I went out to check Amber today.
First, I looked at her back. For all accounts, it LOOKS even, and there are no bumps or depressions. I felt around, and there was no serious reactions to pressure in various places. I flexed her leg around, no reaction at all. She flexed out okay, at least, from my inexperienced POV.
I saddled her up, took her out to the round pen and threw the side reins on...She started to walk fine, immediately stretched down and got nice and round. Great. Then, I asked for trot after walking her both ways...she pinned her ears and went along, grudgingly. It was obvious that the left hind is NOT flexing, seeingly up near the stifle joint...hmmm. Stifle injury was looking spot-on to me after watching her a few minutes. When she tracked right, she fell in on the circle BAD. She was not going to put her weight on that outside left hind no matter what.
I took the side reins off, to see how she'd do if she could put her head where she pleased, and same results.
I don't know why I decided to do it, but I took her saddle off and tossed it over the rail and asked her to trot again. Still a little stiff, but there was more range of motion AND no ear pinning. What in the HELL?
I checked my saddle fit today. It fits fine, which is why her moving more comfortably without it is weird. If it's a stifle issue, or any issue specifically in that leg, the saddle should not effect it - especially if there isn't even a rider in it. Even if it didn't fit, if there were no rider, it might not feel great, but it wouldn't cause a noticeable, specific lack of flexibility in one leg.
I'm just going to have Emma put a fresh pair of eyes on the situation and give me her opinion tomorrow.
Obviously, the toe dragging is now related to this lack of flexibility. At this point, I'm going to get Bob's opinion, but probably not opt for the shoes, unless Bob thinks it will be necessary just to stop the wear on the toe until we figure out and cure this lameness.
I don't have a ton of money to spend, so I have to be wise in what professional help I seek. I want to see what Bob and Emma's opinions are about what it might be and where I should take her.
I think she knew that I was trying to figure out how to help her. I just wish she could tell me "this hurts here". But...she can't. I've considered an animal communicator, but it's so iffy...and I feel like a lunatic for considering such.
At the same time, I feel like I've failed Amber, letting this continue so long. I've tried to reason with myself that this is an entirely different issue we have here. She was doing so good, I thought maybe we had finally found the problem and worked through it. But then I think that I should have simply taken her to the vet soon as the toe dragging started. Soon as the weird lamenesses started.
And...then I tell myself again, she recovered in a relatively short period of time, and seemed to make even more progress forward each time, and each time that happened, I though "Finally, we fixed it."
To make matters worse, my saving for vet bills was depleted when I was suspended from work - again, a stupid, stupid thing I did. At this point, I feel like I should have never bought Amber, because I've failed her all around. I've made all the wrong choices, and maybe buying her was a selfish choice. I knew she had some issues with soundness when I bought her - even though the vet checked her out fine. I knew my measly job couldn't cover what was going to come inevitably.
But what can I do now, I have to ask myself. Sit here and fault myself, slapping myself on the wrist for bad decisions? No. That damn sure won't help me get $ to cover the coming vet bills, and it definitely won't help Amber get better. I love her more than anything, there is no question that she's worth anything I have to spend.
I've put off putting in my app for that job at Caswell, but I have to do it, and I WILL do it before the week is out. It's $14 an hour. Double my current salary. I'd easily have enough to pay Amber's vet bills. And that's exactly what I'm going to do. At the same time, I'm going to be looking for jobs of equal pay to apply to. I think I have a good shot at Caswell. I hope so.
Right now, I'm wishing I had taken out an insurance policy on Amber soon as she passed that PPE...