From Endurance to Dressage
In late September, Speedy sliced open his coronary band and separated the hoof capsule from the coronary band in the process. I've since written at least six updates, most of them can be found here, and a follow up to that one can be found here.
I don't want to gross you out with the original photo, you can back track to find it on your own. Instead, I'd like to show you what the hoof looks like now, five months later.
While the coronary band looks "rough," it's just typical peeling and flaking like you'd get on your own dry cuticles. The damage is now just slightly below the middle of the hoof. If this injury had happened across the front of his hoof, we'd be looking at four to six more months for complete grow out. Because the damage happened on the short side of the hoof wall, I am guessing it will be gone after two or three more farrier visits.
Considering he was on the disabled list for nearly three months, it looks pretty good. In truth, he was only a little sore on it for a few days. Since then, it hasn't bothered him at all.
It might not be pretty, but it's holding up well.
I hate to complain about our cold. Our heat though? I'll gripe about that all day long. Sixty to seventy days of triple digit weather sort of gives you that right. It was in the low eighties last week; my boys were dying. Yesterday? it dropped down into the 30s with an arctic wind. I don't know how you all do it.
I had yesterday off, thank you, President Washington, so I was able to head to the barn in the morning instead of after work. It was so cold though that I waited until it warmed up to the 40s.
My typical winter barn attire includes a long sleeved t-shirt, breeches (regular weight), and a vest which I frequently ditch while I am tacking up. Yesterday, I had to wear my one and only thick pair of socks, my regular breeches (I don't own winter weight), and a jacket! I even zipped it up and wore gloves while I was grooming. I felt like that kid on A Christmas Story.
I was so worried about the cold that I dug out a fleece cooler and left it near my saddle rack in case either horse got sweaty from our ride. I've been hosing them off the past two weeks; it's been that warm.
I finally warmed up enough to hang my jacket up, but I quickly replaced it with my vest. And even though it was zipped to my chin, I was still a bit cold as I walked up to the arena. By the time we got to work, I warmed up just enough to stay mostly warm.
Even with a solid 30 minute ride, both boys came out of the arena warm and dry. I didn't need the cooler after all. The whole week is supposed to have cold weather though, so I think I'll leave that cooler right where it is. I might still need it after a late afternoon ride.
I wrote a post the other day which generated some not-so-constructive criticism. In the post, I shared an exercise that my trainer thought would be helpful. In essence, she suggested I over-flex Izzy to the inside and then use a firm half halt to flex him vertically. The purpose of the exercise was to slow him down, bring his shoulder in, get him round, and help him focus. I said to think rollkur. Here's a photo from that lesson.
Here's how Izzy wants to carry himself...
I am very honest on my blog. While I don't share every disappointment, frustration, shortcoming, or ineffective moment, I don't sugarcoat things either. When we're successful, I share it. When we suck, I share that too. I get lessons as often as I can, which for a long time has been about once a month. Lately, it's been twice a month. My trainer is based more than two hours away, so I don't get a lot of trainer rides either.
While I am not a trainer, and I've never even hinted that I could be, I am in essence training my own horses. Poor things. Little do they how good their lives could have been.
With that said, I have to rely on the help that I do get. And while it isn't weekly, I know in my heart of hearts that the training I get is good training. It's correct training. My scores on Speedy offer proof. We've finished each level (Intro, Training, and First) with scores in the high 60s and 70s.
I trust my trainer. She doesn't use shortcuts. She doesn't use gadgets. She wants horses to progress with a solid foundation. She treats each horse as an individual which means not every horse learns in the same way. When she suggests an exercise, I know she is trying to get through to the horse to teach him how to move more correctly.
So what is Rollkur exactly? Basically, it is the practice of forcefully pulling a horse's head into an extreme low, deep and round position, often for an extended period of time. That's not what I am doing. And anyone who has ever seen me ride in person knows that.
Instead, what my trainer suggested I do was create a situation where Izzy wants to stretch down. When I flex him to the inside, there is no force. He flexes easily. What he doesn't know how to do is to lengthen his neck. By over-flexing him to the inside, and then flexing him vertically, it is showing him that there is a more comfortable position that he can choose.
Within moments of putting him in this "hyper-flexed" frame, he immediately lowers his head and asks to stretch down. I am NOT holding him in hyper flexion. I let him stretch down, and if he'll take it, I'll give him all the rein.
When I rode him on Friday afternoon, I "felt" how the exercise can do even more for him. As I over-flexed him to the inside and then half halted to flex him vertically, I realized that this straightened him so that I could then push my hands forward and ask for a longer stride.
In no time at all, he started snorting and swinging over his back. I don't think that's what rollkur does.
Wait. What? Who? Yup, that's right, we have a "new" vet hospital in town. As of the beginning of this year, Bakersfield Vet Hospital (large animal) is no longer.
No need to panic though, Dr. Tolley has us covered. As of January first, Dr. Tolley, Dr. Gonzalez, and vet tech/office manager, Kathryn Kelly, have reincorporated as Bakersfield Large Animal Hospital.
For the next few months, they will still work out of the Wible station, and the phone number will remain the same.
Sometime in the early summer though, before the end of July, the team will be packing up and moving to a new-to-them facility.
Since Dr. Pipkin is retiring, the team of Bakersfield Large Animal Hospital will be taking over her facility and combining the two practices.
Moving a practice and creating a new hospital involves a lot more work than I imagined; Dr. Tolley listed at least 25 forms, licenses, or agencies that need to be dealt with before they pack their first box. While the team isn't necessarily enjoying that aspect of the move, Dr. Tolley is looking forward to the wide open spaces of the new facility. He's also looking forward to the quiet that they'll get. If you've been to the Wible station, you know what he's talking about.
If you're fond of the old BVH hospital, schedule an appointment quickly; the team won't be there much longer. I am looking forward to all of the changes they make with their new hospital and practice. You can bet I'll be tapping on the window chanting, open, open, open!
If you show at all, you're familiar with US Equestrian's rule requiring Flu and Rhino vaccinations at all US Equestrian licensed events. The way I understand the rule, it is only at US Equestrian-rated shows that the vaccinations are required. I normally do our spring vet visit in March, but since my first show of the season is in March, I decided to get everything done a bit early. The first show of the year is only CDS-rated, but I like to be covered.
For the first time in forever, I didn't have three million extra things for the vet to treat. Nobody is lame or has a sliced up leg or has any weird bumps. Although, Izzy tried to get extra time with the vet with his shenanigans from the week before. Dr. Tolley gave Izzy's dried up cuts and scrapes a glance, but it was obvious that they were nearly healed. Try again, dude!
While Izzy had to wait out in a stall, the gray pony got a once over by Dr. Tolley. Speedy has a "thing" in one eye that Dr. Tolley likes to check, and I wanted him to see where Speedy's hoof was in terms of growth. Everything checked out normal.
Even though Speedy gets his teeth done annually, Dr. Tolley had to do quite a bit of work on his mouth. Speedy had developed some sharper edges that needed to be smoothed out, and his canine teeth had some plaque. That was a new one for me; I didn't know horses got plaque. Dr. Tolley explained that it is probably because a lot of saliva gathers around those canine teeth. After giving Speedy his spring vaccinations, he was done.
Izzy got the same once over, but I had Dr. Tolley look more closely at the two sarcoids that he has on his sheath. I explained how the upper sarcoid has been disappearing over the past few months. Dr. Tolley explained that sarcoids don't go away by themselves. He agreed with my hypothesis that an immune response had probably been triggered by twice treating the first sarcoid.
He likened it to immunization - by using the Xterra paste the first year and following it up with cryotherapy the second year, Izzy built up enough antibodies to the virus that causes sarcoids that he was able to fight off the second one on his own.
Izzy's teeth had fewer sharp points than did Speedy, so his dental work was very minor. And with that, he was done.
With both boys still feeling a bit drugged, it was a super quiet trip home. Normally, there's a lot of screaming and hollering when the first one gets on or off the trailer, but not on Monday. I think both boys could use a cocktail now and then. They're pretty friendly drunks!
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