Speedy and I have shared more adventures than most ever will. We’ve competed in endurance races, galloped on the beach, camped in the forest, and even trotted down centerline to halt at X. We left the endurance world to compete at Introductory Level dressage and eventually rose through the levels to Third where we successfully earned a USDF Bronze Medal. 
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February 2010 – trotting in the rain at the 20-Mule Team Endurance Race.

We’ve had our struggles for sure – a separated coronary band, hoof bruises, PPID, a lost tooth, and more, but Speedy always rebounded, happy to do the next thing with me. I don’t think I’ve ever had another horse that has given me so much. I asked, and he gave. He let my goals be his goals. When I talked to Dr. Tolley yesterday morning, I asked why Speedy hasn’t been lame sooner. Dr. Tolley matter of factly replied that Speedy simply likes me and his job more than he hurts. 
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Camping at Montana de Oro. The ocean is hidden beneath the fog bank.

When Speedy and I made the jump to Second Level in 2018, I knew a Bronze Medal might be possible. I didn’t tell Speedy that’s what I wanted, but he had to have known. He had to sense the urgency in our lessons, the added difficulty to our rides. He took it all in stride, doing his best to please me. And none of the work was easy for him. He did it anyway, and it was easy to see when he was proud of himself. He particularly loves those medium gaits.
InJanuary of 2019, when Speedy was diagnosed with PPID, often called Equine Cushing’s Disease, I realized that he was entering the second half of his life. I knew deep down that the day was coming when Speedy would need an easier job, one that asked less of his body. Age is the one thing that we simply can’t fix. I started asking the Universe for favors. Just one more show, just one more score, just let us get that Bronze Medal. Some of you may think I was being selfish, asking too much of my horse. But most of you know that I wanted it for both of us. I needed everyone to see how amazing Speedy really is.
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July 2020

Dr. Tolley and I formulated a plan. As long as Speedy wants to work, we’ll work. Yes, he may be sore, but as Dr. Tolley described it, as long as it doesn’t hurt him mentally, we’ll go on. Will we be able to school Fourth Level? I doubt it. Will we show again? I don’t know. Dr. Tolley said that I won’t break him by riding him and that regular movement will actually ease the discomfort of arthritis. Speedy will get a few weeks of rest. We’re not sure why he’s sore all of a sudden, so we’re hoping this summer’s shows were just a lot of work that caused the joint to get a bit angry. A rest period might quiet the joint back down.

Our secondary plan is to let the joint settle down before we do anything else. If it looks like Speedy can tolerate a near normal work load, we’ll look at adding a daily Equioxx dose. Neither Dr. Tolley nor I felt that medicating him right now was imperative. Speedy doesn’t seem to be in that kind of pain, even when he trots. Yes, he’s got a hitch at the trot for sure, but his face always has a pleasant expression and his ears are pricked forward. He’s happily trotting and cantering the fence line with Izzy and even throwing in some rearing for fun.

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He really does enjoy his job.

As Robert Frost wrote:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I–
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Speedy and I have taken many roads, some heavily traveled, and some less so. We may find ourselves facing a path shrouded in what seems like shadows and undergrowth, contemplating which way to go, but I am not worried about it. No matter upon which path we find ourselves, we’ll do it as a team, and it will be a grand adventure. 

And that has made all the difference.

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