Navicular and CHOICES!

I have included, to date, virtually no "hoof centric" analyses in my site because the hoof actually needs quite a bit less of our direct line thinking and quite a bit more of our ability to understand how to produce holistic excellence.

I often tell my clients, if the idea does not make sense in relation to your own body, it most likely does not make sense in relation to the horse's body. We are all made of the same stuff, ligament, tendon, bone, muscle, epidermis, dermis etc. 

commensensical versus modern medicine : How important are lifestyle approaches to vitality and wellness? And how important are lifestyle approaches to treatment of disease and physical injury and our mysterious chronic equine conditions: joint inflammation, equine metabolic syndrome/laminitis, caudal heel pain/navicular? Only more studies will tell us. However, we know from human studies that joint inflammation, endocrine system disfunction, heart disease, diabetes, plantar fasciitis, tendonitis, all of the same type of stuff that affects both us and our equine buddies, is radically affected by changes made in lifestyle. So much so, that we appreciate in human medicine that changing lifestyle (appropriate movement/body use/stretching/cross-training/strength training/yoga/excercise, healthy diet, healthy social connections, sleep, etc.) are often, especially when used in combination, sufficient to reverse these diagnoses. Commonsensical medicine is often much more powerful that modern drug-centric, symptom-based medicine, although both appraoches have merit.

Perhaps the following will encourage you, and your horse professionals, to realize that you have CHOiCES in how you approach medical issues with your horse. And they are good ones!

As we approach this next section, the idea is this: if you work WITH native design potential, you build health that is powerful enough to affect the physical state of the body and its biochemistry. Often, this idea has its genesis in understanding what is SPECIES-OPTIMAL LIFESTYLE and how we can create some of this magical stuff in our artificial (but changable) domesticated environments (both for humans and horses). This is something zoos do really well for many species. Surely we can do better than the 10 x 10 box concept for our beloved species, the horse.

A Navicular Case Study:  

Ugh. I never want to enter into any type of "old" argument wherein one group predictably says one thing and another group predictably says another thing and nothing really changes. Instead, please use this case study as an example of information that might compel us to ask questions for the future that will benefit us all, horses and all stripes of human horse professionals.

This is your classic, romantic tale of how "Natural Lifestyle Choices Saved My Horse" that most natural trimmers, if they are any good at all, will profile on their site mutliple times and in many ways. BUT it has me at the helm to try to bring this concept out the current divisive hoof care culture and into mainstream data production. Wish me luck!

 The introduction to our romantic docudrama :)  ...  Here we have a horse that was in a well-established training barn, diagnosed as navicular. He went through "progressive, corrective shoeing" and a bunch of expensive and fancy diagnostics and ancillary support work (X-Rays, infrared something or another, chiropractics, message therapy etc.), and yet, ultimately, was recommended by the vet, trainer and farrier, to be put down since "every avenue" had been explored .  The owner did a little surfing on the internet, decided to pull the shoes and bring him home to the farm, and afer having an interim trimmer for a couple of months, called me. What do we see here in March 2010? We see that overshortened toe, which causes anterior shifting of the heel and destruction of whole body alignment. (To try to develop a soft focus on this, observe that the hoof looks like it is "painted on" the bottom of the limb, or stuck on there, in the March photograph.)  When we look underneath, we see the narrow caudal aspect of the hoof that this type of unnatural shaping causes. We can see that the hoof capsule's heel is forward of the back of the frog. So, what to do? Why the LINT-OFM, of course :) (least invasive natural trim based on optimal feral modeling). So, what words can I use here to describe this process? I can tell you this. I allow the hoof back its balance.  As I allow the toe to reach the ground in balance, we see what the real "breakover" caused by the unnatural hoof form  is in a complete capsule. (I will assert that breakover is relative to body mass and is not necessarily a hoof measurement per se). By allowing the hoof back its parts, so to speak, the heel can now migrate back under the horse's leg into its correct location (allowing the hoof capsule to be in complete symphony with the limb skeleton which allows for maximum elastic limb and body potential energy). We see this as a transitional increase in the horizontal aspect of the hoof in April.

The introduction to our romantic docudrama :)  ...  Here we have a horse that was in a well-established training barn, diagnosed as navicular. He went through "progressive, corrective shoeing" and a bunch of expensive and fancy diagnostics and ancillary support work (X-Rays, infrared something or another, chiropractics, message therapy etc.), and yet, ultimately, was recommended by the vet, trainer and farrier, to be put down since "every avenue" had been explored .

The owner did a little surfing on the internet, decided to pull the shoes and bring him home to the farm, and afer having an interim trimmer for a couple of months, called me. What do we see here in March 2010? We see that overshortened toe, which causes anterior shifting of the heel and destruction of whole body alignment. (To try to develop a soft focus on this, observe that the hoof looks like it is "painted on" the bottom of the limb, or stuck on there, in the March photograph.)

When we look underneath, we see the narrow caudal aspect of the hoof that this type of unnatural shaping causes. We can see that the hoof capsule's heel is forward of the back of the frog. So, what to do? Why the LINT-OFM, of course :) (least invasive natural trim based on optimal feral modeling). So, what words can I use here to describe this process? I can tell you this. I allow the hoof back its balance.

As I allow the toe to reach the ground in balance, we see what the real "breakover" caused by the unnatural hoof form  is in a complete capsule. (I will assert that breakover is relative to body mass and is not necessarily a hoof measurement per se). By allowing the hoof back its parts, so to speak, the heel can now migrate back under the horse's leg into its correct location (allowing the hoof capsule to be in complete symphony with the limb skeleton which allows for maximum elastic limb and body potential energy). We see this as a transitional increase in the horizontal aspect of the hoof in April.

 Well, now, by August of 2010 we are getting some delicious stuff. Enhanced vertical height at the toe (concavity) and a broadening and building of the caudal aspect of the hoof. YUMMMMMY!

Well, now, by August of 2010 we are getting some delicious stuff. Enhanced vertical height at the toe (concavity) and a broadening and building of the caudal aspect of the hoof. YUMMMMMY!

 And what does that mean for breakover? Well, let me show you! We now have grown a tighter breakover by any measure (relative to hoof or body) and we have a great caudal aspect to the hoof and we have the hoof capsule in line with the skeleton. Getting back to the lay person's soft focus. do you see how the hoof appears to be " painted on" the end of the limb back in March? By August, it no longer looks painted on. Instead it looks to be one organic contstruct. The hoof and limb are now part of one continuum.

And what does that mean for breakover? Well, let me show you! We now have grown a tighter breakover by any measure (relative to hoof or body) and we have a great caudal aspect to the hoof and we have the hoof capsule in line with the skeleton. Getting back to the lay person's soft focus. do you see how the hoof appears to be " painted on" the end of the limb back in March? By August, it no longer looks painted on. Instead it looks to be one organic contstruct. The hoof and limb are now part of one continuum.

So, changing whole hoof and body dynamics is one thing. But what we also find in science and medicine is synergy. The owner also devoted herself to improving his lifestyle. Often, in biology 1 + 1 does not equal 2. Instead it equals 10. This is the power of synergy, or non-additive potential affects, by having in place more than one biological input designed to head the body in a particular direction (in this case health).

She gave him 24/7 turn out in a social group. She moved his diet from a grain-base to a low NSC (non structural carb) fiber-base (as best as she could here in Ohio pasture). And, very importantly, she changed her riding habits. Instead of 90% "micromanagment" in riding, she shifted to 10% "micromangement" in riding. She took long trail rides on a loose rein and "worked" on all her ideas of riding/movement only 10% of the time. 

Sometimes, just teaching the horse that he can move forward freely in choice under saddle is enough to allow him a better physical basis in riding from which to perform maneuvers and hence produce better hoof/health-building during riding. Certainly, if you give 8 people the same lead rope attached to the same horse you yield 8 different horses. So to with riding. And I have seen examples of people more inclined in both classical dressage and the opposite of training (= simply less human interference) produce a physically healthier horse, in terms of "navicular" and other parameters, than the horse the owner/trainer started with.

Now, was he perfect? No. She certainly couldn't gallop him comfortably on gravel barefoot, but so what? If you are not creative enough to fully enjoy your barefoot horse, than there is definately something lacking in your approach to horsemanship in general, from my perspective. But, in all, she had one damn comfortable and dare I say it, sound, horse to enjoy. And, she was able to develop her discipline of choice with him.

This is not to belittle the depth, length and complexity of caudal hoof pain. I have had three horses in my practice, 2 quarter horses and 1 appoloosa, all with strong contributions from the quarter horse pleasure blood line(s), that I would truly call uncomfortable, ie "navicular" in their hoof aspect, that appeared to be truly beyond both our current concepts of modern and commensensical medicine. In this case I would propose the obvious hypothesis. If you breed for unnatural, unfunctional motion (a crab-like canter for example) you are changing ligament/tendon/bone/muscle associations. This is a likely cause of a true navicular diagnosis that is beyond the help of what we currently know. This "pathology" so to speak is going to be excacerbated by micromanagement in movement and horse keeping that destroys natural collection, but unfortunately, may not be able to be fully corrected for by commensensical and/or modern medicine. My advice? Do the best you can to live comfortably with any chronic condition, such as some navicular diagnoses. Think of how you would like your body handled and allow for that for your horse. And do not give up hope, the fields of unfixed orthotics and true sports medicine have a lot of potential.

AND PLEASE breed for function, not man's notions of appearance.

Wonderful things you have CHOiCES about:

1) Rehabilitation/Life-Giving Environments!

2) Rehabilitation/Life-Giving Riding and Handling! 

3) Really Great Natural Hoof Care (me and the LINT - OFM and others!) for Navicular and other Medical Conditions! and the development, exploration, of unfixed orthotics!

4) AND INCLUDING modern, holistic, alternative and ancillary medicine outside the scope of 1-3!

 

Rosie update: This horse has the type of "navicular diagnosis" that probably has as its primary basis how this particular horse and its hooves were developed when a younger Thoroughbred. And then, of course, she was subject to all and sundry hoof treatments, shoes and whatnot-ery, until here she is with me to do her hooves as a well-loved older gal in an excellent home who will never be fully "sound."......In terms of my interests, I really don't care how "messed up" the internal structures of any particular hoof are. I simply want to know if I can improve the overall well being of an animal and hopefully help give it a reasonable "best life."

 Rosie before....and this is a kind photo.

Rosie before....and this is a kind photo.

Rosie 2nd trim in just so you can compare her front legs and pectoral muscles specifically with the after image below......

 
 Rosie 9 months in and still lots of room to grow (hoof and body improvement-wise).......honestly, doesn't it make you want to cry? Do we even see the inherent dignity and majesty of the horse hoof and body?

Rosie 9 months in and still lots of room to grow (hoof and body improvement-wise).......honestly, doesn't it make you want to cry? Do we even see the inherent dignity and majesty of the horse hoof and body?

In addition to all the shoeing variations, she was subjected to "chasing toe cracks" trimming, which is basically, again, this repetitive notion all over the equine industry that if we constantly shorten the toe, we will do some good. So while I am loathe to make the site hoof picture centric, since that just encourages "bringing out the microscope," the calipers and the metal shoes, I will toss in a couple here.


 Such a dysmorphic structure....There is no cohesive or understandable caudal aspect to this hoof.    FL

Such a dysmorphic structure....There is no cohesive or understandable caudal aspect to this hoof.    FL

 Maybe an inch from the apex of the frog to the anterior margin of the sole, flat as a pancake with an absence of adequate vertical height at the toe.     FL

Maybe an inch from the apex of the frog to the anterior margin of the sole, flat as a pancake with an absence of adequate vertical height at the toe.     FL

 Mybe an inch and one quarter from heel platform to back of heel bulb. FL

Mybe an inch and one quarter from heel platform to back of heel bulb. FL

 6 months: Heel bulbs meet heel platform. Platform meet bulbs. Way to go Rosie!      FL

6 months: Heel bulbs meet heel platform. Platform meet bulbs. Way to go Rosie!      FL

 A beautiful shot of Rosie's FL at 6 months. Ergonomics meets biomechanics meets physics = DELICIOUS.

A beautiful shot of Rosie's FL at 6 months. Ergonomics meets biomechanics meets physics = DELICIOUS.

Hey, BTW, I really like the way the Horse's Hoof chats heels.....https://www.thehorseshoof.com/HC_Heels.html. Go Horse's Hoof!