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In Loving Memory...
~ Gogo Fatale ~

6/2/01 - 10/11/11
~ Forever the Marest of Them All ~

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Heart and Sole

A few interesting things have happened recently with Gogo's feet, as I've mentioned a couple of times. They are all directly or indirectly related to grass and the possibility (probability) that Gogo has some sort of metabolic issue, however mild. (I mean, look at her. The mare looks at food and gains weight.) Regardless of whether or not she does, I think it's pretty safe to say that putting this horse back out onto unlimited lush pasture at any point in her future would be dangerous and potentially very harmful. She did not suffer any sort of serious malady during her time out on pasture, but I am certain that if I was less versed in feet, metabolic issues, and nutrition, I wouldn't have ever made any sort of connection between any of these things. She's still as sound as ever in her feet. However, she has some small visual changes in her feet that signal the alarm for me. If she were under different care, this would most assuredly be the horse in a few years that horribly foundered on pasture, with the owner scratching their head going, "I dunno, she's never had a problem before..." The writing is almost always there on the wall for these types of horses. You just need to look for it and know exactly WHAT you are looking for. I'll say it again: in her 6 months on pasture, she has never ONCE been sore. It's not a matter of her soundness. She still crunches gravel, still lands solidly heel-first, still strides out fully. BUT there have been some very interesting changes in her feet that have happened very, very quickly.

1) The entire length of her foot increased... a lot. This mare went from having strong, tamped-short rock crunchers to weaker, lengthened rock-crunchers over a period of a few months. Yes they still crunch rock, but it's interesting that they do. In general, when a hoof capsule gets longer over time (and I'm not talking general overgrowth, I'm talking about when a hoof has just been completely and properly trimmed but still looks long - this also couples with a flat sole), it can point to the fact that the coffin bone is moving lower into the hoof capsule. When I say that, I don't mean the bone is moving, I mean the hoof capsule is slowly but surely distorting around the bone, away from where it should be. (Read a bit about distal decent here. It's not just the classic sinker in a foundering horse... it is WAY more common than you think.)
2) All four feet flattened out and lost their concavity. This coupled with the length of the hoofwall assuredly meant that P3 was settling lower in the hoof capsule. (Remember, she's still sound in all four feet.)
3) A false sole that hung on and couldn't exfoliate itself until literally less than two days after she was pulled completely off of grass. Once off the grass, the stubborn and cracked sole came off easily on all four feet, and all four frogs also exfoliated completely off immediately following. (They did NOT slough off, they exfoliated. Sloughing is a red alert, and exfoliating is a normal process. Believe me, you'd know the difference if you saw it!)
4) Hoofwall rings. This one seems to be more related to taking Gogo off of the Gro N' Win, as the final ring on her hoofwall corresponds exactly to the time when the Gro n' Win was stopped. The new growth is FAR tighter, which means her eternal slight white line separation might actually go away. This is a very, VERY positive thing. If the new growth has been poor, wavy, ripply, bumpy, or otherwise bad, I would be extremely worried.

So what now? Now that Gogo is off the grass for good, her entire sole has exfoliated - kudos to those of you who guessed right - and all four frogs went right along with it. The right hind frog hung on longest, and finally it was ready to go with a little help from me:

Buh-bye frog!
If you notice, there are a few things going on. First, the white line separation is pretty noticeable. But we all see the new hoof growing down - above that, there is no flare, and the white line will be tight at the ground-bearing surface once it gets there. This foot is SO flat but still sound, and if I took away that bit of support - no matter if it is flare or not - I would quickly make her quite a lot less comfortable on hard surfaces. If she lived on a soft surface, sure, I might try it. But she lives out on rocky, rough terrain. She is telling me it works for her for this moment, so it stays. One size trim does not fit all.
Secondly, that foot is VERY flat. It just sort of looks less like the thick, robust foot we're all accustomed to seeing. The dimensions of it haven't changed, save for toe length and sole depth. Interestingly, with a trim post-exfoliation the foot is a fair bit shorter than it was already. It is still WAY too flat, and her sole is quite thin. I have a good feeling that when the new growth above the Gro N' Win growth ring hits the ground bearing surface on these feet, that flare and white line separation is going to be gone, and the sole with concave itself pretty quickly. It may concave itself before then, but it might not. We'll have to see.

Left front (clubbier foot) pre and post-exfoliation:

You can't tell from the picture, but the biggest difference here is that the foot is now almost 1/2-3/4 of an inch shorter than it was... THAT much sole came off by itself!
The area of weak medial wall on the right side picture is from where she chipped off a big piece of wall before I could rush my tools out to see her post-exfoliation. GIANT chip out of the toe is a mystery... just one of those things. Certainly aided by the weaker bit of hoofwall where the toe crack is. It was just gone when I showed up the other day, so it could have been anything. Hell, she could have struck at another horse and slammed it into something.... this is Gogo, after all! It isn't a problem and it will go away with new growth.

Foot doesn't look great but it will improve. Again, it is SUPER flat and that fresh new frog needs time to callous over and thicken up. This foot needs time to toughen up a bit and re-concave itself. It will, it just takes some time. In the meantime, she is still walking over rocks like she doesn't care.... which is shocking considering how thin her sole is.

In other news, the fat front leg magically dissapeared by itself - yay! It was, unfortunately, replaced by a fat hind leg - the right one, of course! Great. I was concerned that this could mean another blown adhesion or a reinjured limb, so I dropped her in the roundpen to check her soundness. And this is what came of that:

CRAZY WOMAN. There is still a bit of hitchy lameness, but it is no different than it has been. Blown adhesions are SUPER painful and can cause super lameness, even if just temporarily! Thankfully, she historically has still shown lameness when trotting around even when her veins are coursing with adrenaline, so at this point I'll take it for what it is - a mystery non lameness-inducing fat leg. There is a scrape on the leg, so maybe...? Who knows with Gogo though. At least the Mystery Texas Death Fungus has also cleared itself up and gone away, even if it did leave her with a number of small bald patches on all four legs.

Gogo says, WHEEEEEEEEEE I defy you, thin-soled feet and fat legs!

She is an eternal lesson and a perpetual mystery, that is for sure.
In two days it will be our five-year anniversary together... I can't believe it!!!


Checkmark115 said...

what a pretty fattie boomblattie :) she is like, lameness, I defy theeeee!

Sydney said...

Always remember that not every horse is going to have a "D cup" foot in the terms of concavity. I've seen many very flat soled horses go successfully barefoot over large stones and all sorts of terrain.

Andrea said...

True Sydney, but she used to have a gorgeous, cuppy foot. Now it is sort of flat and sad. She'll get back to it!

eventer79 said...

Looking at her neck, I'd say you did the right thing for her, diet-wise, pulling her from a lot of grass. Esp given her deep love for the grazing muzzle. I enjoy reading about your hoof ponderings, thanks for typing them out!!

Kate said...

Happy anniversary! Your hoof care insight is extremely educational and well written to boot; always an interesting read.

jenj said...

Thanks for the insight on the hoof! Feet are just SO interesting...

Also, I believe that Ms Queen of the Universe would either like a shorter round pen wall so that she can see over. And also so that everyone else can see how gorgeous she is, of course. :)

Michaela said...

Have you considered starting her on a chromium/magnesium supplement like Quiessence?
It was recommended to me as I suspected my horse of having Equine Metabolic Syndrome. He was pulled off of grass and grain and now only gets hay and a vit/min supplement and is so much better weight wise and soundness wise and it's only been a few weeks. Just a thought.

Dressager said...


And Happy anniversary!

And I didn't know there was a difference between sloughing and exfoliating lol. Now I know why the farrier has been using the latter term the past few trims, whew!

I do like the Quiessence idea. Might be worth a shot.

TheHorseTalker said...

Very interesting post! Like the little video too, she looks full of personality.

Young Equestrian said...

I have a theory as to why Gogo's feet are no longer concave: The enormous weight that is now being carried on those relatively tiny feet has slowly but surely flatted them. The only obvious solution I can think of to reverse this effect is to either a) get Gogo gastric bypass or b) strap snowshoes to her feet 24/7 to disperse the weight.

smazourek said...

Are you keeping an eye on those central sulcus cracks? They look like they might be harboring some thrush.

My horses are in NY, we had a wet, sloggy spring and their feet were concave as concave gets. It's been dry here for the past month and now their soles are starting to fill in and flatten. They're adapting to the footing. Have you read Ramey's "A Hoof For All Seasons"?

Andrea said...

Smazourek, yes they are looking a bit thrushy aren't they? I started treating them when the sole came off and they are already looking better. Those frog flaps were hiding some gunk in there.

And yes I have read that, but this is a very different situation. If you look at the depth of her collateral grooves, you'll see that there basically is none. If the sole was flat but still has 5/8-3/4 inch of collateral groove depth I would be delighted. Alas, this sole is paper thin and needs some work!

Nic Barker said...

Embrace the celery, you know you want to LOL! I must post some new pics of Zan's feet - super flat, run forward (though interestingly a pretty good white line) and growing in SMART new hooves, though not as pretty as Gogo's.

It will be fascinating to see how her hooves change as and when you start bringing her back into work, too - I'm betting on another event line, possibly...

Kate said...

I learn so much on your blog. Thanks for typing all of this info out :)

Funder said...

Great post. She knows she's beautiful :)

smazourek said...

Did you just get an ESA scholarship? If so, congratulations!

Andrea said...

I did! Good eye! :)

Val said...

The sole discussion is very interesting. I want to see more posts like these!

My horse's soles are just starting to exfoliate up front. I also noticed a decrease in concavity since the spring. I do not think that Gogo's collateral grooves look too shallow in the picture. Maybe the pic is deceiving.

Nicole Redman said...

Clearly the foot you're accustomed to seeing and the one I'm accustomed to seeing are vastly different. I see a lot of feet like this:

achieve1dream said...

I love reading posts like this. :) I'm glad the changes you've made are resulting in really nice growth. Now just have to wait for it to make it to the ground. :)

She is absolutely gorgeous! What did you decide for her weight loss plan? Will you start riding her?