From Endurance to Dressage
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.
Several things have happened since Speedy got his tooth pulled. The first thing was that he was immediately better about taking his daily Prascend tablet. The ranch owner reported that he was very relaxed and didn't do the my head is taller than you can reach dance. This is an enormous relief because it is the ranch owner who volunteers to administer the pill. Without her help, he probably wouldn't get it every single day.
As an aside, I don't remember how or where I found the baby tooth, but I thought it was cute, so I saved it. The adult tooth, an incisor, is interesting in its own way. If you'll look at the top quarter of the tooth, there is a chip out of the left side. That's the notch that Dr. Tolley carved to hold the wire in place so that it wouldn't slide down.
The rough edge at the bottom of the tooth shows where it fractured. The other side is completely smooth. The colors on top of both teeth show the enamel, cementum, and dentine. Remember, I geek out on this type of stuff!
But back to Speedy ...
Even though he was never in obvious pain, there must have been some discomfort having a fractured tooth. I had been able to carefully bridle him and ride while the tooth was wired to its neighbor. He never fussed more than normal, but since the tooth came out, he has been easier to bridle.
I've been able to rub my finger over the empty socket. He doesn't love it, but he's not a fan of me poking my fingers in his mouth as a general rule. Putting my fingers in his mouth typically means something unpleasant is coming. It's a Pavlovian response, for sure.
Dr. Tolley said it would take about three weeks to heal completely. It's been a week, and already it looks super healthy without any infection. He's eating better and has been grazing since the day the tooth was pulled. For now, it's healing well which is all I can ask for.
I am just glad it wasn't a middle tooth!
Speedy knocked a tooth loose. I told you that yesterday. The plan had been for Dr. Tolley to squeeze Speedy in between other appointments while I was at work. That didn't happen, for which I was secretly glad. I wonder if Dr. Tolley deliberately didn't squeeze him in knowing how much I love to be involved in my horses' treatment. Besides just being a concerned owner, I dig this kind of stuff. In the end, I got to watch.
Besides the standard IV tranquilizer/sedative, Dr. Tolley needed to block the nerves in Speedy's mouth much like your own dentist does when drilling out a cavity or creating a crown. For horses, this means blocking the ipsilateral mandibular nerve which is accessed through the mandibular foramen, an opening in the lower jaw.
To find the opening, Dr. Tolley followed some very specific measurements. He marked the location on Speedy's jaw with a Sharpie Marker much like a surgeon will do before cutting.
Then he used a very long needle which he injected into the mandibular foramen via Speedy's throat latch.
While Speedy "cooked" a bit, Dr. Tolley brought out an equine skull to show me what he had done.
You're looking down the skull toward the front teeth. You can see both mandibular foramen(s) - the two circular openings, almost in the center of each side of the jaw.
Dr. Tolley's purpose was to "flood" the canal with anesthesia, numbing the teeth along that side of the lower jaw.
Since I was fascinated by the procedure and because Dr. Tolley loves it when his clients are just as geeked out by this stuff as he is, he went and brought out his manual for doing these types of procedures. When I asked if the book was written for lay people such as myself or for veterinarians practicing medicine, he quickly assured me that this was literally his how-to guide.
Once Speedy's mouth was numb, the procedure was fairly simple. Dr. Tolley took a length of regular wire and threaded it through Speedy's undamaged teeth much like you would use dental floss.
Of course, nothing with Speedy is easy. Even though he was quite tipsy and numb, he still put up a fuss. Eventually Dr. Gonzalez joined in to help steady Speedy and keep his tongue out of the way.
Once the wire was through the front teeth, Dr. Tolley wrapped it around to "capture" the damaged tooth - the one on the far right. When the wire was wrapped around the teeth, Dr. Tolley twisted it tight, clipped off the extra bits, and smooshed it flat.
To support the tooth even more, Dr. Tolley wrapped a second layer of wire around the upper portion of Speedy's teeth. To ensure that the wire stayed up high, he used his Dremel tool to carve out a bit of Speedy's tooth to act as a guide, or a track, for the top row of wire. He secured that one exactly like the first.
And that was it. Dr. tolley finished off the whole job with a shot of penicillin. Speedy can go back to work at any time. Of course, I am to check his mouth for loose or broken wires and regular flushes with water won't hurt. In six weeks, Speedy goes back in to have the wires removed.
We opted not to take x-rays, but in the event that the tooth is fractured, I'll start to see signs of infection, and then we'll have to pull the tooth - a more expensive and less favorable option.
While Speedy should be fine, and I stress the should, I've taken all shows and clinics off the table. That means that I won't be going to the Lilo Fore clinic after all. I could take Izzy of course, but frankly, my wallet can't handle anything else right now.
I hope Speedy gets to show later this summer, but it was just stressing me out too much to try and get him ready for a clinic by mid-April. I felt an enormous weight lift from my shoulders with the decision. I've got some Izzy plans for May though, so you'll still see us out there.
Let's hope Speedy is done with the theatrics.
I had a rough last week. Fortunately it wasn't because of horses; they've given me enough gray hairs this winter. On Thursday, a friend tagged me in a Facebook post that pretty much saved the rest of the world from total annihilation as I was very close to going postal - how much crap can one person take?
It's Dwight's face that cracks me up the most. I know that's the look that Chemaine Hurtado, owner and trainer at Symphony Dressage Stables, must have on her face when Izzy starts with his jackassery. I looked at that meme all weekend long, laughing harder each time. It's easy to get a little punchy though when you're on the edge.
Thankfully, while horses can drive us to the brink of insanity, they can also keep us standing squarely on our two feet. My own equine therapists, a Goddess and a Wild Card did their jobs well (sort of) over the weekend, leaving me mostly prepared to tackle Monday. My husband drew a name for last week's book give-away. Congrats to Mag for winning a copy of Is Your Horse a Rockstar.
Mag wrote, "I think mine would be the "mean girl" even though he's a gelding. He has to show everyone that he's in charge - pasture mates, stablehands, etc. I would love a copy to see if that's one of the choices!"
Mag's copy is in the mail, headed her way. And Mag, I'm wondering if your gelding might be The Macho Man, The Boss, or even The Prize Fighter. I hope you'll let me know!
I am sure that all of us think that our own horses are more sensitive (meaning "special") than others, but I am here to tell you that Speedy wins the "snowflake" of the year award. Right now, he is in the midst of tantrum that's been going on for a good month. Which brings me yet again to Dessa Hockley's book, Is your horse a Rockstar?
If you haven't bought it yet, do it. I promise you won't be disappointed. I don't get anything if you buy the book, but it really is that good. In fact, I love the book so much that I am going to buy a copy for someone who wants one. If you want the book, leave a comment, but make sure to fill in your website or email address so I can get your snail mail address. I'll do a random drawing on Saturday (March 16).
The reason I bring up the book is that Speedy is having a pretty rough winter. He's abscessed several times, been diagnosed with Cushing's Disease, and torn open both front legs. All of that means he isn't getting very much positive attention. To him, it feels as though all I do is poke him in sore places or jam weird tasting stuff in his mouth.
"Speedy is what Dessa Hockley refers to as The Goddess (Submissive, Energetic, Curious, Friendly). If he were a bit more dominate, he would be a Rock Star, and frankly, there are days when he does fall into that category. For The Goddess, the relationship is everything. Right now, Speedy's a bit pissed at me because he's not getting the saddle time he thinks he deserves. The ear pinning and tail swishing are dead give-aways that he's feeling slighted.
Speedy's mission in life is to be adored by me, and anyone else in his vicinity is welcome to jump on that band wagon as well. It doesn't matter what we do; he's happy to please as long as accolades and adoration are his reward. Cookies and candies are also expected. As The Goddess, he is, after all, a divinity."
I wrote that in January of 2017 - probably in the midst of some other injury. It is just as true today as it was two years ago. Speedy is so unhappy right now. Everything in his life sucks a big fat lemon. He now has to take a Prascend pill every morning which he hates. He hasn't been turned out in at least a month because I don't want him to re-injure his front legs or cause some new injury. And the worst thing to him is that he's no longer in regular work. I rode him last weekend, but then it rained all week, so I didn't get to ride again until this weekend.
While Speedy was happy to be out and being ridden, he was so resentful that everything I asked of him turned into a chore. Bandaging his legs caused drama. He didn't want to be bridled. He refused his peppermint candies. I was frustrated, and he was frustrated.
It's going to take some time to rebuild our relationship, and I have a feeling that I am going to be doing a lot of butt kissing over the next few weeks. And if Speedy has anything to say about it, there had better be some better treats involved.
Like I said, he's a Goddess. And a big fat "snowflake!"
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