From Endurance to Dressage
Last year at this time, Izzy's skin was a hot mess. Not only were his mane and tail rubbed out, but he had rubbed his shoulders, withers, and face raw. I tried more than a dozen products to ease the itchiness, but absolutely nothing worked. Eventually, I took him to the vet where he prescribed Prednisolone to quiet Izzy's inflammatory response.
This spring, I started Izzy on the Prednisolone in March in the hopes that I could get ahead of the itchiness. While the weather was still cool and springlike, the Prednisolone seemed to work. He wasn't particularly itchy, but I didn't knew if it was because it wasn't hot enough to make him itchy, or if the Prednisolone was doing it's job.
As soon as the weather warmed up, I began to notice that Izzy was rubbing his mane at the bottom. With my vet's consent, I started to play around with the Prednisolone dosage to see which dosage gave him the most relief. No matter what I did, the itchiness continued. Izzy started rubbing his mane at the bottom, but over the course of the summer, he moved up as the mane got rubbed out.
I eventually quit giving the Prednisolone as none of the dosages made a difference. Living at STC Dressage for two weeks in June proved to me that the itchiness was related to the heat more than anything else. STC Dressage is in Ventura County on the coast where the weather is far cooler than it is here in the Central Valley.
Since the Prednisolone wasn't doing much, I decided to try a new strategy. The itchiness seemed related to heat and possibly sweat, so I started shampooing Izzy's mane and tail several times a week. I used a variety of shampoos, some that were moisturizing and others that contained astringent type ingredients. I made sure to really dig my fingers into his mane in order to get all of the gunk and dirt off of his skin.
Cleansing his hair seemed to make more of a difference than the drugs ever did. It didn't stop the itching completely though, I finally had to cut off the very top of Izzy's mane as it was starting to look like a comb over. I gave him a mohawk which is actually pretty cute on him. Another thing that seemed to help was the GastroElm. With his tummy feeling so much better, I think he was better able to utilize the nutrients in his daily milled Flaxseed. His coat is looking much healthier this summer. It didn't fade nearly as much, and it doesn't have that bleached out, burned look. His dapples are also still pretty vibrant.
Since I've gone back to work, I haven't had nearly as much time to wash his mane and tail. This weekend, I noticed that he has started scrubbing his forehead raw, and his tail dock is looking worse. I gave his mane and a tail a good shampoo, I rubbed in lots of Knotty Horse conditioner, and I treated his face with Zephyr's Leave it Be Salve.
Sean Cunningham, owner and trainer at STC Dressage, has suggested I get Izzy's skin scraped to check for mites. The vet has seen Izzy more than a few times since this itchiness really became a problem, and he has never suggested it might be anything but summertime gnats, but I am certainly going to ask about a skin scraping. It can't hurt. The itchiness seems to only affect Izzy's topline, so mites do sound like they could be responsible.
While we still have about six to eight weeks of hundred degree weather looming, we were blessed with a weekend with highs in the low 90s. I know that gave Izzy some relief. We've currently had 58 days of triple digit temperatures, and we could easily have another dozen or so; we're currently experiencing the tenth hottest summer since records have been recorded. I am hoping I can keep Izzy's skin together for just another month or so. After that, our evenings will begin to cool down which gives the horses a break.
I love our mild winters where I can ride in a long sleeve t-shirt, but our summers are pretty brutal.
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%