Navicular syndrome

The past couple of weeks have been quite stressful on the Forelock Yard. Lady Forelock has been diagnosed with Navicular syndrome.

Lady’s has always had a problem with her feet, especially the front ones. She has low heels and long pasterns, meaning that a lot of pressure is put on the back part of her front hoofs. This must have been very painful in her early years as a show jumper and it took a long time to realise why her behaviour was so bad when being ridden, especially when being asked to jump.

Bad behaviour

illustration by Maggie Raynor, taken from ‘Finders Keepers’

Lady joined the Forelock family in 2009 and eventually, after finding a great farrier, Lady’s feet came good and he behaviour improved. This lasted for over 5 years, until recently, she seemed slightly uneven in trot. However it wasn’t immediately obvious that her feet were the cause of her lameness. Because she was sore in both front feet the lameness wasn’t so pronounced and seemed to switch from one side to the other. Also she seemed to improve with exercise, so given that she’s now 20 years old, we initially put it down to stiffness and started her on a joint supplement, but over the weeks she seemed to be getting worse and was really struggling to turn in her stable. She had already seen the farrier, but now it was time to call the vet. After a nerve block to the rear of one foot it was obvious where the problem was and that the problem was in BOTH front feet.

Next came a visit from the farrier and the vet, together with an X-ray machine. Lady already had heart-bar shoes with a wedge to support her heels but the X-rays showed changes in her navicular bone which suggested that the heart-bar was restricting the bloodflow in that area and adding to the pressure on her heels. The vet and the farrier had a long discussion, while I stood, trying to work out what the expressions on their faces meant and fearing the worst. Finally, they decided on a plan of action, to support her heels, improve the angle of her hoof and release the pressure on the navicular bone and here’s what they did…

Wedges

Wedges

Navicular support

Support with flexibility

Lady has now been taken off Bute and we are waiting to see if the change in shoeing will improve her condition.

Wish us luck!