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My Appaloosa gelding has been diagnosed with ?mild navicular changes? in his left front. None of the usual joint supplements I have tried have helped, neither did Isoxsuprine. Injecting the navicular bursa gave only minimal response. He still ?head bobs? at a trot or when turning to the left. Would Arthroxigen be worth trying for him' Or would NaviculaSaver or Phycox-EQ' I want to help him be more comfortable if I can, but I don't want to throw money away.

Veterinary Editor Dr. Eleanor Kellon responds: It sounds like you really need more diagnostics. The changes on the radiographs (X-rays) may be totally unrelated. If nerve blocks haven't been done, that's the place to start, making sure that a low volar block (midpastern level) actually makes him sound.

Unfortunately, navicular syndrome is a catch-all diagnosis that can actually involve the navicular bursa, coffin joint, deep digital flexor tendon, collateral ligaments of the coffin joint or impar ligament. Problems with most of those structures aren?t visible on radiographs. An MRI is ideal, if available, but a bone scan could be useful, too, if they know to look both for soft-tissue enhancement and bone enhancement.

Whatever is causing his pain, a meticulously balanced trim is the most important first step. If you can keep him barefoot, he will be able to easily wear the foot in the way that is most comfortable. Soft tissues like ligaments and tendons won?t respond to joint supplements. You could try Rapid Response or a combination of Jiaogulan and arginine alpha-ketogluratate, which is used for DSLD horses. The Jiaogulan and AAKG also helps with soft-tissue injuries.

Bulk Shavings

I'm considering getting bulk shavings in order to save money. However, the company has a pile of product that looks like sawdust, except it's got a granular consistency, and it's brown. Is this safe'

Contributing Editor Lee Foley responds:Many people buy bulk loose sawdust/shavings for bedding, and that's fine. However, you must be careful about what is in the product. Be absolutely certain doesn't include anything harmful, such as black walnut sawdust/shavings, which can cause your horse to founder. Pine is your best bet. Ask the seller exactly what is in the bedding and get a guarantee that there will be no change.