From Endurance to Dressage
For as large a metropolitan area as Bakersfield is (approaching a million people in the greater area), we don't have a plethora of large animal veterinarians. In fact, Bakersfield Vet Hospital is one of only two brick and mortar establishments; the other is a one-woman show.
At the hospital, BVH can more easily perform a variety of procedures that can be difficult to do without stocks. BVH also has stalls and paddocks to care for sick or injured patients. Speedy has had to spend several nights at the hospital himself as did Mickey, a horse I sold a few years ago.
BVH runs the hospital with a very "open door" policy. Clients are welcome in the treatment areas and are encouraged to participate in all procedures. In fact, at Speedy's most recent ultra-sound (more on that later this week), I pressed the freeze button on the machine when Dr. Tolley couldn't quite reach it.
While providing top notch care to its patients is BVH's primary function, the doctors also place a high value on providing educational opportunities for their clients. Each year, the vet hospital partners with Zoetis, an animal health company, to host a complimentary Client Seminar and Banquet. BVH's doctors and a vet from Zoetis give lectures on a variety of topics that are most likely to affect horses in our area. This year, Dr. Tolley spoke on Physical and Pharmaceutical Restraint. Dr. Hall, Zoetis vet, spoke on Eye Anatomy and Health, and Dr. Gonzalez addressed Equine Dermatology.
I try to attend the Client Seminar every year. Even though I consider myself better educated than a lot of horse owners, I always learn something at the seminar. How often do we as owners get to attend free lectures on equine health given by actual veterinarians? And there's food! I take advantage of the opportunity.
Dr. Tolley addressed the different ways that horses can be restrained. In his context, it was for the purpose of providing health care, but he made it clear that it's important to handle your horse safely even when just grooming or leading to turn out. He covered basic safety tips such as not coiling the rope around your hand and not looping fingers through halters - all pretty basic stuff, particularly for the crowd that was there.
He then discussed the many types of pharmaceutical options for restraining horses, many of which are readily available for clients. Dormosedan and Ace (both of which I keep on hand, but rarely need) are drugs that he feels are safe to administer and can help horses through stressful situations like clipping, trailering, and farrier work.
My biggest take away from Dr. Tolley's lecture was that today's sedatives are quite safe and help the doctors provide better care for our horses. A horse relaxed through the use of a pharmaceutical "cocktail" is much safer to treat and will be far less stressed than if forced to simply power through the procedure.
Dr. Hall spoke on the anatomy of the equine eye. Frankly, eyes creep me out. Last year, I had repeated eye infections myself. Every horse I've owned has had some type of eye problem ranging from scratched corneas, blocked tear ducts, infections, or simple scrapes and abrasions. Dr. Hall covered all of the eye issues I've already encountered and then moved on to the baddies like cancer and punctures (gross).
Eyes are delicate, sensitive organs. He stressed the importance of avoiding putting any medication in the eye unless it was prescribed for that particular ailment. The most interesting part of his lecture was hearing that many eye diseases can be diagnosed with an ultrasound.
Of course, I assumed that meant the vet rubs the wand directly on the eyeball, but Dr. Tolley set me straight. When I was in for Speedy's ultrasound, he showed me on Speedy how it is actually done. The eyelid is thin enough that the vet can simply rub the wand over the outside of the eyelid and get a very good view of the structures of the eye itself. Speedy wasn't sedated well enough to get a clear picture, but he did let Dr. Tolley get a few swipes in.
Dr. Gonzalez closed out the evening with information on every skin ailment my horses have had and a great many that I hope to NEVER see. If eyeballs are gross, skin is terrifying! There are a lot of skin issues that I hope I never get to learn about. The good thing is that a lot of them can be avoided by maintaining a clean living environment. Manure removal helps eliminate a lot of flies which cause a lot of problems for our horses.
Good nutrition, grooming, exercise, and proper shelter can also help. For some horses, shelter from the sun and rain eases their skin issues, while good old fashioned sunshine can help heal others. I think Dr. Gonzalez's advice for dealing with skin diseases would be to be vigilant and pay attention to changes in your horse's skin and coat condition. Things are much easier to treat when they're caught early.
If you live in the Bakersfield area, be sure to come to the next BVH Client Seminar. It's an excellent opportunity to educate yourself on equine health care. And if you don't live here, ask your vet about hosting a similar event. Speaking of which, do any of your vets do something similar? If so, please share!
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
2022 Show Schedule
2022 Completed …
(*) Tehachapi 5/22/22
(*) Tehachapi 7/24/22
(***) Tehachapi 8/28/22
2023 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
3 Scores/2 Judges/60%:
Score 1: 62.115%