Sunday, February 26, 2012

Trit-Trot, Feets, and First Ride!

Since Pangea has been here for nearly a week now, and has settled in so very nicely, I thought it would be prudent to toss her in the roundpen to see how she was moving. A creaky teenaged mare who is on absolutely no joint maintenance and who just tumbled off a four day trailer ride to a strange and alien planet (let's face is, sometimes Texas is really that strange)? I expected her to be a bit stiff and creaky starting out, at least until her joint supplements start to kick in. Instead, I had this on my hands:

For comparison, here's a video of Gogo taken last July when she was looking really quite sound all things considered:

How about that.
Given how well she has settled in, how good she seems to be feeling, and how well she looks, I decided that I just couldn't wait another week... I had to get on her!

She was really quite good! Our indoor is a Cover-All, which is great for late nights or inclement weather days but also very noisy in a strong wind. And our area is known for, erm... rather fierce winds. As in, don't-bother-doing-your-hair, cover-your-mouth, you-might-want-to-wear-long-sleeves kind of winds. We had some of that going on today, which made for quite a lot of scary rattley ghoul noises coming from the doors of the arena.

Aside from trying to offer a trot a few times, and walking a bit faster and sideways the first few times past the door, she was fine. (As a comparison, here's Gogo's reaction to a rattly door monster. Never a dull moment.)

We walked for 1/2 an hour, and called it a day. Half of it was spent on a long rein (or well, as long as I could give her considering her freshness and spookiness to begin with), and the rest was spent in varying forms of on the bit. Her inclination, like her father's, is to break over at the third vertebrae when she gets tired, so I was careful to switch it up and give her lots of stretchy breaks. After all, the last time she's done legitimate dressage work was probably about 6 years ago. Gotta cut her at least a little slack! Our arena footing is also deeper than I'd like right now (dang barrel racers...), so I don't want to wear her out.

I plan on treating her reconditioning like more of a rehab than anything else. We'll walk for a month, trot for a month, canter for a month, and then see where we are. To begin with, I'll sit on her three or four days a week, and put her in the AquaTread one or two times a week. She needs to be in relatively steady work, but not more than five days a week. We'll sort out a schedule where we switch it up between doing dressage-y walk work, walk work over poles, and walk work up and down hills, all geared towards strengthening her topline and hind end, and creating lateral flexibility. We'll also walk - and possibly trot - in the AquaTread.

I also got around to doing those nasty awful feet of hers... ugh they looked so gross!

Yeck. Lots of flare on both fronts, moderate concavity, frogs that have clearly been pared away at her last trimming (which was less than 4 weeks ago!), and all four feet have some level of extra sole growth extending all the way around the frog. Her foot needs that right now... it would be detrimental to take it away. This is a foot that has been routinely pared away as per regular pasture trims, and it is throwing down any bit of support that it can in order to keep itself functional. It would do harm to remove this right now. Some trimmers like to take away the 'lumps and bumps' on a transitioning horse's sole, claiming that it causes pressure points. I haven't found this to be so. In fact, all I've found is that you might be taking away crucial support that the horse has worked hard to lay down for itself, and it will probably come right back - as is the case with this ridge of sole, which I see often on transitioning feet. This will go away by itself as soon as her sole is strong and healthy enough to support itself through the regular callusing process. It just has not been given the chance to do so up until now.

(LF trimmed, RF not yet trimmed, showing flare and cracking.)

These feet also show signs of a major nutritional issue. Notice all the little rings and cracks? Not only has it been plagued with a superficial fungal infection, but it has been in the throes of subclinical laminitis for probably a very long time. Not enough to cause a full on laminitic attack, and not enough to cause lameness (though I quite imagine she was probably often sore after trims), but the writing is on the wall. How many feet do you see with lots of little rings and marks on them like this? Chances are, you either see it very often, or you never see it at all, depending on your horse's nutrition and your farrier! Most farriers will heavily rasp the outer wall of the foot in order to remove these (often seen as superficial, instead of the warning sign that they really are!), so owners never notice that they are there until the foot shows up with a problem. If your horse's feet look this like, you are in need of a major dietary and lifestyle overhaul.

I can't wait to see what kind of a foot she grows in with her dietary chance and differing hoof care. Chances are this foot will tighten up, get quite a lot shorter, and stop producing rings. (Or at least it will if I am somewhat worth my salt!)

That's about all that could be done for today. I was conservative in the back of her foot, seeing as I found big angry bruises on her heels on BOTH hinds (!!), but she seemed perfectly comfortable and happy afterwards, walking solidly heel first over the gravel driveway without any issue. I normally don't dress the outer wall like this, but she had small fungal infection in the form of lots of thin little superficial cracks, so I got rid of those. Quite a lot of cracking remains, but it is all superficial. Many of the rings still remain as well, and that's fine - they will grow out in due time. I saw no need to take off excess hoof wall in order to make them 'prettier'. She still has some flaring issues, but that will go away in time with some diligence. The most important thing is that she is landing balanced and is comfortable on all surfaces. That's all I really care about right now!

She's enjoying sampling all this delicious green stuff too, that's for sure.... bet she hasn't seen green grass in a looooong time!

I also wanted to mention that I'll explain later on why I called her Pangea instead of Pangaea, simply because so many people were asking about it. I have my reasons... you'll find out soon! ;)


  1. Thanks for posting on Eventing-a-gogo that your new blog was here!!!!!

    Regarding her's so funny that you posted on having a rim of sole and waiting for the horse to decide it no longer needs chunks of sole or the rim of hoof. Farley, after being off for a year is going through a similar transition - although her feet are in better shape than Pangea. They don't look classically barefoot pretty like they have in the past. There's a rim of hoof wall and a bit more heel than I would like. In the past, I would have chopped (ie - rasp in a responsible way...) the wall off to be level with white line/sole - however my new trimmer is very conservative and told me he prefers to let the horses foot take shape on it's own, with "supportive" trimming. Ie - the hoof will remodel itself, if it's given a chance and trimmed so that it's encouraged to do so. Although I know if I took a rasp to her foot and made it pretty she would be sound because she has awesome feet, I am restraining myself. In the past, she wouldn't maintain "pretty feet" on her own and I was constantly having to mess with them. So, with some time on my hands until our next ride, I'm willing to try his way and take the slower route. Maybe by letting the hoof find it's own shape, it will maintain better. I'm already seeing tremdous differences in 7 weeks. She still has a rim of hoof wall that annoys me - BUT, I can't argue with what her hoof is doing - the white line is tighter and the flares are dissapearing. Maybe she needed to fix the flare etc. before loosing that rim of hoof? Maybe by me making her hoof remodel "out of order" by insisting that the rim of hoof GO in the past, she never really transitioned to a hoof that was capable of maintaining itself. Anyways - it's exciting to see and it's nice to see someone else agrees with a theory that I've been tossing about in my own head.

  2. Andrea, she's quite lovely! I for some reason have been missing your blog updates on Uncatchable on my blog feed, so I missed the part where you renamed her Pangea, but I just want to say that it's a great name! Good luck with her!

  3. So glad you are back to blogging about Pangea. Until your post today on Eventing A-GoGo I didn't know you had been blogging about Pangea at all! Can't wait to see where you to go from here.

    Adventures In Colt Starting

  4. Love that trot, and I can't wait to see how her feet progress!

    So what's the difference between a good healthy toe callous and a (theoretically) unhealthy rim of sole?

  5. What a mover she is! Was that BEFORE your trim for her?? Either way; pwetty. Her hooves are in great hands :)

  6. I finally found new blog and I am SO happy you got the mare! She looks great and the story is...well, as we say here, you can't make that shit up!

  7. Love the hoof photos and the trot! This should be fun!

  8. Omg.. her little white socks and stripey feet are SO cute. I'm interested to keep up on the changes in them :)

  9. Congrats on the dedicated blog! I was floored by her round pen video!!! Nose down, back up, even strides - she is a lovely mare!

  10. Funder, a good healthy toe callus is the area of support directly underneath P3. A ridge of sole around the frog is not in the same area as the toe callus, but is centered around the frog and is spreading outwards towards the toe callus in an effort to support the horse. The horse throws it down in an effort to pad a sole that is too thin, trying to give itself any kind of support that it can. Pete has a great article on this with pictures that explain it better:

    Basically, her foot is trying to give itself rapid support, seeing as her sole was being routinely pared away with every farrier visit. Once her sole gets left alone and she gets moving on the tough Texas soil, her sole will slick right up and get thicker, harder, and smoother. The ridge of sole will go away when she no longer needs the extra support.

  11. As an extra side note about bars: I trimmed Gogo's bars maybe a grand total of three or four times in the time that I owned her, and that was mainly just for practice. They maintained themselves with movement, and were beautiful.

    1. Jealous. Laz's bars want to grow and pool out into his middle section of frog and cause pinching/tenderness. We are chasing/ramping back, but the bars have me befuddled. They fold as soon as they grow, it seems. I don't have a great variety of terrain, other than our walks down the dirt/gravelish road. xo FootNerd

  12. AH HAH, I see what you're looking at now! Thanks :D

  13. Smooth mover! Love her stripey tootsies too, such a beautiful girl. How lovely it must have been to have had that first ride upon her back. Yay!

  14. Well, all I can say is I agree that Pangea is a lovely mover! I don't know much about foot care, other than cleaning them out well, so some of that stuff about how you trimmed her is Greek to me. I can see the flaring but I thought some degree of that is normal/desirable? I do think it's interesting that you said those rings and little cracks are NOT normal; I have to say that yes, I've seen plenty of horses with those going on.

    I've been wanting to run this by you for a while anyway and since you were talking about feet I'll bring it up. I'm familiar with two horses who are owned by a friend. One is a 17hh massively built, huge-footed WB, age 20, and the other is a 15 hh hideously-conformed QH (downhill, swayback, etc.), age 10. Neither does very much of anything. Put it this way, they've been ridden twice in the past six months, and that was walk/trot on trails. Friend went completely barefoot with these guys several years ago. Her current trimmer has been gradually stretching out the time in between trims. I was alarmed when they first went to 10 weeks, since they both developed cracks around the edges of their feet and LARGE chunks (like 2" x 1") actually broke off. When I next saw them, however, friend said the trimmer told her their feet were fantastic - and they did look okay, him having cleaned them up.

    I didn't see these horses for months and then went there yesterday. Interestingly, friend reported that the trimmer would be out tomorrow and it had been 11 weeks, at his instigation. Their feet were long... but not very cracked, and there weren't hanging pieces/flaps/chunks like I'd seen in the past.

    I know you can't really tell a lot without seeing these horses, but in your opinion, what do you think of this maintenance program? I have to say I was really skeptical when they had those huge pieces of foot breaking off!

  15. Hm, that's very interesting about the length between trims. My personal belief is that the trick to keeping a bare horse in a rock-crunching state is to trick them into thinking they're moving a lot more than they actually are (and subsequently wearing their foot rapidly), so we keep feet on a short and light schedule. I like to work them at around 4 weeks, no longer than 6 weeks. That way, the feet 'think' they are wearing that amount of hoof wall that fast, and they increase their output and density in order to meet what they think they are wearing off. I'm not cutting into sole, hacking away at frogs, or exorcising bars on these already transitioned feet... I'm working off excess wall and possible bar, and that's all I'll usually need to do. Transitioned feet kept on a tight schedule will maintain themselves quite nicely, and will only need light work done to them. If, however, the hoof wall overgrows past the sole, the hoof's natural response is to slow growth and put out a thinner wall that wears faster, seeing as it clearly isn't being used enough to be worn off as is. It's all about survival mechanisms either way: your output of growth must equal what you are wearing off, or else you will have too much or too little hoof growth. If you have to go in every 10 weeks and take off tons of material, essentially you're taking yourself back to a setup trim every time - it's like trimming them for the first time, all over again. You spin your tires and you never get very far that way.

    That being said, there is a VERY VERY fine line for a transitioning horse... taking off too much at a time can be very detrimental to the animal. It's all on a case by case basis. If these horses have been bare for several years now, this shouldn't be the case... they should, major pathologies and dietary/environmental issues aside, be fully transitioned by now. Flaps/chunks/chips in an already transitioned and barefoot horse are all signs of overgrowth, and of a hoof trying to rid itself of excess wall. Again, this is to be expected to a degree in a transitioning hoof fresh out of pasture trims or shoes... but not of a horse that has been in regular natural hoof care for any length of time. Not knowing these cases, I can't say for sure, but that is my two cents!

  16. As a PS, when I said "I'm not cutting into sole, hacking away at frogs, or exorcising bars on these already transitioned feet... I'm working off excess wall and possible bar, and that's all I'll usually need to do"... I made it sound like I actually do those things to feet. I never do ANY of those things to feet, period!! :)

  17. She looks awesome in her video. :D And good job on the feet. I really appreciate you sharing your knowledge in your blog. I love learning about hooves!

  18. Wow, that is interesting! I really have been intrigued seeing what's happened with those two. I guess they must be transitioned by now since I saw them just two days before their 11-wk trim and they looked "ok" to me. Their mom didn't even want to trot on them, but I did trot the big guy a little and he seemed fine. He HAS tripped and stumbled in the past when I've ridden him, but did not do so last week. So I guess whatever her trimmer is up to it seems to be working, IMHO.

    On a completely different topic: I took a lesson last weekend at a new barn. I thought I was hearing things when I heard the asst. trainer say something about a school horse named "Go-Go"... but I wasn't. I got the name right, and when I went over to see the horse - you'd better sit down - she was a bay mare. !!! I could not believe it! I'd NEVER heard of a horse called that until I found your blog, and now I unearth another bay mare named Go-Go? Of course I said something about you and your girl, but the trainer looked like she didn't know what a blog WAS, much less read any, so I'm pretty sure their lesson horse wasn't named after your Go-Go. Incidentally, I was told theirs is a major slowpoke and the name really doesn't apply! ;-)