I get asked all the time at shows if Speedy is an Arabian. When I first started getting that question, it baffled me. I mean look at him ... doesn't he look like an Arab to you?
Way back in the beginning, when I moved from endurance to dressage, no one ever asked if Speedy was an Arabian. It was pretty obvious.
There are a lot of different Arabian types. There are the super "dishy" Arabs with over-exaggerated features which stand in sharp contrast to the coarser Arabs who don't have the finer features of the classically bred Arabians. And then there are horses like Speedy. He's my favorite type, and I've had three others just like him. He is stamped with the elegance of the Arabian horse's finer features, but he has the solid bone structure that allows him to be a working horse.
Now when people ask me if Speedy is an Arabian, I know why. He doesn't look like the Arabs they're used to seeing - the prancing gazelles of the horse world. He also doesn't act like the Arabs they're used to seeing - flared nostrils, eyes wide, tails flipped over the back ...
At home though, Speedy can let his freak flag fly. In his own turnout space, he loves to show off and remind me that he is all Arab ... flared nostrils, eyes wide, and tail flipped over his back.
All Arabian ... I knew you'd have to see it to believe it.
When I rode with Chemaine last month, those were almost her parting words to me. I actually think I heard her say, "half halt, half halt, half halt!"
I've kept that idea in my mind over the past month. When things seem to be going haywire, and I can't figure out how to get back on track, it will occur to me that I should probably half halt. Of course, I'm usually about 45 seconds too late, but at least it is now occurring to me to half halt as a solution. I got a great reminder of that last night when I rode Izzy.
Before I go on, I should point out that Izzy is not easy to ride. He is not scary like Sydney was, although when people watch me ride him, I know they are thinking thank goodness she's on him and I am not.
I might be frustrated at how hard he's making things, but I am not scared of him. In fact, after he nearly flipped me over his back twice last night after scooting forward - at the walk, I just laughed at how silly he is.
Every day that I see him, I marvel at the things that he now takes in stride: he is a doll in the cross ties, he can go through the gate without bolting past me, he leads quietly, he lowers his giraffe neck to the ground with a simple touch to his poll, and he even lifts his 12,000,000 pound feet up for picking out. But ...
Each ride is a painstaking ordeal. I know we're making progress, but he questions the need to frame up every single day. Are you sure I can't run around with my nose sticking waaaay up here? And when my answer is no, dude, you can't, he squeals, grunts, shakes his head, and looks for a way around me.
Every. Single. Time.
Right now, I am doing the same exercises for each ride. I start out on a circle at the walk and bring him to a halt and ask his him to soften before walking on again. We do this about 400 times. As we're walking and halting around the circle, I am slowly spiraling down to the other end of the arena by leg yielding into the open end of the circle. Before he knows it, we're at the scary end. As we leg yield, I do lots of halt halts to encourage him to step over instead of forward.
When we've done that spiral down to the end while half halting to both directions, I do it at the trot. Of course, he questions that as well: are you sure that's what you want me to do because it feels really hard, and I would rather buck, squeal, or run off somewhere else. My answer is always the same, a hard jerk with the outside rein to say no, stay right here.
It's tedious, and it's frustrating that he is such a slow learner, but little by little he is figuring it out. After several firm jerks, he quits trying to run off. And after about 30 minutes, just as I am losing daylight, I feel his brain engage, and he asks: wait, you mean you just want me to trot around with this bit carried softly in my mouth? Why didn't you say so?!
And then we're done. Last night, I had to be a Nazi about the half halts. Every single time he poked his nose into the air or tried to run through my aids, I half halted hard until little by little, the half halts came more from my core than my hands. My response was always the same - an audible nope, accompanied by a tightening of my core, and rein if I needed it.
We're getting there - it's slow, but it's happening. And the exciting thing is that when he finally relaxes through his neck and lets his back swing, he is so fancy and uphill. Like Chemaine told me last month, the great scores come from riding that knife edge of "almost out of control." Izzy's got it in spades!
When I got to the barn on Monday afternoon, my plan was to turn Izzy out and ride Speedy. The weather was quite cool and brisk and Izzy hadn't been out since Friday; we had been in Phoenix for the weekend.
Speedy's the type of horse that you can just hop on even when he's had weeks or months off. Izzy ... not so much. And frankly, I just wasn't into a rodeo type ride.
When I walked Izzy over to Laurel's turnout, I was thrilled to see that Austin was turned out in the center arena which meant that Izzy would have a friend during turnout.
Laurel was on her way to work and actually needed to put Austin away, but she quickly agreed to let him stay out longer if I was willing to put him back. She was just as happy for him to have someone to play with as I was. Both of our horses are stabled in a way that they can't touch another horse through the fence, so to have the opportunity to bite and play with another horse is a real treat.
I think both boys enjoyed their impromptu play date.
Before we left for Phoenix this past weekend, I wrote a blog post about taking both boys to the vet for vaccinations. I didn't realize how many people have been following Izzy's leg wound story and recent lameness. Based on some of your comments, there are some out there who are a bit worried. I guess I need to fill in some blanks.
First off, Speedy is happy and well. He is not thrilled with all of the recent leg yield work, but he is kicking some serious butt at the canter transitions. At Second Level Test 1, you have to do a simple change of lead through walk on a serpentine. I am desperate to get to that test, so I am schooling that particular movement to the best of our ability.
Right now, in my short court, he can do the change of lead through trot on centerline. This means we canter to the quarter line, make the change of lead at centerline and canter around the half circle to the next quarter line where we do a quick downward transition to trot. We do a change of lead on centerline again and canter the next half circle to C or A where we start over.
Since it's a short court, my half circles are only about 15-meters. Even so, Speedy can still get the lead change on the centerline every. single. time. The dude rocks it. The simple change is coming.
Izzy is also happy and well. The soreness, whether from a bruise or not, seems to be healed completely. Late last week I was finally able to get in several schooling rides that included walk, trot, and canter. I didn't feel a single mis-step. The rides weren't exactly pretty, but we spiraled down to the far end in the trot in both directions and did a bit of canter work.
Chemaine will be here this coming weekend for Casual Clinic #3, so we will have plenty to work on.
As far as his leg wound, it really doesn't look bad at all. I am just frustrated that I am still dealing with it. I want to be addressing the scarring, not the wound itself. There is still a teeny tiny part that doesn't want to close over completely.
Sorry for the poor photo, but by the time I get to the barn, the light is pretty bad. You can see the little part that I am talking about. It's the circular area right in the middle. It has a little scab on it, which I am hoping is a real scab this time and not just the cap to proud flesh.
Over the past two months, the scab had been closing over the top, but proud flesh was growing underneath. I would pick the scab off only to find over-granulated tissue underneath. Right now, this scab seems right, so I am leaving everything alone.
So there you have it - two healthy horses. They're both getting ridden regularly, and everyone is fit, healthy, and happy.
I love getting new stuff. Seeing a brown box outside my door always makes me feel giddy, even when I know it's just vet wrap.
Of course, nobody orders just vet wrap. You have to throw a few more things into the order. And in this case, the vet wrap was actually the add on to get the free shipping.
What I really needed were new bell boots for Izzy and a way to keep him from chewing them off in the first 24 hours. After much research and web browsing, I decided on RapLast.
There are a few different anti-chew products on the market, but I needed this kind of quickly and aerosols don't come by plane.
Since I bought Izzy a year ago, he has had some kind of wound on his body that has required doctoring. And I am not talking about little scrapes and bumps. His are HUGE and most have to do with his legs and feet. He is just so active in his stall and paddock that he is tearing himself to bits.
Most recently, he has tried to separate his hooves from his body. I have tried several pairs of bell boots already, but he has managed to get them off his feet within a day or so. I put them on and the next day I find them ripped into a million little pieces.
I read the warning label on the RapLast very carefully, especially after reading the reviews. From what other users have said, this stuff is quite nasty. I donned gloves and laid out a plastic barrier before I doused the bell boots with the RapLast. I even kept the gloves on while I put the boots on.
When I first put him back in his stall, he started chewing on the bell boots immediately. Crap. I don't have much hope for this product. Not one to be deterred, I threw caution to the wind and set the nozzle to spray. The directions explicitly forbade using the spray feature as the dose delivered would coat too large of an area. Fine by me.
After coating the bell boots again, this time with the spray dose as opposed to the stream, Izzy reached down to give the boots another tug. He quickly gave the flehmen response which gave me some hope.
I don't know if this stuff will work or not. I have my doubts. I've probably just wasted another $30 in boots and spray. In the meantime, my order also included some Mane and Tail, so I gave Izzy's tail some much needed attention.
Izzy has a very luxurious, full tail. I rarely touch it except to keep it banged or to run some kind of conditioner through it. Even though I coated it with some Mane and Tail detangler, it was still pretty gnarled. I pulled out my conditioner of choice, EQyss Survivor Detangler, and rubbed it through his tail. This stuff is fabulous, but it is on the pricier end of the spectrum.
After his tail was neatly combed through, I lifted it and cut a good six inches off. It looked so much better that I wondered how I let it go so long.
So even if the RapLast doesn't do its job and Izzy continues to whack his own feet, at least he has good hair!
Hilda Gurney, Steffen Peters, Jan Ebeling, Charlotte DuJardin ...
There are a lot of big name dressage trainers out there, most of whom we'll never get to meet.
I am proud to say that my own trainer, the always awesome Chemaine Hurtado, is on her way to joining that illustrious group of names. That's my tip for today by the way: get in with someone before they hit the big time, and then you're golden!
Chemaine is a resident trainer based at CastleRock Farms in Moorpark, California where she operates Symphony Dressage Stables. Her mission is to help dressage riders reach their goals in and out of the show ring. I can certainly attest to that. That's one of the things I love most about Chemaine - her dedication to her students' success. I always know she's rooting for me; I am not just a paycheck to her. She's always so proud of all her students and wants nothing but the best for us and our horses.
Just recently Chemaine was asked to be a runway model at Dressage Extension's Fashion show. Do you know who else was there? Mrs. Ann Romney!! That's the big time, folks.
Last year, she was invited to be the demo rider for Chris Cox at Horse Expo Pomona. Chris got tons of positive feedback from his fans that illustrated how much people liked watching Chemaine and Chris work together. Here's a video of the demonstration.
Chemaine also has a Yoga Ball series on YouTube that is helpful for all levels of riders. Grab your medicine ball and ride along with her!
There's more! She's even done an online commercial for Grand Meadows products.
But the kicker? The real making it to the top moment is that she's been invited to be the dressage clinician at the 2016 Horse Expo in Pomona! How awesome will it be to see her name listed with the likes of Clinton Anderson?
I attend Horse Expo (formerly Equine Affaire) in Pomona every year. I've seen a lot of big name trainers and have enjoyed watching them work. I am so excited for Chemaine to have this opportunity to increase her exposure locally as well as to work with so many national trainers of other disciplines.
Not only is she an excellent rider and teacher, but she has a special ability for making the sport fun and accessible for even the most beginner rider. Being a demo rider for her would be way too much fun, but that's probably a pie in the sky deal. Who wouldn't want that job? Even helping out in a booth would be totally amazing.
So there you have it - I think I can officially claim that I ride with a BIG NAME trainer! Oh, and before I forget, those of you who enjoy your daily dose of Bakersfield Dressage will have to get your fix elsewhere; we'll be in Phoenix for the weekend at a wedding. See you on Monday!
I've been hemming and hawing over taking Izzy to see Dr. Tolley at Bakersfield Vet Hospital. The wound on his leg has required re-wrapping again (don't ask), and he's been lame on the left front for the better part of six weeks.
I've been taking care of the leg wound myself, and Izzy's lameness had faded to almost nothing by last weekend. When USEF announced the rule change regarding proof of Flu and Rhino vaccinations, I got off the indecisive fence and scheduled an appointment anyway.
I've written about Bakersfield Vet Hospital's staff many, many times. It just can't be said enough though - every single person from the front office staff to the vet technicians to the vet assistants to the doctors themselves make office visits such a pleasure.
I had barely unloaded the horses when the vet tech came out ready to collect fecal samples. She was pleasantly surprised when I handed her baggies already filled and labeled with each horse's name. Once both boys were secured to the trailer, I followed her to the lab so that I could watch her do her tests.
I am usually too busy with Dr. Tolley to get to watch her work, but I had arrived early for my appointment, and Dr. Tolley was still busy with the previous client. I took advantage of the opportunity and asked tons of questions.
One thing I didn't know was that the vial she fills with poo is actually a lot like a salad dressing cruet. You know the ones that show how much water, oil, and vinegar to add? Her vial is a lot like that. It has markers that show her how much solution to use and how much poo needs to be added. And, it's not water that she uses to mix with the manure. Instead, it's a special flotation solution that forces the eggs to float to the top.
She siphons off a few drops of the soup and squirts them onto a special slide that has two grids side by side. She slips the slide under the microscope and then very thoroughly checks every single square on the grid. She counts every egg that she sees and sorts them by type. She's mostly looking for two things. I am going to be honest here. She showed me the chart with pictures and names of the types of eggs she most commonly sees, but I can't remember what they were.
My horses live in sandy stalls/paddocks where the manure is picked up daily, so their risk of a parasite load is negligible. In fact, I've never ever had anything but a negative eggs per gram test. That of course makes the task easier, but it's not very interesting when you're wanting to see what an egg looks like.
BVH's lab tech had just the answer. Earlier in the day, a filly had come in with a GINORMOUS parasite load, so she pulled a fresh fecal sample and re-ran the test so that I could look for the eggs myself. She found the first type of egg for me and then let me look for the second one. Out of sheer luck, I found one example, but couldn't find others. Here's a photo she took for me.
The two big blobs are the common type of eggs she sees, but the little smudge to the right of the bottom egg is the second type. This is all super cool to look at when it's someone else's horse's fecal sample. I wouldn't be as excited about the whole deal if I was looking at Speedy or Izzy's poop. Both of their tests came back negative by the way.
By the time we had run the fecal tests, Dr. Tolley was ready for us. Even though our appointment was just for vaccinations, he asked if there was anything else that I wanted to talk about. HAHAHA - but of course!
I pulled Izzy's bandage and had a little pity party about the fact that the wound had still not healed over 100%. Dr. Tolley felt that it looked great and suggested I keep doing what I am doing. It is now covered with a thin scab, but he suggested I wrap for a little longer to allow the tissue under the scab to heal more fully.
Once I am ready to stop bandaging again, he suggested I look for a paint on liquid bandage or even super glue to hold things in place so it doesn't crack back open. That was a clever suggestion.
I also asked him to look at Izzy's front left - the one he tore the shoe off of three times in less than three weeks. Dr. Tolley gave the foot a visual inspection, put the hoof testers on, and then watched Izzy walk off in a straight line. it wasn't an actual lameness exam, but it made me feel better. Izzy was negative to the hoof testers, and Dr. Tolley thought he was well shod with no red flags. His earlier guess of a bruise was still holding water.
I was tickled to hear him compliment Izzy's over-all health. He was really happy with how much weight I have been able to pack on this high energy horse. Dr. Tolley called him a well muscled, adult horse who was just ... big! That was music to my ears considering that six months ago, Dr. Tolley expressed doubt about my being able to pack weight on a young TB cross.
Speedy got the same once over. Dr. Tolley looked at his feet to check on how my farrier was doing with Speedy's angles. Dr. Tolley had me walk Speedy out so that he could see how he was moving. If you'll remember, we've gone through several bouts of lameness that we are now chalking up to hoof bruises caused by the rear feet striking the front hooves. Going barefoot and living in bell boots has resolved that issue entirely.
Both boys got their Flu and Rhino vaccinations so that I will be in compliance with USEF's new vaccine schedule. Amanda, from over at the $900 Facebook Pony generously shared a link to a USEF vaccination record form that I printed. Dr. Tolley happily filled it out and stamped it with his official vet stamp. I am not sure he enjoys the extra paperwork, but I know he likes to be thorough.
While spending several hours hauling to the vet on a rare day off might not be entertainment to most people, I thoroughly enjoyed the afternoon. Hearing that my boys are in good health and having it confirmed by such a knowledgeable veterinarian is worth a few hours out of my day. The trick is to keep them that way.
How many of you will need to adjust your vaccination schedule to meet the new USEF rule?
I have to thank Jen, Chairperson of the Ventura County Chapter of CDS, for sharing this particular rule change. To see all of the USEF Rules or the list of proposed rule changes, visit this link.
As of December 1, 2015, USEF is requiring all horses who show at USEF licensed shows have proof of Flu and Rhino vaccinations within the past six months. Here's the actual text of the rule:
GR845 Equine Vaccination Rule
In the current rule book, last updated 8/1/15, there is no GR845. It's a new rule that will go into effect with the 2016 show season. You can see the 2016 rule book here with the new rule in place.
I don't have a problem with the rule change, but it will make things more expensive for me. Unless there is a special concern, I don't typically give fall versions of Flu and Rhino. My little herd of two lives with another little herd of two who rarely leaves the property.
If anything, it is my two with whom everyone should be concerned. I travel quite regularly and expose my horses to all kinds of stuff and then bring it back to our quiet little ho hum facility of four stalls. I guess I really should vaccinate them twice a year - for everyone else's sake.
The new rule means that I will have now have to go to the vet at least twice a year. In the spring, my boys always get their annual vaccinations as well as have their teeth done. They also get a general all-over check and we do fecal counts. In the fall, I usually just take a poop sample to the vet and they call me with the results.
Since I might show in the early spring, I'll need more recent proof of having administered both vaccines. We did them last in March of this year. Ah well, it's not like it's a huge burden, but it does mean several hours of driving across town and back. My vet's ranch call charge is a lot more than the price for a gallon or two of gas. And since my barn is so small, it's not like there are a bunch of us needing him for the same thing.
I thought I had avoided a November vet visit. I guess I was wrong; we're going today.
Drunk or just crazy busy, this feels like my life every single day!
If that's not a metaphor for the need to at least occasionally stop to smell the roses, I don't know what is. From time to time, would someone please remind me to get off the Merry-Go-Round of crazy? Right now, it feels like that lion is nipping at my toes!
It's almost like seeing Christmas decorations before Halloween. That's how I feel about memberships. Already? I just paid those ... 12 months ago.
The thing with memberships is that you can choose not to pay them, but then you don't get the perks and benefits that come with being a member. Each year, I sit down and carefully review which organizations that I want to join based on what I plan to get out of the organization. Memberships are just too expensive if you don't get something of value back.
This weekend I sat down with my credit card, my checkbook, and a budget. I felt comfortable spending around $200. It helps that I know what I've spent the last several years on memberships, but like every other year, I was thinking about joining a few new groups.
I started with the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) - that one is a no brainer. You get your Adult Amateur status with USEF, so I pay the $55 annual membership. I don't care about any national awards from USEF so I don't pay the Horse Recording fees. Both of my horses have a Horse ID number which means they aren't eligible for any year end awards from USEF, but they can show. I am okay with that.
In the past, USEF has offered a pretty cool insurance plan that was free with membership. I was disappointed to see that this year the policy now costs $25. I hemmed and hawed for a while, unsure whether it was worth it. In the end, I figured that if I never use it, $25 is a small amount. If I do need it however, $25 would prove to be a pretty smart investment. I paid it.
The USEF membership begins December 1st and ends November 30th of the following year.
The next organization that I like to join is the California Dressage Society (CDS). While Bakersfield is smack in the middle of a huge Dressage Desert, I am lucky to live in an area with the USDF's largest Group Member Organization (GMO). CDS offers its members many perks and opportunities, most of which I've taken advantage of: Championship Show, Adult Amateur Clinic, Regional Adult Amateur Competition, Rosettes (engraved plates), and programs for Juniors/Young Riders.
Membership in CDS is $70 annually and includes a Group Membership to the USDF; there are no fees for registering your horse. I get a lot back for my membership fee, so I don't mind paying for this association at all.
The CDS membership expires each year on December 31st.
By joining the USEF and CDS, I can show at any CDS/USDF-rated show. My scores count for CDS's programs and the USDF's medal program and Rider Performance Awards. Unless I join USDF as a Participating Member and upgrade Speedy's Horse ID number to a Lifetime Horse Registration (LHR), we're not eligible to show in the USDF Region 7 Championships.
So far, that hasn't been much of an issue for me. We get good, middle of the road scores, but they aren't really high enough to be competitive at the USDF Regional show. Here in California, the Region 7 show is HUGE and VERY competitive. The show is held in conjunction with the CDS Championship Show, so I did get to participate in the show in 2014. Being there and showing in the CDS Horse of the Year classes was enough for me.
Upgrading my Group Membership to a Participating Member of USDF would also allow me to compete for an All Breeds Award. Speedy would have to have a Lifetime Horse Registration, and I would have to rejoin the Arabian Horse Association (AHA). To be honest, AHA's fee structure is just too ridiculous to even consider joining. I would have to join the organization which costs $40 annually, and then pay for a competition card which is an additional $35 each year. And while AHA offers all kind of awards programs, you have to pay an initial and annual enrollment fee for each one.
So to even try for an All Breed award from USDF, I would have to join USDF as a Participating Member for $75, upgrade Speedy to a LHR at $70, join AHA for $40, get a competition card for another $35, and pay yet another $35 for the All Breed Program with AHA. That's a whopping $255 for an award that I am not going to win.
And, if I were going to do all that, I might as well get my AHA Dressage Rider Awards too. After paying the membership fee and competition card fee, AHA charges a $45 fee per level. So if I wanted to join AHA in order to participate in the USDF All Breeds Awards program and earn an AHA Dressage Rider Award, I would have to shell out $155 each year to AHA.
While I thought long and hard about it, I decided not to join USDF as a Participating Member, and I am definitely not joining AHA. I might go ahead and upgrade Speedy's Horse ID to a Lifetime Horse Registration though as the day will come when I feel like competing in the USDF Region 7 classes. I promised myself that if I can end the month with a few bucks left in my checking account, I'll do the upgrade in December.
The USDF memberships are effective from December 1st through November 30th of the following year. Membership in AHA runs from January 1st through December 31st.
California is actually home to two GMOS - CDS and the Dressage Association of Southern California (DASC). Virtually all of the shows south of me, the ones I attend already, are USEF/USDF/CDS/DASC-rated. I've never joined DASC before as I didn't do enough of their shows to make it really worth it. Now that I am riding with Chemaine more regularly, I'm also doing more DASC shows.
The only benefit that I see right now to joining DASC is that I could qualify for the championship show with a chance at placing somewhat well. It's a very small GMO so awards are a bit easier to get. After joining USEF and CDS, I still had $50 left of my initial $200 membership budget, so I went ahead and joined DASC. Membership is $60 annually with a $10 annual horse registration.
DASC memberships run from December 1st through November 30th of the following year.
In the end, I spent $220 on memberships for the 2016 competition year with the likelihood of spending another $70 to upgrade Speedy's horse ID to a Lifetime Horse Registration number; he deserves it. That all comes out to just under $300, and that's before we've even done our first show of the season.
Ho! Ho! Ho! - not showing is pretty darned expensive!