From Endurance to Dressage
But first, an update on the Cottonwood Fire ... Gray Stallion was not the only survivor! Since yesterday, I have discovered that one horse is being treated for burns by a friend. She is covering the vet bills and treating the mare. I've also heard that Dr. Pipkin, from a different practice, is treating at least two others for burns and smoke inhalation. Other horses were led away from the scene, but I don't know how many, nor whether they were burned or injured. We do know that nearly two dozen were killed. It's shaping up to be a tough October here in sunny California ...
This past Thursday, I hauled Speedy down to Bakersfield Vet Hospital for a progress check on his coronary band injury. I should mention that getting Speedy to the vet on a weekday requires a very early start to the day.
I work fairly close to the vet hospital, but Speedy and I both live about 30 minutes to the east. The only way to get him to the vet before they close is to drop him off on my way to work. To do this, I have to drive to the barn, and switch vehicles (and my work keys, ID badge, barn bag, etc.). Then I have to round Speedy up from his turn out and load him in the pitch black.
We then make the half hour journey to the vet hospital where I unload him and find his day stall. The gate is locked, but the staff gives me the gate code. Once he's tucked in, I race back out to my truck and grab him some alfalfa for the day's wait.
I then navigate my truck and trailer through city traffic and park alongside the school where I work. The kids think it is quite funny to see a horse trailer parked next to the bike racks. After the last bell rings, I jump back in the truck and retrace my steps to the vet hospital for a late afternoon appointment.
I've done this trip three times this school year; once with Izzy and now twice with Speedy. I am amazed each time at how much my horses must trust me to so willingly load up in the dark only to be deposited in a somewhat unfamiliar place. I love them for trusting me.
Once I was back at BVH, I brought Speedy into the examining bay and pulled his bandages. Both Dr. Tolley and Dr. Gonzalez were quite pleased with my bandaging skills. I laughed and explained that I have been forced to become an expert. Once they saw how well the initial wound had healed, they were even more pleased.
Thankfully, Dr. Tolley agreed that we were past the bandaging phase and had arrived at the watch the hoof grow stage. There are a few things I need to keep an eye open for though as we wait. As the new hoof grows into the gap, it might grow at a faster rate than the hoof surrounding it which might force the hoof below the gouge to run out of room. This would create a bulge.
One way to relieve the pressure is to cut a piece out of the bottom of the hoof so that everything above it can settle downward. My farrier will be out in a few weeks so that is definitely something he will need to look at. It is also possible that Speedy will simply wear away or break off any hoof that protrudes below the bottom edge of the hoof wall.
Ultimately, we're waiting for about 2 centimeters of new hoof growth so that the gouged part of the hoof starts to come straight down. Dr. Tolley drew a a sketch to illustrate what it should look like over the next month or so. Once it reaches this stage, we'll decided whether it needs to be patched or doctored in any way.
I am hugely optimistic that we'll be back to work far quicker than I first worried. Right now, the wound is hard and clean and the coronary band is quickly leveling off. Just a few days ago, it still looked like it was shoved upward.
I can't wait to see what my farrier thinks.
By now, everyone across the country has heard about the devastation that last week's fires have caused here in California. The destruction to our cities, neighborhoods, farms, and vineyards is nearly unfathomable. While I feel a great deal of compassion for the folks outside of my city, it's easier for me to cope when I turn my attention to those in my own community.
Last week, I shared a post about the Jackson Stable Fire in Oildale. As of this weekend, that family has received an outpouring of public support for which they are extremely grateful. Unfortunately, the families affected by the Cottonwood fire haven't received as much support from the community.
Several of the affected families desperately need help. Their horses were being temporarily housed at the fairgrounds, but they have no hay, buckets, or other essentials. I heard that one man was still wearing the clothes that he had on during the fire. I don't know if there is an organized support system in place yet, but I suspect that a quick call (661-833-4900) to the Kern County Fairgrounds might yield some answers.
On Thursday, when I took Speedy to the vet to have his coronary band injury looked at (more about that tomorrow), I met the only horse (of more than twenty) who survived the Cottonwood Fire. He's a handsome gray stallion with a very friendly eye. Dr. Tolley was kind enough to share the story of what happened to him.
During the fire, which was fueled by high winds, the metal shade roof in the stallion's pen was knocked to the ground. Somehow, it sheltered him from the blaze that ultimately killed more than 20 other horses.
Even with something to block the flames, the stallion's muzzle was burned, but the rest of his body was kept safe. The barrier couldn't protect him against the smoke though. His lungs have severe damage from smoke inhalation, and as of Thursday afternoon, he was showing the early signs of pneumonia.
The family who owns this horse lost several others in the fire, including a mare in foal. I don't know what their financial situation is, but I know it's not solid enough to easily pay the quickly mounting vet bill. Given what I know of them, this bill is going to be very difficult for them to pay.
After I paid Speedy's bill, I slid my card back across the counter and asked if I might make a payment toward the stallion's expenses. The staff at BVH thanked me and made it clear that the stallion's owners would be grateful. Several others had already phoned in contributions earlier in the day.
As of Thursday, the total bill was hovering around $2,000, but given the developing pneumonia, it will likely get higher. If you feel like you'd like to help someone affected by California's recent wildfires, I think this family would really appreciate it.
Bakersfield Vet Hospital can be reached at 661-832-1150. Simply tell them you'd like to contribute to the bill of the stallion from the fire. They'll know which horse you mean.
There isn't a horse owner out there who doesn't appreciate a barn stacked to the rafters with freshly delivered hay. I don't have to buy hay anymore, but I still love the sight of a two story tower of the green stuff. Our last delivery of the year came last week.
There are currently nine horses at the ranch, including my two, but there are usually eleven. There is a TB mare who is out for training, but she should be back before winter. Another one belongs to the neighbor, so he's not a regular resident, but he does stay with us when the neighbor travels out of state.
As such, we have enough horses to warrant buying hay in bulk, but not so many that we have to do it all year long. This load of alfalfa will be the last until summer. We already had enough grass hay to last through the winter.
The latest load of alfalfa is some of the prettiest that I've ever seen. It is super fine with nary a coarse piece. In an attempt to plump Speedy up before winter, the ranch owner has already opened the new stuff to see if she can tempt Speedy into eating every morsel. He tends to turn his nose up at the stemmier pieces.
When the hay was delivered by our local procurer of baled green stuff, he shared that this particular hay came from the very same load that he just sold to the US Olympic team. We're trying to get our hands on the hay analysis that was required by the Olympic team. Ranch owner and I are both curious to see what it shows.
Thanks to the ranch owner, I know my boys are getting the absolute best hay that can be found this side of the Rockies. Now all that's left to do is ride them!
When I first saw Speedy's injury cleared of the crust and gunk, I was certain he'd be out for six months. Now, I am thinking he might get back to work a whole lot sooner.
Each time I changed the bandage over the past two weeks, the wound looked quieter. Right now, it has lost all of the dramatic swelling and no raw-looking tissue is left. The dark spot you see is not a scab; it's new hoof, and best of all, it's hardening. Speedy has continued to be sound, and other than being annoyed at not having a job to do, he's quite comfortable.
We're going to the vet for a check up today. I am hoping Dr. Tolley says I can quit wrapping it as everything is firm with no soft tissue showing. No biggie if not. It's an easy wrap job, and from experience, I know that if I stay the course, this will heal up before I know it.
While I am there, I want to talk about helping one of the families who was affected by Monday's dramatic fires. I've heard that 23 horses died in the Cottonwood fire, and only one survived. That one is owned by Martha and Manuel Carillo. The horse was treated by Dr. Gonzalez, but the owners are not in a financial position to pay the bill. I am hoping BVH will let me make a payment toward their bill.
While my own vet bills have piled up this year, I have been blessed with the means to pay them. It wouldn't hurt to help someone else do the same. If you're local and want to help, BVH can be reached at 661-203-6365.
On Sunday and Monday, high winds swept across California, igniting wildfires in several large communities including Santa Rosa (north of San Fransisco) and Anaheim Hills (Los Angeles). Two large fires also struck Bakersfield, both within an hour of each other.
The first began in the south of town, burning several homes, but more tragically, approximately 20 horses were also killed. The second fire occurred along the river in Oildale. At least 5 horses were killed in that blaze. Thanks to the quick thinking of several firefighters, many horses were let loose, ultimately saving their lives.
The fire in Oildale decimated an entire boarding facility, including the owners' home. A call has gone out to help this family get back on its feet. If you would like to help, here is how you can do that.
For the victims of the Jackson Fire
Several friends have asked if my own equine family is safe, so I wanted to assure you that yes, we are fine. This is a terrible tragedy, and every horse owner in town has hugged their own ponies, thankful that they are safe. A barn fire is an owner's worst nightmare.
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%
2022 Show Season
(r) Ride-a-Test Clinic
2022 Show Schedule
(*) Tehachapi 7/24/22
(*) Tehachapi 8/28/22
2022 Completed …
(*) Tehachapi 5/22/22
2022 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
2 Scores/1 Judges/60%: