From Endurance to Dressage
Good-bye, California, and hello Tennessee. Yep, we're off to the Volunteer state this morning. We have a house sitter to take care of our two dogs, and both horses have been safely tucked into the barn at STC Dressage for the next week and a half; they got there on Monday.
We have tickets to a NASCAR race as well as to the Grand Ole Opry. We'll do all of the things that there are to do in Nashville. We chose Tennessee because it's one of the many states that is no longer in lockdown. We're sick of California's governor's "policies", so we decided to go somewhere with a healthier "climate."
See you sometime next week!
Of all of the horses I've owned, Izzy has been the one that needs the most body work. He is really hard on himself. He's big and strong, and he frequently uses his mass to work against himself and me. When 1,350 pounds of muscle slams on the brakes or dodges left, his joints experience a lot of torque.
At my most recent lesson in late May, Sean Cunningham, owner and trainer at STC Dressage, commented on the progress that I've made with Izzy. He was impressed, and I was feeling encouraged. I had a few good rides after that lesson, but then the weather turned viciously hot, and Izzy had three or four days off. The next few rides after that were not pleasant, and I found myself asking What the h...? That's all it took. Once I hear myself utter those three words, I know Izzy needs some body work. Fortunately, CC was able to come out on Saturday.
Usually, CC just gets to work without my input, but this time, he surprised me by asking what I was feeling. I think that was a sort of promotion. I explained that Izzy couldn't bend, particularly to the right, and I suspected his ribs were sore again. They were sore, CC agreed with that, but as usual, I had missed the bigger picture. It was actually the C7 vertebrae in the neck that was preventing Izzy from bending. Normally, the C7 is hard to tweak and equally hard to readjust, but if there is a way, Izzy will find it.
The last time Izzy's C7 bothered him was when he broke a halter last summer by sitting back. It took a good month for the pain to show up. I am not sure what caused the "misalignment" this time, but Izzy was quite vocal about it. Because Izzy has seen CC for so many years and so regularly, it now only takes a few minutes to get him feeling good again. Saturday was no exception.
Once CC was able to manipulate Izzy's neck to his satisfaction, he went to work on the ribs. Izzy loves having body work done, but for this visit, he displayed some strange behaviors. While he always acts like he loves CC, for this visit he was over-the-top affectionate to the point of having quite a large erection. Izzy also demonstrated the flehmen response repeatedly as CC worked on him.
No matter how firmly CC pushed on his ribs, Izzy never tried to walk away. In fact, he leaned into the pressure and repeatedly asked CC for more by nudging him, nibbling at his neck and shirt, and generally just being a pest. Once CC was finished with the body work, Izzy persisted in following him around and snuggling up to him. CC finally laughed and had a D'oh moment. Laughing while he told me, he explained that earlier in the day, he had washed the tail of a mare in heat. That must have been the scent that Izzy was responding to.
No matter what CC smells like, Izzy adores him. CC just has a way with horses, and they respond to him. And since he always makes Izzy feel better after a visit, Izzy practically claps his hands like a little kid when he sees CC walking his way. While we use a halter for safety, Izzy doesn't actually need it. He'll stand for CC all day long. I hate that I have a horse who needs such frequent body work, but I love that I have someone so effective.
I wish CC would work on people. I've got this ache in my neck ...
Warning: Not all images are suitable for all viewers, especially the third one.
On Friday, I took Speedy to Bakersfield Large Animal Hospital to have his junk scraped and cleaned again. This summer sore business is no joke, it's not cheap, and it also (probably) really hurts. Poor Speedy.
Since Speedy is so shy about his man parts, there was no way to assess the state of the summer sore without giving him a sedative. Izzy's ding dong hangs out all the time allowing me a daily opportunity to check things out; I know his penis is in good shape. I wish Speedy weren't so reserved. Before Dr. Tolley could do anything else, he had to give Speedy a little mid-morning cocktail.
The summer sore wasn't nearly as ugly as it had been the week before, but Speedy's body is still working overtime to get rid of the Habronema larvae. Instead of just ignoring the little larvae that are trying to burrow through his urethra (so, so gross), Speedy's immune system is launching a full scale attack, killing the larvae which leaves yellow granules of dead larvae. At least his skin tissue hasn't gone necrotic this time, but Dr. Tolley explained that the remnants of the larvae do create a sore that is painful. And since the sore is in Speedy's urethra, it probably feels like what you think it would. Not good.
I thought Dr. Tolley dug deeply the last time we were there, but for this visit, he really got in there. I didn't know the urethra could be opened that much, but obviously it can. Dr. Tolley was especially thorough this time around. He wanted to be sure to catch every bit of dead larvae that was stuck. Once the larvae is completely removed, Speedy's body won't have anything to which to react.
Once Dr. Tolley felt confident that Speedy's urethra was free of Habronema larvae, he and Dr. Gonzalez put a fresh sock on Speedy's penis. Based on my feedback about the last one, he decided to keep this one long. The purpose of the sock is to act as a barrier around Speedy's penis much like a mosquito net around your bed. If the flies can't get to his lil' dude, they can't lay eggs on it. In addition, Dr. Tolley gave me a liquid steroid that I am "painting" on the sock which should soak through to cover the top of Speedy's penis. The steroid is supposed to reduce the inflammation and reduce Speedy's reaction to the flies.
For the next two weeks, Speedy will get his penis and/or sock (depending how long the sock stays on) painted with a liquid steroid twice a day. He'll also get covered in fly spray twice a day. Every other day he'll get a 5 cc/mL injection of Dexamethasone. He is also going to stay in the barn at STC Dressage in Moorpark which has a fly system. Unfortunately, this is all we can do for him. His body simply has to stop reacting to the fly larvae. It would be much simpler for him if the larvae could just pass through his system, land in his gut, and get pooped back out as eggs that hatch into flies.
My fingers are crossed that this next two weeks clears things up.
Unbelievably, yesterday was my first day of summer break. I truly thought the day would never come. COVID has sucked on so many levels and for so many people that I hate to complain about the "inconvenience" it has caused me. I don't work at a grocery store - those people are saints for putting up with all the rigamarole with which they had to contend, and I am not a nurse or a doctor; they, too, have had a rough year.
When COVID first became a thing, there was an outpouring of support for teachers as parents suddenly had to spend the entire day with their kiddos doing reading and math and history and science and everything else. Once school resumed in the late summer, suddenly, the world hated teachers. We were all lumped in with "ban the police" crowd and the "we won't work" slackers. I guarantee that while that does describe some teachers (and waitresses and store clerks and mechanics and bankers ...), it was not how the majority of us felt. We wanted go back to work in person.
I've been a teacher for twenty-seven years. I have never worked longer days, including every weekend, than I did this year. Not only did the year feel longer than every other year, it actually was. Since the district didn't know how to handle distance learning, the kids started the school year eight days after we did. In order to meet state requirements (and earn the money that comes from ADA - Average Daily Attendance), the district stuck those missed eight days at the end of an already arduous school year.
On Wednesday afternoon, most of my staff met at a local Tahoe Joe's for a happy hour celebration. I expected to feel the normal sense of freedom that final day brings, but in truth, it was a pretty low key event. We were all tired. Even though yesterday was my first day of vacation, I still had to get up at dawn to feed all of the horses at the ranch - long story, not mine to tell. That afternoon, I finally took some time for myself. I got a much needed pedicure and stopped off at my favorite mom and pop burger joint. I plopped down on the sofa and watched a stupid movie and started to feel as though I might truly be done with this school year.
Summer break is when I feel like my "real" life truly begins. As usual, this summer is already starting off with me being busier than I have time for.
Just typing all of that makes me tired. The end of the school year always feels like the true year's end; December 31st is just practice. So for me, it truly does feel as though this year is over, and the new one has just begun.
I really hope the second half of 2021 is a lot more pleasant than the first half was.
Yesterday afternoon, I sat at my desk waiting for my students to return their textbooks and laptops. It was a slow afternoon to say the least. With not much to do other than stare at my own laptop's screen, I decided to do some additional halter shopping.
I am a bit of a halter snob. I HATE web halters. There are so many reasons - they fade, they get stiff, they get ugly, they make horses dull, and so on. I like the way leather halters look, but they too have many of the same problems as web halters. They also break, and they're more expensive.
I love rope halters. They never break or wear out, and they're super easy to clean. Quality yacht rope doesn't wear out or get stiff with frequent washings, and they keep horses responsive to your aids. While they are very functional, they're not very attractive, especially in the dressage world where most things are expected to match something else.
Long ago, I used rope halters underneath my endurance bridles. I also had a few Biothane halters; those things never wear out. When I switched to dressage, I opted for a synthetic halter that looked like leather, but was much sturdier and easier to clean. My Tekna halters lasted for years, and in fact, Speedy still wears his. Izzy's finally wore out last year, but it took a long time. I looked for a new Tekna halter, but I couldn't find one in Izzy's size which was a shame as it's a great halter.
Izzy's new leather halter looks lovely, but I have the feeling that halter isn't going to last any longer than the last one. With that in mind, rather than buy a new nameplate for the halter, I grabbed some pliers and a screw driver and managed to break the Loctite seal that I had used on the Chicago screws for the nameplates on the now defunct black and brown leather halters. One is stainless steel, and one is brass.
In my junk box, I found a package of brand new Chicago screws and attached the old brass nameplate to Izzy's new halter. That left a stainless steel nameplate without a home. So, as I sat staring at my screen yesterday afternoon, I decided to do a little window shopping for Beta Biothane halters.
Beta is an amazing synthetic. It both looks and feels like leather but requires virtually zero maintenance. After hunting through the websites of some of my old endurance favorites, I landed on Two Horse Tack. It's not a company that I've ordered from before, but for the price, I was willing to take the risk. Two Horse Tack has a super user-friendly interface that lets you build the halter you need. Each arrow has a drop down menu that lets you make the exact choices you want for your halter. You can see my choices below.
The halter is regularly $36, but as luck would have it - and I am owed a bit of luck right now, it was on sale for $22. Since the halter was so cheap, I had no problem adding every customization that I wanted. Most of the add-ons cost extra which bumped the halter up to $45, still a bargain.
Shipping was a wee bit pricey at $9.99, but the final price of $54.99 was still less than what I just paid for the new leather halter. The "extra" stainless steel nameplate that I took off the broken black halter will now go on the beta halter which I ordered with stainless steel hardware. The leather halter will now be reserved for shows and lessons while the beta halter will serve as my every day halter. While I didn't order the breakaway crown, replacement pieces can be ordered from Two Horse Tack.
The halter probably won't be here for at least a week, and we're leaving on vacation in about a week, so I won't lay eyes on it until late June. I'll be sure to review it once it does get here. If you're looking for a less expensive leather-like halter, this might be a good option especially since it's currently on sale.
Fingers crosses that this is the LAST halter I buy for a while.
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 …
6/26-27 SCEC (***)
7/17-18 El Sueño (***)
8/14-15 RAAC (Q) (***)
2021 Completed …
10/24-25 SCEC (***)
11/7-11/8 SB (***)
4/10-11 SCEC (***)
5/16-17 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