From Endurance to Dressage
It would be nice if this was the last ultrasound EVER, but it probably won't be. It was (hopefully) the last one for this particular injury. Two months ago, Speedy over-did it in turnout and suffered a small bit of damage to the superficial flexor tendon.
I don't minimize things just to make myself feel better. When I say this was a slight injury, I mean it. There was only a small bit of swelling that lasted less than a week, and after just one pressure bandage, it never returned. When Dr. Tolley did the initial ultrasound, just days after the injury, he had a hard time diagnosing the injury as a classic "bowed tendon." There was some iffy shading on the ultrasound image, but it was small and could have even been a blood vessel.
Since there was swelling and lameness, we both felt that it was only right to treat it as at least a moderate injury. And truly, Speedy did hurt the tendon, but it was not nearly as bad as it could have been.
Speedy spent four weeks standing in his stall with a pressure bandage with minimal hand walking and no turn out. At the end of a month, we did a follow up ultrasound that showed the previous "damage" had healed, but the tendon in question was slightly thicker than its partner. Speedy spent the next four weeks in two different Gelocasts. To his relief, he was allowed full access to his paddock and hand walking became part of his routine.
Over this past weekend, we went back to BVH for a third ultrasound. Again, the image confirmed that the original injury site looked the same as the other leg, but the tendon was still slightly enlarged. When I asked Dr. Tolley how much larger it was, he showed me how the machine calculated the size of the affected area.
The right tendon was 0.5 cm² larger than the left - a very small difference. In fact, the difference could be related to the injury, or since we don't have a pre-injury measurement, it could simply be that his two tendons have never been the same size.
Since I have another horse to ride, I am in no hurry to get Speedy back to work. Dr. Tolley was relieved to hear that. In his opinion, more time off would only ensure a full recovery. On the flip side, horses who stand around and do nothing are much more prone to additional injury than are their hard-at-work buddies.
Bone and soft tissue need to be exercised to keep them healthy and strong. Standing around only weakens those structures making them much more susceptible to an injury if a horse were to spook suddenly or be frightened by say the recent thunderstorms we've been having. With that in mind, Dr. Tolley cleared Speedy for walking rides around the neighborhood.
These walking rides will do several things. First, the road surface is firm which will not put any stress on the tendon. Speedy will also be able to get moving which will help him not only dissipate some of the build-up of energy, but it will help maintain at least a small amount of muscle fitness while keeping joints somewhat lubricated. The final benefit will be to his brain. Having a job, no matter how simple, will keep him much happier.
In less than 5 weeks, my husband and I will be heading to Italy for 16 days. Knowing that we're going to be leaving for such a lengthy trip makes it even easier to give Speedy the extra time to rest. So between now and our departure date, Speedy will get to "trail ride" a few days a week. He'll then get more than two weeks of rest from the walking work while we're gone.
When I get back, Dr. Tolley laid out a back-to-work plan that includes walking and careful trotting in July with a return to some canter work in August. By the end of August, we can be back to our full riding routine.
I guess if your horse needs time off, a European vacation is probably the best way to help the rider cope with the stress of not riding!
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%: