From Endurance to Dressage
I had to wait a few days before I could wrote this post. I am no longer angry - I may have dropped more than a few F bombs, but I am frustrated, disappointed, and worried. Yet again, Speedy and I will be starting the show season later than planned. Before I tell you what happened, I'd like to share some photos from Sunday's lesson.
Chemaine Hurtado, owner and trainer at Symphony Dressage Stables, braved a winter storm to come to Bakersfield to give lessons.
We worked on the regular stuff: getting Speedy in front of my leg, establishing a softer bend, and the medium trot.
I was giggling out loud at his medium trot. It's not quite an extended trot, but it was the most uphill trot he has offered, and boy was it fun to ride.
Twelve hours later, I got a text from the ranch owner letting me know Speedy had injured his leg. This photo came with the text.
I emailed the photo to my vet who urged me to bring Speedy to the vet hospital quickly. Without hesitation, I raced to the barn, loaded Speedy in the trailer and made the 40 minute drive to Bakersfield Large Animal Hospital. As mentioned earlier, I dropped F bombs the whole way.
I carefully unloaded Speedy and slowly walked him into the stocks so that Dr. Tolley could get a good look at what Speedy had done to himself. It wasn't pretty. I'll share the photo of what it looked like when the vet first examined it, but once Dr. Tolley started to pare away the damaged skin, the wound looked much, much worse.
Dr. Tolley quickly tranquilized Speedy, and then he went to work with his clippers (I bet they're not 20 years old - see? Not angry.) removing as much of Speedy's winter coat as he could. There was an injury to the hind leg that was actually deeper than it first appeared, but it was not serious. The more severe injury was to the front leg which had a large V-flap laceration.
Dr. Tolley explained that we could treat the larger wound in one of two ways. He could simply cut away the skin leaving an open wound that would need to be re-wrapped every other day until the gap could epithelialize. I had already done that with Izzy's wound, so no thanks. Option 2 was to try and stitch the skin back together. If that was at all possible, I wanted it done. Dr. Tolley also explained that while not advisable, one could simply clean it, and let it heal on its own. This treatment would take longer and leave plenty of scar tissue under the flap of skin. I told him that wasn't really an option I wanted to consider. He agreed.
As Dr. Tolley began working, he repeatedly injected the wound with lidocaine to block any nerve pain. Speedy was having none of it though as he consistently jerked his leg from Dr. Tolley. I could hear the frustration in Dr. Tolley's voice. I've been a client of his for 2 decades. In all that time, I had never seen him look anything but confidant. He finally gave a deep sigh and shook his head.
He told me that he should have knocked Speedy out completely. It was too late by that time, however as the drugs needed accomplish that couldn't be safely combined with the drugs that Speedy had already been given. By this point in the procedure, blood was pooling on the floor, and my nerves had had enough. I felt engulfed by fear and worry. Speedy's always been my pal, but at that moment, I realized how attached I am to the guy. I recognized that at nearly 15 years of age, Speedy was probably more than halfway through his life. Eventually, I will have to make some hard decisions.
I pride myself on how casually I handle vet visits. I never get anxious or worried. I approach these kinds of injuries with a very unperturbed, matter of fact attitude. After wards, I might fall apart, but never during. This time, with this injury, I felt myself losing it. For the first time ever, I had to leave the examine bay and stand outside.
I stood close enough to listen, but the conversation was very quiet and very tense. Without being aware of it, the team had positioned themselves in such a way as to keep Speedy calm and less reactive. Rudy had applied a twitch and everyone else, including Dr. Gonzalez, assisted with the surgical aspect of repairing Speedy's leg. My anxious presence wasn't helpful. I kept my distance.
By the time they had finished, I had myself under control. I am not sure why this particular visit left me feeling so terrified; Speedy is not going to die from a laceration to his leg. Maybe it's because I have so much invested in him. Not just financially; I have dreams and plans still to accomplish with him, and he deserves to be the one to help me get there.
When the sutures were done, Speedy was escorted to a stall where he could sober up. Dr. Tolley and I discussed Speedy's at-home treatment. He was given an antibiotic injection, but would need 10 SMZ antibiotic pills twice daily. He would also need the wound re-wrapped every other day with a pressure bandage - it's a good thing I am an expert.
One graphic photo below.
After discussing Speedy's Cushing's Disease diagnosis and my show plans for the year, I paid the bill and loaded Speedy up for the drive home. Once home, I turned him out as usual and went to ride Izzy. When I walked Izzy back to his paddock, I was met with a devastating scene.
To keep anyone from worrying, Speedy is okay, but I am simply too tired to tell the rest of the story today. Check back tomorrow to see what else happened.
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%: