Podcast Episode #6: Equine Navicular Solved

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In this episode of “Horse Mysteries Solved…”

Equine Navicular Solved

I might have been a little salty on this podcast…you’ll have to let me know. ;)

I talk about the two primary causes of navicular, which are:


What I’m salty about is that vets should know this. True, we did not learn this in vet school. But the information is available now, and yet I don’t hear vets telling the truth about this.

Do they not know?

Or are they scared of something?

Learn about it on this episode!



Summary by AI:

Dr. Renee Tucker from Tucker Biokinetic University discusses horse navicular, emphasizing its preventability and treatability. She criticizes traditional veterinary approaches and advocates for understanding the root causes, primarily related to shoeing and nutrition. Tucker highlights the importance of barefoot trimming and addressing gut health, presenting personal anecdotes and insights into fluid dynamics within the hoof. Despite acknowledging genetic predispositions in some cases, she asserts that the majority of navicular cases can be resolved with proper care. She encourages patience and a step-by-step approach for concerned horse owners.

Renee Tucker (00:01)
Hello, my friends, Dr. Renee Tucker here with Tucker Biokinetic University. Okay, so today let’s solve the mystery of horse navicular. This should not even be a thing anymore. You can probably research this yourself and find the solutions for it. Now, if you are in the middle of it, I’m sorry to hear that. It is very stressful. It is painful for your horse, but there is an answer. Okay, so I want to talk about what is navicular. Why is it 99% preventable, 99% curable, and why that’s vets are idiots. Okay? And please remember, I am a veterinarian, so I can call people names. All right, let me just start with some basics of navicular. So we’re all on the same page. So navicular is a bone that’s in the horse’s foot, and it’s a small triangular shaped bone in between the heel bulbs of the horse. So what happens is we see on X ray that there are changes in the navicular bone. So the changes that we’re referring to are like little black spots. If you’ve seen some of these navicular X rays, you know that they kind of look like popsicles. There’s a little stick that you hold a popsicle with, and then there’s a little round kind of lollipopish look.

Renee Tucker (01:27)
So either called lollipops or popsicles, but basically they’re black spots on a bone that should be white on an X ray. Okay. And those are navicular changes. Sometimes we see some extra arthritis along the navicular bone, but mostly we’re looking for those enlarged vascular channels is what those popsicles or lollipops are called, what we referred to as enlarged vascular channels. Now, here’s the thing. I want to mention something here. We talk about vascular channels, and that refers to the blood circulation. So that’s arteries and veins, including blood. Let me give you a little clue. There’s more in the foot than just blood. There’s also water. There’s interstitial fluid. There’s the fluid that’s in the frog fat pad and the frog. There’s lymphatics and all their fluids. So I’m talking about fluid. I’m just going to use a general term, fluid, which is encompassing all the fluid that’s in the foot. Okay. Now, what happens in traditional veterinary medicine? Here’s what we learned at school. We learned that if you see a lame horse who blocks out with a caudal heel block, that means you put some lidocaine that’s like Novocaine in the back of the foot.

Renee Tucker (03:00)
So it’s making the back back a third of the foot numb. So the horse cannot feel it. Then we call that a positive result because the horse blocked out, so we can’t feel it. That means the problem of the lameness is in the back of the foot. Now, there’s a lot of structures back in the foot, but one of the most common ones is the navicular bone. So then we take some xrays, and then if these xrays show this typical popsicle structure, then we diagnose navicular, which means in navicular vascular channels are enlarged. And then typically with veterinary medicine, what we know to do is try to stop the pain basically from that. And it’s assumed that there’s pain involved within large vascular channels. I’d like to say I don’t agree with that assumption. Naturally. I don’t agree with much. Okay, let’s face it, because here’s what happened. A long time, long time ago. I was working on this Tennessee Walker horse. I went to vet school in Tennessee, and he had a stallion. Beautiful, sweet guy. Four year old stallion. Wonderful. And he was on stacks. Full stacks. So those are those big high shoes that are a good

Renee Tucker (04:19)
Four or five inches tall. That’s like centimeters tall all the time. They don’t take those on and off. That’s a permanent thing. But for this horse, and I’m sorry, I can’t remember why he wasn’t lame, but we had to X ray his foot, and so we had to take off one of the stacks and X ray him. And we saw his navicular bone. This huge black spot, guys. It looked like a third of the navicular bone was blacked out like a circle, like it was gone. I’m like, what is this? Is this an old fracture? It was so hugely missing spot, guys. The horse wasn’t lame. That was a hugely enlarged vascular channel, as they call it. But it didn’t cause lameness or pain. We just happened to see it just because, and there’s plenty of instances of people X raying for other reasons, noticing some enlarge vascular channels. But the horses isn’t lame. But that is currently the diagnosis that veterinarians are using. It sort of makes sense. It does show something is abnormal. But why is it abnormal? That’s always my question. Okay, so let’s see. Why do I think vets are idiots?

Renee Tucker (05:41)
Okay, they’re not all idiots, and actually, they’re pretty smart. What I really am really pissed off about is they just stopped learning. I mean, come on, I’ve been out of vet school over 25 years now, and if my horses that I’m trying to help aren’t being helped, I find an answer. I go search it out. So there’s a couple of places just to let you guys know. There’s barefoot rehab for horse navicular. It could be barefoot trimming for navicular. That’s like Facebook group. They have great information there’s. Barefoot Horse magazine also talks a lot about navicular issues, because why shoeing is a primary component of navicular problems. You may have already heard this. It’s kind of getting out there, but I’m still annoyed of veterinarians because they’re not talking about it. And that’s just annoying. So why does shoeing lead to navicular in some cases? Well, the foot is designed to expand and contract with every step. The shoe nailed to the foot stops it from doing that. If the shoe is constricting the foot so it can’t expand and contract, then fluid is much less effective at moving up and down the leg. Moving in and out of the foot.

Renee Tucker (07:04)
So what does the body go to do? Make it easier for the fluid to move out of the foot. What does that mean? It makes enlarged vascular channels so that the fluid can move in and out of the foot. Because if it’s constricted, it’s really not that hard. I’m not trying to be rude to you. I’m being rude to veterinarians. Come on, people, let’s think about why. Come on, let me tell you why they’re idiots. Because in that school, all we learn is block the foot, X ray the foot, make the diagnosis and what’s our treatments. Here are some drugs, and here’s some shoeing recommended changes. Now, I’m not personally attacking veterinarians or failures, okay? Everyone is doing the best with their current knowledge. That I believe. But I am annoyed that veterinarians are not working to get more knowledge. And that’s why I’m on a rant today. And I hope you are finding this interesting, at least. Okay, so I believe veterinarians want either. They don’t know this because it’s not taught in vet school that the shoes are constricting the foot and it’s a problem. It’s not. It’s not taught. They should figure this out.

Renee Tucker (08:17)
At this point, it’s all over the Internet if you want to search. But number two, let me tell you, back in the day, when I was a young veterinarian working for a veterinary boss, I always did all equine veterinary work. And I had two different bosses, actually, who said this? They’re like, listen, if there’s something wrong with the shoeing or the trimming, you have to be really careful not to piss off the farrier or the trimmer or the horse shower, however you guys call it. Okay, I’m like, what? Yeah, you believe these guys. Those failures are the biggest gossips in town. And if you piss them off, they’re going to tell everybody terrible stories about us and we’ll never get to work anymore from people. I’m like, what? Okay, listen, not every farrier is a gossip. Not every veterinarian is a gossip. But we all know there are definitely gossips around. This is my opinion. But generally, veterinarians tend to gossip a little less because we have patient client confidentiality. But I know plenty of farriers. Or if you want to know anything in town, you ask the Farrier. Sorry about all the farriers who are actually not gossips, but there are plenty that are.

Renee Tucker (09:30)
And you know who you are. Whatever I’m talking because it’s my podcast. Okay, here we go. So one, veterinarians don’t know the truth about this shoeing issue. And two, they’re scared. They don’t want to piss off the farrier. The farrier makes their money from shoes. If we say, listen, shoes hurt the horse’s foot, then the failures are not going to be happy about that. Listen, I think they can change their business model. I think that they could wrap their head around trimming and getting enough money to support themselves and hopefully that will happen someday soon. Moving on. Okay, if you have a horse with Navicular, please don’t just yank the shoes off. Okay. That may be something you want to do, but it is a little bit more complicated and you don’t necessarily want to do that. Sometimes you do. Okay, but get some more research. Get some more ideas under your hat. One of the other things, aside from the shoes, is the nutrition. And the nutrition has to be correct. The horses intestine. Basically, the guts have to be happy. So there is a bunch to learn. I’m going to skip the nutrition for this part of the podcast because it’s complicated.

Renee Tucker (10:47)
And not only if you know all the nutrition, but trying to source the nutrition can be tough. It can be tough to find food for us these days. It’s not contaminated with pesticides and herbicides and all that stuff. So again, that’s another topic. But Navicular is primarily having shoes on. And secondarily, nutritional issues affecting the gut, because if the gut is not happy, just keep it simple, okay. If the gut is not happy, it can get leaky. You might have heard of leaky gut syndrome. So then there’s stuff that should be pooped out. That’s leaking out. So the body, in order to keep that, let’s just call it toxins. Okay. Just for generic term is to keep those toxins from being upsetting to the horse. The system. The horse will put in more water to keep the toxins that should have been pooped out diluted. Okay, so now you got a leaky gut. That’s soggy and a lot more water in the system. Horse feeling really bloaty. And that’s excess fluid in the whole body, including the foot. So now we need what? Increased vascular channels. Too much fluid can’t get it out of the foot fast enough.

Renee Tucker (12:12)
Okay, one more interesting thing. Sometimes with navicular, people will find either thin souls or souls that appear to be dropped towards the ground. People will say, oh, my horse’s foot didn’t need to be this flat and close to the ground. Now it is. It’s weird. Okay, here’s what’s happening. There’s too much fluid. And in order for the horse’s body to try and compensate for too much fluid, it is literally thinning the soul and dropping it down. I don’t think you’re going to hear that anywhere else. And everyone’s going to think I’m a crazy person, but I’m okay with that. Okay, here’s an example. A long time ago, I gave my kids cod liver oil and butter blend. I called it their power vitamins. They still believe that. And it is a power vitamin. Okay. But I get it in liquid form, the cod liver oil and butter and put it in capsules so they didn’t have to taste it, which is a really good idea. So I had these gelatin capsules and I squeeze some drops in there and sometimes I’ll just put more in there and then there’d be too much fluid in the capsule.

Renee Tucker (13:31)
But I thought to myself, I’ll just squeeze it. I’ll squeeze it hard enough and it’ll just stick together and these two capsule parts will be fine. And sure enough, I put it down. You know what happened? Yeah, I put it down and then it burst open and then there’s fluid everywhere. And cleaning up cod liver oil is really not that fun, but it’s worth it. It’s very good for you. Okay. Anyways, the horse’s foot does not have an option of bursting open to relieve the pressure. Well, yeah, it’s not a good option. So instead it’s trying to do everything it can to get fluid pressure out of the foot. It increases the vascular channels and then it can thin the sole. So there’s more volume available inside the hoof and then it drops the soul, which again increases volume or available space for that fluid inside the hoof. This is all to decrease hoof pressure. Okay, hopefully that’s not too complicated, but basically there’s too much fluid and the horse can’t move it out because one, the shoes aren’t allowing it to do so, and two, there can be too much fluid because of nutritional problems affecting the gut.

Renee Tucker (14:49)
Okay, I hope that made sense. Yeah, I think that is what I wanted to say today. So again, there’s really good barefoot trimming information out there. I know everyone is worried about that, but please do your own research. Every horse can go barefoot eventually and this takes some time, okay? We got to change the nutrition to get the horse’s gut happy. The walls need to be stronger to support the horse. I know people are saying I have a thin walled horse and there’s no way, blah, blah, blah. There’s all kinds of different reasons for horses to not be able to go barefoot, but all those can be fixed. It just takes some time and effort.

Renee Tucker (15:37)
And I know certainly there’s 30 year old horses that you just can’t yank the shoes off and that they’ll be fine.

Renee Tucker (15:44)
That’s not going to happen. Okay, but really, 99% of navicular is preventable and 99% is curable. You’re saying what’s that 1%. You’re driving me crazy. I’m just thinking of the very, very large, poorly genetic quarter horses, generally speaking. So they’re like 1400 pounds of muscle and they’re massive and they have these tiny feet like size zero or size double ott. I’ve seen double ott on the 1500 pound horse. It’s just wrong. Okay? So if you have that kind of unfortunate genetics, that’s okay. But we can still maintain and do all these good things that you need to do for that 1% of horses, but most of these can be fixed, all right? So please don’t get overwhelmed if this is your horse right now, okay? Just keep breathing. Just do one thing per day. Listen to this podcast today, join a group tomorrow, listen to some nutrition stuff step by step, okay? It took a long time to get to the point where the horse is at now if he’s painful and it will take some time to get back but it can happen really fast. So don’t worry, it’s all fixed. All right, hang in there now that’s navicular soft so let me know if you have any questions support Tucker biokinetic.com and I’ll see you guys next time.

Renee Tucker (17:11)

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8 Comments on “Podcast Episode #6: Equine Navicular Solved”

  1. I have a navicular horse. Not just navicular syndrome but actual bone degeneration. I’m a barefoot trimmer and the horse has never had shoes on. He’s had good nutrition since I’ve had him at age 4. He’s now 10. His X-rays showed major degeneration where about a quarter of his bone is gone. He was dead lame this spring and now somewhat sound. So I’m a hoof geek. I listen to podcasts I read I researched I take in all knowledge possible. I feel up until the last couple of years he’s had great hooves. So I disagree with you. Navicular is a thing and isn’t always caused by nutrition or shoes. Unless I’m missing something. I’m trying everything in my power to keep my horse pasture sound so if you have any advice it would be greatly appreciated.
    I just feel like saying all navicular can be cured is false. I don’t think it’s a death sentence anymore but there is cases that cannot be cured

    1. Hello Deneen,

      Thank you for listening to the podcast, and especially for taking the time to comment.

      I’m very sorry to hear about your horse’s degeneration. I think you are doing a great job with him.

      There are definitely cases that cannot be cured….but only because there is not enough time. Navicular isn’t always causes by nutrition or shoes. But most people need to start with that.

      After correcting nutrition and going barefoot, there are plenty of other causes. Such as misalignments, particularly in the 3 Fulcrums of the leg (shoulder, accessory carpal, and sesamoids). In addition, in TBT we divide primary causes into 5 categories: physical, emotional, mental, spiritual, and other.

      Plus we work energetically at the quantum level. So I truly believe all navicular can be fixed, given enough time. (time to heal after causes eliminated)

      It’s perfectly fine if you disagree. People can have different opinions and still discuss ideas.

      Thanks again for your comment,

  2. Hi Dr. Renee ,
    This is a fantastic podcast. I’ve been saying navicular is either man made or heel pain from over trimming heels and of course shoes .
    I’m a trimmer as well but I have found that if you stop the trim grow cycle you hardly have to trim much if at all on most working horses. I have lots of horses that confirm this of all types and backgrounds. Pictures and history as well to back up my findings.
    When I was studying the hoof and it’s growth patterns in different seasons and areas I found out that horses grow back what they need fast. So if you over trim them which most do the horses foot grows it back in a few weeks. Which causes the trim growth trim cycle that never ends.
    Something to think about. But there’s a whole industry that makes a living on horses feet so it won’t change.

    1. That’s really interesting about the overtrimming, Kelly. You’re right about the industry…things do need to change. working on it! :)

  3. Dr. Tucker,
    I have been doing bodywork on horses for 25 years and this is such an intriguing podcast. Have you done one on the nutrition side yet? I cannot wait. Truly believe you are onto something HUGE here.

    The excess water in gut/body to negate toxins. My mind is spinning with ideas and ah ha moments .

    Really appreciate your honesty and heartfelt passion for helping us help our horses!!

    Much love,
    Jaclyn Strahan

  4. Dr. Tucker,
    You probably had another podcast about nutrition and that is what I’m looking for. I know with my mare, forage hay made her worse (thinking too much sugar ? ) and she got out the other day and was grazing obviosuly for I’m not sure how long and then could hardly walk so I’m thinking fresh green grass, in any amout, probably isn’t good for her. I had grass/alfalfa hay but just switched to straight grass which I normally feed and I’m hoping that helps. It was just painful to see her try to walk out to her paddock the other day, shifting her weight to her hind end and literally her front leg was shaking when she put it down. This is the sweetest mare and I’m thinking I may take her and get shots in her bursa but that, of course, is only a temporary solution. You’re right about her hoof walls thinning.
    I’m the gal that sent my daughter to you several years back to do a one on one. Jimene Stelling..

    1. Hi Sandy,

      When is Jimene coming to the next Modules? :)

      I’m sorry to hear about your mare. it is just awful to see them so painful. This does sound like laminitis, rather than navicular (which this podcast was about).

      I don’t think I have a nutrition podcast. Primarily because nutrition is such a huge topic, there’s so much individual variation, and there’s limitations on what people can get (hay-wise).

      If you’re looking for nutrition for laminitis, I recommend the UK-based “Barefoot horse Magazine” and “Hoofing Marvelous”. Also Jaime Jackson has good info.

      It sounds like Jaime Jackson’s Paddock Paradise might be a good solution for her.

      Good luck!

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