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  1. #1
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    Default How does barefoot "cure" navicular disease?

    I've read numerous posts on here over the years stating that going barefoot can bring a horse lame with navicular sound.

    Could anyone please elaborate as despite numerous searches I can't find any proof or evidence of this? Yes Iíve seen the videos and pictures but are there x-rays, scans etc showing improvement in the structure of the foot?

    I appreciate that going barefoot can help in many cases of lameness where the hoof is unbalanced and/or of poor quality. I can see how rebalancing the hoof by going barefoot can/could/would help with navicular syndrome when tendons and bursa, for example, are involved but how does it help with true navic disease?

    When there is advanced navicular and lesions on the navic bone how exactly does being unshod cure the lameness and ease the pain/discomfort caused by the disease? Are there any x-rays of true navic horses with lesions on the navic bone before and after barefoot rehab? Has the bone regenerated? If so why isnít this finding more widespread?

    If the horse already has well balanced and healthy feet in shoes how/why/what does transitioning the horse to barefoot improve/change?

    Iím not anti-barefoot; I believe each horse is an individual. Iíve used an EP once previously (trained, qualified & registered; but that experience alone has put me off ever using a ďtrimmerĒ again) BUT I am interested in learning, anatomy and I do try to keep an open mind. I am very interested in hoof health and conformation.

    Iíve had discussions at great length with different vets and farriers about navicular disease. Iíve seen horses with navicular (donít know if disease or syndrome) go barefoot and be crippled but the rider/owner has carried on regardless purely on the basis that itís ďnaturalĒ and therefore better and having read success stories from various websites believing it to be a ďcure allĒ. This is not a reflection on being barefoot/unshod just shows how some people do things without enough knowledge and/or information.

    So are there x-rays out there? Has anyone got a horse that has dumbfounded vets with its recovery from navicular disease? Has anyone sent (or done at home under the guidance of a vet and a ďtrimmerĒ) their horse for barefoot rehab for navic and not had good results?

    Iíve looked on some rehab websites but in the majority of cases these horses have really bad feet to begin with (I wonder how some of them managed to walk!) and the care of the rehab has greatly improved this and subsequently other areas of discomfort, like secondary back pain. What if the horse already has good, healthy & balanced feet? However on these sites Iíve never seen x-rays of the navicular bone or even MRI scans for horses where DDFT or bursa is involved showing befores and afters.

    Not wanting an argument, or even a debate, just information and others to share their experiences for the good or bad.

    Thank you in advance

    Apologies for any spelling and grammar mistakes as Iím typing this on the sly at work in drips and drabs.
    Progress is impossible without change;those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything

  2. #2
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    Default Re: How does barefoot "cure" navicular disease?

    I would suggest you call Rockley and discuss project Dexter with them. http://www.rockleyfarm.co.uk/RockleyFarm/Home.html
    They are the guys in the know so I won't even attempt a poor reply here, they are the people to approach!

  3. #3
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    Default Re: How does barefoot "cure" navicular disease?

    Quote Originally Posted by glosgirl View Post
    I would suggest you call Rockley and discuss project Dexter with them. http://www.rockleyfarm.co.uk/RockleyFarm/Home.html
    They are the guys in the know so I won't even attempt a poor reply here, they are the people to approach!
    Thanks for taking the time to reply.

    I've read on their site and seen the project horses being used. Would feel I was wasting their time calling as I'm not looking to send a horse there or a vet/EP etc to be able to discuss anything in depth. I'm led to believe it will be published soon so am happy to wait.

    I would be interested to know if there are before/after scans and x-rays and if any improvements in lesions on the navic bone were found in the study.

    Also, could be getting my sites mixed up as looked at a few, but didn't all the horses in the test group have poor hoof balance and quality prior to going to Rockley? Would assume (dangerous I know!) that improving the hoof balance, shod or not, in feet that bad would make improvements in their way of going regardless but did it improve the navicular affected structures?

    Thanks again
    Progress is impossible without change;those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything

  4. #4

    Default Re: How does barefoot "cure" navicular disease?

    Very interesting post. I have a horse that was diagnosed with navicular syndrome shortly after purchase. I was strongly advised by my vet and specialist farrier not to go barefoot, which I would have preferred if possible.However, she is now sound and in full work,and the behavioural problems she exhibited have ceased. My other two horses are barefoot, so I'm certainly not anti.
    Like you, I would be interested in seeing evidence that barefoot trimming is a better option, but wonder why the vet and farrier are so adamant, when the latest research is available to them.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: How does barefoot "cure" navicular disease?

    Have you seen this article it sights research (some of which has incidentally been around a while) and I'd also recommend the navicular DVD on Pete Ramey's Under the Horse DVD series. Along with the other info on this series the navicular causes described was a light bulb moment for me and ties together competely the dietry and management advice that is so critical in the holistic barefoot approach.
    http://www.hoofrehab.com/NavicularSyndrome.htm

    I know the term navicular covers many things so I imagine in the end what is 'best' for a particular horse has to be a decision made by the owner and other professionals involved. Barefoot option is sometimes a huge change for owners so you have to be prepared to take this on board and put in the effort.

  6. #6

    Default Re: How does barefoot "cure" navicular disease?

    Not heard of anyone claiming that barefoot repairs damage to the navicular bone. Can you provide any links?

    What I have seen being claimed is that barefoot can help with cases of navicular syndrome.

    I agree with OP that it is unfortunate that people try barefoot without proper experience or support. It is more than taking the shoes off.

    Most cases of navicular syndrome seen do involve feet which are in poor condition which is why for some people this particular diagnosis is problematic.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: How does barefoot "cure" navicular disease?

    Quote Originally Posted by LucyPriory View Post
    Not heard of anyone claiming that barefoot repairs damage to the navicular bone. Can you provide any links?
    Better just clarify here. Repair of damage to the bone isn't claimed on the link I put up. It explains a possible mechanism of how the bone eventually becomes damaged.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: How does barefoot "cure" navicular disease?

    Quote Originally Posted by horserider View Post
    Very interesting post. I have a horse that was diagnosed with navicular syndrome shortly after purchase. I was strongly advised by my vet and specialist farrier not to go barefoot, which I would have preferred if possible.However, she is now sound and in full work,and the behavioural problems she exhibited have ceased. My other two horses are barefoot, so I'm certainly not anti.
    Like you, I would be interested in seeing evidence that barefoot trimming is a better option, but wonder why the vet and farrier are so adamant, when the latest research is available to them.

    I was in a similar position to you.

    Long story but the short version is ended up buying a QH with navic unvetted to ďsaveĒ her. She was sound at the viewing but lame a week after arriving with us (from Liverpool). I had a different vet at the time who advised to keep her in work, shod in front, give her danolin and breed from her!! Needless to say not my vet any more and didnít follow his ďadviceĒ!

    It was because of her that I started looking into navicular in more depth which led me to barefoot. I tried an EP but her advice and trimming left a lot to be desired. I done everything I could for the transitioning, she had hoof boots and pads and her diet was modified, but she was lame/in pain/uncomfortable which could be attributed to being trimmed far too short IMO.

    I changed vet practice and new vets advised wedged eggbars and gradually reduce to flat eggbars as due to foot angle she needed help to compensate and not to be left ďas nature intendedĒ. He said they would either work or she would say no to the change. Thankfully they worked and she returned sound but she was never brought into work at any point; field sound was enough for us. I lost her a year past at the end of this month just because after 2 good years it all seemed to catch up with her when the weather changed and I didnít want to see her suffer or uncomfortable.

    Then I had a TB mare who I lost in June due to very advanced navicular. The vet could offer no options other than denerving or doping her to the eyeballs and carrying on regardless; not options that I wished to pursue. She had good foot balance and excellent horn quality. I discussed trying barefoot or remedial shoeing with the vet but the conclusion was that there was nothing that could be done to repair the navicular bone as it was very advanced.

    The reason Iím asking these questions now is that my TB had been in the vet hospital in March for a full work up as she wasnít quite right. She was passed sound with no issues and I was told to bring her into work. At that time, due to losing my QH, the TB was in livery outside of my usual vetís catchment area. I returned, with a companion, to the old yard I rented and got my vets out in the June for a work up. Nerve blocks confirmed palmar foot pain so she was taken into their clinic for x-rays and a more thorough investigation. He estimated that the navicular must have been developing for at least 9mths so it had been missed by several people in that time.

    So just looking for another whip to flog myself with in that if it had been caught earlier and Iíd pursued barefoot/unshod could the navic bone have been repaired/regenerated and if so where is the evidence? In another post on here a user said the navic bone does regenerate itself so Iím looking for proof of that as Iíve had no joy finding anything even close to that on line.
    Progress is impossible without change;those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything

  9. #9
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    Default Re: How does barefoot "cure" navicular disease?

    Hi TPO

    Mine is one of the horses at rehabbed at Rockley (Frankie), if you don't want to drop them an email, have a look on the blog and search, as well as the rehab updates there are lots of articles discussing the theory of what they are doing.
    This page is probably a good place to start.

    http://rockleyfarm.blogspot.com/p/hoof-information.html
    I'm sure you can find something there that takes you through the theory of how incorrect foot balance put undue stress on the soft tissues and supporting structures of the foot which in term leads to bone stress and deterioration.

    There is also one of the horses there that did show improvement on an xray though he predates project dexter so isn't part of that.
    http://rockleyfarm.blogspot.com/2010...ne-damage.html


    In our case he did not have any changes that showed up on an xray but the MRI showed soft tissue damage and referred to the beginnings of bone stress caused by his other problems though no navicular disease yet.


    In terms of follow up MRI's, the problem is that MRIs are so expensive (£1000+) and insurance doesn't cover follow ups so you don't get a chance to compare before and after with any treatment.

    I would have liked 2 more MRIs, 1 after the box rest and tradtional treatments to see if there had been improvement and one after barefoot rehab to see how everything looked.


    Frankie did have terrible feet, however what you don't see on the blog is how they looked when he first went lame (about 18 months before I sent him there) his feet were not nearly as bad as they were after 18 months of on off box rest and remedial farriery.
    Once things started going wrong we were on a downward spiral with his feet getting worse and none of the traditional approaches helped. I started taking photos each time he was shod so I could track the improvement but instead ended up documenting the deterioration.

    I think I'm probably fairly typical in that I went with a traditional approach first and it was when that clearly wasn't working that I looked for an alternative. Given that, the horses you see on the blog tend to be the worst cases for which nothing else has worked. So yes you see some pretty bad feet but others I saw there had feet that really didn't look too bad at all but what they do have in common is that they are all landing incorrectly and the ones that had fairly good feet to start off with grew even better feet.


    As for my vet and farrier's opinion, they were very sceptical but at the time he was not even staying field sound so it was either that or pts, now it seems to have worked I think they regard Frankie as some bizarre freak of nature who has spontaneously grown different hooves (both shape and hoof quality) and improved. I guess you have to see it working again and again for yourself to change a long held belief.
    It did amuse me the other day watching my farrier struggle to trim him as the horn is now so hard.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: How does barefoot "cure" navicular disease?

    The bone repairing itself is from post no. 9 on this thread

    http://www.horseandhound.co.uk/forum...d.php?t=382370
    Progress is impossible without change;those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything

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