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In Loving Memory...
~ Gogo Fatale ~

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

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Happy 5-Year Anniversary to Gogo and I!

Thursday, Gogo and I celebrated our five-year anniversary together, and I can hardly believe how much time has gone by. FIVE years has passed since I plunked down a check for my little monster... FIVE! It has been one hell of a journey, full of ups and down and everything inbetween. Despite it all, I wouldn't change a thing. I wouldn't be where I am today without her.

I have some hilarious picture tributes that I put up for her last year...

Gogo's Famous Picture Pose
Gogo Strikes a Pose!
Uhm.... 'Special' Moments

.... and of course, I must add another year's worth of Picture Poses, Striking a Pose, and 'Special' Moments:

Happy Anniversary my little Mami! Here's to another five - or ten, or fifteen, or twenty! - years of laughter, tears, ups, downs, happiness, and GOGO!

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!!!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Beauty and the Beach

It's way, way too hot to even consider venturing outside at the given moment. 107 degrees and climbing? I don't think so.

Instead, I dorked around with my Movie Maker and actually made a movie! I had no idea what I was doing (I am, at best, completely techo-challenged on a good day), but I did it! It's awesome, you should watch it. It might be the best video ever made on the planet earth.

I'd sure like to be doing any one of those things today instead of hiding in my air conditioning! I miss the beach!

Guess what happens next!

If you saw this on the bottom of all four of your horse's feet, would you know what was happening, and what do you think would happen next?

The answer will follow shortly, as soon as I take a picture of it :) (Picture was taken about two weeks ago.) Don't worry, it is both interesting and good at the same time!

Stay tuned for More Fascinating Hoof Things!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

She's All Legs

I've been doing my best to come up with a Master Plan for Gogo's current stage of rehab/desperate weight loss need. I have a basic idea of what I want to do, but of course, Gogo's incredibly awkward legs have other ideas, and have decided they are just going to do whatever they want to do, rehab be damned!

Gogo is the queen of Random Mystery Leg Swellings With No Lameness. For YEARS she has been getting mystery swellings, which were mostly due to cuts and scrapes; however, they have been known to arise from anything under the sun, all the way from generalized bangings (getting cast in her stall, getting tangled in a roundpen panel, etc) to wild reactions to new batches of shavings (balloon legs on her, but nobody else!). Generally, when it comes to Gogo, if there is a cut or scrape on one of her legs, I can bank on it swelling dramatically no matter what. Not a single one of these Mystery Leg Swellings was lameness-inducing. And this time, it's no different: Gogo's right front is lumpy and fat, and in the past two days has switched from the inside of the leg to the outside. All four legs have a little fill to them too. Why? Oh, I dunno. Might be....

Or something like that.

Seriously, what the heck is going on? A mystery fungus that pops up on all four legs in the middle of the hottest, driest summer Gogo has ever experienced in her life? I might understand it if I was bathing her a million times a week in the middle of a soggy Connecticut spring, but here? It popped up as a bunch of scabs on the backside of all four legs, right where you'd expect scratches to be (save for the right front, which has scabs on the front of the pastern as well). When you pick them, they come off, and bleed - a lot. They only showed up in the last week or so - coinciding pretty well with the move to the new facility. Texas is desperately dry right now, so it's not like she's standing in mud. And is it even a fungus? Her field has some bull nettle in it, as well as several other types of completely terrifying pokey plants in it (they're not cacti, but I wouldn't want to run into them either way), so it's possible she's reacting to getting poked and stabbed by plants she's never been exposed to either. But I think if that were the case, it wouldn't be localized so much... hmm.

I always tend to associate scratches with having an autoimmune issue. But in this case, it does coincide pretty spot-on with her move to the new place. I wonder what is actually going on... fungus, or scabs due to many little cuts and scrapes from nettles?

Either way, washing with Micro-Tek and Desitin aren't going to hurt anything, so we'll give that a try. As for the fat right front, I dunno... the fill doesn't go away with movement (the case in her other 3 days), isn't sore, is warm but not hot, and is not lameness-inducing. It is also partly localized as a lump on the outside of her leg.

The other VERY INTERESTING thing that is happening? Gogo is growing a COMPLETELY different foot. I mean SERIOUSLY different. Rememeber four months ago when I pulled her off Gro N' Win? I mentioned then that Gogo has always, always has a small bit of white line separation, always - for years! It never caused her a problem but it never went away. I had always chalked it up to the horrible, soggy New England climate. Gro N' Win has a soy base, and when I removed it from her diet, I mused that while I didn't think she had a soy sensitivity, it would be interesting to see what would happen.

Gogo's feet at the start of April:

With the same danged-ol' toe cracks that she has had for five years. She has noticable indentations in her coronet bands on both fronts, which is where the problem originates. They've never been a problem, and so far nothing has ever made them change or go away. They've always looked pretty much like that - you might not notice they were there unless you looked for them.

