From Endurance to Dressage
Someone had a tummy ache.
Hey! Where are the score sheets she promised yesterday? And what's this about watermelon?
Sorry. Yes, I know I was planning on writing about Sunday's show, but something came up last night. As you can see from the title it has to do with a summer treat.
Yesterday, I went to the barn in the afternoon instead of the morning since our weather has been so cool. All was well. Both Sydney and Speedy G got a handful of watermelon rinds over which they smacked their lips in delight. I gave them their beet pulp and came back home knowing that my boys were safe and and happy.
Less than three hours later, the phone rang. RM, the barn owner, was calling to say that Speedy wasn't looking well. He was pacing and pawing and didn't want his dinner. Uh-oh. I told her I was on my way. I live less than 10 minutes from the barn. When I arrived, RM was walking Speedy in the arena.
I listened to his gut - nothing. I watched his flanks for his rate of respiration - higher than normal. I tried to check his pulse, but he was too agitated to stand still. I asked for the lead rope explaining that I wanted to see how quickly he would lay down and once he did, what would he do.
Speedy rolled, but it wasn't violent. He also groaned a bit and then got back up. Yep. It was a belly ache. RM continued to walk him while I put in a call to my favorite vet, Dr. Blanton of Bakersfield Vet Hospital.
Speedy had just passed a nice pile of poop and obliged me with another pile as I was talking to Dr. B. When he pooped though, he did a bit of a squat, very unusual for him, and grunted. He also gave his flank a very suspicious glare. I related his odd pooping behavior to Dr. B as well as described his desire to lay down. He didn't really want to roll, just lay on his belly.
Her quick diagnosis was that he had a gas cramp most likely caused by the watermelon rind. (Hmm ... I've been feeding watermelon for years.) She prescribed a dose of Banamine which RM had waiting for me. I was to call back in an hour to see if that did the trick. Dr. B also confirmed that if a horse wants to lay down, let him. As long as he isn't hurting himself by rolling, it's okay to let them roll or just lay there.
I gave Speedy the Banamine and let him walk beside me around the arena. When we got to the far end where it is nicely shaded, I stopped to see if he would lay down. Sure enough, he plopped down and laid his head down. I tucked my feet under his back and leaned over to rub his belly. I also rocked his belly back and forth by pushing on him with my legs. He quickly lost the pained expression that was on his face and he started to perk up a bit. RM had come down to keep me company and we just sat and chat about nothing in particular. It was clear that Speedy was enjoying the company.
We sat in that position for about 15 minutes: Speedy resting on the ground with me rocking him back and forth. With a relaxed look on his face, Speedy stretched his front legs out in front of him, and I knew he wanted to get up. And that was it. I took his halter off and hung out with him for another half an hour. He shuffled around the arena looking for stuff to eat while occasionally head butting me to let me know that he wanted back in his stall so that he could start his dinner.
I called Dr. B back and gave her a run down on his current condition. She advised that he get only half his dinner, and if all looked well in the morning, he could go back to his regular schedule. She also admonished: if it comes from your kitchen, it's not horse feed. Apparently, watermelon is the most sugar-filled food you can give a horse. She also discourages the use of carrots and apples. Bummer. Speedy loves watermelon and enjoys it as a summer treat. I think I'll stick to official horse treats from now on.
Wicked, wicked watermelon!
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%: