I felt horrible when I got to the barn because Bob had just turned Amber out and I had come to make her go to work. I know she hasn't been able to go out much the past couple of days due to some monster storms.
She was, however, very agreeable today.
I realized though, I don't work her on the lunge as much as I should. For a soundness check, sure, but as part of her training? No. I haven't, and I should have been. She's a young horse and I know she needs time on the lunge, but I've neglected to do so. I always say "Today, I'm going to start out by warming her up for 10 minutes on the lunge!", but it never happens. Because I say it's going to take too much time to drag out the side reins and the equipment, or I may as well just warm her up on her back with some leg yields and bending, ect ect. Or the classic, "Well, she isn't a hot horse and she learns and performs fine without lunging, so why waste the time?"
Basically, I've been super lazy making excuses for not lunging her. It's not a matter of if she needs it because she's hot, it's not a matter of performance with/without or anything...it's a valuable piece of our training that my laziness has excluded.
And I realized I've been neglecting this because she basically only knows that if she's spacing and I flick at her with the whip, she better get moving. The full whoa, downward transition commands...not really there. And she makes the most crooked circle around me ever. It's not even that she's running out through her shoulder, she's just making her own circle and I'm not dead center.
Obviously, that wasn't an issue in the round pen, but I took her out into the field so I could let her make a larger circle to canter on, and she was trying to figure out what I wanted, but she kept going off center.
I did get her to do some okay transitions, although some took a minute. I have a feeling she was more willing to transition down because she was hoping she could stop and have grass, but she didn't try to pick at it or break gait, so maybe she actually learned something. I need to make myself include it more.
At least she's pretty chill about being handled and touched. I doubt anyone has ever done much clipping with her, other than perhaps the bridle path. But she pretty much fell asleep today while I trimmed her muzzle, EYES, EARS and underjaw. Yes, she stood like a stone the entire time. Did not move when I clipped out her ears. Have I ever mentioned how AWESOME I think my horse is?
In fact, she even enjoyed it because after I finished she got the insides of her ears scratched. What a ham.
I spoke to Bob and he, yet again, expressed his opinion on what I should do with Amber. Perhaps I've misunderstood what everyone is saying, perhaps they're just realizing the error of their ways...I don't know. But I got a different message today.
He basically said I could take Amber and do anything with her. Agreed, I know. He still said he thinks she's do wonderful in hunters. Agreed, I know that too. But I still don't feel I will be challenged enough, although I will probably do it for fun. Easy ribbons...
He said in his opinion, he thinks I need to continue my basic work with her and just figure out what she's good at based on how she moves and what she seems to enjoy doing. I agree. I think, secretly, he is hoping I'll magically see the QH hunter in her and want to do that...because I think he sees that and hopes I would at least do some hunters with her, because he likes the QH hunters.
Part of me does want to, even though I'm fully aware that it's not challenging in the least. Although sometimes I think I may just be scared I'll feel like a failure if I do something so easy. Almost like I feel I "have" to do dressage, or else I'm wasting opportunities and giving in to what everyone else seems to think Amber should be doing. For some reason, I am hell bent on defying the advice I have been given from the vet and Bob...I don't know why, because they're both experienced and I know their advice isn't necessarily bad.
Also, I, incorrectly, in the back of my mind feel dressage is the only correct form in which to ride. It's not, I know that, but I don't feel "correct" in a hunter form. It's too-freaking-easy. It's not "wrong", the horse isn't working poorly or anything...just different. Apples and oranges. But I can't get that through my head. I can't have fun doing it because I don't feel like I'm having to try hard enough - which is really stupid. In a way, I want to just do something that would be very easy for her to excel at, that I could just go out and have fun with. Meet new friends, hang out with old friends. Most of my friends do hunters at the local shows. But there the guilt comes in to play. I feel I should be pushing Amber more competitively, but if we don't have the heart to be that competitive, why?
I shouldn't feel like I can't decide to just do something fun and easy. If I want to take the seriousness down a notch and ride a little more for fun, going out to hunter shows just to show off how cute my mare is...am I wrong for that? I feel like it. Even though I know she will be trained right and with a dressage foundation no matter what, I feel like I'm a failure if I don't compete in dressage with her.
He also made the statement "The training is the same no matter what you do." Meaning, basic dressage is the foundation any way you go. He also advised me not to go from A to C and forget B. He is sooo right on that too. And I do that big time, and if nothing else, I did need to be reminded of that.
So maybe I've just been misunderstanding him and everyone else. Nobody's saying she wouldn't do well in dressage, but all I've been asking is "What would she do well in, based on the basic things we know of her now?"
Well, they've been giving me honest, and correct answers. She would do well in hunters based on what we know of her right now. She hasn't been truly sound enough for us to really know yet. Dr. Ipock and Bob aren't going to tell me "You would TOTALLY do great in dressage/eventing/jumpers/clown pony/yadayda!"...because they really don't have much to go on to decide, and neither do I.
So yeah. I don't know. Maybe you guys can tell me if it sounds like I'm just avoiding a challenge if I don't do dressage, or if I've just changed my mind about what I want to do, how competitive I want to be...and is it wrong that I don't want to be so serious about the shows anymore? That I just want to do easy stuff? She's only 7, so obviously I could change my mind later and get more competitive. I don't even know why I'm making such a big deal of this.
I also spoke to Dr. Ipock as she was dropping off a pressure washer she borrowed from Bob. I told her Amber was moving a little better, but was still a little off looking in the right hind. Of course, I didn't have any equipment to use on her today either, so she was playing brontosaurus with her head, and all the weight was thrown on the hind instead of evenly. Of course, it's only 4 days out of the injections. But Dr. Ipock, of course, said it could take a couple of weeks to see the full effect. She also said that sometimes it's a hit and miss thing the first time a horse gets hock injections - she may respond great, or she may not respond as well as we want. Only time will tell, and we will go from there.
I really, really hope this helps her though. The real test will be when I saddle her up and put on the side reins to lunge her - which, hopefully, if I can borrow a girth and bridle, will be tomorrow. I ordered a girth for her for the new saddle, and I'm picking up the new bridle/reins/stirrup leathers on Thursday. Hopefully, all that will be here by my first ride on her since the injection, which will be Friday.