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! ;)