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Should I switch farriers or give mine a second chance (Navicular Case)?

Hi All!

Sorry for the long post in advance. I have pictures at the end.

He gets shod every 5 weeks. Pics I have are at 4 weeks, 2 days. He is due to get re-shod next week.

2020/2021: Horse diagnosed with mild navicular. Osphos wedge shoes recommended. Both done, no issues. Lameness was rectified.

2022: Farrier recommended to remove wedge shoes (after discussing with vet) and he stayed sound.

Summer 2023: Horse mildly lame on circle (RF 1/5). We nerve block. When farrier is out we remove shoes and x-ray. We find there is further degeneration compared to 2021 and slight coffin joint spurring. Vet recommends horse back into wedge shoes and Osphos. All done, horse came sound again and felt great! We finished the season.

December 18 2023: Re-shod per usual. No notes from farrier. No lameness felt.

January 3rd 2023: He had lost a shoe (RF) and it was put back on this day.

January 5th 2024: Horse is lame on LF. Mild but worse than noted before (LF 2/5). It is very cold here and we weren’t sure if lameness was injury or not from doing something outside with the frozen groud being lumpy, etc. No swelling, no heat.

January 8th 2024: Vet came out. Confirmed LF lameness. Not reactive to hoof testers (never has been). Re-blocked him pastern down, then fetlock down with ~ 85% improvement. Re-x-rayed. No changes from summer 2023. Vet said could be time to do coffin joint injections (which we had been discussing for some time) or she said could possibly be collateral ligament injury - but this would be very difficult to say with certainty without MRI.

Jan 16th 2024: Injected coffin joints with hope that’s causing the lameness. Fluid in LF looks worse than RF. Vet recommends further 2 weeks off before re-evaluating lameness.

Jan 17th 2024: Body worker comes out (she’s monthly). Says he’s holding his shoulder in a very abnormal way. Has a huge muscle knot (which I had told her about before she came). Looks at his feet and say wtf! She says toe looks waaaay too long, heel too low, he’s standing toed in (which he does not typically) especially on LF, from the back the hooves don’t look like balanced (i.e. right and left side of hoof don’t appear to be putting pressure evenly). Also notes stress lines on his hooves. Trainer agrees and is concerned but said she didn’t want to step on toes as I use my own farrier.

I have been concerned with how his feet look for the last couple of shoeings but trust my vet and farrier and neither mentioned any concerns to me. When I look at the pictures I’m also like WTF but I don’t know jack about shoeing so could I be overreacting?!

I’ve been with my vet for YEARS.

I’ve been with this farrier since ~2019 and always felt he did good work. He’s also a nice person.

Old Farrier Opinion:
I contacted my old farrier (only don’t work with him because we moved too far from him sadly). He says my horses feet look bad and that he actually looks over due, not at 4wks. He said a navicular case should not look like this and is concerned my horse will not stay sound with the way his feet look and if they continue to look this way. I trust him very much.

Vet Opinion
I contacted my vet who had just seen him and she agrees the pictures don’t look good but she wonders if I should give my current farrier a second chance and she can tell him what to do. She works with him a lot and again she never said anything about the way his feet looked.

I’m very concerned about my horses comfort.

Sadly I’m also hearing this farriers work has been going downhill for several months and people are noticing. Maybe somethings going on in his life. Second to this there are some scheduling things with him that stress me out and affect my work but don’t think that’s super necessary to go into detail about. I just feel like this is all coming to a head and may be time to move on.

I’ve never switched or let go of a horse professional and I feel awful about this. Especially as I am no hoof expert.

My old farrier and trainer are recommending a specialist that comes to our barn. I’ve contacted him to chat but as it’s the weekend may not hear back until Monday.


I am not seeing the photos.

It sounds like you want to try a new farrier so I see no reason to not try the new farrier.

Hi trubandloki, something was wrong with my link. I just reposted the link. You can click image and it will show a few angles. Thank you!

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Yeah those are awful feet.

Vets often don’t really know about hoof angles. Can you get a better vet too? My last vet was also a trained farrier who was a barefoot trimmer specialist so he could see the larger picture.


I would also try the farrier recommended by your previous farrier.


This is your easy out. “Pony has deteriorated so vet recommended specialist. I’m going to give it a try for a few cycles to see if there’s a difference. Thanks for everything you’ve done to keep Pony happy the past few years.”


I’d be looking for a new farrier ASAP. There is so much that’s wrong, starting with the basic trim. No wonder your horse is lame.


Thank you for this template! It was along the lines of what I was thinking. My vet works with this farrier so I will have to just say it’s my decision but that’s ok. He used to be good but I think he had an injury happen last year and since then stories have been swirling about bad work and clearly, my horse has suffered as well. :pensive:


Yes I agreed. I am starting to wonder if coffin injections were 100% necessary of if a property shoeing would have changed things. Thank you for your response. I will be working with someone else for sure


Another yikes from me on those feet.

New farrier time.

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I have a 21 y.o. gelding with navicular syndrome in both front feet. His farrier is amazing, he’s on a 5 week cycle, and he is sound. The farrier is our first line of defense, followed by really careful work 4 - 6 days per week on forgiving footing. He is turned out 14 hours per day in a small herd in 5 - 6 acre pastures. He feels great, has expanded his gaits, and is full of the proverbial P & V. However, without my fabulous farrier we would not be where we are today.


Well, the feet didn’t just start looking like that two weeks ago. You have felt he was sound. The vet didn’t feel a need to address his shoeing even though she was up close and personal with the hooves while blocking and injecting. Your trainer didn’t like the feet but not enough to mention it. I would give your farrier a chance to make positive change. If you want to use a different farrier for scheduling reasons or barn relations that’s fine and tell your current farrier that. Yes the feet are far from ideal. But if horse and owner seemed happy how is the farrier to know? I would blame the vet as much as the farrier. Correcting his feet is going to contribute to his soundness at least as much as injecting him. Regardless of who shoes him next, I would get vet and farrier there at the same time for balance films before and after trimming. Good luck!


