Can A Horse With Navicular Be Ridden?

Wondering if you can ride a horse with navicular? Navicular disease is a common and potentially debilitating condition in horses. While it can limit a horse’s ability to perform certain activities, including riding, the severity of the disease varies. In some cases, with proper management and treatment, affected horses can continue to be ridden. However, it is crucial to consult with a veterinarian and a farrier to develop a tailored management plan that focuses on reducing pain and maintaining the horse’s overall well-being.

can a horse with navicular be ridden

Riding Techniques for Horses with Navicular Syndrome: Minimizing Discomfort and Maximizing Performance

Horses with navicular syndrome can experience discomfort and lameness, making it challenging for riders to maintain their performance. However, with the right riding techniques, it is possible to minimize discomfort and maximize the horse’s performance. In this section, we will explore some effective strategies for riding horses with navicular syndrome.

1. Proper Warm-up and Cool-down

Before starting any riding session, it is crucial to warm up the horse properly. This helps to loosen up the muscles and joints, reducing the risk of strain or injury. Begin with a few minutes of walking in a relaxed manner, allowing the horse to stretch his muscles.

After the warm-up, it is equally important to cool down the horse gradually. Slowly reduce the intensity of the exercises and end with a few minutes of walking to allow the muscles to cool down. This helps prevent stiffness and aids in the recovery process.

2. Focus on Straightness and Balance

Maintaining straightness and balance is essential for horses with navicular syndrome. Ride on straight lines and avoid tight turns or circles that can put excess pressure on the affected hooves. Ensure that the horse is evenly distributing his weight on all four legs to alleviate stress on the affected area.

Exercises such as shoulder-in and haunches-in can help improve the horse’s balance and strengthen the supporting muscles. Work with an experienced trainer to learn these exercises correctly.

3. Proper Footing

The type of footing can significantly impact a horse with navicular syndrome. Opt for surfaces that provide adequate cushioning and shock absorption, such as sand or rubberized surfaces. Avoid hard or uneven ground that can exacerbate discomfort and increase the risk of injuries.

Regularly check the footing in your riding arena to ensure it is maintained properly. Fill in any holes or irregularities that can pose a potential risk for the horse’s soundness.

4. Introduce Regular Breaks

Allowing the horse to have regular breaks during the riding session can help prevent overexertion and minimize discomfort. Plan short breaks every 10-15 minutes to give the horse a chance to rest and recover. During breaks, encourage the horse to stand on soft surfaces to relieve pressure on the hooves.

5. Pacing and Duration

When riding a horse with navicular syndrome, it is important to consider the pace and duration of the exercise. Start with shorter sessions and gradually increase the duration as the horse becomes more comfortable and fit. Be mindful of any signs of discomfort or lameness and adjust the pace accordingly.

Listen to your horse and take note of his individual tolerance level. Avoid pushing the horse beyond his limits, as this can worsen his condition and hinder his performance.

6. Regular Veterinary Monitoring

Regular veterinary check-ups are essential for horses with navicular syndrome. Work closely with your veterinarian to monitor the horse’s progress and make any necessary adjustments to his management and training routine.

Discuss any concerns or changes in the horse’s condition with your veterinarian promptly. They can provide valuable insights and recommend specific exercises or treatments to alleviate discomfort and maximize performance.


Riding horses with navicular syndrome requires special attention to minimize discomfort and maximize performance. Proper warm-up and cool-down, focusing on straightness and balance, ensuring proper footing, introducing regular breaks, pacing and duration, and regular veterinary monitoring are all important aspects to consider. By implementing these techniques, riders can help their horses with navicular syndrome stay comfortable and perform at their best.

Alternative Exercise Options for Horses with Navicular Syndrome: Beyond Riding

Navicular Syndrome is a common condition affecting horses, causing pain and lameness in the heel region of the hoof. It can be a challenging condition to manage, as traditional riding and exercise methods may exacerbate the symptoms. However, there are alternative exercise options that can help keep horses with Navicular Syndrome fit and healthy. In this section, we will explore some of these options.

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1. Hand Walking

One of the simplest and most effective exercise options for horses with Navicular Syndrome is hand walking. This low-impact exercise allows the horse to move and stretch their muscles without the added weight and strain of a rider. Hand walking can be done on flat ground or on varied terrain, providing an opportunity for the horse to engage different muscles and improve overall strength.

2. Groundwork

Groundwork exercises, such as lunging and long-lining, can be beneficial for horses with Navicular Syndrome. These exercises allow the horse to move freely in a controlled environment, promoting correct movement patterns and strengthening the muscles without the added weight of a rider. It is important to start with gentle, controlled movements and gradually increase the intensity as the horse’s condition improves.

3. Aquatic Therapy

Aquatic therapy, such as swimming or water treadmill exercises, can be highly beneficial for horses with Navicular Syndrome. The buoyancy of the water reduces the weight-bearing load on the horse’s limbs, allowing for low-impact exercise that does not put excessive strain on the affected area. Swimming can help improve cardiovascular fitness and overall muscle strength, while water treadmill exercises provide controlled movement and promote correct biomechanics.

4. Hill Work

Hill work is an excellent exercise option for horses with Navicular Syndrome, as it helps build muscle strength and encourages correct movement patterns. Walking or trotting uphill increases the load on the hindquarters, engaging the muscles and promoting proper weight distribution. It is important to start with gentle inclines and gradually increase the difficulty as the horse’s fitness improves.

5. Equine Therapy Equipment

There are various equine therapy equipment options available that can help horses with Navicular Syndrome. These include vibration plates, low-level laser therapy, and magnetic therapy. These therapies can help improve circulation, reduce inflammation, and promote healing in the affected area. It is important to consult with a veterinarian or equine therapist to determine the most appropriate therapy options for the individual horse.

6. Paddock Turnout

Paddock turnout is an essential part of any horse’s exercise routine, including those with Navicular Syndrome. Allowing the horse to move freely in a larger space promotes natural movement patterns and encourages muscle development. It is important to ensure the paddock is free from hazards and provides a safe environment for the horse to move without excessive impact on the hooves.

7. Controlled Riding

While traditional riding may not be suitable for horses with Navicular Syndrome, controlled riding exercises can still be beneficial. This may include walking or trotting on soft surfaces, such as sand or rubber arenas, to reduce the impact on the hooves. It is important to keep the sessions short and gradually increase the intensity as the horse’s condition improves.

In summary, horses with Navicular Syndrome can still engage in exercise and stay fit with alternative options beyond traditional riding. Hand walking, groundwork, aquatic therapy, hill work, equine therapy equipment, paddock turnout, and controlled riding are all suitable exercise options for horses with this condition. It is important to consult with a veterinarian or equine therapist to determine the most appropriate exercise program for an individual horse.

Understanding the Long-Term Prognosis of Navicular Syndrome in Horses: What to Expect

Navicular syndrome is a common and debilitating condition affecting the navicular bone and surrounding structures in horses’ feet. It causes chronic pain and lameness, making it a significant concern for horse owners and handlers. While there is no permanent cure for this syndrome, understanding the long-term prognosis can help manage the condition and provide the best quality of life for affected horses.

1. Diagnosis and Initial Treatment

Diagnosing navicular syndrome involves a thorough veterinary examination, including a physical assessment, flexion tests, nerve blocks, and diagnostic imaging such as X-rays or MRI scans. Once diagnosed, the primary goal of initial treatment is to alleviate pain and minimize inflammation. This often includes rest, anti-inflammatory medications, corrective shoeing, and in some cases, therapeutic injections.

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2. Management Strategies

Since navicular syndrome is a chronic condition, long-term management is crucial to minimize discomfort and maintain the horse’s soundness. Various strategies can be employed depending on the severity and progression of the syndrome:

  • Regular Farrier Care: Working closely with an experienced farrier is essential. Corrective shoeing techniques, such as using egg bar or wedge shoes, can help distribute weight more evenly and reduce pressure on the navicular bone.
  • Weight Management: Maintaining a healthy weight is crucial to minimize stress on the feet. Proper diet and exercise should be implemented to ensure the horse remains at an ideal body condition.
  • Exercise Modification: Adjusting the horse’s exercise routine is essential to prevent excessive strain on the affected limb. Low-impact activities, such as walking or controlled turnout, can be beneficial.
  • Medications and Supplements: Anti-inflammatory medications, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), may be prescribed for long-term pain management. Additionally, certain supplements, such as omega-3 fatty acids and joint support formulas, may provide additional support for joint health.
  • Alternative Therapies: Some horse owners also explore alternative therapies such as acupuncture, chiropractic care, or shockwave therapy to help manage pain and promote overall well-being.

3. Prognosis and Quality of Life

The prognosis for horses with navicular syndrome varies depending on the severity of the condition, the response to treatment, and the individual horse’s overall health. While some horses may experience significant improvement with appropriate management, others may continue to show signs of lameness despite diligent care.

It is important to note that navicular syndrome is a progressive condition, and long-term soundness cannot always be achieved. However, with proper management and veterinary care, many affected horses can maintain an acceptable quality of life and remain functional for certain activities.

Horses with navicular syndrome may be limited in their athletic abilities, especially in disciplines that require repetitive stress on the feet, such as jumping or barrel racing. However, they can often still participate in lower impact activities, such as trail riding or dressage, with the appropriate management and support.

4. Working with your Veterinarian

Regular communication and collaboration with a knowledgeable equine veterinarian are vital for the long-term care and management of horses with navicular syndrome. They will monitor the horse’s condition, adjust treatment plans as needed, and provide guidance on lifestyle modifications and potential therapeutic options.

In summary, navicular syndrome is a challenging condition that requires comprehensive management to ensure the best possible quality of life for affected horses. While a complete cure may not be achievable, with proper veterinary care, diligent management strategies, and ongoing support, horses with navicular syndrome can continue to lead fulfilling lives.

Preventing Navicular Syndrome in Horses: Key Considerations for Horse Owners

Navicular Syndrome is a common condition that affects horses, causing lameness and pain in the front feet. It is a progressive disorder that can significantly impact a horse’s performance and overall well-being. As a responsible horse owner, taking preventive measures to reduce the risk of Navicular Syndrome is crucial. In this section, we will discuss some key considerations that can help in preventing this debilitating condition.

1. Proper Hoof Care

One of the most important factors in preventing Navicular Syndrome is maintaining proper hoof care. Regular hoof trimming and shoeing by a qualified farrier are essential to ensure proper balance and support for the horse’s feet. Additionally, keeping the hooves clean and dry can help prevent the development of bacterial and fungal infections that can contribute to the development of Navicular Syndrome.

2. Balanced Diet

A well-balanced diet is crucial for the overall health and soundness of horses. Providing a diet that is appropriate for the horse’s age, breed, and activity level can help prevent many health issues, including Navicular Syndrome. Horse owners should consult with an equine nutritionist or veterinarian to ensure that their horse’s diet meets all the necessary nutritional requirements.

3. Regular Exercise

Regular exercise is vital for maintaining the strength and flexibility of a horse’s muscles, ligaments, and tendons. It helps improve blood circulation to the feet, which can promote optimal hoof health. However, it is important to strike a balance between exercise and rest to prevent overexertion, which can increase the risk of injuries, including Navicular Syndrome.

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4. Proper Footing

The surface on which a horse is exercised or worked on plays a significant role in preventing Navicular Syndrome. Providing an appropriate footing that is not too hard or too soft can help reduce the strain on the horse’s feet and lower limbs. Avoid working the horse on excessively hard surfaces or deep, uneven footing that can place excessive stress on the navicular bone and surrounding structures.

5. Regular Veterinary Check-ups

Regular veterinary check-ups are crucial for monitoring the overall health and soundness of horses. Early detection of any signs or symptoms of Navicular Syndrome can significantly improve the chances of successful intervention and management. Regular check-ups also allow the veterinarian to assess the horse’s hoof health, soundness, and make any necessary adjustments to the preventive measures being implemented.

6. Genetic Testing and Breeding

Navicular Syndrome can have a genetic component, and certain breeds may be more predisposed to developing the condition. Horse owners and breeders can consider genetic testing to identify horses that may carry the genes associated with Navicular Syndrome. By making informed breeding decisions, it is possible to reduce the prevalence of the condition in future generations.

7. Rehabilitation and Rest

If a horse shows signs of Navicular Syndrome, it is crucial to provide proper rehabilitation and rest. Consultation with a veterinarian or equine specialist can help develop a tailored rehabilitation plan that includes appropriate rest periods, controlled exercise, and any necessary therapeutic interventions. Proper management during recovery can help improve the horse’s chances of returning to soundness and reduce the risk of recurrence.

8. Adequate Supportive Care

In addition to the preventive measures mentioned above, providing adequate supportive care is essential for the overall well-being of horses. This includes regular grooming, maintaining a clean and comfortable environment, and addressing any other health issues promptly. A healthy and well-cared-for horse is less likely to develop conditions like Navicular Syndrome.


Preventing Navicular Syndrome in horses requires a holistic approach that encompasses proper hoof care, a balanced diet, regular exercise, suitable footing, regular veterinary check-ups, genetic testing and breeding decisions, rehabilitation and rest, and adequate supportive care. By implementing these key considerations, horse owners can significantly reduce the risk of Navicular Syndrome and ensure the long-term soundness and well-being of their equine companions.


Can a horse with navicular be ridden?

Yes, a horse with navicular can still be ridden, but their exercise and workload may need to be modified. Consult with your veterinarian and farrier to develop a management plan that includes regular hoof care, proper shoeing, and controlled exercise to help alleviate pain and manage the condition.

What are the common symptoms of navicular in horses?

Common symptoms of navicular in horses include lameness in the front limbs, difficulty in turning, toe dragging, and a shortened stride. It is important to have a veterinarian evaluate your horse if you suspect navicular to ensure accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

What treatment options are available for Navicular syndrome?

Treatment options for Navicular syndrome may include corrective shoeing, anti-inflammatory medications, and physical therapy. Additionally, maintaining proper hoof care, providing a well-balanced diet, and minimizing high-impact activities can help manage the condition and alleviate symptoms. Consult with your veterinarian for a comprehensive treatment plan.


In conclusion, the question of whether a horse with navicular can be ridden is a complex one. While navicular syndrome is a debilitating condition that affects the horse’s hoof, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the horse can never be ridden again. With proper management, including veterinary care, farrier work, and a tailored exercise program, many horses with navicular can continue to be ridden and enjoy a good quality of life. However, it’s important to work closely with a veterinarian and equine professionals to create an individualized plan that prioritizes the horse’s well-being and minimizes the risk of further damage. With the right support and care, horses with navicular can still have a fulfilling and active life.