Until April happened, and the grass grew in. Suddenly, Gogo's feet were dramatically changing right before my very eyes. Her beautiful feet deteriorated with such rapidity that I didn't hardly know what to do with myself. They were different EVERY day. Aside from the underside of her foot warping, the most alarming thing that happened was that both toe cracks split open pretty wide all the way to the top of the hoof. That had NEVER happened before. It didn't cause her any problems, thankfully, but it was still startling to see. All because of the beautiful pasture she was on.

Beautiful grass pastures are my sworn mortal enemy. At this point, after seeing what the grass did to her, I think I'd rather have her in a stall/minimal turnout situation than out on unlimited pasture ever again. She was never sore or lame, but she could have been. If you eat too many sugary candy bars, you are probably going to end up as a diabetic someday. Horses are NO exception.

Thankfully, we have fast-forwarded three months, and are onto a new chapter in Gogo's feet. Gogo has been off the Gro N' Win now since the beginning of April, and her vitamins and minerals are coming from a supplement instead. The new non-soy foot Gogo is growing in is beautiful and quite a LOT tighter than the one she had before. Look where the big crack stops - RIGHT at the event line. How about that. The grass caused the cracks, but taking her off the Gro N' Win seems to have prevented them from staying. Interesting... very interesting.

Not the greatest picture, but you get the idea. Excuse the recently-bathed coronet/periople wetness. Oh yeah, and there's the fat leg too!

If you notice, that foot in comparison to the hoof picture above it has a LOT of length to it. Gogo was trimmed barely two weeks ago, but after she was pulled off the grass for good, she completely exfoliated her sole on all four feet.... AGAIN. This is the fourth or fifth time in the past few months that she has done this. It just finished its full exfoliation, and of course this now has left about half an inch of hoofwall that is standing above the sole. It's trim time - immediately!

Oh Gogo. You are my greatest teacher.

PS: she has a fan club of little girls at the new barn already... and guess what their favorite pastime is with her?

She loves all her little minions.

More soon on the rehab process and what actual, concrete plans I have in store for her - and how her first time back under saddle went!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Tell me what you see!

Tell me what you see in this video in terms of soundness.

What I see is a horse who has not been this sound since her reinjury back in November '10, 8 months ago. For the first time, I am almost willing to call her "sound." (At least, as of today.) Blowing the suspected adhesion seems to have done her a world of good. The tendon sheath injection was definitely the right way to go. Regular sheath injections will probably be necessary for her if we are to hope for a riding career (competitive or otherwise), but that's fine. Whatever needs to be done to keep her comfortable.

And speaking of all things veterinary, I consulted with Dr. H about the udder today, which was HUGE and lumpy when I arrived at the barn. Her temp was still normal today (100.5), and she still doesn't mind her udder being incessantly poked and prodded. The discharge is still a milky-watery liquid, and it doesn't have thickness/chunks/odor/other nasty things in it (hope you're not eating right now.... mmmm mental image), which is good. We agreed to treat it like a mastitis, and I ran up to the vet office to get 5 days of Uniprim. She definitely won't eat that in her (meager) amount of supplements she gets daily, so I have to shove it down her throat via syringe. I also am trying rubbing castor oil the udder as well, which was suggested to me... it seems like a stupid idea, but I guess if it works, then there you go. If it fails, whatever... I don't expect it to do much anyway. The antibiotics will hopefully knock out the infection, and if I keep emptying out the udder, hopefully we'll clear this up in the next week.

Joys of having a mare! I'd take this udder nonsense over regular sheath cleanings any day though, I will tell you that with NO hesitation!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Gogo's Goodies

Hmmmm. Gogo, the weirdest mare I know, continues to get weirder by the day.

So a few weeks ago I went away on vacation right? Well, when I came back, Gogo had a weird little surprise waiting for me: one side of her udder was super swollen. The other side was normal as always. I poked, prodded and pulled for a few days, and nothing happened. It didn't change or go down. She didn't have a fever. It wasn't uncomfortable for her. When I consulted the vet, he suggested trying to express it and that it might be a weird hormonal thing. Since I had been trying to express it for days, I wasn't convinced anything was going to happen. That night, after quite a lot more tugging, pulling, and milk-attempting, I gave up and fed the Mami her dinner finally. When I sat back to watch her eat, my eye was drawn back up to her udder.... which was now leaking white fluid. Holy milky fail, Batman!

Yes, that is me milking my horse. Good thing I milked a cow at summercamp one time about 15 years ago and remember how to do it. Wasn't I a breeding major in college?

Gogo, weird woman that she is, stood perfectly still with no halter or anything (and a giant tempting grassy field all around her) while I expressed it. The following day, the udder and teat were quite a lot smaller. I expressed it again, and again, the following day it was even smaller. I couldn't really get anything out of it at all the day after that, so I figured the vet had been right and it was just some sort of funky hormonal issue.

And then yesterday, it came back. My concern at this point is that it is a mastitis. (Really, Gogo? A open maiden mare?) She is still eating, drinking and doing her thing, and at this point still doesn't have a fever, so I don't think we are dealing with an emergency, but I'll be giving the vet a call tomorrow so we can get her on some antibiotics. I read somewhere that rubbing castor oil on the udder and then rinsing it off a few hours later helps to clear it up.... never heard of that before but it might be worth a try.

Oh, Gogo. Seriously.

In other, much better news, I put Gogo in the roundpen yesterday to see how lame she was. I hadn't really seen her trot much since she blew the adhesion a few weeks ago, and I was under the impression that she was still quite lame. Apparently I was wrong, because she trotted out VERY well. She looked great! I'd give her about a 95%. She is as sound as she was post-vet when I sat on her a few times. Which is not to say she is SOUND... but she's close to it. Sounder than the dang Irish horses I've been riding for the past few months, that's for sure.

I think I will go ahead with what Dr. H recommended and sit on her a few times. If someone is around to watch, I'll trot her a bit and see what they think. At this point I am ridiculously honed to the feel of hind-end lameness, so I'll be able to feel what exactly is going on as well while I am in the saddle. Mostly I want to sit on her so I can peel off some of those ridiculous pounds she is carrying around with her.... she's easily 200lbs overweight. Not exactly good for a pair of questionable hind legs is it! Ever hear overweight people complaining about their ankles, getting surgery on their knees, riding around in carts because it hurts them too much to walk? Same basic idea.... excess weight is damaging to bodies. ALL bodies.

I mean look at her.... DANG!:

That is one big momma. I'll have to get some sort of a game plan in order in terms of sitting on her... I really just can't do the willy-nilly ride-when-I-feel-like-it thing, not with an injury. My slightly OCD brain can't deal with that.

Good lord though. If I can't get some of this weight off of her, she really might just explode.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

All Moved!

The entire Noah's Arc of pets and myself are all moved in to our respective new homes - dogs, cats and myself in Fort Worth, and Gogo in Aledo, which is southwest of the city. Gogo's new digs are at an eventing barn, complete with modified XC course and has all the main amenities you'd expect from a competition barn, with a perk: the retired folks pasture in the back of the property. Pasture board for the riding set of horses is separate from this area, and is smaller, so I lucked out! The retired folks pasture is about 10 acres and had a small herd comprised of three geldings and two mares living out on it already. It is the wildest country Gogo has ever lived on by far.

Truthfully, had you shown me the retired folks pasture a year ago, I wouldn't have ever considered putting my horse out somewhere so wild looking. Having now seen firsthand so many of the bad things can happen to a horse out on endless immaculate grass pasture like she has been on for the past seven months (serious obesity, total loss of solar concavity, event lines.... she's a blade of grass away from a metabolic disaster), I can't wait to get her out somewhere that vaguely resembles where a feral horse in the southwest might actually roam. (Minus like, the cacti.) Rocks, hills, trees, scrub, and a herd? Sounds good to me.

Project tail revival: complete! It looked horrible but apparently it just needed a serious scrubdown... it's been a few weeks since her last bath. I thought more of it had been ripped out... thankfully not!

Gogo spent her first night at the new place turned out in an adjoining paddock that shared a fenceline so she could meet her herdmates over the fence. Yesterday afternoon, I brought her out to meet the rest of the herd. Seeing as she has a bad reputation of being a completely heinous unsocialized alpha mare, I wasn't sure how it would go.

And.... that was about it. The paint gelding and Gogo double-barreled at each other once or twice, and then Gogo relented and took off. From that moment on, the paint was obsessed with her and would NOT leave her alone. He even chased the other horses across the fenceline away from her, so keen was he to win her affections. The rest of the horses went back to their own business, and she in turn ignored them completely as well, save for one crusty old chestnut gelding who thought he'd let her know from a distance that he had no intention of being her friend:

In the span of 5 minutes, Gogo met everyone, found the shelter, found the water, and found the haypile, which she settled at, the paint gelding at her side.

Completely passably social, and completely anticlimactic. Good mare.

Looks pretty wild and awesome to me!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Photo Adventure Fridays

This week's Photo Adventure...

Georgia Aquarium, Atlanta, GA.
This was the second time I've visited the aquarium and it was just as magical as the first. If you're ever in Atlanta, GO. It's amazing.

I am in the process of moving quickly.... very, very quickly. Sometimes, you just have to get out of a toxic situation as fast as you possibly can. Gogo moves Sunday to her new home. You might not hear from me for a few days... I'm not sure. But wish us luck, and I will keep you updated as soon as I can.