From Endurance to Dressage
I actually like taking my horses to the vet. Not for emergencies of course, but for regular maintenance, the bill is almost worth the price of admission. I always learn something new, but that's because Speedy usually shows up with some new thing or another. Izzy, too for that matter. Saturday's visit was no exception.
Both boys loaded up without issue. As a side note, this was the very first time that I hauled my trailer on the freeway with my new truck, Newt. It was also the first time I've hauled both horses with Newt. I have to say that I was pretty happy. All of that aside, Dr. Tolley and his assistant were standing at the ready as I pulled in.
As I unloaded both horses, I started with a run down of what I needed.
Speedy: dental work, check the fit and suitability of his double bridle, vaccinations, fecal exam, check his weight, blood work to check his ACTH levels (the Cushing's Disease thing), examine the abscess, and examine the weird hole in his hind foot.
Izzy: dental, vaccinations, fecal exam, check his weight, and examine the slow-to-heal wound on his lip.
Since Speedy DOES NOT LIKE for Izzy to be out of sight, we always start with Speedy because he can stand in a more relaxed frame of mind while the drugs wear off. For the bit check and abscess exam, we worked on Speedy at the trailer with Izzy tied well within Speedy's sight. In an effort to make this marathon of a post shorter, I am grouping the visit's results by body part rather than in the order they were done. Here goes ...
Speedy's Mouth: I slipped Speedy's halter off and replaced it with the double bridle. First, it did my ego a bit of good to hear Dr. Tolley express obvious appreciation for the bits I had chosen. He thought they were really beautiful and well made. Better than that, he thought the fit was good and saw no issues. If I was happy with how Speedy was going, Dr. Tolley felt the bits were fine.
During Speedy's dental exam, Dr. Tolley gave the bits a second endorsement. He saw nothing in Speedy's mouth to suggest that the bits were harming him in any way. As he worked, Dr. Tolley also shared a "floating" technique that he felt could be related to the evaluation of bit discomfort.
As he worked the sharp edges from one side of Speedy's mouth, he asked if I had noticed that Speedy lifted his head. I had to admit that I had not. Dr. Tolley pointed out that while he works on one side of the mouth, he has to push the tongue to the other side. This often causes the horse some added discomfort because the tongue is being pushed onto the teeth that are still sharp.
To combat this issue, he works for a short while on one side of the mouth, smoothing out some of the rough points. He then switches sides so that he can send the tongue back over to the side that has had some work done. In this way, the horse isn't suffering the discomfort of having his tongue pressed into the sharp points of the teeth that haven't yet been smoothed off.
So how does this relate to bit fit and discomfort? Dr. Tolley explained that when a horse is resistant to the bit, it might well be due to tongue discomfort. I don't think that's a novel idea to this crowd, but it bears remembering. It's probably even more relevant for horses going in the double bridle as there is even less room in the mouth for the tongue to "escape" any sharp edges.
My boys see Dr. Tolley at least twice a year, so I don't worry about dental issues too much. Their teeth always need touching up in the spring, but if they need it in the fall, Dr. Tolley will point it out.
Speedy's Hooves: I pulled off Speedy's Betadine-soaked wrap so that Dr. Tolley could have a look at my handiwork with the hoof knife. He gave the abscess hole a look and seemed pleased with the job I had done. He asked a few follow up questions and told me to keep wrapping it for a total of seven days. Thursday should be the day the wrap can come off.
When I explained that I had received some criticism for draining the abscess myself, he gave me a quizzical look and asked why. After hearing my explanation, he reassured me that I am doing the work with his knowledge and guidance. That's all I needed to hear.
The second hoof thing I needed Dr. Tolley to examine was the weird hole that recently appeared in Speedy's left hind hoof. Right away he took out his Dremel. I hate that thing because it never bodes well for the preferred diagnosis of "nothing to worry about." The Dremel is actually synonymous for "start worrying as fast as you can." Then he dragged out his knee pads. When Dr. Tolley puts on his knee pads, I know we're in for a long assessment.
Weird story ... As Dr. Tolley was strapping on his knee pads, he chatted about having had to wash them recently because they were blood-soaked. From what? I asked incredulously. I was almost sorry I asked. Interestingly, he had to do an emergency C-Section on a ewe who ultimately delivered three lambs. They all survived. My next question was, Three?! How many teats does a ewe have, anyway? To which Dr. Tolley replied, "Two, and yes, that can be problematic." I told you; I always learn something new.
So here is where the whole I always learn something new because Speedy is always diagnosed with something new thing happens. The hole was a possible indicator of white line disease. When I pressed Dr. Tolley, he referred to it as wanting to be white line disease. Well is it or not? Well, without drilling even further, it looked to him like it was the beginning of white line disease. To be sure, he asked that my farrier look at the bottom of Speedy's freshly trimmed hooves the next time he was out. That happened yesterday. I'll share that conversation in Friday's post. But in the meantime ...
Dr. Tolley gave me a thorough explanation of what White Line Disease is. Here's an abbreviated description thanks to a quick Google search: "White Line Disease is a fungal infection of the white line (or lamina) on the bottom of the horse's hoof. ... This separation is then invaded by bacteria and fungi, leading to infection that progresses up towards the coronary band which produces a white or gray powdery material."
Dr. Tolley likes to treat White Line Disease by first providing oxygen to the anaerobic infection. That's why he drilled the hole. The second thing he likes to do is apply a daily swipe of Tea Tree Oil which is from the Melaleuca Tree. Tea Tree oil has anti-fungal properties and is also useful because oil is better at penetrating the hoof than are water soluble products. I now have two bottles of Tea Tree Oil in my ever expanding medical kit. Dr. Tolley also pointed out that the Tea Tree Oil will be an excellent topical to use on Speedy's abscess hole once it has epithelialized.
Once both feet had been examined, I asked the obvious question: is White Line Disease related to Speedy's Cushing's Disease? The answer is that it's not caused by Cushing's, but there is a correlation. After some discussion, we decided to put Speedy back on Platinum Performance's Hoof Support. It seemed to work quite well when Speedy was growing out new hoof when he damaged his coronary band a few years ago.
Blood Work: Which brings us to Speedy's Cushing's Disease. When we tested him last year for the first time, his ACTH levels were at 56, just barely outside of normal. A level of 50 is considered the outside of the normal range. Dr. Tolley drew blood and sent it to the lab yesterday. We should hear back in another day or two. In the meantime. Speedy will continue with the Prascend as usual.
Everything Else: I know it's hard to believe, but there's more! As always, Speedy's fecal count came back negative; he's worm free. Even so, he'll get a dewormer once he's feeling better. The vaccinations always make him feel puny. And his weight? I was very pleased to see him clock in at a solid 1,020. That's the most he's ever weighed at the end of winter. For a horse who is hard to keep round during the winter, this was great news.
Overall, Speedy is in good health. He obviously has a few issues, the Cushing's Disease being the main culprit. But for a dude quickly approaching 16, everything else is in fine shape. Dr. Tolley's litmus test for the hoof supplement is this: if there are no more abscesses, it's working. If he has two more abscesses in a year (after waiting a few months for the supplement to do its thing), it's not working. I guess I'd rather pay for something and not know if it's working than pay for something and know it's not working.
Izzy's vet visit 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 Second Level. He is a 2008, 16'3 hand warmblood gelding. His Rheinland Pfalz-saar International (RPSI) name is Imperioso.
CDS Sapphire Rider Award
Third Level: 63.514%
Third Level: 62.105%
2021 Show Season
(r) Ride-a-Test Clinic
(Q) Must Qualify
2021 Pending …
11/7-11/8 SB (***)
2021 Completed …
10/24-25 SCEC (***)
2021 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
2nd Level Qualifying
3 Scores/2 Judges/60%:
Score 1: 60.610% Bhathal
2nd Level Qualifying
5 Scores/4 Judges/61%:
Stuff I Read