Working With Navicular Syndrome
The Science of Motion approach in regard to navicular syndrome reflects the science of motion’s new level of thinking. In 1752, Joseph Bridge made the first diagnosis of navicular disease, as a lameness caused by changes in the distal sesamoid bone. No one remembers the name of the author, but everyone knows the title of his study: No Foot No Horse.
In 1982, L. Ostblom achieved an histological investigation of navicular bones. The examination revealed no evidence of loss of vitality in the diseased bone areas or in surrounding tissues. A very high rate of bone remodeling was present in all cases. “ The findings introduce the thought that navicular disease is not caused primarily by ischaemia and subsequent necrosis, but rather is a consequence of increased activation of bone remodeling due to altered pressure from the deep digital flexor tendon on the bone, as well as increased load on the caudal part of the foot. The disease is, therefore, considered to be reversible and may be alleviated by altering the load on the navicular bone by special shoeing. Only secondary lesions such as adhesion and spur formation render the disease irreversible.” ( L. Ostblom – 1982 )
Proper shoeing is necessary, but not sufficient. The kinematic abnormalities provoking excessive pressure from the deep digital flexor tendon on the back of the distal sesamoid bond need to be corrected. Such correction requires a focus on the vertebral column malfunction from which originates the kinematic abnormalities.
The science of motion approach examines equine athletic performances, tackles soundness issues, and resolves lameness problems by addressing the source of all the body’s movements, the bio-kinematics of the vertebral column. Since the primary function of the back muscles is to reduce and manage forces created by the rear and front limbs as well as the forces of gravity, inertia forces, and rider’s movements, the entire reeducation is done in motion, riding the horse. In extreme cases, the reeducation commences working in hand.
The problem of this horse, which is recorded here a few years after his recovery, was a back muscles imbalance that was creating early impact of the right foreleg. The kinematics abnormality induced excessive pressure from the deep digital flexor on the distal sesamoid bone. Correcting the back muscles imbalance, we modify the kinematics abnormality of the right front leg and consequently suppressed abnormal stresses. The horse becomes “functionally sound in a six months period. He was sound when working under the saddle in specific body coordination. Another six months were necessary to restore complete soundness as showed here in this short clip recorded in turn out. May be, as Ostblom suggested, once abnormal stresses were no longer affecting the navicular bone, the remodeling process lead the horse back to soundness.
Since this first experiment, twenty eight horses have been reeducated through this approach. Twenty seven of them regained soundness returning for many of them in the show ring. The recovery remained incomplete in one horse. The horse was sound working under the saddle but not fully sound in turn out. On the twenty seven horse that regained soundness and active life, Jean Luc reeducated personally only five horses. The twenty two other horses have been reeducated by their respective riders and trainers. Jean Luc did the initial analysis and designed the gymnastic program. The daily work was done by the horse’s rider who was in frequent contact with Jean Luc. Two horses were driving horses and their reeducation has been done driving. No need to say that the driver was extraordinarily good.
With experience, the gymnastic program becomes more efficient and the recovery time shortened markedly. Although, the recovery time may differs widely form one horse to the other.
We do not pretend that the approach is infallible, nor that every horses can be reeducated, The high rate of success is partially due to the fact that Jean Luc does not advise to attempt the reeducation if after studying the veterinary report, and analyzing the horse movement, Jean Luc does not feel that it might be possible to help the horse. However, considering that navicular disease is in most instance a career ending if not life ending diagnosis, Such practical application of Ostblom finding maybe worth to be considered.