From Endurance to Dressage
A Weighty Matter
My weight that is. Not too long ago I shared my weight loss journey. It was hard. It sucked. I am still on it. It's been more than a month since I wrote that post, so I thought I'd give you an update, especially for those who might have been inspired to lose a few pounds themselves. You can do it!
When last I left you, I was trying to get down to 123 pounds. I never made it, but that's okay. My doctor actually insisted I stop losing weight as my BMI was starting to get too low. I am holding steady at 125. I tick up to 126 now and then, but I easily bring it back, and when I've been particularly diligent, I even drop down into the 124 range. Don't tell Dr. Sharma.
It's been both easy and difficult to ease off the militaristic approach I took to losing weight. While eating yummy things now and then is wonderful, I am wracked with guilt as I do it which sort of diminishes the treat factor. The other problem is the slippery slope effect; if I've already had 1 scoop of chip and guacamole, I might as well have 12.
I am finding that within one or two days of a "splurge" - does 12 chips even count as splurging?, I can lose the gained pound without much additional effort. I feel good, my clothes are comfortable, and Speedy probably appreciates packing around less of me. Izzy's a chunk, so he doesn't even know I am up there.
Just about the time I started to think I had reached a kick-ass state of health - why wouldn't I think so after losing 40 flipping pounds?, I scheduled my annual physical, smug in the knowledge that I am HEALTHY.
The first thing my primary care physician noted was that my platelets were low. After pulling blood three times over 6 weeks, it was finally decided that my platelets are just low when compared to other people's platelets. My normal is just low. Be prepared; this will be revealed as a theme.
Even though I already take vitamin D and omega-3 fish oil, she noted that I am now rather deficient in B12 as well. Amazon should be delivering some of that in the next day or so. Again, low.
With the blood pressure cuff squeezing my now much skinnier arm, the nurse pointed out to the doctor that my pulse was quite low, somewhere around 52. An EKG machine was quickly rolled into the room and wires were strapped to my chest. Yep. Low.
Along with a questionable pulse, my blood pressure now regularly dips down into the 85 over 65 range. We're pretty sure that's where the dizziness is coming from. At the doctor's urging I now own a blood pressure monitor and cuff which I use twice a day every day to monitor and log my pulse and blood pressure.
I suddenly found myself being asked if I have a cardiologist. A what-ologist? I am 48 years old. Old people have cardiologists; not skinny pear-shaped women who carry their weight on their hips. I now have a cardiologist who I have seen three times, with yet another appointment scheduled for next week. That's how I found myself wearing one of these.
According to the Mayo Clinic, a Holter monitor is a small, wearable device that keeps track of your heart rhythm. Your doctor may want you to wear a Holter monitor for one to two days. During that time, the device records all of your heartbeats. That I even have to visit the Mayo Clinic web site smacks of "old ladyage." Yes, that's a word. I just made it up.
That's how I ended up wearing the heart monitor on Wednesday. The day before, I had an echocardiogram, an ultrasound of my heart. After that I had a Carotid ultrasound, an ultrasound of the arteries in my neck. It was after that that they strapped on the Holter monitor and told me to come back the next day to return it.
So what does all this mean? Nothing. The cardiologist already explained that losing so much weight, nearly 25% of my body, has made the workload much easier for my heart. Losing weight is also an easy way to lower your blood pressure.
But remember, low. My normal BP has always been right around 120 over 70 which is considered a low, healthy number. So now, it's really low, low enough to make me feel dizzy when I stand up. In all likelihood, my body just needs time to adapt to all this lowness.
So. Get healthy. Get fit. Your doctor needs to earn a living. Right now, I am supporting an entire medical team, mine and Speedy's.
Go, Team Speedy!
Making plans is the easy part. You peruse Facebook and click interested. You open your email and read over the show premium or clinician info. You click add event to your calendar. Suddenly, you've made plans.
I tend to keep my plans pretty close to the vest, especially so if they're important plans. But lately, I've been a bit more forthcoming about my plans. Plans like earning a bronze medal. Plans like riding with Lilo Fore. Plans like showing Izzy. So far none of those things are happening.
In my experience, talking about things that haven't yet happened as though they are a "done deal" somehow makes them even harder to achieve. This is especially true lately as the Universe and I aren't on particularly good terms.
Speedy's health issues have made that bronze medal look much farther from my grasp than it did in October. Lilo Fore? Had to cancel that. Izzy at a show? Well, no, not yet.
And yet ...
Ooh, look! I just got the info on an Erika Jansson Cavaletti Clinic that's being held in May. This would be a good outing for Izzy. Sign me up!
I wish I could say it was mine, but it's not. I am wondering about Speedy's though. He's had a really rough go of it these past 4 or 5 months, and as a result, he hasn't been very happy. I am starting to wonder if he's ready for retirement.
It hasn't helped that every time I touch him, I am doing something that he finds uncomfortable. I am either giving him pills, scrubbing wounds, picking at his mouth, or scraping mud off his heavy coat.
And that's a whole other load of stress, the Cushing's Disease. Not only does he get that pill every morning - a very special thank you to the ranch owner who does that every day, but he's suddenly looking like a Cushing's horse. For the first year ever, Speedy isn't shedding. His coat is just as heavy as it was in December.
Our winter has been unusually cold and wet, so I am just hoping he's holding on to his hair for good measure. I sure wish he'd start to shed though. I've promised him that I'll wait until April before I clip him. That should give him enough time to begin shedding on his own.
Over the weekend, he just looked so pissy. I really started to question what is right for this horse. Is he tired of dressage? Does he hate the work? Does he just want to be left alone? I can only answer no for the latter. The ranch owner lets me know when Speedy is particularly challenging to dose with his Prascend, and he is always easier to dose on the days after he's been ridden.
Even though he looked so sour on Saturday morning, I saddled him up anyway. He grouched at me and let me know that he wasn't happy with life in general and with me in particular. But then he started trotting, and his attitude changed. He gave me a really lovely ride which let me know that he does enjoy the work.
The next day, he was crusted over with mud. He had paced himself into a nasty sweat that had dried by morning. My heart was crushed. I don't know what has made him so unhappy. I hosed him off, which annoyed him even further, and tacked him up anyway.
I walked him up to the arena fighting back tears. I adore Speedy, but more than anything I want him to be happy in his work and happy living in his field with friends. I started to think he might be happier living somewhere else with someone else. But then we got to work.
A neighbor came over to use the round pen just as I started our warmup, and Speedy got spicy. Like tail over his back, hot to trot, spicy. I just kept asking for leg yields, transitions within the gait (trotting), and a lengthening here and there. Eventually he focused on is work and gave me the most brilliant canter-walk-canter transitions.
After several months off, I didn't think he'd remember how to do them. He did. And after asking for the first couple, he started showing off by offering them if I even thought about a half halt. I could see his self esteem rising after every movement. He was positively glowing with pride in himself.
Is he ready for retirement? I don't know, but I do know he still loves to work. Maybe he just needs to start feeling useful again. This horse has always needed a purpose, and now that he's (mostly) injury free, maybe he'll start to feel more like himself when he's once again being ridden regularly.
While I desperately want to earn my bronze medal on him, I only want it if he's happy to do it. Speedy's happiness is more important.
With things trying to quiet down around here, I am finally able to get to a few smaller things that have been going on around the ranch. A month or so ago, a crew of tree trimmers arrived to do some serious pruning of the ranch's massive forest of sycamores and cottonwoods.
The crew was here at a good time. The weather was less than ideal for riding, and Speedy was on the disabled list anyway. In fact, I had to take him to the vet to get his sutures out on one of their work days. If you can't ride, it's always best for it to happen in the dead of winter while the trees are getting cleaned up.
While it was more than annoying to have them working - their equipment rattled my teeth, there turned out to be a most unexpected bonus. After they thinned out the wayward branches, they dumped it all into a wood chipper rather than haul it off. As the mountains of wood chips began to pile up, I quickly asked the ranch owners if I could use some of it for dust control.
Not only was I given a resounding YES, but I was encouraged to take some home with me. And once I really stopped to look around, I realized there were dozens and dozens of wood chip mountains for me to use. The first thing I asked was if Reggie (the handyman) could lay down a layer of the wood chips around the tack room and the small trailer where I tack up.
When I saw how well that worked, I got bold and asked if we could pour some tractor loads of it into Speedy's paddock. With all of the whirling and pacing that he does, he stirs up a fine powder that fouls up his water trough and hangs in our summer time heat. That request was also met with a positive response.
Even though Reggie has been slowly using up the piles as mulch in the expansive yard at the ranch, there are still plenty of piles for me to use in Speedy's paddock keep the dust down. And as my boys grind the wood chips down, I'll even be able to replenish what we've already poured around the tack room.
So far, no one has shown an inclination to eat the stuff, so I feel quite confident about using it to control our dust. I am already eyeballing a few more places where a dust-free zone would be appreciated.
I love free stuff, especially when it does double duty!
Things are healing (mostly) well. I am a tad bit concerned about the wire holding Speedy's tooth in place, but at least the wires are still there. Before I elaborate, a friend tagged me in a Facebook post with this picture attached. I don't think it needs much explanation.
If you only land here sporadically, you're missing out on all sorts of drama. You really should check in more frequently. Either way, in mid-February, Speedy tore open the front of both front legs, requiring sutures on the right side. The second injury happened about an hour after returning to the ranch from the vet. That wound should probably have been stapled closed, but it's healing fine anyway.
When Speedy was in for his tooth, Dr. Tolley examined the scabs that are hanging around and gave me permission to work them off. I was hesitant to do it before because I didn't want to screw around with the epithelialization of the last bit of skin. I still don't like to yank the scabs off, and neither does Speedy, but with a good soaking and a scrub brush, they're coming off easier and easier. Once the wounds are clean and free of debris, I am still coating them with some AluShield. At this point, the AluShield is really just to make myself feel better.
Speaking of his teeth ...
Again, if you aren't a regular reader ... Speedy tried to knock out his bottom left incisor a week ago. Dr. Tolley wired it back into place, and so far, everything is holding steady. I am worried about the wire irritating a bit of his gum though. If you look at the last incisor, the one closest to the top as you're looking at the photo, there is a bit of gum that looks annoyed. I can't tell if the gum is simply healing - that's where the tooth was displaced, or is the wire rubbing on his gum? I'll watch it for another day or two. If it still looks a bit pissy, Dr. Tolley will get a photo, and I'll probably get yet another vet bill.
In for a penny, in for a pound. What I can say? We're kind of an all or nothing team.
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%: