Hoof problems can be a big concern for horse owners because they limit the horse’s ability to compete, work and even be ridden. Navicular Syndrome or Caudal Heel Pain is a common degenerative disease that affects horses’ hooves. Horses with Navicular Syndrome have excessive wear and tear on their navicular bone and the deep digital flexor tendon that moves over it as the horse walks. As with all degenerative diseases, navicular tends to develop very slowly so it’s always a good idea to pay close attention to your horse’s gate, especially when making circles at a trot to detect any early signs of lameness. Navicular usually affects both front hooves, but can be more severe in one hoof and the pain is usually worse toward the heel. Warmbloods, Quarterhorses, Thoroughbreds and hard-working performance horses are most commonly afflicted with this condition.
Work with your vet if your horse is experiencing signs of navicular because the condition is manageable and most horses can continue to do their jobs if their hooves are properly taken care of with pain medications, surgery or shock wave therapy. Regular farrier visits to support the hooves with special shoes and pads will also help protect their feet.