My opinion, horse’s feet look very bad.
The specialist farrier should be able to correct plenty first shoeing and by the next horse will look much better, although it will take longer to get the contraction addressed.
At least the angles will be correct, after checking with x-rays.

60+ years ago I was learning to shoe and the master farrier taught me how to trim and shoe the one older dressage horse in our barn that had navicular.
That horse at that time had already been showing in dressage with his owner, a handicapped rider, was diagnosed with navicular about ten years old and maintained all those years in thinner condition, light work, only ridden in the indoor well kept footing and had been staying sound.
If he was turned out or ridden outside, he got sore, the change in angles as he walked irritated what was going on inside his hoof.
We didn’t have bute or joint injections then.
Some would nerve, but was not always a good idea for several reasons.
When I left years later he was still showing and sound under that management.

Also know of others that nothing helped, each horse is different and the same horse may stay sound for a bit and eventually deteriorate.

OP, hope you can find someone to get him where he is comfortable.


Thank you for this! My bodyworker recommended looking at David Landeville as well as The Equine Documentalist on FB to educate myself on hoof balance, etc. I’m grateful she is so knowledgeable.

I’ve contacted the specialist but as it’s the weekend have not heard back. He’s also about $450-$500 per session which I am scared of. But probably cheaper than even more injections down the road.

My boy is due in a few days (5wks on Wednesday) so I am starting to panic. Thinking about messaging another farrier who also comes highly recommended in the meantime who has trained with the specialist.

I wish it wasn’t as hard to get good help. It feels like you need to be fully qualified in veterinary medicine, shoeing, equine physiology, saddle fitting, nutrition, training and horse whispering all at once. :sweat_smile: I have a full-time non-horse-related job and don’t have time to read all the peer-reviewed journals. Of course, having an understanding of the basics of all of these are essential!

It has been eye-opening to see how LITTLE I know about hoof management and a big hole in my horse education. I just trusted the professionals and hoped my farrier, who is supported by my vet, would know what to do. Or say he doesn’t and recommend someone else.


Thank you for your reply @Bluey!

I appreciate hearing about your experience with a navicular horse. We’re lucky to have excellent footing at our barn.

I will definitely be getting my boy help and get his feet back to a good place. :heavy_heart_exclamation:


They do look bad. The wedge pads are apparent, but why are they there? Maybe as padding to reduce the strain and pain when the hoof lands? More about wedge pads to come.

I had a Paint gelding from 2001 until I put him down on 7/20/22 at age 28. We did a short Century Ride in 6/2021. He arrived from Iowa (to Maine) with long toes and ribby. He had decent feet but needed front shoes. No navicular or coffin bone problems. We had an excellent farrier who worked with the vet for 20+ years. She immediately started working on the toes and correcting the breakover. The vet (retired in 2021 after 50 years in practice) saw him, x-rayed, and said he needed a 2-degree wedge pad. His pastern angles (proximal, middle, and distal phalanxes) were not straight. He needed the pad to lift up his heel. He was in it for the rest of his life. Look at the fetlock, pastern, and hoof from the side. The bones should be in a straight line. Adding a wedge pad will raise the heel, which disrupts the angles and balance if they are otherwise correct.

He was in Natural Balance Light shoes until the farrier tried Avanti shoes. They are designed to balance the hoof around the coffin bone and reduce the strain on soft tissues. They immediately eliminated his occasional tripping and stumbling. If I put the NB and Avanti side by side I can’t see the subtle differences in contour. The farrier can, of course. The wear patterns are similar.

Avanti shoes

My horse had a lump on his knee when he arrived. He was perfectly sound through 3/31/2020. He stood around for a month when the pandemic hit. The BO would not allow anyone on the property despite the state regulations that we could provide daily care. The arthritis got much worse, and flexion really started to decline. He had several bouts of lameness that he recovered from over the summer. In October remained off. He was still in the 2-degree pad and Avanti shoe.

He had 3 exams with a lameness specialist at an equine hospital. He did an ultrasound of his knee and x-rays of his hooves. We spent about 45 minutes going through every little detail, which is exactly what I needed. I switched the farrier to 4 weeks and had x-rays every few months so the vet and farrier could monitor hoof balance. He also got Osphos which really helped his comfort level; I could feel its effect. We did long lining at the walk and ground work. He felt much stronger and remained happy and energetic.

I knew I would lose him to the knee problem but as they say, “no hoof no horse.” The vet asked me to agree that when she said it was time, I would put him down. He lost the flexion and his knee couldn’t control his hoof. I had promised him I wouldn’t let him turn into an old man. But the investment in hoof care kept him happy and energetic until the moment we put him down.

I hope this information is helpful. See if you can get your old farrier to come out and tell you what he sees – and write it down. Is your current farrier getting older? Our long-time farrier retired. The new one was young and flexible and had studied at Cornell’s Farrier Program for over 4 months. If you can get an examination by a lameness specialist, take notes while they explain what and where the problems are, plus a treatment plan. A new farrier and vet who work together could give you a fresh start. And consider regular x-rays while your horse recovers.

I had to dig deep into the bank account, but it was worth every penny. It takes patience because hooves take up to a year to grow out. But it’s worth it when you have a happy horse.


I would switch. Others have said it more eloquently and with a lot more factual basis. But my conclusion is the same. I hope you can get him feeling comfortable again. Sounds like you have everything in place to make that happen.