Incorrect Trimming And Shoeing Cause Navicular Issues In Horses

Dr. Robert Bowker, podiatry research at Michigan State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, believes that incorrect trimming and shoeing methods, as well as environmental factors, lead to damage of the frog and digital cushion early in a horse’s life. Both of these structures protect the navicular bone, so when they are compromised, damage to the navicular apparatus can take place.

Speaking at the Northeast Association of Equine Practitioners (NEAEP) symposium last September, Bowker noted that horses that are “navicular” are generally lame in both front limbs; the veterinarian generally diagnoses this condition using nerve blocks and X-rays. Bowker believes that damage to the hoof takes place long before it can be seen on X-rays, and that it is not solely focused on the navicular apparatus, reports The Horse.

Many active horses older than 3 have damage to the nerves, fascia and blood vessels to the digital cushion, frog and dermal tissue; Bowker feels that this damage culminates in degeneration of the navicular apparatus. Bowker notes that he has seen degenerative tissue changes to the frog and digital cushion, which then radiates up the foot to the navicular apparatus.

He notes that horse’s coffin bones elongate and remodel at a very young age. Bowker believes that the way horses are traditionally trimmed makes the toe get longer, causing the frog and the digital cushions atrophy. The long toe most likely makes the coffin bone elongate over time.

This atrophy, in addition to underrun heels and a pastern that is more upright than the toe, can accentuate shearing and vibrational forces on the foot and the pasterns. Bowker said he sees damage to the deep digital flexor tendon and the back of the foot before he sees damage to the navicular bone. This damage means the structures cannot act as they were designed and protect the navicular apparatus.

The way horses are trimmed or shod contributes to the degeneration of the navicular apparatus. By changing the way horse’s hooves are cared for, the way the feet are trimmed can reverse or prevent a horse from becoming “navicular,” he says. Bringing the toes back and keeping the heels short will help, as will doing only minimal trimming of the frog and sole. Additionally, he advises periodic trimming inside the white line to keep the toe back.

Read more at The Horse.

The post Incorrect Trimming And Shoeing Cause Navicular Issues In Horses appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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