From Endurance to Dressage
Speedy's Umpteenth Winter Vet Visit
I am really not sure how many times Speedy has seen the vet this year. I think five. We get it, Speedy. You're special and fabulous and worth every penny I own which is now not very many. Please stop hurting yourself!
Speedy's visit was just as interesting as Izzy's, but for a whole different set of reasons. Izzy's canine teeth were fascinating, especially if you're into teeth and bits. His poundage (a hefty 1,350 pounds) was also entertaining to someone like me who has worked her literal butt off to get rid of excess pounds. He can have any of mine that he'd like. What made Speedy's visit so compelling was the drama lurking beneath those two blue bandages.
Before we even brought Speedy into the exam bay, Dr. Tolley and I discussed how we should sedate/tranquilize Speedy. Two weeks before, Dr. Tolley had run into the problem of needing to knock Speedy out while being unable to because he couldn't mix the knock out drugs (that's a really technical term because I don't know the names of any of those drugs, and nobody probably cares anyway) with what he'd already given Speedy. For this visit, he went with a class of drug that would allow him to drop Speedy later if needed. I was totally cool with that decision. Neither of them, meaning both Dr. Tolley and Speedy, needed me losing my composure on that day, particularly since Dr. Gonzalez had the day off.
Speedy's teeth were in pretty good shape. Dr. Tolley only needed to fix a little here and a little there. He and I have discussed this many times. Horses who get regular veterinarian care usually remain in better shape far later into their senior years than those who only get occasional vet care. Of course there are always exceptions. Speedy obviously being one of them. Dude.
Once Speedy's teeth were done, Dr. Tolley gave me the go-ahead to remove the bandages so that we could get the sutures out. This next part is going to sound a bit vain, but it is not my intention to sound so. It's just a reality.
For my entire horse ownership life, I have either kept my horses at home, at a private residence like now, or at a boarding facility where they fed and maybe cleaned and that was it. On top of that, I was an endurance rider for more than 16 years. By necessity, endurance riders learn crap about equine physiology that most people really don't want to know. Endurance riders never miss the opportunity to check out poop, urine, respiration rates, anal tone, skin tenting, attitude, and so on.
There has never been a parent, trainer, or barn owner responsible for my horse's well being; it's always been my responsibility. As such, I've had to develop a pretty solid skill set when it comes to equine care. My horses will let me do to them what they won't let someone else do. So when I told Dr. Tolley that I should be the one take off the bandages and clean the wound instead of him, he agreed immediately. Neither one of us wanted to have to knock Speedy out. Another example of where that great client/vet relationship comes in handy.
When I first removed the bandages, I saw what I've been seeing for two weeks - a Frankenstein looking affair with a bit of Jack the Ripper thrown in for good measure. It was a mess. I gently wiped away clumps of dirt and goop and then asked the vet tech for water. Almost immediately a warm Betadine wash was in my hands with some 4x4 gauze pads and a stainless steel, turkey baster-like syringe.
As I gently irrigated and wiped the wound, it started to look better and better. The lower portion of the injury, just below the red stuff, had clearly reattached itself. Most of the skin had survived. Speedy stood very quietly as I pulled and prodded at the delicate flesh, loosening every bit of gunk that might irritate the newly granulated tissue.
As I was finishing up, Dr. Tolley squatted down beside me and ever-so-carefully began snipping away at the sutures. In a quiet voice he encouraged me to keep doing what I was doing so that Speedy would remain calm. Speedy jerked his foot away a few times, but I placed it back on the ground and let him know that it was okay.
With far less trouble than we had expected, the sutures were removed. Dr. Tolley breathed a sigh of relief and let me know how worried he had been about the procedure. I quickly retorted, Don't tell me stuff like that. It just freaks me out to think you're freaked out! He just laughed.
I didn't have time to get a photo of the wound after the sutures were removed, Dr. Tolley bandaged it back up before I had a chance, but it looked really good. Deterring proud flesh, an over-granulation of tissue, is of course the next hurdle. Proud flesh is something that I have a fair amount of experience with, so I'll be working hard with fingers crossed that we escape that particular outcome.
For the next few weeks, Speedy will remain bandaged until the wound is completely healed. Our first line of attack is going to be wrapping both legs (the other slice hadn't healed completely either) with Hydrophilic foam pads soaked in saline solution. The pads will stay moist against the granulating tissue allowing the skin to rebuild itself. It's a fairly simple bandage with the Hydrophilic pad pressed directly to the wound and covered with a roll of cotton web. All of that is then secured by vet wrap.
The good news is that Speedy and I should be able to get back to work by this weekend. Dr. Tolley suggested I keep it at a walk/trot initially, but as I see the skin closing, we can start back with the canter. I'll need to rewrap every other day and on days that I ride. Of course if things start to go south, we'll go back in.
Oh, and before I forget, Speedy got on the scale too. He came in at 1,005 pounds. The vet tech quipped that he was really only 1,000 pounds as he was easily toting 5 pounds in bandages. I thought that was funny.
Another piece of good news is that Speedy has been sound this whole time, so the wound was considered superficial, nothing structural was involved, just skin. Now if I can just keep him from crashing into something else, we might make our Third Level debut yet.
Fingers crossed, right?!
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%: