From Endurance to Dressage
Nothing funny here, just working on the crack in Izzy's hoof. When I wrote the post about the custom shoes my farrier created, I forgot to show how much better the crack in Izzy's hoof looked just by trimming and shaping the hoof.
If I hadn't taken these photos myself, I would not believe they were taken just days apart. How has the crack sealed itself closed at the bottom? I am amazed at what a farrier is able to do to clean up a hoof.
I don't have a way to measure, but it even looks as though the hoof is the same length from top to bottom in both photos. The flaring from the photo on the left has been removed, and the surface of the hoof wall has been smoothed by the rasp in photo two. So what happened to the crack?
My farrier returns in six weeks. I am wondering if the crack will be gone by then. I'll be sure to do a follow up post.
Nothing huge is happening on the Izzy front, but I wanted to give you a quick leg update.
Each day that I re-wrap, which is every other day, I am so surprised by how much better the wound looks. On Thursday, there was a definite ring of new skin.
I am including the photo below, which is kind of gross (fair warning) because it shows something really interesting. When I wrap the leg, I soak a telfa pad with my vet hospital's version of White Lotion. It's an astringent that irritates the flesh over the open portion of the wound, which prevents the tissue from over-granulating. That's what proud flesh is, over granulated tissue.
When I remove the telfa pad two days later, the wound is always covered with a thick gooey substance that has the texture of glue. This goop is the irritated tissue that would have been proud flesh. For lack of a scientific explanation, it gets melted off. Weird, huh?!
I use pieces of the cotton sheeting from the last bandage to scrape off what I can, and then I wet a hunk of the cotton and scrub away the rest of the goo. It comes off the wound easily, but I have to use my fingernails to get it off of Izzy's hair.
Once I scrape all of the goo away, I use a final piece of dampened cotton sheeting to gently wipe the entire lower leg to remove any dust, loose hair, or other particulates. When the wound is clean, I gently lay a White Lotion soaked Telfa pad over the wound and wrap with a few layers of brown gauze to hold it in place. And then like I've been doing for nearly two months, that gets covered with a fresh sheet of cotton and an entire roll of brown gauze before it's finally finished off with a roll of vet wrap.
Wound care is certainly a slow and steady process, but this protocol is definitely working. More updates to come ...
That's Jaime Osbrink, World's Greatest Farrier ...
This visit was a bit special because we had all sorts of issues to address. Jaime's been doing my horses for a long time. I don't need to be there as they are always very well behaved. Jaime knows what to do, and he certainly doesn't need me telling him how to shoe my horses. That's his area of expertise, not mine.
The last time he was out however, Speedy had an absolute meltdown. We think we know why (not having Sydney there combined with a very noisy gardener), but the end result was that Jaime got hurt and Speedy was a few nails shy of a complete shoe job. I've spent the last six weeks working with Speedy by hammering his feet daily and plying him with treats for being such a good boy; he'll do anything for treats.
Fortunately, Speedy feels that his world has been righted, and to show us his appreciation, he was a very good boy. To make things go easier for a return to good-boy-land, Jaime did Speedy's front feet, put him away, did Izzy's feet, and then finished up with Speedy's hinds. We both took a sigh of relief when Speedy dozed through the application of his hind shoes.
When I told Jaime that Speedy was again lame on the right front, and I felt it was from the twisting and twirling that he does in his paddock, Jaime decided to shelve the shoes he had already prepared and opted to make new ones. Instead of shoes with a groove down the middle, he thought it might help Speedy to have a flat shoe which offers less traction and friction. So as he paces and spins, his feet should slide a little and not "grab" at the dirt which causes torque on the collateral ligament (we hope).
It took Jaime about fifteen minutes to make the shoes. Since there is no groove down the center, they should slide a bit more as he spins and paces which might be easier on the collateral ligament. If it doesn't help, it won't hurt, so it's a good experiment.
Izzy's feet also needed a custom shoe. Since he's lived barefoot on irrigated pasture his whole life, he had some pretty good flares going. As the foot got wider and wider, a crack developed down the center. Izzy had one set of shoes when he was first started as a four year old, and his second set came while he was with "the trainer" up north.
I don't know all of the details, but I was told that Izzy proved to be quite a handful for the farrier and ended up needing to be tranquilized. I've spent the last six weeks working on Izzy's shoeing behavior. When he first arrived, he didn't pick up his feet when asked, and when he did, he was quite heavy and prone to jerking them back whenever he felt like it. All of that is pretty standard for colts who haven't had their feet messed with regularly.
Izzy isn't a baby anymore, and I expect my horses to stand quietly for the farrier, so I spent a lot of time teaching him to hold up his own feet. I also placed them on a mounting block to simulate the farrier's stand, and each day I used my hammer to whack Izzy's feet and then held them between my knees like the farrier does.
My vet prescribed a tube of Dormosedan Gel in case we needed it, but Izzy was nearly perfect. By the time Jaime got to the second foot, Izzy was definitely getting bored, but he expressed his boredom by flinging his cross ties and trying to nibble anything within six feet.
While "the trainer's" farrier did get shoes on him, he did not address the pancakes that were Izzy's feet. I suppose that was better than cramming them into shoes that were too small, but still. Jaime's plan is to "squish" (poor word choice, but I can't think of another) Izzy's feet back together which will take the pressure off the crack down the center. He has plenty of heel, he just has way too much width which is putting pressure on the toe, acting as a wedge.
The new shoes, a respectable size three, will support the outer wall which will prevent the sides from splaying out. This will stop the wedge-like effect that was forcing the crack to widen down the front of the hoof. The pressure will come off, which will allow the crack to stop forming. I could be wrong about this, but I believe the cut-out at the toe allows the sole to sink towards the ground which the has the effect of closing the crack at the top.
Notice how wide the bar stock is for these shoes; it's nearly twice as wide as the store bought shoes from above. I also really appreciate how Jaime sculpted the ends of the shoes to avoid the heel bulbs which gives them room to expand.
I've pointed this out many times, but it's nice to give myself a reminder: I have an awesome team supporting my riding goals. My farrier, along with my chiropractor, works hard to keep my horses sound and moving well; my vet provides treatment protocols that are effective and based on current knowledge; my trainers believe in my horses and support my goals; and even my saddle fitter keeps us all comfortable and able to work hard. And I definitely couldn't make this crazy equestrian life work without a supportive husband and a slew of good riding friends (you know who you are!).
Thanks to all of you for keeping Speedy, Izzy, and me on the right track!
Don't laugh. It was fun, and I am going to add, hard. Since Speedy is out of commission for a while and Izzy has not yet been commissioned, I asked JL if I could take a h/j lesson on Austin. She loved the idea. I don't know for how much longer I'll get to ride Austin, it might be only another couple of weeks, but I am going to take advantage of the opportunity.
My reasons are many: First, it helps out Austin's owner by keeping him in shape. Second, I want to be learning something, even it's not dressage. And finally, I have been thinking about trying a little jumping with Izzy when the time is right. It would be a lot easier to pop over little stuff with a green bean if I'm not such a green bean too.
When I ride Austin, I use his owner's Pessoa jumping saddle. I didn't even bother to adjust the stirrup length. I've pretty much just ridden him with a dressage leg, although it's not been easy in a saddle that wants to put me in a more forward seat. The first thing JL did was to raise my stirrups a hole.
JL pointed out that since I ride regularly, I already have good riding muscles, but I was going to use some new ones when she adjusted my position. Boy, was she right! The first thing she did was have me get in 2-point. She adjusted my lower leg so that it was on the horse. ALL THE TIME? I asked. Yep.
The next thing she did was to close my hip angle. In a dressage saddle, the rider sits up tall with a much more open hip angle. It felt really wrong to close that angle. She demonstrated by doing squats. The deeper you squat, the farther behind you your lower leg must go if you don't want to have your bum sticking up in the air. Try it.
Squat down just slightly, maybe four inches. If you keep your back straight, your feet will be underneath you. Go down deeper, as deep as you can. If you don't want want your bum sticking straight out, you have to close your hip angle and put more weight on the ball of your feet. Plus, the angle of the knee must also close to keep your lower leg under your seat.
The biggest chunk of work came in keeping my lower leg back so that it was under my new seat position created by closing my hip angle. When I closed my hip angle, my lower leg stayed hanging straight down, right where it would be in a dressage saddle.
Try this: Squat down slightly with your knees lightly bent. Now squat as deep as you can without adjusting the angle of your knees. That was me!!! Bum sticking out without my legs underneath me.
To help me get the feel, she had me imagine I was riding with just my thigh, no lower leg. She had me exaggerate this feeling by pointing my knee down and lifting my lower leg as high up behind me as I could and then pushing off of my stirrups with the ball of my foot.
WHAT THE HELL.
Basically, that was my response, but I did it. I did it horribly, but I laughed about it and kept working at it until JL was at least somewhat satisfied. Thankfully, there are no pictures to illustrate all of this horribleness, but I do understand what she was teaching me, and I will diligently practice as I ride Austin during the week.
A good dressage seat is much more about an open hip angle and a long relaxed leg. The h/j seat seems to be the exact opposite. JL feels that this work will actually strengthen my lower leg when I get back in my dressage saddle. Even if it does nothing, it's sure a lot of fun to mess around with other riding muscles.
I know you all like photos, so I dug up a couple to show you open hip and knee angles angles versus closed hip and knee angles. The first photo is Charlotte Dujardin, even the H/J riders have heard of Charlotte. Look at how open her hip and knee angles are. She's almost standing straight up and down. I tried to find a picture of George Morris riding, but alas, my search didn't reveal what I was looking for. Instead, we get an image of Beezie Madden. Even I know who she is.
In the photo of Beezie, her hip angle is really tight, as is her knee angle. If her leg looked like Charlotte's, her bum would be stuck up in the air, and I imagine that the landing would hurt like hell.
As a side note, I did much better at keeping my lower leg back in the canter. Since I really wanted to get off of Austin's back, I found a natural balance which included a fairly correct lower leg.
Okay. So my take away from this lesson was that the more you close your hip angle, the more you must close your knee angle which puts your leg farther and farther back. So ... for the dressage riders out there. the opposite must be true. When we open our hip angle, we must open our knee angle.
I'll keep you posted!
Yeah, I know that's not quite how it's supposed to go, but that's what I've got - a square where I need a circle.
Let me back up a bit. On Saturday, I took Speedy on the first of what will become many hand walks. If you missed that post, find it here. Izzy cried and cried and then cried some more. He cried for thirty solid minutes. A little boohooing is okay, but after that it's just a 1,200 pound six-year old throwing a temper tantrum.
Izzy has been with me for than a month now, and he has seen Speedy come and go. I am okay with a few tears as we walk away, but after thirty minutes, it's just rude. I don't do rude; my boys are expected to behave themselves, so I walked Speedy over to the trailer and left him tied up while I went and dealt with my fussing Zweibrücker.
I armed myself with my NH "stick and string" (mine is a generic model that cost me around $10.00 a few years ago) and the patience to stand there all day using it. I sent Izzy out of his stall and into the paddock and then closed the gate. My barn owner had the foresight to include a gate so that the inside could be separated from the outside - good thinking on her part.
With the gate closed, I effectively created a square "round pen." It's not very big at 24 feet by 24 feet, but the footing is good, and there's nowhere to run. I planted myself in the middle and sent Izzy forward.
Since he's on a diet of reduced exercise due to a healing wound, I could only ask for a walk, but that was fine as my purpose was just to get his attention and put him to work when I lost it. I was actually quite pleased at his response; this horse has some knowledge of how to behave in a round pen, even when it's a square.
When he tried to trot off, I stepped in front of his shoulder, raised my stick off the ground just slightly in front of him, and told him to walk. And surprisingly, he did. When he was walking, I kept my body language quiet and my stick lowered to the ground. The instant he whinnied, I got loud with my body and snapped the string to ask for a quick change of direction, and then another and another. And then I got soft and quiet and asked him to walk on.
As long as he was walking and not whinnying, I was quiet and simply kept him walking forward. After two or three quiet laps, I stepped in front of his shoulder, pointed in the opposite direction, and tapped my stick as firmly as needed for a change of direction.
I worked him for about twenty minutes. He had to do a few rapid changes of direction, but he definitely started thinking about what was happening to him. It didn't take long for him to start licking and chewing and lowering his head. Even so, he was pretty sweaty and foamy before we were through.
Several times during our work, I was able to get him to stop and face me. I used the stick to scratch him and flick the rope end over his neck and back. He never totally gave up on longing for Speedy's return, but it was only day one of this exercise, and frankly, I was really impressed with how sensible he was.
Tying Izzy to the trailer didn't turn out to be much of a stretch for him. Taking Speedy away is definitely more worrisome, so that's where my schooling work will now be focused. I may not have a round pen, but I am pretty good at fitting mismatched pieces together. Round or not, my "square" pen will get the job done!
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%: