Literature review of three common equine hoof ailments:

Laminitis, Thrush and Navicular disease

  • Jennifer A. Stoltz Gzowski
Keywords: equine health, Laminitis, Thrush, Navicular disease


The health of the equine hoof is closely tied to the animal’s overall health and well-being.  Despite this, the hoof remains relatively understudied. Laminitis, thrush and navicular are three common disorders which impact domestic horses and donkeys.  Laminitis can present itself in three different forms, acute, mechanical and endocrine (Ramey, 2011).  Acute and endocrine laminitis are related to hormone imbalances in the body, specifically related to sugar consumption and insulin production (Morgan, 2015).  Mechanical laminitis is most often related to conformation faults at birth, or poor trimming or shoeing methods (Ramey, 2011).  Thrush is an aerobic bacterial infection of the hoof by the Fusobacterium necrophorum bacteria in the absence of Dichelobactor neodosus bacteria (Petrov, 2013).  This infection often goes untreated as it appears to cause minimal damage, but can often cause extensive pain if left untreated.  Navicular disease is the least understood of these three diseases (Yorke, 2014).  It is generally described as pain originating from the navicular bone but there are confliciting theories regarding what is causing the pain.  Through this research, it can be concluded that a better protocol for diagnosing and treating all of these ailments needs to be further established, by encouraging veterinarians and farriers to work together.