From Endurance to Dressage
Bakersfield Vet Hospital held its annual client seminar this week. I am not sure how wide spread the practice is, but BVH has partnered with Zoetis (formerly a subsidiary of Pfizer) to host an annual dinner and lecture for all their clients. The reps from Zoetis, the world's largest producer of medicine and vaccinations for pets and livestock, always prepare a lecture topic, and the vets from BVH speak as well.
Dr. Hall, Zoetis's representative, spoke about first aid which was a timely topic as I had just gone through a little "near" emergency with Izzy a few days before. Izzy had pooped in his water, so our morning feeder left a five gallon bucket of water filled for him. By the time I got to the barn in the afternoon, the bucket had long been tipped over.
When I pulled in, Izzy was soaked in sweat and looking quite upset. I took him to the wash rack to cool him off, and it was then that I noticed the manure in his trough. Instantly I put it all together - the empty bucket, his general condition ... he was really thirsty.
I grabbed a clean bucket and filled it as quickly as I could. I left the hose running while Izzy drank. And drank. And drank. And drank some more. I spent the better part of fifteen minutes standing by the bucket as he alternated eating green grass and returning for more water.
I drained his soiled water trough and then pulled it out of his stall. It's huge and impossible to tip over and exchanged it for a smaller one that can be dumped even when full. This is the third time in as many weeks that Izzy's aim has been poor. The next time it happens, someone will be able to dump, clean, and refill his water without as much effort.
While the new trough was filling, Izzy continued to drink. I later talked to the morning feed person, did some math, and figured that Izzy was out of water for about six hours. It's not long enough for a horse at rest to kill himself, but it is long enough for some digestive upset to start. I pulled out my stethoscope.
Dr. Hall's lecture was about knowing how to check your horse's vital signs and recognizing which emergencies need a vet. I've long known how to check vital signs, but as I was going through the process with Izzy, I realized that I hadn't taken the time to establish Izzy's "normal." It's important to know what a particular horse's gut sounds like on a regular day. The same is true for his resting heart rate and body temperature.
For a very simple explanation of how to check a horse's vital signs and the "normal" numbers, check out this website.
As I listened to Izzy's gut sounds, they seemed quiet to me, but Speedy's are so loud that it makes it hard to draw a comparison. Had I taken the time earlier this winter to establish Izzy's baseline, I would have known immediately if these were regular or not.
I checked all four quadrants, upper and lower on both sides, several times until I started to get a feel for his gurgles. The quietness alone wasn't enough of a reason to call the vet. I moved on to his pulse where I got a satisfactory 40 beats per minute. Again, this is on the higher end of normal, but he had been running around, it was a warm day, and I am a bit out of practice.
I started to feel much better when I checked his capillary refill time. His gums were a lovely shade of pink and filled in immediately when I pushed them. I followed that with a skin tenting test on his neck and shoulder and was just as relieved to see his skin bounce back right away. He certainly wasn't dehydrated as I had feared.
I didn't count his breaths as I could see that his breathing was normal. A distressed horse will take quick, panting breaths, and it's easy to see and hear. I also skipped the temperature reading. The cold bath had already cooled him off nicely and his coat felt cool to the touch. In fact, as I hung out with him a bit longer, he looked perky, happy, and ready to play.
Thankfully, no vet visit was required, but it was a good reminder to me that I need to establish Izzy's base line. What is his normal, resting pulse and what do his particular tummy gurgles sound like? I'll definitely be working on that. To his credit, I was able to take all of his vitals without a halter. He stood relatively still as I moved the stethoscope around his body, and he allowed me to poke at his gums without too much fuss.
Dr. Tolley's lecture focused on dental care. I am not sure that he would claim dentistry as his specialty, but all of his clients would say that it is. He is especially knowledgeable in the field of equine dentistry and works hard to ensure that his clients are educated as well.
I've heard him lecture on this topic in the past, and I've been a client for long enough to have had numerous one on one tutorials on the subject. I am not sure that I came away with anything new, but I always appreciate hearing his thoughts on the topic and feel confident that as new technologies or practices become available, Dr. Tolley will be sure to incorporate those that are valid into his practice.
If you live in my area, contact BVH to get on their list for next year's client seminar. The dinner is always delicious, and the lectures are informative and casual enough to allow for plenty of question and answer time. And it's not often that you get to ask a rep from a drug company any question that you'd like.
Thank you, Bakersfield Veterinary Hospital for a great evening!
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%
2023 Show Season
(r) Ride-a-Test Clinic
2023 Show Schedule
2023 Completed …
2023 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
Qualifying Training Level
3 Scores/2 Judges/60%: