The Most Important Things to Know About Navicular Syndrome

It is very important to have the horse diagnosed by a veterinarian as soon as the horse shows symptoms of Navicular syndrome.  Several studies I have read suggest that there is a much better chance of returning the horse to soundness if the disease is caught early and treatment begins immediately.   Early treatment can prevent the complications with tendons and ligaments in the foot (the second most important thing to know).  Early treatments that can slow and perhaps stop the progression of the syndrome include Tilderen, corrective shoeing or barefoot trimming (there’s a lot of controversy between the two and I don’t know which is better).

As mentioned above, the second most important thing to know is that this syndrome affects several structures of the foot, most dangerously the Deep Digital Flexor Tendon (DDFT).  Once the DDFT is torn it is difficult but not impossible to restore the horse to soundness, but once the tendon is damaged there is potential for more tearing to occur in the future.  A horse in advanced navicular syndrome will have to be on light work and watched carefully so that these complications are minimized.

Living with Navicular Syndrome

I started this site 2 years ago when my horse was being treated for Navicular disease. I’ve come to hate this disease; it robs an otherwise healthy horse of its mobility and ultimately its life. That’s what happened to my horse, Bo.

While treating Bo I did a lot of research, mostly guided by my vet, but I decided to look at everything I could find about the disease. I even researched things I wouldn’t consider doing to my horse, just to find out what the options are.

I tried a few treatments on Bo: Isoxuprene, some supplements (Equibone, Duralactin, Cetyl M), intrabursal steroid injections. The steroid injections worked the best, but lasted only 4-5 months.

After a year of steroid treatments a very common complication of Navicular Disease happened — Bo tore his Deep Digital Flexor Tendon (DDFT). This is a very common problem in Navicular horses because as the DDFT slides along the navicular bone as the horse walks the rubbing can cause little tears in the tendon, which eventually become large tears, like a run in a stocking, as my vet described it. We tried Platelet-Rich Plasma therapy on the tendon but it never healed properly and Bo eventually had to be put down.

I HATE navicular disease and I want to find a cure or way to prevent it, so I continue to do research even though my current horse does not have the disease. So I’ve decided to share everything I’ve learned and will learn in the future in the hope that it can save other horses and their owners from the pain (both physical and emotional) that it causes.

So look around the site, there is no cure here yet, but you can learn enough to be able to ask your vet intelligent questions and hopefully understand what the vet is trying to tell you.

Feel free to leave comments and questions which I will answer if I can.