Speaking of his teeth ...
In for a penny, in for a pound. What I can say? We're kind of an all or nothing team.
Things are healing (mostly) well. I am a tad bit concerned about the wire holding Speedy's tooth in place, but at least the wires are still there. Before I elaborate, a friend tagged me in a Facebook post with this picture attached. I don't think it needs much explanation.
If you only land here sporadically, you're missing out on all sorts of drama. You really should check in more frequently. Either way, in mid-February, Speedy tore open the front of both front legs, requiring sutures on the right side. The second injury happened about an hour after returning to the ranch from the vet. That wound should probably have been stapled closed, but it's healing fine anyway.
When Speedy was in for his tooth, Dr. Tolley examined the scabs that are hanging around and gave me permission to work them off. I was hesitant to do it before because I didn't want to screw around with the epithelialization of the last bit of skin. I still don't like to yank the scabs off, and neither does Speedy, but with a good soaking and a scrub brush, they're coming off easier and easier. Once the wounds are clean and free of debris, I am still coating them with some AluShield. At this point, the AluShield is really just to make myself feel better.
Speaking of his teeth ...
Again, if you aren't a regular reader ... Speedy tried to knock out his bottom left incisor a week ago. Dr. Tolley wired it back into place, and so far, everything is holding steady. I am worried about the wire irritating a bit of his gum though. If you look at the last incisor, the one closest to the top as you're looking at the photo, there is a bit of gum that looks annoyed. I can't tell if the gum is simply healing - that's where the tooth was displaced, or is the wire rubbing on his gum? I'll watch it for another day or two. If it still looks a bit pissy, Dr. Tolley will get a photo, and I'll probably get yet another vet bill.
In for a penny, in for a pound. What I can say? We're kind of an all or nothing team.
Oh, that makes me laugh. Nothing is normal with Speedy. That boy makes me and everyone around him march to his own personally selected drummer. Even the drummer gets told what tune to play.
While I mostly adore Speedy, he is also the most infuriating equine I've ever owned. He is nearly impossible to please, yet he'll do anything that I ask of him. Believe me, doing Third Level dressage was never anything I even considered when I bought him in December of 2007 - more than 11 years ago (I missed his Gotcha Day). And yet, here we are.
While he may call most of the shots around here, I am putting my foot down for now. The "separation" anxiety is really just a temper tantrum. Speedy is perfectly fine by himself at shows or standing by the tack room out of sight of his friends. What he doesn't like is that Izzy is getting me all to himself while he is being left behind.
Yeah, yeah, yeah ... I may be anthropomorphizing a bit, but not by much. Speedy is wicked smart, and his feelings get hurt pretty easily. So, I am going back to an old method I've used to halt the whirling and pacing.
A few weeks ago I hung one of my Blocker Tie Rings, one of my all-time favorite gadgets, in Speedy's paddock. If you aren't familiar with the tie ring, it's a small "clip" through which you can loop your lead rope. If a horse pulls back, or gets caught on something, he can pull back, and the rope slides through the ring. It has three settings of "firmness." Speedy always gets tied with the loosest setting as he never challenges being tied up. Izzy gets tied on the middle setting as he has learned that steady pressure on the rope will also allow him to walk away, unchallenged.
While it adds yet one more step to my busy schedule, Speedy now gets tied up when Izzy gets ridden. Last night, he hollered a few times, but it was of the pathetic ... waaaahhhhh kind. When I brought Izzy back to his own dry pasture, Speedy was standing there calmly giving us both the stink eye. He knew the jig was up; at least until he can think of a way to outsmart me.
The worst I've ever seen him do while being tied to a patience pole was to rear up ever so delicately and stamp his feet on the landing. He's careful about being tied. For the most part, he just stands there. Since I can't afford any more vet bills, his new normal will include a lot of conversations with the fence.
That's okay; maybe he can work out some of his feelings in fence pole therapy. That pole is a really good listener.
Speedy knocked a tooth loose. I told you that yesterday. The plan had been for Dr. Tolley to squeeze Speedy in between other appointments while I was at work. That didn't happen, for which I was secretly glad. I wonder if Dr. Tolley deliberately didn't squeeze him in knowing how much I love to be involved in my horses' treatment. Besides just being a concerned owner, I dig this kind of stuff. In the end, I got to watch.
Besides the standard IV tranquilizer/sedative, Dr. Tolley needed to block the nerves in Speedy's mouth much like your own dentist does when drilling out a cavity or creating a crown. For horses, this means blocking the ipsilateral mandibular nerve which is accessed through the mandibular foramen, an opening in the lower jaw.
To find the opening, Dr. Tolley followed some very specific measurements. He marked the location on Speedy's jaw with a Sharpie Marker much like a surgeon will do before cutting.
Then he used a very long needle which he injected into the mandibular foramen via Speedy's throat latch.
While Speedy "cooked" a bit, Dr. Tolley brought out an equine skull to show me what he had done.
You're looking down the skull toward the front teeth. You can see both mandibular foramen(s) - the two circular openings, almost in the center of each side of the jaw.
Dr. Tolley's purpose was to "flood" the canal with anesthesia, numbing the teeth along that side of the lower jaw.
Since I was fascinated by the procedure and because Dr. Tolley loves it when his clients are just as geeked out by this stuff as he is, he went and brought out his manual for doing these types of procedures. When I asked if the book was written for lay people such as myself or for veterinarians practicing medicine, he quickly assured me that this was literally his how-to guide.
Once Speedy's mouth was numb, the procedure was fairly simple. Dr. Tolley took a length of regular wire and threaded it through Speedy's undamaged teeth much like you would use dental floss.
Of course, nothing with Speedy is easy. Even though he was quite tipsy and numb, he still put up a fuss. Eventually Dr. Gonzalez joined in to help steady Speedy and keep his tongue out of the way.
Once the wire was through the front teeth, Dr. Tolley wrapped it around to "capture" the damaged tooth - the one on the far right. When the wire was wrapped around the teeth, Dr. Tolley twisted it tight, clipped off the extra bits, and smooshed it flat.
To support the tooth even more, Dr. Tolley wrapped a second layer of wire around the upper portion of Speedy's teeth. To ensure that the wire stayed up high, he used his Dremel tool to carve out a bit of Speedy's tooth to act as a guide, or a track, for the top row of wire. He secured that one exactly like the first.
And that was it. Dr. tolley finished off the whole job with a shot of penicillin. Speedy can go back to work at any time. Of course, I am to check his mouth for loose or broken wires and regular flushes with water won't hurt. In six weeks, Speedy goes back in to have the wires removed.
We opted not to take x-rays, but in the event that the tooth is fractured, I'll start to see signs of infection, and then we'll have to pull the tooth - a more expensive and less favorable option.
While Speedy should be fine, and I stress the should, I've taken all shows and clinics off the table. That means that I won't be going to the Lilo Fore clinic after all. I could take Izzy of course, but frankly, my wallet can't handle anything else right now.
I hope Speedy gets to show later this summer, but it was just stressing me out too much to try and get him ready for a clinic by mid-April. I felt an enormous weight lift from my shoulders with the decision. I've got some Izzy plans for May though, so you'll still see us out there.
Let's hope Speedy is done with the theatrics.
First of all, you kind of need them; horses too. Keeping with the theme of this winter though, Speedy tried to knock his out.
Speedy's a worrier. He paces and whirls when he thinks he's been left on his own, which NEVER ACTUALLY HAPPENS. On Sunday morning, while I lunged Izzy, Speedy apparently paced and whirled a bit too hard and whacked his face against the pole that holds up his roof.
I swear I cannot make this stuff up. When I saw the blood on his mouth, I pulled back his lip and saw a tooth hanging to the side. I gently pushed on it to see if it was loose, and he snapped his head back with an audible intake of breath. That sucker looks like it must hurt.
Since he was eating and looked fine otherwise, I decided to wait to call the vet until Monday. Frankly, my wallet couldn't handle a Sunday emergency vet visit for something non-life-threatening. The ranch owner and I both agreed to give it one day to see if the swelling would go down overnight. It didn't.
I called the vet on Monday afternoon, but due to a busy schedule, a day off, and the dentistry required to fix this, it was decided to drop Speedy off last night so Dr. Tolley can get to him some time today while I am work. The plan is to wire the tooth back into place. Sort of of like having braces.
I'll let you know how it goes. Oh, and Universe? F*#@ you!
Izzy's been a tough nut to crack; we all know this. One minute he can be offering flying changes, a lovely uphill canter, or even a trot half pass.
In the very next minute, he can't make a left hand turn without ripping off my arms and nearly bashing me in the face.
