From Endurance to Dressage
I always take my boys to the vet for their spring vaccinations, dentals, and fecals on the last day of my Easter Break. That way, I get to ride all week, and I don't have to take a day off work. But since Easter came so late this year, I sort of feel like calling them summer vaccinations. Sheesh!
I know many riders have the vet come to their barn, but since I've never boarded at a trainer-run barn, I've always found it easier to just haul my boys down to Bakersfield Vet Hospital. It's only about a 20 minute drive, they have a nice, airy bay for working on teeth and doing other exams, and it saves me the ranch call fee.
This year, both boys got a little something different done. We always vaccinate for Eastern/Western Encephalomyelitis, Rhino, Influenza, Tetanus, and West Nile Virus. Since both boys might get to go to Chemaine's for a lesson this summer, we added the Strangles vaccine. Most of you probably give that one anyway, but where we live, it only occurs rarely (and epidemically), so most people don't do it annually.
Since I've only had Sydney for three years, we don't know if he has ever been vaccinated for Strangles. Giving the vaccine to a horse with no history of the disease can be dangerous. If he has already had it, he could have a very serious reaction to the vaccine, so we did some blood work to check his titers. Based on the numbers we get back, we'll either forgo the vaccine, give him one dose, or vaccinate him with a follow up booster.
After an exam by Dr. Tolley, both boys' teeth were determined to be in tip top shape; no dental work was needed this year. There is a lot to be said for regular dental care. Both boys get looked at each year which means there is never any big, dramatic issues. Next year I'm sure they'll need some work, but I appreciated saving a little money this year!
I do fecal counts to check for worm eggs twice or a year. None of my horses ever test positive, but that's not entirely due to our cleaning practices. It's so dry and hot here that fly eggs don't have much of a chance for survival. Even so, I was glad the tests came back negative. Both horses will get their dewormer this weekend. Even though they always test negative, I still administer the dewormer in case of encysted worms.
Aside from the regular stuff, I also talked to Dr. Tolley about Speedy's "injury." I explained the nerve blocks to isolate the soreness, the x-rays, the trot out, Dr. Judy's tentative diagnosis, and finally, his conservative plan for recovery.
We've been following that plan religiously:
Next on the list would be to add 1-minute trot intervals for 30 days, followed by adding 2-minute trot intervals for the next 30 days, and finally adding some canter for the final 30 days. Dr. Judy also recommended a re-check at 60 days.
Since the day we came home from Alamo Pintado Equine Medical Center, Speedy has been solidly sound. The lameness never returned. All along, I have felt that the injury behaved more like an abscess or a "hot" nail. To my delight, Dr. Tolley agreed. In his opinion, this did not present as a collateral ligament injury. The sudden onset and fast resolution are not consistent with a ligament issue.
A "normal" wear and tear ligament injury would normally begin with intermittent lameness with some days showing improvement until the horse was consistently lame. Speedy's injury was sudden with no heat or swelling. And while it came and went for a few weeks, he was either completely lame or completely sound, never in between.
Dr. Tolley was not critical of Dr. Judy's initial diagnosis (collateral ligament, bone bruise, or abscess). Without the MRI (and even with it we might not have known for sure), Dr. Judy really just took a best guess and then treated Speedy accordingly. Two months later, it seems as though we have a best case scenario, which Dr. Judy also hoped for.
The good news? Dr. Tolley has cleared Speedy to return to work! He even did a flexion test which Speedy passed with flying colors. I'm still going to be somewhat conservative, meaning I am not going to go out tomorrow and do a full schooling ride. And since he has felt a bit puny from his injections, he needs a few more days of walking until he's completely recovered. I'm going to work out a revised mini-version of Dr. Judy's plan that introduces the trot and canter over several weeks. Even though he may be sound, Speedy has certainly lost some fitness.
I feel quite comfortable with this plan. I am pretty careful with the health of my horses and would never jeopardize their soundness to suit my own purposes. My worry has been that Speedy's weight (he's put on a few pounds) and lack of an energy outlet are going to cause an entirely different problem. Tubby horses are prone to laminitis, diabetic issues, and other diseases. Bored horses are not only destructive to property, but they tend to hurt themselves as they try to alleviate their boredom.
While "round," Speedy has not yet reached a worrisome weight nor has he caused himself any harm, but those things have been on my radar. Now that he has been cleared to get back to work, I won't need to worry about secondary injuries caused by inactivity.
We might even salvage this show season yet!
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
*** SCEC 10/15-16/22
2022 Completed …
(*) Tehachapi 5/22/22
(*) Tehachapi 7/24/22
(***) Tehachapi 8/28/22
2023 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
Qualifying Training Level
3 Scores/2 Judges/60%:
Score 1: 62.115%