I got an e-mail back from the vet - they do accept CareCredit, which I think is the card I want to use, and I will be making her an appointment on Monday!
The vet said they will use acupuncture and chiro. I've heard some amazing things about acupuncture, so I'm down for that definitely.
I am honestly excited about it. Not because Amber is hurt, of course, but because finally answers and ultimately, healing.
I would have done this sooner, but I honestly thought we had found and fixed the problem each time, and none of them lasted more than a week really. The time she had off was just me being careful.
So I'm going to have Bob hold off on the shoes until further notice. She may need shoes, she may not, but I think it will complicate the vet's assessment of her if we add a new factor. He needs to examine her just as she is, because just as she is is how she's lame.
Furthermore, if what the vet finds and fixes (or puts us on track to fix) will stop her toe dragging, there is no need, and if a horse can be sound and healthy barefoot, why shoe them, unless the riding you do creates a need for them?
And I have pretty much concluded that she may have been toe-dragging due to improper self-carriage and her hind end not being engaged previously, but now that she isn't dragging the right hind at all, and we are seeing specific problems in the left...that are obviously significantly painful to her...well, the dragging has simply changed causes.
At this point though, I'm behind. I had planned to start her showing this year. Didn't happen because she is:
a) Off and on lame.
b) Behind in where I should have her in her training because of the time off.
c) Out of shape due to time off.
I had wanted her to be jumping and showing 18" courses by now, and schooling 2'. I had hoped we'd be killing Intro Level at shows and schooling Training. I wanted get her really fit.
But I haven't been able to get in more than a month, sometimes 2 months, of real training, because she goes lame and then is off work for a month. Because she's fairly green still, and she was basically walk/trot/canter/stop/turn-by-rein-pulling when I got her, in other words, as green as a w/t/c horse comes, the inconsistency means we always went back to square one.
I can't complain, because we HAVE accomplished some things that seem to have stuck...
-Circles. Remember when she couldn't work consistently on a circle? She would just lean on your leg and make a weird egg shape while counterbent, trying to run out through her shoulder? She does pretty well now.
-Leg yields and responding to leg pressure besides "forward". Remember when she didn't understand that my leg on her meant something besides "GO"? No sideways motion at all. No bending when I pushed her into the outside rein. Very responsive now!
-Contact. Our most recent success. Remember when she was super mouthy-chompy and not truly soft? She didn't understand why I was touching her mouth, and she didn't want to move forward into it. Now she puts herself on the bit in the walk like some old schoolmaster. The chomping is now a content, gentle chew, and she gets super foamy from good salivation. Trot was coming along before she went lame! Her canter is always better than her trot, so that will come even faster.
Amber is the first horse I've really "trained". Jack was not truly "green". He'd been there done that, he was just learning a new discipline. Plus Patricia put a lot of training on him herself.
But Amber's training up from w/t/c has been entirely my work. What she's learned past the basics of gas/brakes/direct steering has been what I have taught her. I can't help but be SO proud of her and myself. In 5 years, when she's 12, in her prime, hopefully excelling in her discipline, I can look back and say that *I* made her what she is. If I get a compliment on her, I can say I trained her.
I rode a lot of green horses when I was a young teen. But there is a difference in riding a green horse and training them. Teaching them. I've never really trained a green horse until now. Never started at a point, then looked back later and realized that new things they know I taught them.
And I was musing myself earlier today, and realized that I, too, have come very far.
In February 2009, I was scared to even trot. It made me nervous and all I could think about was "what if".
And here, in July 2011, my fears are minimal. They only flare when Amber has "out of control" moments - like the bucking spree a while back when we were cantering in the open. But here I am, training a green horse, cantering, jumping (well, we will be doing it again when she's sound and fit), and dreaming of eventing my green horse. I was terrified and didn't believe I was capable of doing ANY of those things 2 and a half years ago.
Thinking about the positive things helps the negative things going on seem not so horrid and final after all. I realized that I am looking at this like the vet is going to tell me she's never going to be ridden again, or I will have limited use of her. Yes, there's a problem, and it COULD be very serious, but more than likely, it's not - if it were, would she be able to buck and play with the mares out in the pasture? Unlikely! It may be a simple one-stop fix, or it may take a few months to recover from. But she's 7 years old. We have time. This isn't going to be a detrimental thing. We will get through it!