From Endurance to Dressage
Holy freaking hell, people. I am not making this up. Speedy went back to Bakersfield Large Animal Hospital (BLAH) again on Monday to figure out why his abscess hadn't healed after more than a week. This makes three visits for abscesses.
I was on the phone every day last week consulting with Dr. Gonzalez about Speedy's abscess. While Speedy never got better, he did show some improvement. Dr. Gonzalez explained that abscesses in the horse's bar can be particularly painful and slow to heal. When I got back from the CDS Annual Meeting and saw that Speedy was no better, I put in a quick call to BLAH asking if I could bring Speedy back in. This time it was Dr. Tolley who was on duty.
When I asked Dr. Tolley where exactly the "bar" was, he was quick to drag his finger alongside the frog. Showing my lack of knowledge here, but I had always thought the bar was the edge of the hoof where the below diagram shows the quarter. Oops, glad Dr. Tolley cleared that up for me. This is why I love him; he's always happy to teach me something new.
Dr. Tolley went on to explain that the sole wraps around onto itself forming a layer called the bar. Abscesses form in that spot because there is the possibility for something to squeeze between the layers.
After putting the hoof testers on and getting a loud OUCH! from Speedy, Dr. Tolley knew the abscess was still festering. He pulled out a special set of knives (they were really cool) and slowly started paring away at Speedy's sole.
In no time at all, liquid poured out of the hole in a volume that I've never seen in an abscess. Not that my data sample is particularly large. In fact, it's actually quite small, but still, a lot of fluid came pouring out.
Dr. Tolley scraped away layer after layer of sole, allowing fluid to drain out after every cut. No wonder Speedy has been so sore. That abscess was filled with liquid that was putting a ton of pressure on the internal structures of the hoof.
In the above photo you can see how deep the new hole is. Dr. Tolley referred to it as a subsolar abscess because the pocket of pus was well beneath the sole. Speedy's treatment will continue to include every-other-day wrapping for a week. Dr. Tolley felt confident that Speedy should be back to work in less than two weeks.
I certainly hope so. More important than riding is that Speedy start to feel better. It has to be pretty discouraging to wake up day after day with a pounding "headache" in your foot. Keep your fingers crossed that we finally have this problem beat!
Like I've already said, I was at the California Dressage Society (CDS) Annual Meeting and Health Fair over this past weekend. Speedy and I toted home a couple of awards and I got to peek behind the curtain so to speak. On Sunday, I attended the Health Fair which was comprised of a series of lectures and a panel discussion.
Knowing that I had a long drive through Los Angeles's notoriously heinous traffic, I only stayed through lunch which meant I missed listening to Dr. Mike Tomlinson, a long time endurance vet. I remember him from my endurance days and really wished I had had the time to sit and listen. I did catch Hilary Clayton's lecture on The Pyramid of Training: A Biomechanical Perspective though, which was definitely worth staying for.
Whether by design or mere coincidence, the USDF Connection had an article by Dr. Clayton in this month's issue - "Some Thoughts on Conditioning Dressage Horses." It's interesting and worth the read. So when I saw her name on the list of lecturers, I was intrigued. She didn't disappoint.
Dr Clayton presented the newly updated Pyramid of Training and talked about a horse's body as it related to the different levels.
If I had to sum up Dr. Clayton's lecture in a tweet, it would go something like this: All horses are born with some asymmetry, and it is our task as riders to help balance them.
Besides Dr. Clayton's lecture, there were a few other educational opportunities that I took a moment to check out. There was a footing rep, a CBD Oil booth (I really wanted to snag a bottle but it was pretty pricey, and a rep from the Flapless EQ Science Saddle. I am sure you've seen this saddle advertised. The first thing most people think is that it's not very traditional, and frankly, it's kind of ugly.
All of that is true although the company has designed a pad that hides all of the innards of the saddle. The panels of this saddle are nearly identical in design to those of the Reactor Panel saddles - I think the rep said the two companies are related somehow.
I have to say, this saddle, as funky as it looks, was really comfortable. And if a horse's sides are anything like the barrel of the saddle stand, you would definitely get a close contact feel. Also surprising was that I couldn't feel the billets underneath my leg at all. I am not in the market for a new saddle, but it never hurts to sit on one that's just standing there.
I am going to be sending my Chapter Chair a write-up of the meeting, and maybe I'll get to go again. Has anyone else ever been to their GMO's annual meeting? Do other GMOs even have annual meetings?
Over the weekend I attended the California Dressage Society's (CDS) Annual Meeting. All members are welcome to attend Saturday's general session, but it's mostly chapter chairs that participate. When I found out that my chapter chair wasn't going, I asked if I could go as a representative. I got the go-ahead and headed to Anaheim as an official chapter representative.
I checked in alongside my friend, Jen, who is a chapter chair, and was made to feel welcome immediately. Even though CDS is the largest Group Member Organization (GMO) of the United States Dressage Association (USDF), the general meeting still had a small club vibe.
Kevin Reinig, the outgoing president, made numerous jokes during his report and even asked other members to step in to answer questions. The morning was long, and I could see how it might get boring to attend the meeting year after year, but I was fascinated. After the president's report, each committee chair shared their own bits of news, progress, or general state of things.
After a lunch break, which was excellent, we then reconvened for a roundtable discussion amongst regional chapter chairs. This part of the meeting was the most engaging as each chairperson shared their chapter's successes or obstacles. As a designated representative, I felt honored to share the wonderful things that my own chapter does. It was very gratifying to hear such positive feedback from the rest of the group.
What I enjoyed most about the day was the feeling of being so connected to the inner workings of the dressage world. Being a part of the CDS General Meeting felt like having a direct link to both USDF and US Equestrian. The people with whom I was rubbing elbows were the very same people that talk to USDF's people. And when CDS asks for something, USDF listens (usually).
Most of the time, we are content to school in our arenas, head to local shows, and collect our ribbons at the end of the day. We think of USDF and US Equestrian as these massive organizations that do whatever they want, whenever they want with no thought to our needs or desires. Being at this meeting helped me see that that is not entirely true. When we offer feedback to our GMOs, that feedback does make its way up the pipeline.
I can't say that I particularly want to serve my GMO in an official capacity, but filling in as a representative felt like giving back in at least some small way. I also offered to help another chapter in my region with a project they'd like to get started. The dressage community, at least here in California, seems to be pretty tightly knit with a genuine desire to work together. I like that, and I am proud to call myself a member.
The meeting was a lot like jury duty; I never actually want to get picked to serve, but once having done so, I'm left feeling like I've made the world a better place.
I am just going to start off by saying that I have a TON, yes, a literal ton of stuff to share about this past weekend's California Dressage Society Annual Meeting and Health Fair. Since I can't seem to organize myself, I am just going to start with the most exciting part while the educational stuff percolates for a day or two.
Before I jump into the awards part of the weekend, I should tell you a tiny bit about the meeting just to give you some context. Each January, the California Dressage Society (CDS) holds its annual meeting. On Friday, the Executive Board meets. Saturday is the general meeting where the budget and other things related to the purpose of CDS are discussed. Committee chairs also share, and the chapter chairs hold round table discussions. An awards banquet is held later that evening. Sunday's activities vary from year to year, but this year there were lectures focused on equine and rider health.
A very delicious dinner was served during the awards banquet, and a variety of awards were presented, two of which I was there to receive. While I don't know this for a fact, I am assuming that most of the award recipients don't actually make it to the banquet. California is huge, and not everyone can or even wants to drive ten hours to pay for a hotel room just to receive a $5 pin or an $8 plaque. Only twelve ladies were called up to receive their Gem Awards, but I am certain that many more stayed home and saved themselves a ton of money.
To each her own of course, but we had a laugh-so-hard-it-hurts good time; I am glad I went. Who wouldn't want to cram four punch-drunk ladies (okay one wasn't actually a "lady" as she's only 16, but still ...) in one hotel room with nothing to do but talk horses?
I won't mention any names, but one of us (not me!) schlepped a full-sized printer, laminator, laptop, gift basket for the silent auction, and suitcase full of clothes but forgot to pack something to wear to the banquet. Even more hilarious was that the sixteen-year-old bought blue and pink dye on the drive to Anaheim so that she could dye her hair ... in the hotel room. I am not saying you would have enjoyed it, but we certainly did.
Back to the awards though. So what's a Gem Award? I hear you asking. For me, it was the Ruby Award which is earned when the rider earns qualifying sores at Training, First, and Second Levels. It's a bit like a USDF Medal in that the scores need not be earned in a single season or even on the same horse. I won't even tell you how long it took me to get those six scores. Let's just leave it at a long time.
The pins are typically worn on your show coat lapel. The super cool kids wear their Gold, Silver, and Bronze Medal pins down one lapel with their Diamond, Sapphire, and Ruby pins down the other. And if you have Freestyle Bars to go with them, well you're just too cool to be seen with me.
The Gem Awards recognize rider perseverance, but since all of my scores have been earned on Speedy, the pin is just as much his as it is mine. I am sure he won't mind if I pin it to my jacket; pinning it to his "coat" might be painful.
The Second Level Horse Performance Award is given to horses who earn six or more scores of 60% or higher. Scores need not be earned all in one season. I am ridiculously proud of the fact that we earned fifteen scores of 60% or better at CDS and/or USDF-rated shows in just one year. We kicked that requirement's butt.
Jen and I were both a wee bit disappointed that the awards don't come with the horses' names engraved on them though; a cost saving measure I am sure. In case any of the Executive Board are reading, I would have paid an extra three bucks to have Speedy's name on the plaque. Just sayin'.
Never having been to a state level awards banquet, I was very surprised by the camaraderie that was expressed. It didn't matter whose name was called; everyone cheered for each rider no matter which award they were receiving. Being surrounded by so much good will left me feeling empowered and eager for this next show season and beyond.
Throughout the course of the weekend, many people congratulated me personally and introduced themselves as readers of my blog. I am always thrilled to meet the people who actually take five minutes to read over what I've written, but I am also deeply humbled. I still feel like that endurance rider having a go at Introductory Level, Test A.
I feel so lucky to be a member of the California Dressage Society. Besides earning some terrific awards, I totally dug feeling so connected to a larger organization. More on that tomorrow.
This afternoon I am heading down to Anaheim - Los Angeles area for the non-Californians out there, for the CDS Annual Meeting.
I've never really had a reason to attend before, but this year, Speedy and I are both receiving an award. This seemed like a good year to see what it's all about.
Saturday's schedule is filled with chapter meetings. Since my chapter chair isn't attending, I asked if I could go as a representative. The Tehachapi Mountain Chapter of CDS is pretty small, but they work hard to put on a summer show series and yearly banquet, both with great ribbons and awards. I think TMC has plenty to share with the rest of the chapters.
That same night, there's a banquet where awards are handed out. That's really the reason I am going. Speedy and I worked hard to earn both the Ruby Rider Award and the Second Level Horse Performance Award. Receiving those are worth going to Anaheim for.
Sunday's schedule focuses on a health fair. I am not certain that any of the topics pertain to me, but Chemaine Hurtado, owner and trainer at Symphony Dressage Stables, will be there as a vendor sharing her yoga ball lessons. Her daughter and another mutual friend will also be attending so whether the health fair is interesting or not, the four of us are guaranteed to have a great time.
Enjoy your own weekend.
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 …
5/16-17 El Sueño (***)
5/23 TMC (*)
6/12-13 SB (***) OR
6/19-20 El Sueño (***)
6/27 TMC (*)
7/3-4 Burbank (***) OR
7/17-18 El Sueño (***)
7/25 TMC (*)
8/14-15 RAAC (Q) (***)
8/29 TMC (*)
2021 Completed …
10/24-25 SCEC (***)
11/7-11/8 SB (***)
4/10-11 SCEC (***)
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