From Endurance to Dressage
Part 1 is here.
Warning: one graphic photo is included down below, but there is plenty of warning that it is coming.
I got the phone call about Izzy on Tuesday while I was at work, but as a teacher, I simply can't answer the phone every time (or any time) it rings. As soon as I had a free moment, I listened to the voicemail from the trainer with mounting dread. Izzy had cut his leg and needed stitches. What did I want to do about it?
I immediately grit my teeth in anger. I had sent the trainer a very detailed letter that included directions for what to do in the event of an emergency. I had stipulated that the vet was to be called, and that I would pay all treatment and material costs including the emergency ranch call. That she needed to call and ask bothered me a great deal.
At the next break in my schedule, I phoned her directly with the plan to insist she get a vet out as soon as possible. Before I could do so, she quickly informed me that a vet had already been there and treated Izzy's wound. According to the trainer, the injury didn't need stitches and would just need to be wrapped for a week or so. The wound should be healed in ten days.
I was greatly relieved. The trainer offered to keep him an additional week to do the every other day bandaging. I wouldn't need to pay for board or training. I told her that I would think about it, but ultimately, I was worried about his safety and decided to pick him up on Saturday as originally planned. I sent her an email thanking her for the care she'd given Izzy, but I would be picking him up as planned.
The next morning, I received an extremely lengthy email describing how he had received the injury. The email included words like significant issues, frantic, extreme issues due to his thoroughbred breeding that are considered excessive, hypersensitivity, disaster, seriously herd bound, and the need for nerves of steel. I just could not (and still can't) see the horse that she was describing as the horse that I've worked with a handful of times.
My best friend and I drove north on Saturday morning with a plan for loading such an "unmanageable" horse. The truck was gassed up, we had stopped for breakfast in case it turned out to be a long day, and we had several different types of whips, a lunge line, and a butt rope.
We walked out to his pasture and found a sleepy horse dozing in the sun. To be truthful, both my friend and I thought he looked too sleepy. He really looked drugged. I slipped his halter on and led him down toward the trailer. He walked quietly beside me with my friend following. When I got to the trailer, I dropped the middle window down carefully, but he still spooked a bit. As I lowered the second window, he watched, but he stood in place.
I had given my friend instructions on how I wanted her to use the lunge whip if needed. She stood back as I approached the trailer. I climbed in and within less than a minute, Izzy hopped in with me. There had been no need to encourage him from behind. The trainer handed me the vet bill, I handed her a check, and she told me the bandages were due to be changed that day. I thanked her, and we hit the road. We had been there less than 20 minutes.
Izzy danced and whinnied for the first two or three minutes of the 130 mile drive, but after that, we didn't hear a peep out of him. When we pulled into my barn, my friend held the trailer door closed while I unclipped him. At my direction, she slowly opened the door, but just like before, Izzy waited for me to tell him to back out.
He looked around for a while, but seemed to be dealing with the change of scenery quite well. I introduced him to Speedy G, his nearest neighbor, and they were instantly besties. We stood in the barn aisle for a few minutes where I had left some hay. He nibbled at the hay and checked out his surroundings. When it seemed as though he was okay with the situation, I put him in his new stall and paddock and waited.
After a few minutes, I brought Speedy out to groom and ride. Izzy got quite anxious as we walked out to the arena, but within a minute or so, he quit calling for us and just watched us work. Each time I neared the fence, I called out a quick hello to him. By the time I had finished the ride, Izzy looked settled enough to tackle the re-bandaging.
One of the barn owners had hung around, so I asked her to stand at his head as I unwrapped him. It took a few minutes to get all of the many layers unwrapped, and as I got closer to the wound, I had a sickening feeling that this was not a simple injury. I was right. As I pulled off the final blood-soaked telfa pad, my heart just sank. I was looking at a deep, wide, swath of the inside of Izzy's leg.
The photo that I took is quite gross, so close your eyes and scroll past it if you are squeamish ...
Here it is ...
I have a lot of experience dealing with cuts, scrapes, bug bites, intestinal distress, thumps, electrolyte imbalances, fevers, lameness, abscesses, and so on, but I know when the job is too big for me. I asked my barn owner to run and get JL, my trainer, but before she was out of the driveway I was on the phone to my vet.
I have a great relationship with my vet. As soon as the receptionist knew who was calling, she had Dr. Tolley on the road. He was at my barn in less than 30 minutes. I love my vet; he knows his stuff and can read through the lines of bull shit like nobody's business.
He immediately had his hands all over Izzy's wound (seriously gross) and then asked to see him walk out. He quickly pronounced him sound at the walk with no damage done to any tendons, ligaments, or muscles. He asked to see the bandages and asked why the wound hadn't been stitched. When I explained that the treating vet didn't think it was necessary, Dr. Tolley may have used the word idiot, but I could be mistaken. At this point, there was no way to stitch any of the skin back together as it was no longer elastic enough to do so.
Dr. Tolley lightly cleansed the wound with betadine, and then re-wrapped the leg. The good news is that the wound will heal, but it will take about 10 weeks to do so. I am to re-wrap the leg every other day until he says to stop. The telfa pad is to be soaked in Biozide Gel Wound Dressing that gets a wrap of gauze to hold it in place. Next will come a roll of cotton sheeting followed by an entire roll of gauze wrapped as tightly as I can get it. The whole shebang will then be wrapped in Coflex or Vetrap (whichever brand I happen to have). Repeat, repeat, repeat.
I will be taking Izzy in for a check up in two weeks where Dr. Tolley will re-asses the wound and determine if we should switch the Biozide Gel out for White Lotion (to prevent proud flesh) or use a gel pad that one of the new doctors has had good luck with.
When Dr. Tolley had finished with Izzy's leg, he asked to see the original treating vet's bill/write-up. It clearly stated that the wound was to be redressed in three days. The trainer did not redressed the wound as directed, but had let it wait for me to do at day 5. Fortunately, no harm was done, but I am even more grateful that I decided to go get him and treat him rather than leave him there for her staff to do.
So that's where we are. I re-wrapped the wound last night with no trouble. My best friend once again showed up to help and will come again on Wednesday. Izzy was really good for the whole thing though so my friend's help is probably more moral support for me than anything else.
Dr. Tolley didn't want him on bute as he doesn't think the wound is painful. He also passed on the antibiotics as this type of wound should stay clean enough with the bandages.
There is a bit more to the story of course - a few other parts that lead me to suspect the trainer's motivation regarding Izzy were for her own purposes, but since I would just be speculating, I'll leave it at that.
Even though Izzy can't be ridden for a few months, there is a ton of ground work that I can do to begin building a trusting relationship, and bandaging a leg is a great place to start!
Izzy's first "lesson" 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 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%: