From Endurance to Dressage
It has been a month since I've done an update on Speedy's junk, so here goes: On June 11th, Dr. Tolley wrapped Speedy's man parts in a sock in an effort to prevent flies from depositing habronema larvae in Speedy's urethra. You can read about it and see pictures here. That sock was the second attempt to thwart the flies. For the second go-round, Dr. Tolley also gave me a steroidal solution to swab over Speedy's urethra several times a day. That was five weeks ago today.
I am thrilled to report that Speedy's urethra is summer sore free. Some time during the two weeks that Speedy stayed at STC Dressage - Sean Cunningham, owner and trainer, took really good care of both boys, the summer sore cleared up and has stayed gone. And despite being completely gross and disgusting, the sock is still on!
I called the vet a week or two ago and asked if I should try to remove the sock or simply let it continue to ride around as is. Dr. Gonzalez, the other practicing vet at Bakersfield Large Animal Hospital, advised me to let it be as it is still acting as a barrier against the flies. As gross as it is - it gets saturated with urine every time Speedy pees, the sock doesn't seem to bother Speedy at all. Sometimes I can see it hanging out, but most of the time, he retracts it within his sheath so that only a tiny portion of the sock is visible.
About every other day or so, I try to catch Speedy in a letting it all hang out moment so that I can check the condition of his urethra. Since it's tucked away in the sock, I have to roll the sock up so that I can get a clear view of things. He doesn't seem to mind the sock, but he does mind me poking around up in there. Thankfully, he is back to normal other than having his ding-a-ling wrapped up in a sweater.
I'll take a mare next time, please.
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.
If you are squeamish, simply read the condensed version that follows. If you dig learning about all of the weird crap that can happen to horses, stay tuned. It's about to get weird(er). Here's part one.
Speedy does indeed have a summer sore in his urethra. Summer sores are caused by fly larvae. They typically occur on a horse's moist areas such as eyes, corner of the mouth, and occasionally, the penis. Treatment includes steroids, to reduce the inflammation and allergic reaction, and dewormers.
Holy hell, summer sores are gross, creepy, and not something you ever want your horse to have anywhere near his junk. As I suspected, Dr. Tolley thought I should bring Speedy in, and the sooner the better. I called on Tuesday morning, and we were there by 2:45 that afternoon.
I unloaded Speedy and walked straight into the hospital's examining bay. Dr. Tolley didn't mess around. He asked a few questions, and then he brought out a sedative. Speedy has proven to be a roaring dragon when he's in the stocks getting messed with in a serious way, and Dr. Tolley wanted no part of that business as he was messing with Speedy's ... business.
As soon as Speedy's lil' dude dropped, Dr. Tolley took hold and peered closely at the urethra. It was nasty. I mean, I had seen it, felt it, and held it up close and personal, but seeing it exposed in full daylight without Speedy snapping it back inside showed how disgusting and crusty it was. What Dr. Tolley had to do next made it all even worse.
Dr. Tolley used a very pointy pair of scissors and dug inside the tube of the urethra, scraping and scooping all of the funk out. As Dr. Tolley is wont to do, he scraped the gunk into my hands for examination. Speedy isn't always the best patient, and I am a hands on type of client, so Dr. Tolley long ago gave up using "real" assistants. I am now the assistant, so handing him the soaking cotton and squirting soap onto it as he passed me the necrotic tissue to examine was no big thing.
Even sedated, Speedy wasn't too happy to have the inside of his you-know-what scraped with a long pointed object. I couldn't blame him. Before long, the dead tissue was scraped away and blood was dripping to the floor. I didn't know you could dig into that little opening quite that far, and I am sure Speedy wasn't aware of that fact either. Either way, it had to be done.
While Dr. Tolley is happy to explain what he's doing, I have learned to be a tiny bit patient and let him do his job. So while I wanted to keep asking, and then what are you going to do? I didn't, but I so wanted to. Instead, I waited and watched. Once Speedy's manhood seemed to be free of all things nasty, Dr. Tolley brought out some Elastikon tape and a thing that looked like a baby sock. Yes, you read that right, and yes, it was actually a penis sock. Dr. Tolley didn't call it that, but that's what it was.
Unlike vet wrap, which only sticks to itself, Elastikon sticks to everything. In fact, if you were to wrap it around your arm, you would lose all of the hair once you pulled it off. It is STICKY. I can see you doing the math right now, and yes, you would be right. Dr. Tolley wrapped that super sticky tape around Speedy's ding-a-ling and actually WANTED it to stick. Before wrapping it around though, he first slipped Speedy's penis into the sock and then taped the sock to his penis using the super sticky Elastikon. I swear this was not a scene from the movie American Pie.
Once the sock was taped securely in place, Dr. Tolley applied a huge handful of Triamcinolone Cream - the same steroidal cream he prescribed for Izzy's gnat bites, to the entire head of Speedy's very tender doodle. Before finishing completely, he also gave Speedy a dose of dewormer and an injection of Dexamethasone. Once all of that was finished, Speedy was taken to a paddock, and Dr. Tolley and I had a powwow.
What I wanted to know (and I am sure you do, too) is how did that happen, and what the heck does one have to do to not let it happen again? In short, summer sores are the result of a nematode (worm). Rather than explain the life cycle, read this bit from Arizona Equine (full article here):
Summer sores are commonly found on the lower limb, corner of the eye, and the urethral process of geldings and stallions. They can also be found on the face neck or any other area of the body that has had an open sore or wound. They are characterized by a non-healing sore with small yellow granules, and decayed tissue.
For now, I'll be giving Speedy injections of the Dexamethasone for the next ten days, applying liberal amounts of Triamcinolone Cream to his kicky-wicky, and dousing him with fly spray. Because his body's immune system is over-reacting, his eyes are also filled with puss because of the flies, so I am adding an ointment as often as possible. And while Izzy will probably have them torn to bits, I covered Speedy with a fly sheet and fly mask. Surprisingly everything, including the penis sock, was still in place yesterday afternoon.
Normally, Speedy is fly-free. I don't know why they've bothered him so much this year. I rarely even use fly spray on him, and they are never on his face. They love Izzy instead. My fingers are crossed that we can kill off any lingering Habronema. My boys are wormed regularly, but since not everyone worms their horses, reinfection is possible.
And that my friends, is one of the grossest things one of my horses has ever had!
By now, you all know I am a teacher, and if you didn't know that, teaching elementary school is what I do to finance my real life - owning and riding horses. While I've taught every grade from kindergarten through sixth, I've been teaching fifth graders the longest; I think this is my twelfth year. I love to learn myself, so I am always looking for ways to make learning fun while still being rigorous.
Science in particular really floats my boat. A few years ago, the science standards - what we teach at each grade level, were revised. We now follow the Next Generation Science Standards, NGSS. NGSS were adopted and introduced before we even had a curriculum with which to teach. Loving science as much as I do, I dug deep and wrote my own digital textbook which I used for at least three years.
This year, just in time for the pandemic, my district purchased a brand new curriculum, Amplify. To my utter delight, it is organized exactly the way my self-created version of the standards were, but it's better. Each of the four units comes with a digital platform and its own investigation notebook. The lessons are very hands on and include clever simulations that the kids can run on their computers. During each of the four units, the students take on the role of specialists in a particular field - Water Resource Engineers, Astronomers, Food Scientists, and Ecologists.
In the unit that we're just finishing up, Modeling Matter, we took on the role of Food Scientists in order to help a faux company design a better salad dressing, one in which the dressing didn't settle and leave sediment at the bottom of the bottle, think Italian dressing. During the unit, we learned about molecules, attraction, and this week, emulsifiers.
For each of the three units I've taught so far, we've done a lot of investigations in our kitchens, mine and theirs. I send parents a message letting them know what "ingredients" we'll need to perform the demonstrations. I set up my iPad so the kids can see my demonstration, and I run the Google Meet (similar to Zoom) from a laptop. We always joke that it feels as though we're doing a cooking show on the Food Network. The kids can see the lesson that I share from my computer while also being able to watch the hands on part through my iPad. Not all of the kids have families who will provide the necessary ingredients, but we do our best.
After using an emulsifier to show that oil and water can be "forced" to remain mixed, we also talked about soluble ingredients. We played around with finding ingredients that dissolve because our task as food scientists was to create a dressing that didn't leave a sediment. That got me thinking about the GastroElm that I give Izzy each day. I love to learn myself, so I brought some home to add to our science lesson.
During yesterday's science lesson, done in my kitchen, I showed the kids what happens when we add water to the GastroElm. We watched to see if it would dissolve or not. When a liquid or a solid dissolve or remain mixed without separating, we know that their molecules are attracted to each other. The kids were super excited to see the GastroElm form a thick gel right in front of their eyes! It was clear that the molecules of the solid (the GastroElm) were indeed attracted to the molecules of the water. At that moment, my entire class was dreaming of becoming scientists!
Once the lesson was over, the kids started asking if they could see my horses and the ranch where they live. Really? No need to ask twice. I am already planning a remote, remote broadcast from the ranch. All I need to do is create a hotspot with my phone, and I can teach from the ranch with the horses in the background.
I think that is science any kid would love. Teachers too, especially this one!
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 ...
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 …
8/7-8 SCEC (***)
10/30-31 SCEC (***)
2021 Completed …
10/24-25 SCEC (***)
11/7-11/8 SB (***)
4/10-11 SCEC (***)
5/16-17 El Sueño (***)
6/26-27 SCEC (***)
7/17-18 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