Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Real World, and RENEGADES!

Is YOUR horse this awesome when the farrier comes around? Mine stands immobile without so much as a halter on, and will pose for pictures on the stand like some sort of extremely tall Misty of Chincoteague. She'll stay that way for an entire trim, fronts and hinds.

Mom. Why you do this.
Now, onto something completely different. When I first started writing the Eventing-A-Gogo blog almost four years ago, I had just moved to a magical situation which revolved around Gogo 24 hours a day. I breathed, ate, slept, worked, and functioned solely for Gogo and what we were working for, and had nothing to distract me from my drive. We even lived together, only a doorway and a short walk down an aisle apart. I woke up every day with a center to spin around: her, and her only. Part of my compensatory package included lessons, so I usually rode her during the day, and even on the days that I didn't have lessons, I was allowed to ride at some point during the day most of the time. The entire barn rooted for us at shows, and were all collectively involved in the process, even chipping in for clinics and travel money. Gogo was my primary focus, and everything revolved around her. With Pangea, things are different. I am in a completely different situation now, and it isn't easy. Working two jobs, going to school full time, having a Future Hubs who I only get to see for a few hours after work every day (we don't share a day off, so any time we have together is small and precious), and boarding her at a small facility without a lighted arena makes it very hard to ride on the days when I leave my house before the sun comes up and come home long after the sun has gone down. It isn't exactly possible to ride in complete darkness... even our barn doesn't have lights! This is how I made grains last night:


Patron saves the day, as usual. I HAVE considered turning my headlights on the arena and riding in their light.... but somehow it doesn't seem like that would end well. What I am really waiting for is a spot to open up at WD, a nearby private eventing facility with an enormous full XC course, several arenas (including two properly sized dressage arena, one standard and one short court, a stadium arena with a full set of jumps, and a 300'x150' covered arena with lights and synthetic footing), and a galloping lane with mile markers. It is only two miles away from where P lives now, and I am next on the waiting list for monthly access. All I have to do when my spot opens up is pay a monthly fee, and then I have access to the gated facility whenever I want, as many times a week as I want. The lighted arena will DEFINITELY come in handy as winter closes in on us. I LOVE the barn I am at now, by the way. It is tiny - just the owner's horses and my horse - but it is peaceful, out of the way, and drama-free. Oh, and cheap. Did I mention cheap? Did I mention I can do whatever, whenever I want? Feed whatever I want, however I want? Love it. AND it is only two miles from WD. AND only three miles from my house.
 Along with the vanishing daylight hours, north Texas seems to be finally cooling down a bit. The horses are all starting to grow their winter coats already (!!!), but temps are still in the 80's and 90's.... which makes for some toasty ponies. P's horrible bleached coat is finally shedding out, but she is still sweating every day, leaving me to find this on her pretty much every single afternoon:


Well, we can't have that if we want to ever grow in a decent coat... she'll bleach her winter coat out too! I figured out that a large part of the problem revolves around the bugs - she spends so much of her day stomping, swishing, and walking around in order to try and shake them off of her that she lathers up first thing in the morning and stays sweaty all day. The weather has cooled down enough that I felt it was time to try and break this magical thing out again:


Obviously, from the look on her face, she was not amused. She hates clothes... HATES them! However, she seems to hate the bugs an awful lot more than the clothes, so we seem to have reached an agreement to wear them without completely shredding them. Nothing I've put on her has lasted more than a week, so the fact that this actually has lasted almost TWO now with only a few tears is nothing short of magical. The flymask is also still half-alive:


But I did have to cut the ears off of it, seeing as they were completely in tatters. The rest of the mask is starting to look pretty poor now, but it is still hanging on for the most part. I quite imagine it won't be long before it receives a ceremonial burial in the garbage bin though... no mask can stand up to her wrath for long.  
In terms of her soundness, her hind end looks amazing as of late - I've never seen or felt her move so freely behind right from the get-go of every ride and workout. It is now her front end that we have to worry about, and with all the wet-dry cycles we've had as of late, her front feet are suffering. She was casted for a little while, but the material was a different brand from my usual preferred and it didn't take long for them to fail. When the casts came off, she was still very footsore. It has taken me a very, very long time to figure out WHY exactly she cannot seem to grow any sort of solar depth at the toe, but it finally dawned on me a few weeks ago, and I've been stumped as to trying to figure out an answer to it. Have you ever noticed the way she always stands? I'll give you a montage and see if you can pick it up before I give it away:


Despite tons of bodywork, chiro adjustments, aqua therapy, a well-balanced and low NSC diet, and good trims... she is just plain camped under in the front. It's not uncommon in horses with short, upright pasterns like she has... but I was kind of hoping that it would go away with regular workups. It appears that isn't going to be the case, and if you look at the collage you will spot a picture with a date on it from an old sale ad of hers from 2005. Yep, I guess she's just camped under and always has been... and there you are. The problem with this? A horse constantly standing with her weight distributed unevenly over the front of her foot will be constantly applying unnatural pressures to that area. It is hard to grow a nice, thick sole underneath an area that is constantly being crushed. I don't have any recent radiographs of her front feet, but given the state of things visually I would expect to see quite a lot of bony changes going on here - ringbone, sidebone, and possible remodeling of the coffin bone (but let's hope not). Radiographs would also, obviously, show extremely thin sole at the toe, and more than adequate sole at the heel. Just like with Gogo's club foot, if you put weight on your toe and unweight your heel... your heel is going to grow like crazy! Her feet have come SO far in the seven months that I have had her, and the new hoof hasn't yet hit the ground, so there is still some hope left that she might grow a thicker sole once we reach that point. I'm not holding out for any miracles at this point though... standing like this for 16 years will do plenty of damage. It explains why she is so willing to land heel-first for the most part, and can still be so ouchy on hard ground at the toe but doesn't take that typical ouchy-toe stance like you would see in a founder case. You would expect that a horse that is sore at the toe would not want to stand on her toes ALL the time, but she does. She's just built that way, unfortunately, and it creates a perpetual cycle of soreness every time the ground softens up and hardens quickly again after a good rain. Postural issues have a disturbing effect on the body's wellness and soundness, and as much as I'd like to think that so many of these things can be resolved through bodywork, some of them just can't, especially not after 16 years and body remodeling because of it. This rehab is obviously going to continue to be exceedingly tricky. Casting has worked exceptionally well in the past for her during these times of wet-try, but it has come to the point where I decided to just bite the bullet and get some boots for her. Despite my obvious barefoot loyalties, I really just don't like boots very much. They are bulky, they change breakover, they add weight to the foot and change the horse's stride length, they twist, they fall off, they break, they rotate. They are a right pain in the fanny. Despite all of that, I still want something that doesn't have to be worn 24/7, something that can be modified and changed should I want to alter something. Thus, enter the Renegades:


I took a chance with these seeing as P doesn't *quite* have the perfect hoof shape for them. They favor a completely picture-perfect hoof, and she obviously doesn't have that yet. I sized up a bit in order to accommodate for a pad, and made some modifications:


And here's the semi-finished product - it needed some more fine-tuning at this point, but you get the general idea:


After that, it was time for a test-drive! First clip is of her mincing over our somewhat hard and crunchy arena (it gets that way after the wet-dry cycle runs through), second clip is of the Renegades. Night and day.


They need more fine-tuning - the first test-drive was yesterday during a dressage school, and they both spun.  Today I got some thinner pads - perhaps the Comfort Pads were too thick - and will try that tomorrow. I might also use a little Vetwrap ingenuity to see if I can create a better bond... we'll see.

On an unrelated note, I had the amazing experience of being able to see my favorite band live in concert last week, and it was heaven and a half. If you ever get to go see these guys, do it. You won't regret it. Most amazing show of my life. 

Tomorrow, P swims and goes out on a small conditioning ride with the Renegades (to see how they'll stay with the new modifications), and then we road with the hounds on Saturday. We just found out that the opening meet is on Thanksgiving weekend, which isn't all that far away... time to get down to business!


  1. Love that you call her P also... And love passio pit! I saw them years ago when I was still in NYC and catch them every time through the PNW now :)

  2. My horse stands EXACTLY the same way! As a result he gets sore in the toes without shoes on, especially during the summer when it's hard as a rock around here (we are just dry, dry, and more dry, no wet, lol). Plus one of his front feet grows clubby to begin with so the way he stands just makes it worse. We have been making progress though this summer, his horrible race-track toes are almost completely gone with the new horn growth about down, so *crosses fingers* I have high hopes for his feetsies.

  3. LOVE Passion Pit! Pangea has such awesome hind end motion naturally, and I saw a huge improvement in the clip with the Renegades on in terms of overall balance (her front end seemed to be keeping up with her hind end).

    What are your thoughts on older horses going back to jumping? I looked at a 17-year-old QH (with lots of TB blood) and absolutely fell in love with him. He's barefoot and sound and used to jump, but hasn't in years. He's incredible to ride and he and I clicked instantly. I'm just so wary about him being "older" than my usual age range.

  4. Bruce Davidson's Little Tricky went around Rolex Kentucky at the ripe old age of 21, so it can be done! As they get older, a lot of things change for them physically, of course, and longer warmups and cooldowns, good flatwork, and maintenance become critical for keeping them going. If he is barefoot and sound now, you stand a much better chance than you would if he had some sort of maintenance issues of keeping him sound and going. Older horses can and do jump, and they do it all the time - it just depends on the horse, their natural abilities, and what their bodies can hold up to. I suggest having a good vet work him up really well, get a good set of radiographs of his hocks and feet, and be brutally honest with the vet as to what you want him to be capable of. If there is any question of soundness or longevity, hopefully you'll be able to dig it out during a prepurchase. Good luck!

    And thanks for the comment on her hind end action.... when I got her, she wasn't really all that sound behind at all and her old owner and the vet that worked her up said she probably wouldn't be able to do much given that. We seem to have fixed the problem despite it :)

  5. Hi Andrea,
    I work for Renegade...if you're still having twisting problems, email me ( and we can discuss, since they shouldn't be twisting.

    Long-time blog lurker who has been following Pangea's progress...she is looking so good. I've loved reading about your story and history together.