There are lots of ways a horse can go lame. Perhaps most common cause of lameness is a result of Navicular Syndrome. The fortunate thing is that it can be treated where horse gets complete, successful recovery if diagnosed and treated in it’s early stages. Here’s what you need to know about Navicular Syndrome.
First, there is a small bone between coffin bone and short pastern bone called navicular bone. This bone is important in that it distributes horse’s weight between coffin bone and short pastern bone. The result is that it reduces stress on both coffin bone and short pastern bone when foot lands to ground and weight is put on it. (Even though rear feet have navicular bones, it is fore feet that are most often affected)
The navicular bone also works with a tendon called “deep digital flexor tendon.” This tendon flexes coffin and pastern joints. It also absorbs shock when hoof strikes ground. When flexor tendon moves, it slides over cartlidge-covered navicluar bone which lowers work load of tendon when foot moves.
Thus, when horse’s foot lands to ground there is a lot of force on navicular bone. As horse’s weight is transferred over foot, bone is pushed against tendon. When this happens repeatedly, then damage to navicular bone and tendon can occur.
One thing that can happen is cartlidge can lose its slippery surface and friction can develop between navicular bone and tendon. Then tendon can become rough and make sliding motion on navicluar bone even worse. This ultimately leads to pain for horse and worse, lameness. Worse, blood flow to navicular bone and tendon could be decreased and it may not heal.
How can you tell if your horse may have navicular syndrome? One is he may not want to change leads. He may lose his suppleness or perhaps have a stiff and jerky gait. As this gets worse may show lameness where you may see short stride in one or both front legs. The horse will purposely try to step on his toe portion of foot because pain will be in back of foot. Thus, you will see his toe is worn more than any other part of foot.