From Endurance to Dressage
I've talked about this before, but I can't really earn "over-time" pay. That's one of the bad things about being a salaried professional. My district gives me a flat salary no matter how many hours I work. That seems great if you think oh, good, I'll knock off early today, but it never happens. It's far more common for me to be lesson planning and grading papers at 6:00 a.m. and answering emails until 8:00 p.m. I think salaried is just another way to say a slave to the job.
I have found creative ways to earn a little extra money at work though. Except for this year, my biggest money-maker has been to run the lunch time detention. The pay is horrible, it's a lot less than my salaried rate, but since I work through lunch anyway, at least I get paid something for it. With distance learning in effect for probably the entire school year, there is obviously no detention, so that money-making scheme is out the window. Instead, I have finally earned enough university units that they can no longer be applied to my salary earning potential which means my district is now paying me for "seat time" if I continue to take continuing education courses.
A few years ago, my district created its own in-house university, pbvU. We have three sessions a year in which courses directly related to our curricula and programs are offered. For each course, teachers spend seven hours in class (nights and weekends) and eight hours doing coursework. Each pbvU course is equivalent to a one-unit accredited university level class. Over the summer, I took two courses in Distance Learning Instruction - which basically taught me how to be more effective at teaching remotely. I am now a "certified" distance learning instructor. Whatever. I just needed the cash.
Along with those two certifications, my school-site principal asked if I would attend another training before school started. In that one, we got an overview of the district's chosen distance learning platform, Canvas. I was paid for the three-hour training with the understanding that I would serve as a resource for not only my grade level team, but any other staff member that needed support. Again, sure, whatever, how much are you paying me?
While the courses are usually quite helpful and relevant, they're also a huge time commitment. You don't get credit unless you complete all of the requirements. So I could do the seat time, but if I don't finish the course work, I don't get paid. I've taken ten units over the past two years along with working full time, riding, taking lessons, and showing. I won't be taking another one for a while.
I got paid for the first course and the extra training on Thursday which is how I'm paying for Speedy's next box of Prascend which I'll order in December. I get paid for the other course next month which is how I bought a Pivo.
What?! I know! More about that tomorrow ...
At lunchtime yesterday, I got Izzy's Horse Coat Color results back from UC Davis's Veterinary Genetics Laboratory. To no one's surprise, it came back as N/N for the cream dilution gene. There's no code anywhere on the page, so I am not exactly sure what N/N stands for in scientific terms, but I think it means nope, not today. Fortunately, the fine folks over at VGL provided an interpretation: No copies of Cream dilution detected.
Like I said, I am not surprised, but it was a fun experiment. For now, that means Izzy is just a brown horse who fades in the sun, or he has some mineral deficiencies. Like I said before, I am not too worried about that.
Given how quick and relatively cheap the whole process was, it makes me want to send Speedy's hair in for some analysis. There are all kinds of boxes you can check off, and grays have a lot of things going on. During my coat color research,I read an interesting thing that said grays are born black and blacks are born gray. I bought Speedy as a three-year old, and he was definitely very dark.
Horse coat colors are a rabbit hole down which you can spend a lot of time!
A week or so ago I wrote about Izzy's dramatically changing coat color. In that post I posited that he might have the cream dilution gene. Several people wrote to me privately expressing their doubts about that theory. Instead of a genetic cause, it was suggested, and not for the first time, that Izzy might have some mineral deficiencies, specifically copper and zinc. So it seems that there are three possible explanations.
First, it just might be how he is. He's dark in the winter and fades in the summer. Gray horses undergo coat color changes all the time. What do they say about Occam's razor? The simplest explanation is most likely the right one. But not always.
Second, he might have the cream dilution gene. In Izzy's pedigree, neither the Thoroughbred side nor the Oldenburg/Anglo-Arabian side recognize the color "buckskin." Instead, the Jockey Club recognizes Thoroughbreds as being either bay, black, chestnut, dark bay/brown, gray/roan, palomino (which carries two copies of the cream gene) or white. The Oldenburg Registry of North America recognizes brown, black, chestnut, gray, and bay horses. My research, limited as it was, says that on a black or dark bay/brown horse, the cream dilution gene can produce a buckskin, a sooty black, or simply a lighter brown horse with black points. In other words, without a genetic test, you can't tell just by "looking."
That leaves the third option; Izzy might have a copper and zinc deficiency. Again, my research consisted of skimming articles found by doing a Google search. What I saw was that zinc deficiencies are rare. Over consumption on the other hand can decrease copper absorption. Some of the processes that copper is required for are energy production, iron metabolism, connective tissue formation, central nervous system function, and melanin production. Coat color is determined by the presence and proportion of melanin pigments.
Most of the articles I read warned against supplementing just with copper and zinc as that combination can negatively interact with other minerals in the body. Instead, it was recommended that horses with suspected copper and zinc deficiencies be fed a commercially fortified feed or a good mineral supplement. I've done both (Platinum Performance and Horse Guard) over the years for long stretches of time, but Izzy's coat still changes colors. He either doesn't have a zinc and copper deficiency, or, the supplements weren't enough to overcome the deficiency.
I am not worried about a copper and zinc deficiency, and it doesn't matter whether Izzy does or doesn't have the cream dilution gene, but I decided to find out for sure. UC Davis has a Veterinary Genetics Lab that is "open" to the public. They offer a long list of genetic tests, most of which seemed quite cheap. You can check for just about anything. For $25, I will know definitively if Izzy has the cream dilution gene or not.
Earlier this week, I pulled the requisite mane hairs, ensuring that the root bulbs were attached. I taped them to the form as directed and dropped the whole thing in Monday's mail. The results should be back in a week or two. Either way, I know I should put both horses back on the Horse Guard Vitamin and Mineral Supplement. It won't hurt, and it probably helps their overall health.
Every time I try to keep things simple, I add in yet another thing.
Over the past two or three years, Izzy's coat color has done some really weird things. I've been doing a small bit of research/reading, and I think I know why. First, take a look at these photos.
This horse really does not know what color he is! A few years ago, he started to really lighten in the middle of summer. By fall, his winter coat would grow in almost black. By late spring, his golden coat would reappear. Now, along with that yellow-gold color, he's getting black spots. I decided to do some research, and I discovered several interesting things.
For a long while, I just thought the lightening of his coat was due to bleaching out from sweat and sun. The changing coat became really noticeable when I moved to the ranch which is why I assumed the changes were do to the sun. At the last barn where we boarded, Izzy had a lot of deep shade, and he used it. Here at the ranch, there's plenty of shade, but it's not near Speedy, so most of the time, he and Speedy play with one another across the fence, so they spend a lot of time in the sun.
Instead of his color being an effect of the sun, I think Izzy might have the cream dilution gene. On a bay horse, a single dilute of the gene will create a buckskin. A double dilute on a bay will create a Perlino. According to The Equinest, "This gene has a lightening effect on the hair and is responsible for a hugely varied scope of colors. The most obvious effect is on chestnut and bay animals, a single dose changes their coats to a golden or tan color." That sounds exactly like Izzy's color.
According to Wikipedia - not the world's authority of course, but it's good for general background, "cream dilutions may have seasonal color variation between winter and summer coats." The same Wikipedia article went on to say, "Buckskin is [...] produced by the action of one cream gene on a bay coat. All red hairs in the base coat are diluted to gold. The black areas, such as the mane, tail and legs, are generally unaffected." That too, describes Izzy perfectly.
Of course, without doing an actually DNA test, I can't know for sure whether he carries the creme dilution gene or not. It seems likely though. If it is the creme dilution gene that changes his coat to such a light color every summer, it's odd that it doesn't affect his winter coat. Although in truth, that coat tends more toward black which isn't nearly as affected by the gene as are the red hairs.
Besides the golden summer coat, I've also been seeing another marking that is somewhat newer. Both sides of Izzy's neck and shoulders are covered in black spots. Initially, I thought the dark areas were scars, but this summer, he has way too many of them to be scars. In the photo above, they look like freckles. In the photo below, they look like the edges of dapples, or even veins.
Montoya, the last mare I owned had little white spots that moved around on her body as she aged. I always attributed them to birdcatcher spots, named after an Irish Thoroughbred stallion who displayed those same white flecks. I reasoned that there might be a black version of the spots, and I was right. They are named after the Thoroughbred stallion, Bend Or, who was thought to be out of a TB mare named Rogue Rose.
I did a quick search on All Breed Pedigree's site and found that through Izzy's dam, he does indeed trace back to Bend Or. It was a fairly easy search. I knew it was likely that Izzy's dam, Banjo Rose was a descendent of Rogue Rose, Bend Or's dam. If you search the line, it goes like this (d - dam/s stud): Imperioso (barn name Izzy) - Banjo Rose (d) - Tororose (d) - Sun Rose (d) - Suntime (d) - Sun Helmet (d) - Hyperion (s) -Gainsborough (s) - Rosedrop (d) - Rosaline (d) - Rosalys (d) - Bend Or (s) - Rogue Rose (d).
I find it is interesting that the mares all carried names related to roses or the sun while the stallions' names were all over the place. I am not a pedigree geek and don't care a whole lot, but if those spots on Izzy's neck and chest are Bend Or spots, I know where they came from. Izzy's name, Imperioso, was derived from his sire's line. They all have names that begin with the letter I - Imperioso, Inbegriff, Ideal, Inschallah, Israel, and then the names switch to the letter F for a two generations and then are once again all over the place.
I call him Big Brown Horse, but lately, that moniker makes no sense. He's big, but not necessarily brown. By about October, he'll be nice and dark and look almost like a big black horse. If you know more about equine colors and have some specific answers for me, I'd love to hear from you. There's an email button at the top of the page.
For now, he's definitely a horse of a different color.
Did I ever have a weird week. Have you ever woken up and immediately thought, ouch, what's that? I got out of bed to check my back and was horrified at the huge pimple that had popped up over night.
It was gross. It was gross the next day, the day after that, and the day after that. In fact, it stayed gross for more than a week. It hurt like hell, especially since it was just under my bra strap.
The damn thing would just not go away. By the second week, I was begging my husband to just stick a needle in it. He of course refused, loudly while swiftly getting the hell out of Dodge. It was planted right on my shoulder blade, so no amount of contortion would allow me to actually poke it with a sharp object. I tried.
Somewhere after the second week and maybe into the third week, I told my husband to look at it. And I meant REALLY look at it. He might have shrieked a bit. He definitely made a noise.
I mentioned that I should maybe go to the doctor. Uh ... yeah, you think? Was his immediate response. But really, who goes to the doctor for a pimple? What 49 year old woman even gets pimples? Setting my pride aside, I called during my lunch break and got an appointment for later that afternoon.
I couldn't see the doctor's face as she was examining my pimple, but I could hear her. THAT IS NOT A PIMPLE, was her diagnosis. It's not? I stupidly asked. Although she didn't come right out and say so, she must have thought me incredibly stupid. Um, no. It's an insect bite, probably a spider, and it looks as though it bit you THREE times. Oh, that must be why it hurts so damned bad.
I'll spare you the worst of the gory details, but she numbed it - that hurt like a mother forklift, and then she lanced it. Google how do you lance a wound if you really need to know. As a side note, I once had to have a sore on my eyelid lanced. This was nothing compared to that.
When the cutting was done, she sent me home with the wound zipped up tight with Steri Strips topped with a pressure bandage. She also loaded me up with a bottle of antibiotics and insisted I come back a few days later for a check up.
I was more than a little disappointed that I wouldn't be donning a mask and shooting webs from my wrists, but being told to NOT wear a bra for the next few days sort of made up for it. I spent most of the week babysitting my shoulder so that the knife wound on my back wouldn't break open and bleed all over my shirt.
I discovered that I must do a lot of talking with my hands as I was really sore at the end of my first work day. Oh, and we had our pest control guy out the very next day to spray the inside of our house. I made him do our bedroom twice.
Saline solution, iodine, packing material, pressure bandage, digging with a sharp object ... all that's missing is the duct tape. Holy hell, I just had an abscess.
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 …
3/6-7 El Sueño (***)
4/17-18 El Sueño (***)
5/16-17 El Sueño (***)
5/23 TMC (*)
6/12-13 SB (***) OR
6/19-20 El Sueño (***)
6/27 TMC (*)
7/3-4 Burbank (***) OR
7/17-18 El Sueño (***)
7/25 TMC (*)
8/14-15 RAAC (Q) (***)
8/29 TMC (*)
2021 Completed …
10/24-25 SCEC (***)
11/7-11/8 SB (***)
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