From Endurance to Dressage
Spoiler alert, nobody was injured, sick, or dying. For once. Speedy, I am looking at you, buddy!
Nope, this was just a regular, maintenance visit. My boys see Dr. Tolley at Bakersfield Large Animal Hospital each spring for vaccinations, dentals, fecal counts, and so on. In the fall, they go back for their Rhino/Flu vaccines to satisfy USEF's requirement that horses be vaccinated within the past six months to be eligible to show.
Dr. Tolley is heavily invested in my horses' success. He fully embraces the idea that he is a member of my team and that his role is essential to our success. So, even though the appointment was simply for vaccinations, my boys got a head to tail examination.
We started with the scale. I love, love, LOVE being able to weigh my horses. While frequent visual inspections are useful, monitoring weight gain or loss in a more scientific manner produces more reliable data. In the spring, Speedy topped out at 1,005 pounds. Last week, he came in at 986 pounds. Dr. Tolley felt the difference could be attributed to water weight. He gave Speedy a body condition score of 5.
Izzy got the same examination. Dr. Tolley checked his mouth, temperature, heart rate and so one. We talked about his itchy mane and tail, what kind of work we're doing, and his general attitude of late. I explained that the boys now live side by side which means they play incessantly and chew the crap out of each other.
Just last week, I had asked the ranch owner if we could increase Izzy's alfalfa ration a bit. He was starting to look a bit thin. He gets fed grass hay with a small hunk of alfalfa just because he likes it. Too much actually. When he was on straight alfalfa his energy level was through the roof. Now that the boys live next to each other, he's burning more calories.
When Izzy got on the scale, he was 1,310 pounds, 40 pounds lighter than in the spring. His body condition score was a 4. I am not okay with a 4. For an endurance horse, that would be about right. For my dressage pony, no. Dr. Tolley agreed. So, after a bit of a discussion, he wants Izzy back on the flaxseed oil and rice bran.
When I used up the last bag of Flaxen Flow a few weeks ago, I decided not to reorder it as I had used it in the hope that it would keep his coat from changing so much in the summer sun. Apparently, it was doing more for his weight than I realized. On top of that, Dr. Tolley suggested I bring back the rice bran as an added fat source. He also wants both horses back on a daily vitamin and mineral product.
So much for keeping it simple. Over the past six months, I've phased out pretty much everything except hay, beet pulp, and Speedy's low carb senior feed. I wanted to see if the daily buckets of stuff were having any kind of effect. I guess I have my answer.
I didn't need to research the flax seed oil. Horse Guard's Flaxen Flow is well priced, and super easy to dispense. Izzy's been eating it for the past 6 to 8 months without any issue, so I reordered that from Riding Warehouse. I gave up the Platinum Performance around the time that Speedy was diagnosed with Cushing's Disease. I just couldn't afford that and the Pergoglide.
Since I like the Flaxen Flow so well, I decided to go with another Horse Guard product, the Equine Vitamin-Mineral Supplement. It's reasonably priced and contains appropriate quantities of vitamin E and selenium, Dr. Tolley's two main concerns. If you're into the science of how much vitamin E and selenium horses need, there is a good article here by Kentucky Equine Research.
To finish off my visit, Kathryn ran fecal counts to check for worms. As usual both boys came back negative. We have some really cool weather on the way, enough to maybe kill off our flies. Both boys will get a dewormer then to get anything the fecal count missed. Since I have two tubes sitting on my desk, my next stop will be to the feed store for the rice bran.
Just when I thought things were getting simplified, we're back to multiple buckets and bags of stuff. Ah, well ... horses. What are you gonna do?
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 the lower levels. 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%
2023 Show Season
(r) Ride-a-Test Clinic
2023 Show Schedule
2023 Completed …
2023 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
Qualifying Training Level
3 Scores/2 Judges/60%: