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Long, gross ergots: What makes them grow?

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  • Long, gross ergots: What makes them grow?

    I have never seen as many horses with long, gnarly ergots as I have here in the wet Willamette Valley.

    All different breeds and levels of care, grade horses, too.

    I hate unkempt, vestigial things and my own horse with nice, civilized ankles is moving here.

    So WTF?
    The armchair saddler
    Politically Pro-Cat

  • #2
    My one guy can grow some huge nasty looking ones. I have the farrier clip them when he comes. But my other 3 you barely notice them. Idk what makes the difference in why some grow like crazy. Be interesting to find out. Anyone?
    Horses aren't our whole life, but makes our life whole


    • #3
      My guess is that in the wet, they're staying nice and pliable instead of drying out, cracking and coming off on their own.

      And rabicon, I'd say your one horse just has larger ergots. Just like I have one mare with ENORMOUS chestnuts and one who barely has any at all...


      • #4
        Interesting article here...
        Tack Cleaning/All-Things-Tack nut
        ~DQ wanna-be~


        • #5
          I have a horse with no ergots. For him, I'm thinking genetics. Otherwise, I think they "grow better" in wet climates and just the opposite for chestnuts.


          • #6
            Just for giggles, hows this for a theory: if insulin stimulates ILGF in feet, and ergots are parts of vestigial toes, might insulin also stimulate excess growth in ergots? FWIW, my now deceased serious genetically derived, uncontrollable high insulin pony had the longest, gnarliest ergots I ever saw on a horse. I would nip off a couple inches several times a year. Have heard that long ergots are common in 'primative' breeds, but those are also the ones with the supposed 'thrifty genes' that predispose them to IR.
            I also know that the PNW is a region with some of the highest NSC in grass and hay in the world.

            A potential role for lamellar insulin-like growth factor-1 receptor in the pathogenesis of hyperinsulinaemic laminitis

            de Laat, Melody, Pollitt, Christopher C., Kyaw-Tanner, Myat T., McGowan, Catherine M., & Sillence, Martin N. (2013) A potential role for lamellar insulin-like growth factor-1 receptor in the pathogenesis of hyperinsulinaemic laminitis. The Veterinary Journal.

            The reason why a sustained high concentration of insulin induces laminitis in horses remains unclear. Cell proliferation occurs in the lamellae during insulin-induced laminitis and in other species high concentrations of insulin can activate receptors for the powerful cell mitogen, insulin-like growth factor (IGF)-1. The first aim of this study was to determine if IGF-1 receptors (IGF-1R) are activated in the hoof during insulin-induced laminitis. Gene expression for IGF-1R and the insulin receptor (InsR) was measured using qRT-PCR, in lamellar tissue from control horses and from horses undergoing a prolonged euglycaemic, hyperinsulinaemic clamp (p-EHC), during the mid-developmental (24 h) and acute (46 h) phases of insulin-induced laminitis. Gene expression for both receptors was decreased 13–32-fold (P < 0.05) at both time-points in the insulin-treated horses.

            A second aim was to determine if the down-regulation of the receptor genes could be accounted for by an increase in circulating IGF-1. Serum IGF-1 was measured at 0, 10, 25 and 46 h post-treatment in horses given a p-EHC for approximately 46 h, and in matched controls administered a balanced, electrolyte solution. There was no increase in serum IGF-1 concentrations during the p-EHC, consistent with down-regulation of both receptors by insulin. Stimulation of the IGF-1R by insulin may lead to inappropriate lamellar epidermal cell proliferation and lamellar weakening, a potential mechanism for hyperinsulinaemic laminitis. Targeting this receptor may provide insights into the pathogenesis or identify a novel therapy for hyperinsulinaemic laminitis.
            Are you feeding your horse like a cow? www.safergrass.org


            • #7
              My horse, who has had perfectly normal ergots for the last 8 years, has suddenly grown out just ONE that is long and gnarly (and interfering with his bandages.) What gives?

              (My answer, as it is for almost everything with this horse, is "My horse is weird.")

              (PS, this horse is tested yearly for Cushings and metabolic problems, and thus far has been totally normal on Cushings, IR, and thyroid. However, for the last 5 years- predating the annual blood test- I have managed him as though he were IR, as one does when you have an air fern and an area where a "sparsely-growing field" is one where the clover only grows to mid-cannon instead of to the knee...)
              "I'm not always sarcastic. Sometimes I'm asleep." - Harry Dresden

              Amy's Stuff - Rustic chic and country linens and decor
              Support my mom! She's gotta finance her retirement horse somehow.


              • #8
                They make me GAG !

                They make me GAG !!!!

                * I suffer from an extremely low gag threshold !
                Zu Zu Bailey " IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE ! "


                • #9
                  My Cushings/IR pony grows them like crazy, but it's no surprise because his hooves grow like crazy also. But if not kept at bay, they are wacky weird and long! Gag!

                  But my other horses don't grow them at all; so, it has to be partially genetics, partially whatever makes their own hooves grow.


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Zu Zu View Post
                    They make me GAG !!!!

                    * I suffer from an extremely low gag threshold !

                    have you tried them with cider?

                    Lovely ergots make an unusual crisp.


                    • #11
                      My IR horse has no ergots, as far as I can tell. Can't feel much there and they sure never grow. His feet grow plenty, however. He also has the tiniest chestnuts of any in my herd. The ones on his hind legs barely visible.

                      I do have one with the long ergots that never dry up, so they stick out a bit, but I just trim the hair around when I clp and don't worry about it. He's not metabolic at all...I had him checked when the other one was diagnosed as I didn't want any surprises!


                      • #12
                        OMG ! YARK YARK YARK * HURL !!!!!

                        OMG !!!!

                        YARK YARK YARK * HURL !!!!!

                        Originally posted by alto View Post
                        have you tried them with cider?

                        Lovely ergots make an unusual crisp.

                        Zu Zu Bailey " IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE ! "


                        • Original Poster

                          Originally posted by alto View Post
                          have you tried them with cider?

                          Lovely ergots make an unusual crisp.

                          Oh, Jesus.

                          ZuZu, don't click on that link. It's not for you/your key board.

                          ETA: Too late! Um, are you ok?

                          The rest of you: "You can be part of the problem or part of the solution." Keep that in mind as you mind the puke. Also, for the love of God, help me keep ergots from happening to my horse.
                          The armchair saddler
                          Politically Pro-Cat


                          • #14
                            Ergots are the ones on the back of the fetlock, right? I'm not even aware of them. After this thread, I'll have to check. Watch me find hideous gnarly things and doubt my care standards!

                            I am in the Pacific North WET too, and find chestnut management a chore. They don't behave like they did in Massachusetts! There I could just peel them off cleanly, no need for moistening or oiling or anything else. But they grow more slowly here as well. Except my draft cross mare Ginny. Not only does she grow horrid, sharp, irregular chestnuts, she is highly sensitive about anyone going near them. My farrier has to sneak up on her with the nippers. If she is aware it's going to happen, she does her best to disallow it. Luckily she is ADD and not the brightest bulb in the chandelier, so she will forget from one leg to the next as the farrier does her feet and stealth chestnut removal...
                            Shall I tell you what I find beautiful about you? You are at your very best when things are worst.


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by horsepoor View Post
                              My IR horse has no ergots, as far as I can tell. Can't feel much there and they sure never grow. His feet grow plenty, however. He also has the tiniest chestnuts of any in my herd. The ones on his hind legs barely visible.

                              I do have one with the long ergots that never dry up, so they stick out a bit, but I just trim the hair around when I clp and don't worry about it. He's not metabolic at all...I had him checked when the other one was diagnosed as I didn't want any surprises!
                              I think horses either have them, or don't. My Cushings/IR pony has them, and they grow fast.

                              I've only ever had one other horse that had them, and they either grew so slowly or fell off on their own I always forgot about them.

                              But the pony - well, they look like the link above. My trainer calls them "thumbs."


                              • #16
                                I've seen cases where stallion or mare, had them and offspring have had them. I've always thought they were a heritable trait.
                                Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.

                                Remember the horse does all the work, we just sit there and look pretty.


                                • #17
                                  My horse has them and they would become fairly prominent if left to their own devices, but I peel them off routinely, just like I do with his chestnuts.

                                  It was noted recently when we were x-raying his knees that he has some bone in his upper forearm area that is "complete," which is the usual case for ponies, but not the usual case for horses.

                                  He's a TB, about 16 hands. Definitely a horse. But the fact that he has the forearm bones of a pony makes me suspect he is actually a naughty pony in horse clothes (which would explain a lot about him). I've also noted more ergots on ponies, so perhaps that is why he has them.

                                  Scientific, don't you think?


                                  • #18
                                    You can cut them off with scissors. My now deceased, IR (elevated insulin levels for many years no matter what she was fed), chronically foundered, old mare (PB Arab) grew very long ergots too. I've never seen this on any other horse I've owned. And while she would have a stompin' hissy fit if I tried to peel her chestnuts even after oiling (which also grew faster and harder than is typical) she never blinked an eye when I'd cut the ergots close with scissors.

                                    I think chestnuts smell like used motor oil.


                                    • #19
                                      Hrm. Never really considered them too much, but I guess my mare falls into the normal ergot category? They don't get too long, and I wiggle them off once or twice a year. I think they're kind of cool, actually. I mean, how many times in your life do you get to remove vestigial appendages?
                                      *OMGiH I Loff my Mare* and *My Saddlebred Can Do Anything Your Horse Can Do*


                                      • #20

                                        Got a kick out of that ergot recipe -- and the rest of that stuff on the Dorset site!

                                        Figs has grown some monster ergots this year. Dunno why. Sometimes his chestnuts get huge, too. He's a Hanno -- is that considered one of the "primitive" breeds?