From Endurance to Dressage
On Tuesday, I took my students on a field trip to Bakersfield Large Animal Hospital (BLAH). It was virtual of course, but I sure had fun doing it. Early spring is when I typically take my boys in for their spring vaccinations and dental work. It's also when my vet does a thorough hands-on job of assessing their general health: body condition, gut sounds, eyes, temperature, and so on. I usually ask questions, and we also discuss Speedy's PPID, commonly referred to as Cushing's Disease.
Since our appointment fell during the school day, I asked my students if they wanted to come along. Not everyone did of course, but I had a few takers, including their brothers and sisters who wanted to see a real horse. The appointment was for 2:00, so I instructed my kiddos to login to our Google Meet anytime after 2:00. I deliberately arrived 30 minutes early so I could get my boys settled before setting up my iPad and establishing an internet connection.
Dr. Tolley is a great vet. He's extremely knowledgeable, pleasant to work with, and well educated. Even after more than thirty years in practice, he still participates in learning opportunities, and loves to answer questions - mine at least. So when I told him what I was planning to do, he thought it sounded like a great idea.
Speedy was up first, as usual, so after weighing him outside - he came in at 970 pounds, I set up my iPad in the bay where Dr. Tolley does most of his work. The office manager happily gave me the wifi code, and suddenly, we were live! It took a few minutes for kids to jump on board, but once I started seeing their faces, the field trip began.
The kids are used to seeing my face on their screens, and I have long since gotten over seeing myself on a screen, but Dr. Tolley hadn't yet done anything in the COVID virtual world. I was really grateful for his attempts to interact with my students by explaining what he was doing. I hadn't expected him to do that. Of course, dental work is usually quite loud, so for most of the time, no one could hear anything over the machines.
When he wasn't using power tools, Dr. Tolley showed the kids his equipment and explained what it was for. He also showed them the inside of Speedy's mouth and counted teeth and explained what the different teeth do. When a student asked if horses can bite, Dr. Tolley showed them Speedy's canine teeth and explained that those were fighting teeth, the ones horses use to bite each other. He also told them that girls don't have those teeth.
As Dr. Tolley continued using his power tools, I walked around the hospital pointing out different things and explained what types of things the doctors do there like taking x-rays and helping sick horses. I also carried my iPad outside so the kids could see the pens for sick or recovering horses.
Once Dr. Tolley had finished up with Speedy and all questions had been asked and answered, we thanked Dr. Tolley, and I thanked my students for coming along with me. I am not sure how exciting it was, but since we haven't done a field trip in so long, it seemed like an experience that was at least worth trying out. I said goodbye to my students and we hung up.
Once Speedy was resting comfortably in the drunk tank - Dr. Tolley had to give him two doses of sedative, we brought Izzy in for his dental work and vaccinations. Of course we also put him on the scale on the way in - he came in at 1,350 pounds. I was really happy to see that because that was his weight two years ago before he started having some intermittent tummy trouble. Last year he weighed around 1,270 pounds, and I just couldn't get the weight back on him.
I showed Dr. Tolley the bag of GastroElm that i brought along with me and explained how beneficial it has been for Izzy. We talked about gastric ulcers and other gastrointestinal issues. Dr. Tolley agreed with my approach: reducing Izzy's stress level during rides (I've been working on that) and continuing with the GastroElm, increasing it as needed. Izzy's weight gain started right after I introduced the GastroElm, so I know it is helping.
I always enjoying going to BLAH. All of the staff are friendly, helpful, and looking for ways to better serve their clients. I am pretty sure this was the first virtual field trip that Dr. Tolley has ever done, and I am grateful. With kids being sequestered in their homes for so long, they're missing out on life experiences that are crucial for their development.
The kids have been asking to see the horses. I am not sure if this is what they meant, but it was at least something!
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%: