Probably among the most misunderstood, as well as overdiagnosed, conditions that cause lameness in the horse is inflammation of the structures in and around the navicular bone. The navicular bone, a small bone contained inside the horse’s hoof, is at a significant stress point in the horse’s limb, in the heel area of the hoof.
The last couple of decades of scientific investigation have revealed much new information about this important bone, and structures around it. Much of that information contradicts what was previously thought to be “gospel.” We now know that was once thought the be one condition is actually a whole bunch of problems that can occur, alone, or simultaneously, in the same small area (the “navicular” area). The prognosis for your horse’s recovery depends on which structures are involved in the injury, and how seriously they are injured.
Proper diagnosis of problems in the navicular area involves a series of steps. At each step, some diagnoses can be eliminated, while others become more likely. Only by using a systematic, scientific approach to diagnosis can your horse’s exact condition be pinpointed; the particular treatment will vary depending on what the problem is. If someone raises the specter of navicular syndrome in your horse, be calm, take a deep breath, and make sure that all of the steps have been followed.
In my “Horsefeathers” book, I called navicular disease, ‘The Big Myth.” Subsequently, I wrote a whole book about the problem. They are full of good information. You’ll find lots of good information on this site, as well.