Rehabbing Navicular: Liberty’s Dance’s story
At only six years old, the Hanoverian Mare, Liberty Dance (Libby), was diagnosed with Navicular disease. This came as quite a shock to her new owner as Libby wasn’t even lame and had recently flown around a three-star Pre-Novice Eventing course. Libbys’ radiographs were requested by her trimmer, who was concerned Libby would be unsound after taking her bar shoes off. Taking the radiographs, the vet recommended that the horse remain shod and was highly dubious that barefoot trimming could help her. Libby had extremely contracted heels, deeply impacted bars, and toe cracks on both front hooves that reached right to the coronet. Obviously, shoeing hadn’t helped this mare. Her owner realised that Libby would need considerable time off to grow out a whole new hoof capsule, and I was lucky that she offered Libby to me as a free-lease broodmare. I gave Libby the opportunity for a natural conception, and we turned her out with a stallion for 3 months before she came home to me (in foal) and settled into my little herd. I ended up buying her when she was about 9 months along, due to her owner moving to the South Island. That wasn’t really part of the plan but she was such an adorable horse that i was deeply attached to her by then. I continued with the original owner’s trimmer and we implemented 4 weekly trims with soaking in apple cider vinegar once to twice a week to help with the fungal complications. The trimmer thought that Libby had Navicular Syndrome (heel pain caused by poor shoeing), but would make a full recovery over time. In that first year, the heels de-contracted enormously and Libby seemed to blossom in her role as mother to be. In the second year, after she delivered a beautiful filly foal, I changed trimmers, twice! Unfortunately she had subsolar abscesses on and off all winter. Eventually I had to implement a fortnightly trim cycle and use White Lightning Treatment Soaks. The abscessing then stopped. Finally, the left fore toe-crack started to really resolve and Libby’s whole hoof shape was looking much more balanced. That spring, if we were to going to be encountering stones, I’d place her in hoof boots. Now, a year later, Libby strides out over farm, forest and beach barefoot - only using hoof boots if we’re going to be riding over stones or rocky terrain. When attending our riding lessons and clinics, no-one would ever guess she was an ex-navicular horse. She won’t be an eventor again, however that is due to my limitations, not hers, and I can happily report that Libby has made a full recovery and is 100% sound thanks to going down the barefoot route. She can really live up to her show name now and can truly dance!