I had a two hour break from work, and since the barn is literally a couple of minutes down the road, I went to visit the princess.
She was, much to my delight, standing near the gate. She actually came over to me, although the lovely Zeus got in her way. I can tell she's much, much happier already. She doesn't seem nearly as agitated as she was at Halcyon, just a few days ago.
She looks fatter to me, though it's probably just my imagination - she was already a porker.
I tacked her up, and she walked around perfectly sound. We trotted a couple of times around, with some irritation coming from her. It made me feel uncomfortable, and it's not really any fear of being bucked off any more like I used to have, but I think I'm just to cautious of pushing her when she's clearly unhappy.
Casey got on, and Amber actually gave a small buck when she tried to collect her. Casey thinks it's attitude from being at Avalon/Halcyon, but Amber's ugly manners under saddle didn't start until the mystery lameness got so bad. She had a few moments of attitude when she was being stubborn, but was quickly checked on it. Never moved away from the mounting block like she's been. I think the majority of her attitude is from pain (and I will tell you what we found in a moment), but a lot is the fact that I've fed into her that she can fuss and I'll jump off, because I was so scared of further breaking her - not necessarily of her temper tantrums. And the fact that she's been a pasture puff for about 2 months now. She's gotten lazy. With fitness and relief of pain, I don't think it will be hard to cure...I had gotten her to a point where she was pretty motivated.
Anywho, she started to get agitated when we tried to collect her. This had been a subconscious observation of mine for a while, but I never really thought about it, nor put two and two together. Remember how I used to be almost positive it was back and/or hip pain? Her objecting to collection and her stiffness through her neck and back make ALL the sense in the world to point to that. We used a sweat scraper to run down her back on either side of her spine, and we found three significant points. Hips and one place on the right side of her back. No freaking wonder she has been so unwilling and annoyed.
I'm in the process of finding a good chiropractor to come see her - as I SHOULD have done from the beginning, which was my original plan, but I listened to BS. I do think she DID have a hock issue, but quite honestly I think it was very minor, and while it may be an issue in later on, I don't think it's going to cause her to break down, and I don't think it will limit her within reason. But I think it was a separate issue entirely, possibly due to her compensating for the issues in the back and hips.
Casey doesn't think much of Amber being a dressage horse still, although I still think once the back issues get solved, she's as good a candidate as any. Will I compete? Maybe. My love for dressage isn't necessarily tied up in competition only...my training will come from it at the core, regardless of what anyone else says. But I've well learned my lesson on entirely following anyone's doctrine, as much as I respect and agree with Casey on many things.
More than likely I'll end up doing a lot of local hunter/jumper shows, probably some trail riding, and lots of dressage at home to further BOTH of those. I think I've been too caught up in "what discipline can we go out and compete and and totally blow them out of the water with our QH awesomeness" Amber is pretty humble, although she can get fancy when she's working well. I think the happiness of both of us will increase if I accept the fact that SHE would enjoy the laid back life of doing less serious shows. That's just her. And admit to myself that I have a nice, albeit simple, QH mare that, while capable of excelling at bigger shows, would probably be happier just having fun, without too much pressure. And in reality, I'd probably rather do that too. I would prefer the lesser pressure. Because when I'm in the mindset of "we have to go out and win EVERYTHING", that's losing sight of what the real goals should be. And it's just not fun. Because I become overly critical of her work under saddle, and try to jump to things before I've even really got her mastering simpler things. Feeling that she's going to waste if she doesn't to THIS, or she's ruined if she doesn't do THIS right away.
When I got her in December, I got carried away with her being "my" horse, and finally, I could see to the future of the animal I loved as I saw fit - and ended up trying to set her up for a future that she never even wanted. It's not a matter of if she can, it's if she WANTS to. I think I've been so uptight about everything in the last 8 months, that I've just made her bitter about being ridden.
The goal for now is to get her fixed and get her back in shape, and restore her view of being ridden as a pleasant thing, rather than stress factor in her life. She's beautiful to me, and I love her more than anything. That's what counts. If she doesn't end up being the picture I originally had in my head, I STILL think of her the same.