October 9, 2015

Gemmie Update: Hoof Growth

Trimming Gem's hooves has become something I both look forward to and enjoy. Watching the hoof respond to stimuli, change with it and grow has been fascinating. I am lucky that she has strong, thick, fast growing hooves which can easily accommodate any mistakes I make in quick order. In the beginning, I only used the fine edge of the rasp and did it laboriously, wearing both her and myself out after only two hooves. Now I have graduated to the courser side and can knock out all four as long as I keep up with it every 2-3 weeks. I hope to get a hoof knife to help with her bars in the near future.

Last night was hoof trimming night and Gem walked happily up to me in the pasture to find out what I had in store for her. The evening was warm with a crisp breeze carrying the scent of freshly mowed grass. She still has the filling to the hind legs even with no work in the last 2 weeks and standing in a cold downpour for most of that time. As I tied her to the trailer I watched her stomp heavily and repeatedly with the hind legs after some unseen pest. Maybe the filling has something to do with that? She was stomping very hard and I have never seen her do that before.

I brushed her out and hung a hay bag for her to munch on while I worked. The only hoof to note is the injured front right. Her heel bulb remains well healed and the hair is growing back. The medial bulb sits higher and more proud than the lateral and it may still remodel some, but I think this is the way it will be from now on. Not a bad outcome considering the damage done.

What was more interesting was to see the amount of new hoof since the last set of pictures. I know people say it takes a full year to grow an entire hoof capsule, but she is moving along much faster than that. I don't have the exact same angle as the old set, which is a shame, but these are close enough. The new ones are from 10/8/15 and the old ones are from 9/3/15.

The first two pictures are of the lateral front right after the shoes were taken off and she was trimmed on 9/3/15.

You can see the "bulge" as the new hoof wall began to grow in wider than the old one.
The red arrow shows the point of the new wall which was creating an area that looked like it was going to crack. The shoe is still present here.

Next is the lateral front hoof from 10/8/15:

Look at all that new hoof! This is just one month's worth of growth. The new wall has not cracked, but has a very distinct delineation from the old and is growing in white. It remains hard, but the color is off. This side was not injured, but did have some rubbing from the cast.

My paint skills are amazing, aren't they? The red box shows just how much new growth has happened. The yellow line shows the angle the new wall is growing in versus the old.

 I don't have a comparison from 9/3/15 of the front of her hoof, but here is the new one:

Red line shoes the new band of growth
 The medial, injured side is growing as well (thankfully):

Medial side 9/3/15. You can sort of see the anterior growth line as well to compare to above.
The blue arrow shows the crack that formed from the laceration entering the hoof wall and the subsequent metal wire sutures to hold it back together. The red arrow shows the entry point into the hoof capsule and the area the surgeon was most concerned would grow out a crack.

Medial side now.

The red arrow is showing the level of the horizontal crack which at the back of the hoof is only an inch from contacting the ground. This crack is the reason al her rides are now in the Renegades to avoid it all coming off. The yellow arrow shows that vertical ridge that extends from the scar on the heel bulb. She will most likely always grow this due to the damage created. Once it grows all the way to the ground, I will be able to better assess if she can travel barefoot or not.
Things are coming along nicely. Both the crack on the medial side and groove at the junction of new and old hoof will grow completely out. If she continues this rate of growth, it should be out by the end of spring. I'm not overly concerned about either of those. What I will keep an eye on is the vertical medial wall crack. 


  1. Are you noticing the same amount of growth on all hooves or just the injured one? I ask because with Kenai's recent surgeries, the hair around the incision site came back SO MUCH FASTER than the hair near his epidural site and higher on his leg where they just shaved for prep. I suspect because his body was so focused on repairing the bone (under the incision site) the hair regrowth was a kind of side effect since it was in that area where his body was so focused on "fixing". If it's just her one hoof more than the others, perhaps it's her body trying to "fix" or "normalize" itself again? Healing is a beautiful and mysterious thing!

    That foot is looking SO good. I'm so thrilled for you that things are continuing to repair so well and you've got your riding partner back. =) I look forward to time on the trail with you in the future.

    1. That's a very good question and I'm sorry to say I have no clue. I will be paying closer attention now though. She always grew faster than Pete ever did even with the same number of miles, living conditions and nutrition, but was always equal to all four. It will be interesting to now look and see if she is growing evenly or not.