Navicular Disease and Persistent Thrush Case Study

Teenage Gelding Diagnosed with Navicular Disease and Chronic Persistent Thrush

Teenage Gelding with Navicular Disease and Chronic Persistent Thrush

Competitive Horse Treated for Grade 2 Lameness, Navicular, and Thrush

“Hemi” was a gelding in his mid-teens who had been diagnosed with navicular disease and struggled with chronic, persistent thrush despite many treatment efforts. He was a very competitive barrel horse who was capable of running 1-2D times but had not been able to for the past year. He was grade 2 lame and unable to comfortably trail ride or even move around the pasture as freely as he would like. He had several different farriers applying shoes ranging from egg bar to wedge, none seemed to make a significant difference.

The primary veterinarian provided radiographs that were marked to show the changes in his navicular bone. Hemi had several injections in his joints that provided brief pain relief but his owner was looking for a more permanent method of healing and pain relief, with hopes of returning him to competition.

Radiograph Left Front Lateral

Left Front Radiograph showing defect in the navicular bone.

Radiograph Left Front Lateral 2

Radiograph showing mild arthritis and calcifications in the DDFT (deep digital flexor tendon).

Upon evaluation it was noted that his entire caudal foot (back half of the hoof) was underdeveloped. There was radio graphic evidence of bone loss in the navicular bone, as well as calcification of the tendons attaching to the navicular bone.

Hemi was treated with specialized shoeing, stretching and strengthening exercises, and topical medications to treat a very deep infection in his frog. The goal of this treatment was to aid in the development of the caudal hoof, open and expand the frog, shorten the toe, and overall change the shape of the hoof.

After treatment view

After One Year of Specialized Shoeing and Trimming

After 1 year of specialized shoeing and trimming, he was sound at a walk and trot and running some of his fastest barrel times. His owner even decided to try some working some cattle with him and they both loved it. No thrush was present despite a particularly wet spring–his frog had hardened and was healthier than ever.

*Note from Dr Julie; in hindsight and with the knowledge I have now, I would have adjusted this horse regularly in addition to the other recommendations. I also would not have put shoes on but instead recommended glue on boots with modifications for the time while he was actively competing.