With Speedy being so intent on injuring every part of his body, I decided that Izzy has got to start earning his keep. When Chemaine Hurtado, owner and trainer at Symphony Dressage Stables, pulled into the ranch for Sunday's lesson, I let her know that Izzy needs to step up his game.
We discussed what he can do: half pass - sort of, flying changes when I ask - sometimes, walk to canter to walk - also sometimes, stretchy trot circle - actually better than Speedy ever did, a decent trot to canter transition, counter canter, and he's sometimes straight. Give all of that a good shake, and then roll the dice to see what turns up. We decided to call him a First Level horse - in training. It's been more than a year since I've ridden a First Level test, so Chemaine had to remind me what we'll need to work on.
Now that I can get Izzy in front of my leg - most of the time, it's time to start playing around with adjusting his stride. That's where we started. Chemaine had me do a bunch of transitions within the gait. Nothing wild or crazily new in that concept, unless you're a big brown horse who hasn't been able to lengthen his stride at all. I think Chemaine was a bit surprised at how easily he offered a longer stride.
And then since I can, one more of that baby lengthening of stride.
We also played around with the leg yield. Since Izzy moves laterally so easily, unlike the Speedy pony, it's more about keeping all of his parts in line without letting the shoulders lead too much while leaving the haunches behind.
The biggest First Level movement we'll have trouble with is the canter to trot transition at X, and later, the canter to trot to canter transition at X. Damn X anyway. Once Izzy starts cantering, he just can't stop. Especially if we cross the diagonal. All he sees is more real estate to cover. And in his opinion, the faster the better.
According to Izzy, trotting in the middle of a good long run seems like a dumb idea. He would much rather keep on cantering and turn it into a counter canter; that he understands. In fact, once this horse canters, it's really hard to get him to stop.
As much as I'd love to just write my own test - A enter cantering, X continue to canter, C track left still cantering, E canter left 20 meters, K-A-F canter, F-X-H change rein, C counter canter ... USEF won't let me. So for now, Izzy has to learn to do that transition without me needing to haul back on the reins to half halt his freight train of a canter.
Always one to think on her feet, Chemaine offered two different tools to keep Izzy on my aids. The first was to think shoulder fore as we canter through the corner, heading for X. This will keep him on my outside rein as I ask for the transition to trot.
When that doesn't work, and you knew it wouldn't be that easy, Chemaine said, "If he falls off your outside rein right away, canter a 10-meter circle." And the beauty of that exercise is that there are a lot of 10-meter circles as you cross the diagonal.
Eventually, we got a few good canter to trot transitions across the diagonal. I love having a plan, so focusing on the movements at First Level with an eye to finally, finally getting this horse into a show ring only increases my motivation.
Here's a short video of that exercise.
One of the things that I love most about Chemaine is that she is never out of ideas. She works the horse and rider that show up for that day's lesson. It's a good thing because next week, Izzy might show up acting more like an Intro Level horse!
I had a rough last week. Fortunately it wasn't because of horses; they've given me enough gray hairs this winter. On Thursday, a friend tagged me in a Facebook post that pretty much saved the rest of the world from total annihilation as I was very close to going postal - how much crap can one person take?
It's Dwight's face that cracks me up the most. I know that's the look that Chemaine Hurtado, owner and trainer at Symphony Dressage Stables, must have on her face when Izzy starts with his jackassery. I looked at that meme all weekend long, laughing harder each time. It's easy to get a little punchy though when you're on the edge.
Thankfully, while horses can drive us to the brink of insanity, they can also keep us standing squarely on our two feet. My own equine therapists, a Goddess and a Wild Card did their jobs well (sort of) over the weekend, leaving me mostly prepared to tackle Monday. My husband drew a name for last week's book give-away. Congrats to Mag for winning a copy of Is Your Horse a Rockstar.
Mag wrote, "I think mine would be the "mean girl" even though he's a gelding. He has to show everyone that he's in charge - pasture mates, stablehands, etc. I would love a copy to see if that's one of the choices!"
Mag's copy is in the mail, headed her way. And Mag, I'm wondering if your gelding might be The Macho Man, The Boss, or even The Prize Fighter. I hope you'll let me know!
I was recently chatting with my friend Jen about show entries. She is the queen of show managers which is why we were discussing entries. She puts on at least a dozen or more USDF-rated shows each year plus another dozen or so schooling shows. She's also the chair of the Ventura County Chapter of CDS which means she does All. The. Work. If you have show entry questions, she's who you should talk to.
I think the conversation centered around the new USEF rule regarding the use of Pergolide. She was the first one to tell me that Pergolide is now allowed with a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) - Speedy had just been diagnosed with Cushing's Disease. I assured Jen that I would be submitting the paperwork for that as soon as possible. I did, and the TUE came back within a week or so.
So what does that have to do with show binders? As Jen and I continued our conversation, things drifted toward what else should a rider include in her show entry. Apparently, I am in the minority of riders who actually complete their entries. I was stunned to hear just how many riders submit incomplete show entries. When I asked what could possibly be missing (In my world, directions get followed, but that's just the teacher in me.), she replied "Everything!" Quite often there are no copies of membership cards, no payment, no list of which classes a riders plans to do, no horse name and on and on.
Online entries would of course eliminate all of that nonsense, but here in my neck of California, not a lot of riders use them as it costs more to enter online than to use a paper entry. That means Jen, and other show secretaries, wade through mountains of paperwork. And when that paperwork is incomplete, it makes her job so much more difficult.
I know other riders have much fancier versions than mine, and you might want to check out what The Printable Pony has in her Etsy store, but here's what my show binder looks like.
For my purposes, I've found five areas that suit my needs, although the contacts section has been empty for a long time as things now go straight into my phone. I have placed things like flyers or adverts there though.
My first tab is for show premiums, directions, stall assignments, and anything else related to a show including Speedy's stall sign. I got mine for FREE at The Printable Pony; ask her if it's still available.
Horse ID Numbers
Stored in sheet protectors for maximum safety - horse shows are dusty and often times wet places, I keep both boys' "master" copies of our membership cards. After those, I keep copies of their USDF Certificates of Lifetime Horse Registration.
This section is jam packed, and frankly, it should either come at the beginning of my binder or at the back as it's the area that I use most often. Here is where I store their vaccinations records for USEF, Speedy's TUE, both horses' Health and Vaccination Record cards, and finally, Izzy's RPSI passport.
Weird, and no doubt useless, but each year I spring for USEF's Equine Liability Insurance. I don't know if it would help, but if Speedy, or more likely Izzy, kills someone at a show, I am hoping this will help pay at least a small part of my bills. As I was cleaning out my binder, I realized I had a copy from 2017. I don't know why I didn't print out last season's evidence of coverage, but I have fixed that.
Nothing to see here. I used to keep things like business cards and names of other equine professionals like chiropractors and farriers, but like I said, it's much easier to store all of that in my phone.
In the front cover of my binder, I store extra copies of the USEF vaccination records. I've only twice been asked to submit a copy with my entry, but it's so much more convenient to have extra copies on hand than to be scrambling at a show to produce a copy. I also store all of my membership cards in an envelope in that pocket as well.
In the back cover, I store ready-to-send copies of mine and each horse's memberships cards. This year, I was seriously optimistic as I made 10 copies of each. Even if I had 20 weekends free, I could never afford to enter 20 shows, but you never know!
I am sure there is other stuff I could include, but for me, this works. I don't need packing lists or a calendar, and frankly, I hate updating stuff, so keeping my binder as simple as possible makes it user-friendly for me.
Any good ideas out there? Do you keep a folder/binder? Do you you store anything in it that I might find useful? I know I am curious, so others must be as well.
I am trying not to complain too much, but waiting for skin to heal really is like watching paint dry. Speedy is now bandage free, but we're in the next stage of the process that happens when you take pressure bandages off; everything swells up. I've been down this road with Izzy (his wound took a full year to heal), so I haven't been surprised by the setbacks.
Last week I sent my vet some photos of Speedy's legs, and he gave the go ahead to remove the bandages and switch to an aluminum-based bandage instead. There are several brands to choose from; I went with AluShield because that's what Amazon could deliver the quickest. If you haven't used an aluminum-based bandage, it looks just like spray paint. The product description reads, AluShield is a convenient, water-resistant aerosol bandage that creates a protective barrier against external irritant agents in wounds in small and large animals.
When I got to the barn on Monday, my little heart sank a bit. Both legs were crusted over with dirt and scabs and the left one had ballooned up. Having been through this before, I shoved my disappointment back down and grabbed a hose to start cold-hosing. As I hosed, I ever so gently picked away at the dirt without dislodging the scabs. The photos above are from after I cleaned up both cuts.
From afar, meaning kneeling a few feet away rather than pressing my nose against his knees to get a serious close-up, the wounds look much better than they did even a week ago. Read about the injury here and here. When I looked back to find those links, I was shocked at how ugly it was compared to what it looks like now. In truth, both sides are practically healed!
The thing I love about AluShield is that it makes everything look better. I know both Speedy and I are ready to get back to regular work. I'll be glad when that last scab gets knocked off and pink skin shines through. Until then, isn't that a lovely shade of silver paint?
I mentioned that Speedy is back to work. We haven't done any cantering yet, just some walk/trot. The newest problem is that he's a bit sore on what I think is the left front, which is the leg where the smaller injury was/is. I think he's sore from the bandages and scabs.
I hate to ride a horse that's lame, but sometimes it's better for them to be ridden, especially if they get less lame while working. Right now, Speedy's energy is building, and he needs a way to get rid of it. Simple trail rides aren't quite enough to ease his growing tension. Twenty minutes in the arena lets him feel useful and valued which soothes his ego and lets him relax.
Since he was still sore on Sunday, I focused on improving the walk, both the free walk and collected. He could only stand so much collected walk though before he insisted on trotting. It was rough, but the longer he worked, the less it seemed to bother him. And then suddenly he was a fire breathing dragon, and he forgot all about being a bit sore.
We worked on getting supple, doing some shoulder in and moving the hindquarters. Over the past few months he's forgotten what a turn on the haunches is, so we rode a lot of squares and haunches in. He even felt solid enough to ask for a small medium trot. Boy does he love doing those!
Third Level is my goal for this year. We're behind schedule, but that's okay. We'll school what we can, and then we'll tackle the flying changes again when I am sure Speedy is healed enough to do them.
Really. I can wait.
On Sunday, Izzy and I had a particulalry good lesson with Chemaine Hurtado, owner and trainer at Symphony Dressage Stables. That isn't to say that I don't always get good lessons, because I do. Sometimes though, an important piece of the puzzle will fall into place. And when that happens, a bigger picture starts to show through.
The biggest AHAs! that I had during this lesson were about bracing with my arms - how not to do it, and feeling Izzy's hind legs when they're NOT stepping under.
During our last lesson, Izzy finally showed us that he can handle a lot more leg. The problem with pushing him to get his hind end in the game is that he gets super heavy in front. Yah! for the added impulsion, boo hiss for the 120 pounds that he's making me carry in my arms.
When I mentioned to Chemaine that I've been bracing against Izzy's bracing, she suggested I resist with the outside hand but flex with my inside hand all while still adding leg. LEG is our new word of the month.
It was like I suddenly learned how to ride. You mean bracing doesn't work? I kid you not, just hearing that I could "brace" with ONE hand, but move the bit around with the other, gave me a completely different feel. He didn't magically get soft and light or anything, but the whole dynamic changed for the better.
What ended up happening was that when I quit holding up his front end and added leg, the argument was with my leg instead of my hand. Horses don't (usually) spook or balk when they're in front of your leg. So, every single time he spooked and or came above the bit, I added leg. And not just a gentle hug either; I whacked him in the sides. And when he squealed, I whacked him with my legs again. We did a lot of cantering.
Once he was finally in front of my leg, we got to work. And when I say work, I mean we finally started doing some dressage work. Chemaine showed me a great shoulder in exercise that helped me feel when he wasn't driving with his hind end.
We started with a shoulder in, but Chemaine had me focus more on his hind end and not so much on what was happening to the shoulder in. She explained it like this: my rein aide tells him where to go while my seat and legs tell him to push us forward in that direction. I am usually so worried about getting the correct shoulder angle that I forget about the hind end and suddenly it's hanging way back there where we started.
After a shoulder in down the long side, Chemaine had me use the short side to straighten and regroup and push him forward. Instead of coming down the next long side, I crossed the diagonal, still in shoulder in. By focusing on a point in the distance - I don't have letters, I could see where I was losing him. As we approached the rail, I changed the bend and leg yielded to the rail. That's where Izzy gave me the most resistance - changing the bend.
We repeated the exercise over and over, occasionally jumping into a canter when Izzy "spooked" or got distracted. The most wonderful thing started to happen though. For the first time ever, I felt really plugged into the saddle with my seat bones asking for a longer stride or a shorter stride. He was finally loose enough in the back to give me a place to sit. I actually felt like a dressage rider.
I am loving every minute of this version of the big brown horse. We are definitely not-so-speedy dressage, but given enough time, we WILL get the job done!