From Endurance to Dressage
I am really not sure how many times Speedy has seen the vet this year. I think five. We get it, Speedy. You're special and fabulous and worth every penny I own which is now not very many. Please stop hurting yourself!
Speedy's visit was just as interesting as Izzy's, but for a whole different set of reasons. Izzy's canine teeth were fascinating, especially if you're into teeth and bits. His poundage (a hefty 1,350 pounds) was also entertaining to someone like me who has worked her literal butt off to get rid of excess pounds. He can have any of mine that he'd like. What made Speedy's visit so compelling was the drama lurking beneath those two blue bandages.
Before we even brought Speedy into the exam bay, Dr. Tolley and I discussed how we should sedate/tranquilize Speedy. Two weeks before, Dr. Tolley had run into the problem of needing to knock Speedy out while being unable to because he couldn't mix the knock out drugs (that's a really technical term because I don't know the names of any of those drugs, and nobody probably cares anyway) with what he'd already given Speedy. For this visit, he went with a class of drug that would allow him to drop Speedy later if needed. I was totally cool with that decision. Neither of them, meaning both Dr. Tolley and Speedy, needed me losing my composure on that day, particularly since Dr. Gonzalez had the day off.
Speedy's teeth were in pretty good shape. Dr. Tolley only needed to fix a little here and a little there. He and I have discussed this many times. Horses who get regular veterinarian care usually remain in better shape far later into their senior years than those who only get occasional vet care. Of course there are always exceptions. Speedy obviously being one of them. Dude.
Once Speedy's teeth were done, Dr. Tolley gave me the go-ahead to remove the bandages so that we could get the sutures out. This next part is going to sound a bit vain, but it is not my intention to sound so. It's just a reality.
For my entire horse ownership life, I have either kept my horses at home, at a private residence like now, or at a boarding facility where they fed and maybe cleaned and that was it. On top of that, I was an endurance rider for more than 16 years. By necessity, endurance riders learn crap about equine physiology that most people really don't want to know. Endurance riders never miss the opportunity to check out poop, urine, respiration rates, anal tone, skin tenting, attitude, and so on.
There has never been a parent, trainer, or barn owner responsible for my horse's well being; it's always been my responsibility. As such, I've had to develop a pretty solid skill set when it comes to equine care. My horses will let me do to them what they won't let someone else do. So when I told Dr. Tolley that I should be the one take off the bandages and clean the wound instead of him, he agreed immediately. Neither one of us wanted to have to knock Speedy out. Another example of where that great client/vet relationship comes in handy.
When I first removed the bandages, I saw what I've been seeing for two weeks - a Frankenstein looking affair with a bit of Jack the Ripper thrown in for good measure. It was a mess. I gently wiped away clumps of dirt and goop and then asked the vet tech for water. Almost immediately a warm Betadine wash was in my hands with some 4x4 gauze pads and a stainless steel, turkey baster-like syringe.
As I gently irrigated and wiped the wound, it started to look better and better. The lower portion of the injury, just below the red stuff, had clearly reattached itself. Most of the skin had survived. Speedy stood very quietly as I pulled and prodded at the delicate flesh, loosening every bit of gunk that might irritate the newly granulated tissue.
As I was finishing up, Dr. Tolley squatted down beside me and ever-so-carefully began snipping away at the sutures. In a quiet voice he encouraged me to keep doing what I was doing so that Speedy would remain calm. Speedy jerked his foot away a few times, but I placed it back on the ground and let him know that it was okay.
With far less trouble than we had expected, the sutures were removed. Dr. Tolley breathed a sigh of relief and let me know how worried he had been about the procedure. I quickly retorted, Don't tell me stuff like that. It just freaks me out to think you're freaked out! He just laughed.
I didn't have time to get a photo of the wound after the sutures were removed, Dr. Tolley bandaged it back up before I had a chance, but it looked really good. Deterring proud flesh, an over-granulation of tissue, is of course the next hurdle. Proud flesh is something that I have a fair amount of experience with, so I'll be working hard with fingers crossed that we escape that particular outcome.
For the next few weeks, Speedy will remain bandaged until the wound is completely healed. Our first line of attack is going to be wrapping both legs (the other slice hadn't healed completely either) with Hydrophilic foam pads soaked in saline solution. The pads will stay moist against the granulating tissue allowing the skin to rebuild itself. It's a fairly simple bandage with the Hydrophilic pad pressed directly to the wound and covered with a roll of cotton web. All of that is then secured by vet wrap.
The good news is that Speedy and I should be able to get back to work by this weekend. Dr. Tolley suggested I keep it at a walk/trot initially, but as I see the skin closing, we can start back with the canter. I'll need to rewrap every other day and on days that I ride. Of course if things start to go south, we'll go back in.
Oh, and before I forget, Speedy got on the scale too. He came in at 1,005 pounds. The vet tech quipped that he was really only 1,000 pounds as he was easily toting 5 pounds in bandages. I thought that was funny.
Another piece of good news is that Speedy has been sound this whole time, so the wound was considered superficial, nothing structural was involved, just skin. Now if I can just keep him from crashing into something else, we might make our Third Level debut yet.
Fingers crossed, right?!
Rest assured, I am mostly over Monday's pity party even though no one brought money. Freeloaders! Just kidding ... But seriously, a person can only take so much, you know? In any case, the vet visit was actually really interesting. There are some serious perks to using the same vet for several decades. Dr. Tolley and I have gotten to know one another quite well, and as a result, we've developed a very solid relationship that ensures that my horses are getting exceptional care. Mostly because I am bossy and nosy, and he has learned to live with it.
Izzy was actually treated after Speedy, but that story is a bit complicated to write, so it will have to wait until tomorrow. Izzy got the standard walk around and kick the tires: Dr. Tolley looked at Izzy's sarcoid scar; the other one has completely disappeared. After we re-treated the first one with cryotherapy, it created an immune response that healed that one and then the second one. We were both pleased by that. Dr. Tolley also gave Izzy's hind leg scar a peek, but with nothing to see, he moved on to Izzy's teeth.
Izzy has never been easy to bridle. At first, it was just I am really tall, so I am going to lift my head as I high as I can. Good luck to you, puny human. Once he learned the rule about lowering his head, the bridling problems were due to a hatred of a variety of bits. Over time, all of that sorted itself out ... until fairly recently.
I was having a lot of trouble getting him to open his mouth far enough for me to get the bit in and clear all of his teeth. I eventually pin-pointed the issue - his upper canine teeth were getting in the way. Once I discovered what the hold up was, and I mean that literally, I've been able to lift the bit over the canines which has made Izzy much happier.
I explained all of this to Dr. Tolley who listened carefully. Remember that relationship I talked about? This is where it comes in handy. If I say I am having an issue, he knows that it is a legitimate concern. As soon as he opened Izzy's mouth, he agreed that those canine teeth were indeed too long and needed to come down.
This is not Izzy's mouth, but it illustrates exactly what Dr. Tolley did, but only to the upper canines. The bottoms were fine. If you're as geeked out by equine teeth as I am, check out the page from where I grabbed the photo. It offers a concise explanation as to why shortening the canine teeth can aid the horse. In fact, a week or so ago, while I was riding him, Izzy cut his tongue exactly where those upper canine teeth reside.
The whole dental exam and shortening of the canines took only a few minutes. After that, Dr. Tolley gave Izzy his vaccinations. For those that are interested in what we give here in California's Central Valley, the vaccines come grouped in two syringes. The first contains the vaccines for West Nile Virus, Eastern/Western Encephalomyelitis, and Tetanus. The second syringe contains the Rhino and Flu vaccines.
As we walked Izzy over to a holding pen so that he could wake up, we passed by Bakersfield Large Animal Hospital's new-to-them scale. I forgot to grab a photo of it, but it looks really similar to a wooden bridge you'd see in a trail class. I have only one other time been able to weigh my horse, and it was at an endurance ride in which my mare was part of a study. Having one that we can use for every visit is super cool.
Izzy stepped right up on it without batting an eye; an afternoon cocktail does that to you. He weighed in at a whopping 1,350 pounds! Speedy was a bit lighter, thank goodness, but I'll share that tomorrow.
Of course, once we got home I saw that Izzy had stepped on that shoe, but you already knew that. As I was pulling out, I told Dr. Tolley that I love working with him, but I hope we don't have to see him for a very long time. He chuckled and wished for the same.
You gotta love your vet!
I really want to tell you about Saturday's vet visit since it was actually quite interesting, but in an effort to show gratefulness to the Universe and her friends, I'd better give a big thank you first.
After sharing my litany of equine problems yesterday, I drove out to the barn prepared for more. To my surprise, nobody was broken, torn up, or limping. The first really good thing I saw was this.
Big deal, right? Except what I noticed was shiny nails. Shiny nails mean new shoes. But in this case, it just meant that my super great farrier was out to reset the shoe that Izzy bent while on the way home from the vet. For context, scroll down to the bottom of yesterday's post. You don't know, or maybe you do, what a load that simple thing took off my shoulders.
I didn't really want to ride with a sprung shoe as Izzy has trouble keeping them on while he's standing quietly. Riding with a shoe that had a 1 inch gap between the shoe and his foot would have been asking for trouble. So, I rode! Since he also needs to see the chiropractor - I am trying to get an appointment, but our schedules aren't lining up, I've been just hacking around the neighborhood. Three days of that and Izzy is starting to relax. I definitely see more of those rides in the next few weeks.
So what else do I need to be thankful for?
I hate to even complain about how cold it's been here as some of you would be celebrating temps in the 40s, but we had a day last week that never got above 49. It was awful. I don't know how some of you do it, and I am not being sarcastic. You guys are tough. It was actually painful, particularly so since I've been bandaging and scrubbing Speedy's wounds with ice cold fingers. Not yesterday!
But of course, the Universe also has a sense of humor. So while it was warm and sunny allowing me to both bandage Speedy without being in pain and ride Izzy for a half an hour, the Universe just couldn't leave well enough alone.
It has literally been freezing cold, and I mean temps in the high 20s, so where did the flies come from? Funny, Universe, really funny!
'cause I am done.
Well, for a few days anyway. It might even be a couple of weeks - I am taking a PE class on Tuesday and Thursday night after work, and then next week I am taking another Tuesday/Thursday night class on the Professional Learning Community (PLC). Eventually, after taking five more of these class, I'll get bumped over to the next pay column which means a raise. In between classes, you can find me wrapping Speedy's legs.
This entire winter has been made up of me tackling one equine problem after another, so adding in these two classes while I bandage legs should feel like par for the course. Just how many problems have my boys had this winter? Let's review.
Sometime in the fall, Izzy abscessed, but I didn't take him to the vet right away as his body seemed to be taking care of it. It was still a giant worry though, and I poulticed it for the better part of a week until he was mostly sound. The problem with wrapping him is that he doesn't get ridden. And every day that he isn't ridden, his energy level goes through the roof guaranteeing a doozy of a ride once my butt is finally in the saddle.
I finally took him to the vet when Speedy abscessed. Yes, that's right. Both horses had an abscess at the same time. It was decided that Izzy was over his, but Speedy got a nice hole carved into his foot. The very same day that he seemed sound, Speedy abscessed on the other foot. We repeated the trip to the vet for a matching hole on the second foot. He improved, but then he got worse, a lot worse. I loaded him back up for yet another trip to the vet where he got an even bigger hole in his foot.
Somewhere during all of this, Izzy pulled a shoe while my farrier was in Arizona. We finally got it replaced, and then there were about three days where everybody was healthy and all shoes were where they were supposed to be, and I got to finally ride Speedy.
The Universe just can't leave well enough alone though. During all of the abscessing, it was determined that Speedy now has Cushing's Disease and will need to be medicated for the rest of his days. Big sigh.
And then of course, a few weeks ago, Speedy tore open the front of his fetlock requiring sutures. After we got home from the vet, I turned him out and rode Izzy. When I came back to put Izzy away, I saw that Speedy had sliced open the other leg. We'd only been home about an hour. All I can say is that boy has a thing for symmetry.
Over the weekend, both boys made another trip to the vet so that Speedy could get his sutures removed. Since I was making the trip, I decided to have Dr. Tolley give both horses their spring vaccinations and do their dentals. I've driven out there so many times this winter that it didn't make any sense to do it again in a few weeks.
When I unloaded Izzy from the trailer, I saw this.
Like I said, put a fork in me. Sheesh!
I am utterly fascinated by horse keeping in other states and countries. Most of us spend our whole lives living in one place. Sure, we move around a bit, but not many of us get to pack up and change our zip codes that dramatically. As such, we're experts in our own small corner of the world.
I've ridden horses in the Canary Islands, Ireland, Scotland, Portugal, and Belize. Each time I had to be pried out of the tack room and barn with threats of you can't come back if you don't put that manure fork down! I can't help it. We all manage our horses so differently, so when I get a chance to see how YOU do it, I soak up every minute.
In 2012, I launched my first Horses Are Expensive series. I figured that if I wanted to know what keeping horses was like in far off places, other riders must want to know too. It was really difficult sharing my actual equine related costs with the rest of the world though. We all know more or less how much we spend, but when you see it actually presented in a Quicken report, it'll make you quake in your tall boots. In 2013, I gratefully returned to a state of not quite knowing what I was spending, and I loved being blissfully ignorant. By 2016 I was curious to know if my expenses had increased, so I did it again with Horses Are Expensive II.
It's been several years since that second series, and my curiosity is back. Have prices changed that much since 2016? Am I spending more or less? In 2012, my year-end total for showing and maintaining two horses was $21,101. in 2016 it fell to $16,266.92 for the year. I showed less that year because Speedy had a tendon issue. And surprisingly, we didn't make up the difference with vet bills. Go figure.
With tax season in full swing, my husband and I are re-evaluating our expenses which is why I was reminded of this series. I've already had some whopper vet bills this year, again because of Speedy, so it seemed like a good time to revise the Horses are Expensive series. So here it is, version 3.0.
January started out with trouble. Right away I had to pay for the new vent lids for my horse trailer. From there, odd expenses started pouring in. I spent $330 in "show costs" even though I didn't show. Ouch. Speedy was diagnosed with Cushing's Disease so there went $240 in Prascend tablets. Izzy's last SmartPak had to be paid for as well. And of course I also had to replace my truck's fuel pump. To the good, I did manage to get three lessons, which is always money well spent.
Speedy's vet bills for the two abscesses, Cushing 'sDisease diagnosis, and then the lacerations to both front legs will all be on my February bill. And because Speedy needs to go back to the vet tomorrow to see if the sutures can be removed, I decided to save a trip and get all of his and Izzy's spring shots and dental work taken care of in the same visit. February's vet bill is likely to be huge.
All in all, January's costs were pretty typical. If I hadn't spent the money on memberships and Prascend, I would have spent it on breeches or well, breeches. I have a thing, don't judge. Good thing February was short as I couldn't afford a longer month. I'll get that report out in another week. You never know, some other random bill might come up between now and next Thursday.
Have a great weekend, and try not to spend too much. Unless it's on breeches. Or tack. Okay, spend whatever you'd like. It's just money, and we can always get more!
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%: