Navicular Syndrome Symptoms
Navicular Syndrome Symptoms in horses cause gradual and progressive lameness over time. Due to intermittent nature of early Navicular Syndrome Symptoms, Navicular Syndrome Diagnosis is usually not made until Stage 3, when real damage is being done to the inner structures of the horses' hoof. Knowing the early stage Navicular Syndrome Symptoms is therefore important to horse owners, since Navicular Syndrome is one of the most common causes of lameness in horses.
Stage 1 Navicular Syndrome Symptoms in Horses
If asked to stand still for a few minutes when mounted ( loading the hoof with no relief ) the horse may "dance" or do "tail-swishing" or"head-bobbing" and may be lame after work. The horses' hoof would, if tested after work with hoof testers, indicate pain response in the Navicular Area, but the lameness symptoms will typically disappear with rest and so Navicular Syndrome Symptoms will go unnoticed since the horse will have recovered with rest and not be lame at the start of the next work session. This is why Navicular Syndrome Diagnosis will usually not be made in Stage 1.
Stage 2 Navicular Syndrome Symptoms in Horses
If the horse has Navicular Syndrome symptoms in both front feet, to change the angle of the foot to relieve pressure, the horse may stand with feet resting up on door sills, fencing, ant hills or with feet in holes in the ground, or adopt the stance typical of Laminitis.
If the horse has Navicular Syndrome symptoms in only one foot, the horse may begin pointing while at rest, with one leg extended approximately 6 to 12 inches in front of the other to reduce pressure from the DDF tendon against the navicular area. Long-term unweighting of one foot affected by Navicular Syndrome symptoms will eventually cause that foot to contract ( shrink ). Contraction of the hoof complicates Navicular Syndrome symptoms in that when the horse is forced to bear weight, the swelling that occurs has less room to occupy and there is therefor more pressure, more pain, and longer recovery time.
The horse will shorten its stride to cause breakover to happen earlier, reducing pain. It was once believed that the horse afflicted with Navicular Syndrome symptoms does not wish to step on its heel and that is why it will shorten his stride. However, the horse is actually trying to reduce tension/pressure from the deep digital flexor tendon on the Navicular area. The highest pressure/tension ( causing the most pain ) is just before the hoof “breaks over”. The more acute the angle of the hoof bottom and leg, the more pressure, and the greater the pain. Hence, the further under the horse the hoof is in full contact with the ground ( the hoof bottom/leg agle more acute ) the more it hurts. The horse is trying to pick-up the supportive limb as soon as possible to bring the opposite leg that is in the air to the ground as soon as he can. That is the reason for shorter stride with Navicular Syndrome symptoms and it is NOT because it doesn’t want to put weight his heel, as once commonly believed.
Pleasure horses with navicular syndrome symptoms may stumble alot at the walk, trot, lope & canter. Hunter/Jumper & Eventing horses with navicular syndrome may refuse or take down the rails and show poor recovery. Dressage horses with navicular syndrome symptoms may have trouble coming onto the bit or may refuse to perform a maneuver which they have done with ease in the past. Race horses with navicular syndrome symptoms may quit during the race, slow down noticeably at the 3/4 pole or exhibit loss of form/break and have trouble making times.
Stage 3 Navicular Syndrome Symptoms in Horses
If the horse has Navicular Syndrome symptoms in only one foot, the horse may tend to stand with that foot "curling under" to relieve all pressure from the DDFT on the Navicular area. In Navicular Syndrome symptoms, Curling is a more urgent indicator than pointing/unweighting, since the sensitivity in the area at this stage is such that pointing/unweigiting of the hoof no longer relieves the pain.IMAGE - CURLING UNDER
If the horse has Navicular Syndrome symptoms in both front feet, the horse may continually "weave" while standing at rest, shifting weight from one foot to the other to relieve pain, but this may be attributed to stress or some other cause. The DDF tendon and/or the navicular bursa become crushed and cause severe pain. Chronic inflammation will begin to cause physical damage to the inner hoof. With chronic pain the horse will undergo a mood change and be generally irritable, possibly even dangerous to anyone who asks the horse to move.
In Stage 3, Navicular Syndrome symptoms also include the horse's desire to spend much of it's time lying down when it has the choice.
If you notice your horse CURLING UNDER or spending much of it's time LYING DOWN, damage has begun, and left untreated, eventually Navicular Syndrome WILL CAUSE DEATH naturally or from indicated humane euthanasia for the horse who can no longer stand.
Stage 4 Navicular Syndrome Symptoms in Horses
Stage 4 Navicular Syndrome symptoms are END-STAGE symptoms. It is therefore critical to diagnose and treat Navicular Syndrome symptoms before they get this bad. After long-term abnormal pressure from the DDFT on the Navicular Area, aka "Navicular Syndrome" this is the final result:
Chronic inflammation between Navicular Bone and Short Pastern Bone (P2) occurs, resulting in chronic severe pain.
Why Navicular Syndrome Symptoms in horses eventually leads to death:
In the horse, the Navicular bone is a valve for blood flow to the coffin bone and hoof corium. This is a life-sustaining function, as this blood flow works to rid the horse's body of metabolic waste products. In other words, toxins in the horse's body are expelled into new hoof growth and eventually exit the body this way. This is why your horse gets laminitis or "founders" when it drinks too much water, eats too much green grass, begins new feed type or various other things.
The horse's digestive system has evolved to get as much nutrients from the available food as it can, so that in winter or drought when food is poor quality and/or scarce (eg. sparce dried brown grass or burried under deep snow), it can survive by putting it's digestion process on, in layman's terms, "the highest setting". However when a horse has access to high-nutrient and nitrogen-rich food (eg. summer green grass) it can lower the digestion "setting" so that it does not get too much nitrogen and various toxins into its blood stream.
When accustomed to getting food with low nutritional value ( old hay & grain or dry grass -eg. winter ) its body works hard to extract the maximum amount of nutirents. When high-nutrient food is suddenly introduced to the horse whose body had "set" to obtain maximum nutrition for the lower quality feed, it also etracts the maximum amount of various toxins and nitrogen, the usual cuprit in laminitis.
This is the reason that a horse owner must limit its access to fresh green grass after it has wintered on last season's hay.
Excess toxins or nitrogen in the blood are "metabolic waste" and they are normally expelled into the hoof. If the hoof's waste-removal system is not functioning well, generally a horse will not only suffer from hoof pain but also the liver and kidneys will be damaged over time because the toxins from minor changes in feed quality will not be absorbed by the hoof shell and will end-up in the liver or kidneys and will lead to the failure of these organs. This alone can cause the horse to be unhealthy in later-years and take years off a horse's life expectancy. Alternatively, the pain of Navicular Syndrome is progressive and will eventually be significant enough to cause the horse to be unable to stand and the laying horse's own weight will cause fatal circulation problems.
The majority of Vets and farriers will try but fail to resolve Navicular Syndrome with treatments that did not work 100 years ago. You will still pay them for their time, regardless. When Navicular Syndrome symptoms are present, save yourself hundreds of dollars and save your horse a lot of pain with...