Articles & Information
FROM THE HOOFCARE & LAMENESS ARCHIVES
Navicular Syndrome Worldwide Research Update 1995
This article appeared in Hoofcare & Lameness in 1995.
Navicular disease seems to have been lumped together with general heel lameness. Let's not forget that the damage to a horse's foot can be serious enough to cause debilitating and permanent lameness. There is plenty of news about navicular disease, as evidenced by the recent international symposium on the problem held in Germany last fall.
One of the most exciting developments is the successful surgery technique performed regularly at the Equine Research Unit of the Animal Health Trust in Newmarket, England. Collateral ligament desmotomy, or the severing of the collateral ligaments that hold the navicular bone, has been found a helpful treatment in dozens of horses.
An important side note to the surgery is that Ian Wright, the Newmarket surgeon who developed the procedure, includes a regular exercise program following surgery, so that the horse's ligaments will not heal up and reattach. The navicular bone needs to settle into a new position behind P-3.
In some cases, the surgery has returned horses to total soundness, while others have remained sound for a year or two.
In Germany, research is centering around the ability to measure the pressure within the coffin joint, and the quality of the fluid. The parameters needed to measure the viscosity of the synovial fluid in the coffin joint are very complex, but could be a valuable aid to prognosis according the Dr. Bodo Herscht in a recent lecture.
Of course, farrier management is crucial to maintain a proper hoof-pastern axis, whether the horse has heel lameness or true navicular disease. An interesting presentation by Swiss farrier Bernard Duvernay of Switzerland in Geneva in December showed that Bernard raises the heels on a significant number of horses he shoes. He welds a comma-shaped wedge onto the ground surface of solid-heeled shoes.
Another interesting shoe design from the Swiss conference was the graduated egg bar, with a welded on level to raise the heels. German researcher Bodo Herscht showed a straight bar shoe used in his practice; it featured a radical (by US standards) set back (square) toe. He commented that this shoe is very useful in the sandy arenas used for dressage training, and that he believes it prevents the heels from sinking and the fetlock from overextending during the landing phase.
This article originally appeared in Hoofcare & Lameness: The Journal of Equine Foot Science and is available for your personal use only. Re-publication is prohibited without the express written permission of Hoofcare & Lameness.
Detailed information on this and many other hoofcare topics can be found in Hoofcare & Lameness publisher Fran Jurga's award-winning guide to hoofcare, "Understanding the Equine Foot".
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