From Endurance to Dressage
(Back to teeth tomorrow ... this just couldn't wait.)
Well, let's count. I decided to take the leap this show season and go for a two-day show, or maybe two. The Santa Barbara Show at the end of March was to be the one. I completed the entry, which was entry # 1, stuck it in an envelope, and emailed another rider to confirm stabling arrangements. Hmmmm ... those riders had decided to do the show in Burbank instead. Okay, that sounds good, so I tossed the Santa Barbara entry in the trash and completed entry #2.
Except I made a mistake. After entering all of my information, I moved on to Speedy's part. As I was nearly finished, I realized that in the spots where his USEF, USDF, and CDS numbers were to be written, I had entered mine instead. Doh! I reprinted the paper work and completed entry # 3. I stuck it in the envelope and then forgot to drop it in the morning mail. Show management had promised to strictly enforce the late entry policy so in a panic, I drove to Bakersfield's main post office that afternoon to ensure that it went out with that day's mail. It had three days to make the journey.
On Friday morning, I started to panic and decided to prepare a faxed entry in case it hadn't made it by mid-day. That was entry #4. At my lunch break, I put in the call to the show management and was relieved to hear that my entry had indeed arrived and the faxed copy wouldn't be necessary. The bad news was that the entries weren't coming in fast enough so the show management was considering making it a one day show instead. I decided that while that was a bummer, I could still make it an overnight trip and save some money in the process. The Santa Barbara Show's entry had to be posted by Saturday so it was too late to change my mind. It was Burbank or nothing.
Yesterday, hubby tossed me the mail, and I found an envelope from the Burbank show. Inside was my show entry! And there's entry #5. There was no note, no explanation, just my entry and a check. Not one to give up, I quickly dialed the show manager for the Santa Barbara Show and asked if was too late to get in an entry. I explained the returned entry from Burbank and she confirmed the show's cancellation. Sure, I could still submit an entry, but it would cost me the $25 late fee. And could I fax/email the entry ASAP? And so I filled out entry # 6, and made a copy, entry #7. I then scanned the copy, entry #8, and emailed it.
My one job this morning is to drop entry #6 in the mail. And since I already paid the $25 late fee, I am not rushing it to the post office. The mail carrier can pick it up from my work office!
John Tolley, DVM, lectures on equine dental care
Along with his colleague, Laura Blanton, DVM, and their sponsor, Boehringer Ingelheim, John Tolley, DVM presented the following text at the Bakersfield Veterinary Hospital Client Seminar held on March 15, 2012. Each year, BVH hosts a seminar to focus on an aspect of equine health care. This year’s topics were “Routine Dental Care is Essential to Your Horse’s Health” and "Care and Feeding of the Older Horse.”
Routine dental care is essential to your horse's in health. Periodic examinations and regular maintenance, such as floating, are especially necessary today for a number of reasons:
Horses evolved as grazing animals, and their teeth are perfectly adapted for that purpose. The forward teeth, known as incisors, function to shear off forage. The cheek teeth, including the molars and premolars with their wide, flat, graveled surfaces, easily grind the feed to a mash before it is swallowed.
Like humans, horses get two sets of teeth in their lifetime. The baby teeth, also called deciduous teeth, are temporary. The first deciduous incisors may erupt before the foal is born. The last baby teeth come in when the horse is about 8 months of age. These teeth begin to be replaced by adult teeth around age 2 1/2. By age 5, most horses have their full complement of permanent teeth. An adult male horse has 40 permanent teeth. A mare may have between 36-40, because mares are less likely to have canine (bridle) teeth.
The following chart shows the approximate ages at which different teeth erupt. By referring to it, you may detect potential abnormalities of your own horse associated with teething. For more information, refer to the Official Guide for Determining the Age of the Horse, published by the AAEP.
Internet Drawing of the Horse's Skull
Deciduous (Baby Teeth)
1st incisors (centrals) - Birth or 1st week
2nd incisors (intermediates) - 4-6 weeks
3rd incisors (corners) - 6-9 months
1st, 2nd, & 3rd premolars (cheek teeth) - Birth or first 2 weeks for all premolars
Permanent (Adult Teeth)
1st incisors (centrals) - 2 1/2 years
2nd incisors (intermediates) - 3 1/2 years
3rd incisors (corners) - 4 1/2 years
Canines (bridle) - 4-5 years
Wolf teeth (1st premolars) - 5-6 months
2nd premolars (1st cheek teeth) - 2 1/2 years
3rd premolars (2nd cheek teeth) - 3 years
4th premolars (3rd cheek teeth) - 4 years
1st molars (4th cheek teeth) - 9-12 months
2nd molars (5th cheek teeth) - 2 years
3rd molars (6th cheek teeth) - 3 1/2 - 4 years
Wolf teeth are very small teeth located in front of the second premolar. They rarely appear in the lower jaw. A horse may have one to four, or no wolf teeth. While not all wolf teeth are troublesome, veterinarians routinely remove them to prevent pain or interference with a bit.
Moving from the endurance world to the dressage world has given me the opportunity to see how other disciplines approach horse care. And what’s more, horse-care styles vary depending on where you live. Since I don’t live in Florida, Texas, or Michigan, I can't really discuss horse care around the country, only what I see in California which means my data set is actually fairly limited, so take this with the proverbial grain of salt. I do not mean to offend anyone here, which always means that a dig is fast approaching, but in general, there seems to be some pretty big differences in how some endurance riders, English riders, western riders, and just plain ole backyard riders deal with equine health care.
And ... here it comes.
Endurance riders seem to do a lot of preventative health care, especially if they compete regularly. They learn to treat minor things very quickly and tend to run stuff by their vet. This easy communication probably develops because an endurance rider will talk to a vet at least five times, or more, during an endurance ride. When competing 50 or 100 miles, tiny things become gigantic things after 37 miles, and gigantic things become life-threatening at 87 miles. Being open and communicative with your vet is a good idea. In the sport’s early years, horses died. And occasionally, they still do.
When I was competing regularly, a pile of ignored hay or a mis-step on the trail caused gut wrenching worry. Not only might either one of those things call for a metabolic or lameness disqualification, but they also might signal potentially serious health issues. And allowing the horse to warm up out of it or sleep it off, just didn’t fly. If you wanted your horse to compete that season, he needed to be in perfect health. My vet became a critical member of my team.
I have quit worrying about mis-steps and lameness as a dressage rider. We aren’t working “hard enough” to suffer the same kinds of injuries that happen to endurance horses. Occasional bangs and mis-steps are just part of daily life and not career ending as they might have been before. I also find myself less observant at shows of exactly how much water my horse drank from his bucket or how empty the hay bag is. Do I care less? No. I just know that he isn’t going to die if he didn’t empty the entire bucket. At an endurance ride, he might. My endurance experience taught me the value of preventative health care. And even though I no longer compete in that field, I still use what I learned to help manage my horses’ health today.
I have noticed that some English riders, especially those not competing, occasionally put off some of the preventative care that isn’t as time sensitive as say treating a colic or an acute injury. I suspect this has to do with several things. I think many horses are in regular training and riders don’t want to take the time off that vaccinating and teeth floating, or occlusal equilibration as it is now called, often take. I also see many riders depending on their trainer for scheduling these types of things. And frankly, many English riders and trainers come from a background that is steeped in tradition which means things often get done exactly how they’ve always been done.
Western riders care for their horses far differently than do the endurance or English riders. Their history is different. As the west was being settled and ranches began to dot the landscape, a culture of self-reliance was born. Doctors for people were hardly available, and veterinaries were even more distant. Out of sheer necessity, do-it-yourself remedies became a way of life. I think that this style of horse keeping continues today. Preventative health care is seen as an unnecessary expense. Western riders will often treat their own horses and some see little reason to bring in a vet. In this area in particular, many western riders, and especially backyard owners, will often wait to call the vet until the situation is serious (and often beyond fixing).
So what does preventative health care entail? There are some basics of course, but I suppose prevention can go as far as your personal values, particular discipline, and budget will allow. I used to consider monthly Adequan injections part of my preventative health care plan. Now that I am not conditioning for endurance, I see it as an unnecessary expense. So what does my plan include? Based on my veterinarian’s recommendation, this is the minimum of what I provide for each horse:
Is there more that I could do? Absolutely. Is this the best preventative health care plan available? No. There is no end to the preventative care that we can provide our horses. There are limitless vitamins and other supplements that we can feed. We can run regular blood panels to evaluate the function of internal organs. We can take x-rays to establish baselines and for charting bone changes. It’s up to each rider to determine what she can afford and what she thinks is most necessary for each horse’s overall well-being.
If you own horses, disappearing dollars is a well-known phenomenon, but routine health care is a pretty important part of maintaining a healthy horse. Bakersfield Veterinarian Hospital holds an annual Client Seminar with the purpose of educating its clients about all facets of equine health. Over the next few days I am going to share the text of Dr. Tolley’s lecture, “Routine Dental Care is Essential to Your Horse’s Health.”
Last night Bakersfield Veterinary Hospital hosted its annual client seminar at a local restaurant's banquet hall. Dr. Tolley and Dr. Blanton discussed equine dentistry (Ha! already did that!) and care and feeding of the older horse (just listened 'cause it's Dr. B.) I have lots of good information to share, but it will need to wait until next week. We're heading to the cabin shortly where we won't have internet or cell service - just peace, quiet, and hopefully some snow!
I'll see you on Monday. Have a great weekend!
Both boys recently made their annual trip to visit Bakersfield Vet Hospital. Dr. B had the day off, so my other favorite vet, Dr. Tolley, did the honors.
As we do each spring, the boys received BVH's recommended core vaccines: Eastern & Western Encephalomyelitis, West Nile Virus, and Tetanus - all given IM in the neck, followed by Influenza and Rhinopneumonitis - also given IM in the back of the thigh.
Their poop was also checked for worm eggs by BVH's new tech, Katharyn (sorry about the spelling). She was just as gracious as Mindy, the previous tech, and let me poke around the lab and check out her work under the microscope.
Dr. Tolley also "let" me help with the removal of both boys' "beans," those pesky clumps of smegma that form in and around a gelding's sheath. I say "let" because as soon as either boy drops, I dive in for a look. Sydney lets me poke around regularly, but Speedy G is very reluctant to let me handle his wing wang without the proper "cocktail." Dr. Tolley showed me a small trick for pulling out a wing wang when it is firmly tucked in hiding.
The boys also had their pearly whites examined and fussed over. Speedy G needed slightly more work than Sydney. He had some sharp points developing and some rough spots on the top of the teeth which prevent them from sliding back and forth. Dr. Tolley is an excellent teacher and always lets me check out his work first hand. He asks me to locate any hooks and spots that need addressing. I always miss most of the problem areas, but sometimes I am right!
When Sydney's turn rolled around, Dr. Tolley spotted an abnormality in Sydney's mouth that he wanted me to be aware of for the future. Sydney's bottom pm2 doesn't have a corresponding upper tooth, and his upper M3 doesn't have a corresponding bottom tooth. He doesn't have an underbite, he just doesn't line up correctly. The potential problem is that each of those teeth can grow unchecked without the aid of a partner tooth wearing them down. When Sydney first saw Dr. B and Dr. Tolley over the summer, it was thought that his previous dentist had just been overaggressive in his floating. But after closer inspection, Dr. Tolley suspects the aggressive dental work had been done to avoid the issue that he is now seeing. Sydney doesn't have anything to worry about as long as he receives regular dental care.
Both boys looked rather puny the next morning and weren't too interested in breakfast. RM, the barn owner, texted me at work just to give me the heads up. By afternoon, Speedy G was his regular, perky self, but Sydney still wasn't feeling up to par. I took him out on the lawn and let him hand graze which seemed to make him happier than anything else.
We're heading to the cabin over the weekend which means no riding, but for this particular weekend, that's a good idea. No point in stressing their immune systems when it's not absolutely necessary. Here are some photos of our recent "spring cleaning." Click photos for larger views.
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 …
8/7-8 SCEC (***)
10/30-31 SCEC (***)
2021 Completed …
10/24-25 SCEC (***)
11/7-11/8 SB (***)
4/10-11 SCEC (***)
5/16-17 El Sueño (***)
6/26-27 SCEC (***)
7/17-18 El Sueño (***)
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