From Endurance to Dressage
Her nicknames are Little Turd, the Devil, and Yellow Dog - when she's being decent. At three years old, most labrador retrievers start to settle into adulthood; most I said, but not all. Brienne of Tarth, named for the lady knight in Game of Thrones, is obviously a very, very slow learner.
If you do any kind of quick search through my past blog posts, especially if you look under "dogs," you'll find several posts showing the destruction of shipping boxes, plants, and probably a garden hose or two. Just over a year ago, Brienne demolished a palm in the front yard, not a Sego - that probably would have killed her. We spent one very rough night in the dog version of the emergency room having her treated for severe diarrhea, exhaustion, and dehydration.
This past Friday night, the UPS guy delivered Izzy's SmartPak. It was after 8:00 pm, and he didn't ring the doorbell, so the box sat outside all night. I put both dogs out at 5:00 a.m. the next morning, and my husband brought them in an hour and a half later for breakfast. During that hour and a half, the Little Turd managed to chew open the cardboard box, tear through the cellophane wrappers, and eat six days' worth of SmartGI Pellets.
The joke is on her though. Smart GI, when eaten THREE WELLS a day - not 18 like she ate, is intended to support a balanced hind gut and maintain stomach health. In HORSES! Not yellow dogs. Guess who didn't end up with good stomach health? Yup, Yellow Dog spent two days with vial diarrhea. I won't go into detail.
As furious as I was, I still did my due diligence (I didn't want her to die or anything). I spent the morning on the phone calling SmartPak and our local emergency vet for advice. I also printed out the ingredient list and poured through the ASPCA's poisonous plants page. Fortunately, none of the ingredients appeared toxic, and other than some nasty poop piles, she behaved pretty normally.
In the end, we decided to just keep an eye on her. I gave her some rice-heavy meals to help her digestive system, and we encouraged her to drink lots of water. She was fine by Tuesday, of course, but I guarantee she'd do it again tomorrow if a box showed up.
I've changed my SmartPak delivery address. Future boxes will now be delivered to the ranch.
Bad, bad, BAD dog!
I try to keep things horse related around here, but sometimes a dog post will slip its way in, but who's going to say no to dogs?
The dogs are a big part of our life. We make our day plans around them which means they usually come with us. If they can't, we make it a point to be home in time to feed them dinner, or we don't go out until they've had their dinner.
On Saturday, my husband needed to drive up to Kernville to pick up his case of Citra Double IPA at the Kern River Brewery. It's an annual thing for him. You have to pre-order the beer, and there's only one case allowed per customer, and they mean it. The rules are pretty funny. I am surprised he hasn't tried to get me to order a case so he can get two.
Since the drive is pretty dog-friendly with plenty of places to stop and hike along the river, we all piled into the truck. Truthfully, I was the fifth wheel of the group. Husband and the dogs make this trip quite often while I am at the barn, so the dogs know the drill.
Usually when we make this trip, we actually hike, but both of us have been sick for a few days, so we simply parked near the water and called the 10 yards we walked "a hike."
We got to the brewery too early for lunch, so we took another stroll through the park in Kernville. Yellow Dog is friendly, but Tobias, our black lab, lives to meet strangers. People always stop and ask to pet him. He just has the kindest vibe, drawing people to him no matter where we go. On this walk, two elderly ladies stopped and gave me the look that asks if he would stop to be petted. Tobi was thrilled to reach out to each one of them for a friendly pat. The smiles on those ladies' faces made my day.
We eventually made it to the brewery and had a delicious lunch. Husband picked up his coveted case of Citra, and we headed home. Not less than five minutes in the truck, I leaned back to close my eyes and ended up sleeping all the way home. When we got home, I dragged myself into the house and took another nap.
It's a dog's life around here which means there's no such thing as too many naps.
If only she believed she's a bad dog. Naughty little thing just flips us the paw if we even suggest that she's not the queen of this castle.
My Wintec Webbers finally gave out this week, forcing me to order a new pair. There's actually an I kick ass story involved that I may as well share. I was riding Speedy when my stirrup fell off. Actually off; it hit the ground. I looked down and thought What the hell? I hopped off, put it back on, and two minutes later it fell off again.
The little holes that the Webbers' "t" slides into had torn open. Rather than traipse all the way back down to the tack room to swap out my leathers for an old pair, I stripped off both stirrups and hopped on without them. And then I continued with my ride, eventually doing flying lead changes with no stirrups. If that's not a kick ass moment, your standards are just way too high for this girl.
When I walked into the house yesterday afternoon and didn't see a box on the counter, I knew it was probably in pieces. No matter how many times I tell the GSO guy to leave all packages on the side of the house, he won't. At one point, I even had a note near the front gate that read, LEAVE PACKAGES ON THE SIDE OF THE HOUSE. THE YELLOW DOG CHEWS. And as though to make my point, the yellow dog chewed up the note.
I headed out to the front yard to find my husband busily hunting for torn box pieces. He cautiously handed me the crumbs of what used to be a box while saying that he had no idea what these things were but they didn't appear to be damaged.
Miraculously, all of the carnage was centered on the box itself and on the cardboard that held the Webbers together. Yellow dog even left the shipping label intact. Not that I could have returned them.
Although, now that I think about it, wouldn't it be a hilarious surprise to the fine folks over at Riding Warehouse to open up a return box to find this mess inside?
Could I claim that the item had been damaged during shipping?
Yellow dog, please finish growing up! I really might need to return the next thing.
In early September, I had the sarcoid on Izzy's sheath removed via cryotherapy. That was the second attempt at removing it. For those who asked for an update, here it is.
It seems like the sarcoid is gone for good this time. The skin is smooth and soft and to my surprise, it looks like some of the pink skin is regaining its black color. Dr. Tolley explained that cryotherapy does much the same thing as a freeze brand. The pigment is destroyed, leaving all future hair (or in this case, skin) white. He also explained that if the freezing went deep enough, the skin might produce new pigment cells ... or something like that. Either way, some of the skin is definitely returning to its black color.
Speaking of looking better ...
At the end of September, Speedy sliced open his coronary band and separated the hoof wall from the coronary band. It looked pretty bad, but has healed remarkably fast.
My farrier was out yesterday for a regular trim. He ended up cutting a small arc out of the bottom of the hoof wall. This will serve to relieve the pressure that the new hoof is causing on the old. The amount of hoof he notched out is about the same as would be seen through normal wear on a barefoot horse. You would never know that just a few weeks back Speedy's coronary band was a hot mess. I can't believe how much hoof he has grown in just the past week!
When it rains, it pours, but I think it's also said that good things come in threes. That seems to be the case as yellow dog is also back to her normal, pain-in-the-patootie self. Two weeks ago, yellow dog required an after-hours emergency visit to the vet for what turned out to be an overdose of palm fronds. After taking it easy for a few days and getting to eat better than we do, she perked right up. She's back to terrorizing Tobias and wreaking havoc on the yard.
I'll be glad if these are the last of the surgeries/injuries/illnesses for at least a month or two. My wallet can't handle much more!
I am pretty ready for October to be over as it has been a whopper of a month. We now have a sick yellow dog.
If you have dogs, you are familiar with the middle of the night leap from bed as you hear THAT SOUND. Unfortunately, Brienne of Tarth's tummy troubles are from the back end.
It all started Sunday evening when she had to take an evening poo, which is not part of her regular routine. Even more uncharacteristic was that it was pretty ploppy. Her appetite was good however, and she was drinking as usual.
When Monday rolled around, she was still eating and drinking, but the diarrhea was worsening. Tuesday morning, I woke up to a gazillion little piles of stinky poo all over the floor. By Tuesday afternoon, she was lethargic and refusing to drink, eat, or even get up.
My husband called me at the barn letting me know I had better come home. As soon as I saw her, I told my husband she needed to be seen. Her temperature was slightly elevated, her hind end was shaking, and she refused to stand or walk. Of course, it was about 5:45 pm when I got home which meant it was too late to get her into our regular vet.
We zipped her over to the emergency vet (on Easton for you local folks) and were quite pleased with how efficient and kind the staff there were. It probably didn't hurt that I was prepared with her vitals, health history, current medications/supplements, name of my regular vet, and a credit card.
Our initial suspicion was poisoning from gnawing on palm fronds (not segos). After a quick exam, the doctor ordered a round of blood tests that included a complete blood panel, a CBC with differential, an electrolyte profile, a check of her pancreatic function, a cortisol test, and a urinalysis. The doctor suspected Addison's Disease (failure of the adrenal gland to produce hormones).
We spent several tense hours in the waiting room while I googled Addison's Disease. I wanted to be prepared. Fortunately, Brienne's blood work came back completely normal, especially her electrolytes. The doctor shrugged her shoulders and agreed with our initial (hopeful) diagnosis of palm frond overload with hind end muscles sore from so much pooing.
We elected to give her subcutaneous fluids and a cocktail of pain drugs to help her sleep. The doctor prescribed a course of antibiotics in case it's something bacterial in her gut. She also recommended a bland diet of rice and chicken which I had already started that morning. She slept really well on Tuesday night and looked somewhat perkier last night.
The diarrhea seems to have stopped, but her appetite is still depressed and she's not really drinking as well as she should. It's a good thing she loves ice cubes. She's doing a lot of sleeping which is probably what she needs more than anything. She seems over the worse of it, but we're keeping a close eye on her.
Dogs and horses - they're both so fragile!
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
(Q) Must Qualify
2022 Shows Schedule
(*) Tehachapi 5/22/22
2022 Completed …
2022 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
2 Scores/1 Judges/60%: