discomfort.

Also, the signs can become complicated as one thing affects another. For example, if your horse stops standing squarely and places his hinds closer to the middle centre of gravity, he is trying to distribute some of the painful front weight onto the hinds. The hind canon bone is no longer on the appropriate weight bearing vertical and hock joint problems or bone spavin may result.

Telling the Truth

Our horses do not lie. They do not conspire or contrive to mislead. They don’t pretend something is wrong when it’s not. If there was to be any deception it would be the opposite way. Our prey animal horse would pretend to a predator, that he is absolutely fine. He is healthy, strong, in fighting form and can easily flee, so don’t even try to eat him.

Dr. Tomas Teskey examines a hoof and educates horse owners at a recent holistic horse care clinic

Dr. Tomas Teskey examines a hoof and educates horse owners at a recent holistic horse care clinic

I have heard people say things like their horse is pretending to be lame, so she doesn’t have to work. This is complete nonsense. When our horses appear lame, it is our responsibility to respect and to understand what is wrong. It is our obligation as horse owners, to look at our horses with discerning eyes. In many ways, sore and lame horses are so common place that we accept a stilted tender gait as normal – we think that is sound. When you see a horse running with complete freedom of movement, it is very different than many of the horses we are accustomed to seeing.

To be an astute horseperson, one must develop acumen. We must be able to read the truth in our horses.  For example, your horse will tell you long before the obvious development of discoloration and white hairs on his back that the saddle is not fitting. And once any hoof pain has progressed to head bobbing lameness, your horse has provided several indications of the problem in advance. The most painful hoof can be determined by watching the head rise on that same side, as if away from the pain. Usually Navicular affects both front feet, but one can be less painful than the other. The heel pain that is often referred to as Navicular can also be a result of tendinitis, strained ligaments, unobserved injuries, arthritis, inflammation, bursitis and other abnormalities or degenerations. It can be challenging when several things start to occur at once.

drawing of hoofRemember – the use of Cavallo Hoof Boots to ease the pain and discomfort of a navicular horse can be a game-changer.  The cushioning and protection that Cavallos offer can keep your navicular horse moving. Movement stimulates blood circulation, with its host of nutrients and oxygen. Movement and exercise is key to preventing other health issues that could compound due to inactivity.


Wishing you many happy miles in your Cavallos,

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