A few years ago I met a friend at a boarding facility where I saw a jumper mare being ridden in the indoor arena. She was being cantered around the large space, jumping two fences on one long side and repeating the mundane line over and over again in an obedient but almost robotic way. She was a beautiful big mare, but I couldn't help seeing the obvious tightness in her body, her toe-first landings, the stoic 'try', and felt a loss of participation and joy from her.
The barn owner saw me watching and came to say this horse was worth a hefty five-figure value and that she and the rider were on a trajectory for the Royal Winter Fair in the fall, one of the biggest shows in Canada.
I said she was beautiful but I feared at this rate she would break down before the summer was over. I had never said anything like this out loud before.
Unfortunately by midsummer this beautiful mare was diagnosed with navicular and up for sale to a good home for light riding or as a companion horse.
While I was waiting for my friend to show up, I also watched another horse being ridden. He was made to go in super tight circles. Round and round, change directions and round and round. He was clearly uncomfortable, very short strided and stiff in front, almost limping sore. This time I didn’t say anything out loud. He was taken to his stall and lovingly brushed and fawned over.
Sadly, after a navicular diagnosis, that horse sold the following winter for $1.00. (Lucky for him, his new owner used EQ protocols. He's the paint in the photo above, a few years after she bought him!)
As different as these two horses were, they had many things in common: seriously contracted feet with tight shoes, obvious toe first or flat footed landings, short strides, and shut-down attitudes.
No one saw this!? It broke my heart.
I can’t help but wonder:
How many eyes see these horses?
How many loving owners clean those feet daily and still don’t know or 'see' what they are handling?
How many trainers, barn managers over look and not 'see' how the horses are moving?
Navicular doesn't just happen overnight. It takes time and comes with pre-navicular warning signs. Long before the official diagnosis, and before the navicular bone is damaged, before the tendons and ligaments are irreparable, there are clear signs of degeneration to be seen. Do you know these signs?
Can your horse get navicular?
Not when you are a good hoof-looker and you can see the various signs of ill-health early.
We designed a mini master class to show horse owners, barn managers, trainers, even trimmers, what a truly healthy foot looks like, when and why things go wrong, and how to recognize when things are unbalanced.
Whether you know nothing about feet, a little, or a lot, this course makes a superb 'touchstone', a refresher course for the basics ... the core ideas. It's the foundation of all the other study.
AND something that is so often misdiagnosed as navicular is THRUSH. See the free video here: Thrush, it's Everywhere
-- Anne Louise MacDonald, EQuinextion Team
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