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Navicular Syndrome

  2006 Cherry Hill   Copyright Information


Dear Cherry,

     I need help. My horse has a condition called wear and tear in his hoof; he is only five, and I would like to know what if anything I can do for him. Also, how bad is it. 


Hi Sam,

I have never heard of a condition called "wear and tear" unless you mean that the hooves are barefoot and the hoof horn is wearing off so short that the horse is sore or lame from it. If this is the case, the horse should be shod.

If you can give me some more specific information, I would be glad to help you but I am just guessing until I understand what you mean.

In the meantime, go to my web site at and read the articles in the Horse Information Roundup related to "Hoof Care and Lameness" and you will likely find the answer to your question.

Let me know if you can provide a more detailed description of your horse's hooves and if your need further help after you have read the articles.

Best of luck,

Hi Cherry,

  Well I just bought a thoroughbred horse. he is five, and has something the vet says signs of wear and tear in his navicular, which is located in the foot. I heard nothing can be done for it, and that he could even become lame soon. This is a step below navicular disease, or at least that's what the vet says. Can I do anything? thank you, Sam


Dear Sam,

Your Horse Barn DVDNow that you mention the navicular bone, it is easier to answer you question. Yes, things can be done to prevent this condition from getting worse. Many horses are used their entire lives with corrective shoeing. You'll read about what needs to be done below in this quote from a section of our book Maximum Hoof Power.

Best of luck,



Navicular syndrome is a chronic forelimb lameness involving the navicular bone and associated structures. Signs of navicular syndrome are outlined later. Not all lamenesses associated with the heel area of the hoof, however, should be attributed to navicular syndrome. Factors thought to predispose a horse to navicular problems include poor conformation, improper or irregular shoeing, and stress to the navicular region. A common error which can lead to navicular syndrome is associated with the false economy of stretching the intervals between shoeings. As a hoof grows past its optimum reset time, the toe gets too long and the heel too low, resulting in a broken back axis. Increased pressure between the deep flexor tendon and the navicular bone may cause the heel pain associated with navicular syndrome.


Numbers 1 through 4 are the most classic symptoms

1. A history of progressive, chronic forelimb lameness involving one or both limbs.

2. A stiff, shuffling gait with a short, choppy stride.

3. Sensitivity to hoof testers when the central third of the frog is compressed.

4. A positive response to nerve "blocking" (low palmar digital nerve block).

5. Pointing of the most severely affected forelimb or alternate pointing.

6. Low under-run heels.

7. Broken back hoof/pastern axis.

8. One forefoot smaller and more upright.

9. Contracted heels in one or both feet.

10. Toe-first landing when walking or trotting.

11. Occasional stumbling.

12. When circling, lameness of the inside foot more exaggerated and head carried to outside of circle.

13. A marked lameness after a sharp turn.

14. A pain response and/or increase in lameness in responses to the interphalangeal flexion test.

The egg bar shoe has proven of great value in the treatment of the navicular syndrome. It is a non-invasive, inexpensive treatment with virtually no negative side effects or risks. In addition, the egg bar shoe has positive effects on hoof conformation.

Some horses show dramatic clinical improvement soon after egg bar shoes are applied as if their call for support was answered. However, some under-run hooves have gone past a critical horn tubule angle and have reached the point of no return. Even though these hooves will not likely show a reversal of the under-run heel condition, the horse may be useable and comfortable working in egg bar shoes or full support shoes for many years.

Horse For Sale by Cherry HillFull pads are often prescribed for horses that have navicular syndrome. Hooves with wide open, low heels are sometimes believed to have incurred navicular disease or heel soreness from the direct concussion to the frog and heel area. Full pads used to protect this area can actually transmit the concussion to the navicular region. A straight bar or full support shoe might be more effective in providing protection for this type of navicular problem."

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