From Endurance to Dressage
Speedy and I have had a very good run over the past decade. We've won most everything that USDF offers outside of a Silver or Gold Medal. We've also never earned breed recognition (AHA is just too expensive) or Horse of the Year. The competition nationally is just too far out of our reach. Outside of those few awards, we've done pretty well.
In the next month or two, I expect our USDF Bronze Medal to arrive. I already have the lapel pin, but it won't feel truly official until the medal actually gets here. I am also looking forward to receiving the USDF Annual Yearbook since we'll be listed. I submitted a photo, so that might appear as well.
My "achievement wall" will need to be rearranged because I plan to frame the medal. I am not sure what I'll do - a shadow box maybe?, but since that may be the only medal I earn, I had better make the most of it.
Last night, my newest CDS "plate" arrived. Due to COVID-19 and a few other things, the plates are no longer being given out to members via the chapters. Last year, my CDS chapter - the Tehachapi Mountain Chapter, did a small celebration for our members that included awarding the plates and certificates during a small ceremony that concluded with a celebratory champagne cake.
CDS is now mailing the plates directly to recipients. Also new this year is that the plates are no longer free. Members must submit a form along with $12.00. That doesn't seem like much unless you ride four or five horses (or more) like many trainers do. Suddenly, your plates might cost you $50 or more.
Speedy and I have earned a plate every year since 2012, and Izzy earned one in 2019. The shows we've done this fall are in the 2021 season, so Izzy already has at least one score for next year. "Rosettes" are earned for each score of 60% or better at CDS/USDF shows. This year was most likely the last year that Speedy earns a plate, for me anyway. I'm not disappointed though; he's earned more than I ever thought possible.
Now it's up to Izzy to try and fill in those empty spaces. I am not sure whether I should hold my breath or not. He's capable, but it remains to be seen whether he believes he's capable.
I officially suck at taking pictures. Sheesh ...
Speedy's new best buddy, "T," came out for a lesson on Saturday morning. I had been thinking about what we might try next, so I was more prepared than normal. For most of T's lessons, I just come up with something on the spot. Since she's progressing fairly quickly, I am going to need to start planning ahead.
For this lesson, I decided she was ready for some spiral in, spiral out. I constantly remind her that she's getting what she pays for though. My lessons are free so she can't expect a whole lot. I am a teacher by profession, but teaching long division is a lot easier than teaching someone to ride.
I've approached the lessons with an eye to explaining the things that confused me when I was first starting out. Most of the time I didn't know why we were doing what we were doing. I may be overwhelming T, but I am trying to show her how what might look like a basic exercise now actually leads to more difficult movements later on.
After doing some simple warm up exercises like getting a marching walk and turning it into a longer stride at the free walk, and doing trot-to-almost-walk transitions, we got to work. Since so much of dressage is about lightening the front end and moving the shoulders, spiraling in and out is a super useful exercise at all levels.
Teaching T has really helped me think about why we do certain exercises. Each movement has a purpose, so at the lower and mid-levels, those movements form a foundation for the more difficult movements to come. As T struggled with the spiral in, I shared with her that every rider, no matter the level, is working on that same exercise. As she did the spiral in at the canter, I explained how that exercise is translated into quarter and full pirouettes.
I know that I am an excellent classroom teacher, but I don't know how I stack up as a dressage instructor. Nobody has cried, and T keeps coming back, so the lessons must not be too terrible. T is working a green quarter horse across town. He's broke to ride, but he hasn't been taught the finer points of riding. She's taking what she learns on Speedy and trying it out on the other guy. This weekend she explained that since she doesn't have a dressage saddle to ride in, she can't really school the dressage stuff.
I told her that western dressage is a thing, so she should be able to do everything she's learning in a western saddle. After a bit more discussion, we determined that steering is a problem on the other horse, so I gave her some exercises that might help.
Coming across town every weekend is a big commitment, but I hope T will continue to come out and ride Speedy. He definitely enjoys having a job, and I enjoy seeing him happy. If it works for T, it's a win-win for us both.
For most equestrians, there is no such thing as a "minor" colic. For us, every colic feels like a pretty, huge, major crisis. Am I right?
On Thanksgiving morning, Izzy was NQR - not quite right for the uninitiated. NQR is really hard to see, so when someone asks what's wrong, the answer sounds overly dramatic: Well, he walked away from me. His poop is kind of ploppy. He laid down but then got back up. He pawed once. Those are not things that should raise an eyebrow. Put them all together though, and you're likely looking at a horse that is about to have a serious problem.
If you're ever in a crisis situation, I am your gal. I do not freak out, ever. Once the dust has settled, yes, I sometimes fall apart out, but never during. While I was grooming Izzy, the ranch owner told me what she had observed that morning - a weird roll accompanied by some pawing and some seriously sloppy poop. I listened and watched my big brown horse. I agreed that those things put together didn't sound good.
I didn't panic though. I exchanged my grooming bucket for a thermometer and stethoscope and then worked the problem. Izzy's temperature was a healthy 99.6 degrees. His gut sounds were noisy, but that was preferable to quiet which is what he had at the show in early November. His skin tenting was excellent and his capillary refill time was instant, all signs of a hydrated horse. All systems looked normal except that he had very loose stools, and even more telling was that he didn't want anything to do with me. I called the vet.
Since it was Thanksgiving day, the office was closed, but Dr. Gonzalez gave me a call back. I gave him a quick run down of Izzy's symptoms and asked what he thought. Right away he told me what he would do if he came out - sedation, painkiller, tubing, and electrolytes. I told him what I had on hand - a brand new tube of Banamine paste and powdered electrolytes.
While Dr. Gonzalez knows me, he's not my regular vet. We know each other, but not well. Dr. Tolley, my vet of nearly twenty years, knows how I do things, and I know how he does things. We frequently discuss treatments over the phone, and he knows what I am comfortable doing. Working with Dr. Gonzalez was a little harder because we don't have that same relationship. In the end, we worked out a plan that I would follow by myself. I told him to enjoy his Thanksgiving dinner with family and that I would call later in the day if Izzy didn't respond well.
Dr. Gonzalez's treatment plan included a long list of items:
LikeI knew he would, Izzy happily lapped and slurped water for several minutes. Over the next fifteen minutes he returned to his water trough several times for longer and longer draughts of water. By then, I knew he would probably just improve with time, so the ranch owner and I agreed that she would come out every few hours and check on him.
Throughout the day she texted me photos of his poop piles. Each one was more solid than the one before. Only horse people, right? By early evening, his poop was firm and he was obviously hungry. She fed him the hay we had pulled out earlier in the morning.
By Friday morning, Izzy was bright eyed and starving. The ranch owner gave him a slightly smaller breakfast than normal with the plan to feed again at lunchtime. I cleaned his poop piles, counting as I went. They were all firm and solid. His gut sounds were strong and steady, and his capillary refill was instant. I called Bakersfield Large Animal Hospital and asked to speak with Dr. Tolley.
I explained what Dr. Gonzalez and I had discussed even though Dr. Gonzalez had already talked it over with Dr. Tolley. Dr. Tolley agreed with the treatment and asked me to add a week or so of Psyllium just in case it was a sand colic. I also added extra water to his beet pulp and gave him electrolytes through the weekend. Since everything looked great, Dr. Tolley said I could ride on Saturday which I did.
In the end, we think that since Izzy didn't get his regular beet pulp ration (which is loaded with water) while I was visiting my parents, he might have been a bit dehydrated. I rode him lightly on Wednesday afternoon, and he drank a ton on Wednesday night. What we saw on Thursday morning might have been a small impaction working itself free, but who knows.
Colic isn't something to take lightly, but it's always a relief when it's just a mild version. While It might seem a bit costly to keep so many medications on hand, it's a lot cheaper than an emergency vet visit on a holiday.
Thanksgiving gave me a lot to be thankful for.
I am back! Sorry for the sudden radio silence. I knew we were going north to visit my dad and stepmom, but I just didn't get around to saying so. And then by time we were back, all sorts of other craziness happened, so I just decided to wait until today to start telling those stories. Here's the first one.
My dad and stepmom live in southern Humboldt County which is a solid 500 miles from Bakersfield. It took us nine hours to get there and ten to get back home. We took the dogs with us, so there were a lot of potty stops.
Humboldt County is very rural, especially where my parents live. Heading south from Humboldt County, the nearest stop light is more than an hour away. Heading north, it's a forty-five minute drive to find a stoplight. There are no stoplights if you go west, and the nearest one to the east is over a mountain range and several hours away.
It had been more than a decade since we'd been to my dad and stepmom's house - long story, so it was fun to see all of the things they've done. My dad is very handy; with some help, he built the house. He felled all of the trees to open up the building site, and he's carved out more and more space over the years.
He has since planted beautiful trees, an orchard, and several gardens. There's a fish pond with a swinging bench, bird feeders, and a beautiful stone wall.
Below the house my dad built a small barn for the chickens and his goats. Since they live in a rainforest, things grow like crazy. He uses the goats to keep the brush under control, and they do a pretty good job of keeping the undergrowth from taking over. On the days that they don't graze on the property, my dad feeds them hay with peanuts in the shell as treats. They LOVE peanuts.
The goats live with a bunch of chickens, and of course they have an excellent watch dog in Rusty, a Heeler mix. Rusty keeps the wild turkeys back as they too have repeatedly tried to take over.
The house is a split level, so on one side it is two stories high, but on the other, the west side, it's three stories. The bottom story houses a garage, root cellar, and my dad's game room. He has a dart board, TV, and a very fancy pool table. While my stepmom is a good sport, she doesn't enjoy being down there as much as my dad does, so to have two new players - my husband and me, was a real treat.
We spent one whole afternoon laughing our butts off as we went head to head in a mini pool tournament. My dad and husband made a team while my stepmom and I banded together. It would seem like an unfair match up, but the boys played according to one set of rules while my stepmom and I were allowed to play slop pool. We won three out of four games, so we held our own. Not that I wanted to lose, boy, do I hate losing, but when we did, we were having so much fun that it didn't really matter.
We had a great visit, and it was certainly over-due. My dad is already asking that we come back for Christmas. If we all lived even just a bit closer, making the drive would be easier, but as it is, I don't think we'll make it back in 2020. If anyone has a plane they'd like to rent out, my parents would be super appreciative. Until then, our next visit will more than likely have to wait until 2021.
More on the rest of the week tomorrow...
I am not in the know. I don't follow people. I don't use my Instagram account. I don't even have a Twitter account. So it should come as no surprise that I am the last human on Earth to have discovered The Home Edit on Netflix. I don't watch much TV, but on a rare afternoon where I did sit down for a few minutes, I binge watched The Home Edit.
I am an organizer. My house is always clean and tidy. I literally can't function if things are stacked, strewn, or piled. I also suffer from a healthy amount of obsessive compulsivity. If the dishes are clean and dry, I can't walk by without putting them away. Mail is sorted as soon as it arrives in the house. Clothes are either dirty in the laundry basket or folded and put away.
That doesn't mean my house can't use a bit of The Home Edit's touch though. After watching the show, I started "editing" various drawers and cupboards around my house. I always tell my husband that I'll never have an item for the Antiques Roadshow because I am a minimalist when it comes to the house. If it's not necessary, out it goes. That's probably because I am a mental hoarder with plenty of junk stored in my brain's cracks and crevices.
The one room in my house that hadn't been updated since we moved here four years ago, was my office. I just hadn't found new office furniture that suited my personality and taste. And then suddenly, I saw the two pieces that I needed, a cabinet and a desk. I ordered both and then set to work reorganizing my triple-door closet.
I found containers for the loose things, grouped things into categories, and labeled the boxes. THE has much more attractive containers, but function was more important to me than form. Clea and Joanna have some very cute products though.
I am terrible about taking "before" photos, mostly because I usually start by moving this and replacing that, and before I know it, the whole project is done. That's what happened with the bookshelf and cabinet. I emptied the bookshelf before taking a photo. Oops! In the end, I replaced the bookshelf, one my dad and I built thirty years ago (!), with the new cabinet.
I also forgot to take a picture of the old desk, but I did find a recent photo showing at least the top. The desk was nearly fifteen years old and slowly falling apart. The new desk is not as spacious, but the minimalist aspect is less distracting, allowing me to better concentrate.
Without the hutch and old desk, my wall looked pretty bare, so I also ordered a canvas from Speedy's last show. I've been wanting it for several months, but I didn't have a good place to hang it. With the hutch gone, the perfect place was created. It doesn't look very big in the picture, but it's 24" x 36." It gives me the feeling of looking out a window.
The one remaining project is to get a large, framed picture of Izzy. I replaced some of the photos on the cabinet to include one of him, but he needs to be on my wall as well. I just need to get a good quality photo that doesn't come from a Pivo screenshot.
I need to schedule a photo shoot ...
About the Writer and Rider
I am a lifelong rider.
I began endurance riding in 1996 where I ultimately completed five, one-day 100 mile races, the 200-mile Death Valley Encounter, and numerous other 50, 65, and 75 mile races. I began showing dressage in 2010.
Welcome to my dressage journey.
About Speedy G
Speedy went from endurance horse to dressage horse. After helping me earn a USDF Bronze medal in the summer of 2020, he is now semi-retired. Speedy is a 2004, 15'1 hand, purebred Arabian gelding. His Arabian Horse Registry name is G Ima Starr FA.
Izzy was started as a four-year old and then spent the next 18 months in pasture growing up. I bought him as a six-year old, and together, we are showing at Second Level. He is a 2008, 16'3 hand warmblood gelding. His Rheinland Pfalz-saar International (RPSI) name is Imperioso.
National Rider Awards
State Rider Awards
State Horse Awards
CDS Sapphire Rider Award
Third Level: 63.514%
Third Level: 62.105%
2021 Show Season
(r) Ride-a-Test Clinic
(Q) Must Qualify
2021 Pending …
2021 Completed …
10/24-25 SCEC (***)
11/7-11/8 SB (***)
2021 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
2nd Level Qualifying
3 Scores/2 Judges/60%:
Score 1: 60.610% Bhathal
2nd Level Qualifying
5 Scores/4 Judges/61%:
Stuff I Read