Nothing is 100% yet. But I gave Casey the okay to trade Amber for a potential new horse for me.
I have spent the past couple of days being brutally honest with myself. And it's come down to several points. The options themselves are simple - the hard part is which option to take. I could go through with all the exams and treatments, and sell her. I could go through with all the exams and treatments, and continue to ride her to the fullest extent she can be ridden soundly. I could sell her "as is" (which is not necessarily unsound, especially not for trail riding), skipping treatments and such, as a trail horse.
But I've realized the following:
-I want Amber to enjoy life as a show horse so badly that I often imagine her to be having a better time than she in fact is. Truth is, Amber is just a good, obedient horse that does what she's told.
-Amber is not nearly as attached to me as I am to her. Again - something I want so badly that I'm imagining things that aren't reality.
-Amber won't be able to take me very far in the hunter ring, period. And honestly, even if I decided to do dressage and CT one day, or perhaps if I became really brave, eventing, she just doesn't have the ability. That's just the reality of it, and there again - I'm imagining talent and ability where it isn't.
-Amber has the wonderful ability to be a master trail horse. Lead, follow, alone or in a group, she's just a great little trail horse.
-Amber has NEVER been 100% "sound" for the work she's in". Looking back, I bet the sticky stifles have always been the issue.
-When I bought her, and we can look back and see it in the old blog, I was nervous that her not-so-great conformation in the hind end would be our downfall, and I was right - it has.
-When I bought her, my intention was to do local, lower level dressage shows. My goals are different now and the things I aspire to do, Amber will not be capable of doing.
So I am now potentially trading her for this new horse that, while it's a project, is promising.
This is extremely hard for me. I was alone in the barn and had a pretty emotional moment crying on Amber's shoulder. I love her, and I've put in so much to make her into something she's not. It feels like failure - of myself and her. I'm making a point not to look on it like that. There were good times, bad times. But in the end, she has brought me closer to a fearless rider than I've ever been. Mind you, I'm NOT one, but I'm riding the best I've ever ridden, and doing more than I've ever done.
But, that is what it is. And I'm determined not to over-analyze it. I've put careful thought and reason into it. Reality of often not a pretty thing, and I won't say it's not painful, but in a sense I'm glad for it, because it feels better being true to myself and her. Sometimes being a dreamer isn't the best thing when you are trying to make a horse capable of more than it is and do things it shouldn't be doing and doesn't want to. I've come to a simple conclusion that her stifle issue may and most likely arose when she started jumping - for the first time in her life - a couple of months before I met her. And it's just been a bad combination of not understanding the issue/lack of work/more jumping. I have done the best I could with the knowledge and resources I have had.
On the positive end. The possible new horse is a gelding. Casey was saying something about thinking he's a small Warmblood...I think he's just a leggy QH, but he does look like a small Warmblood I must admit.
He's between 15.1 and 15.2hhs. He came with no name, and Victoria had picked Jack, but I've already had a Jack and it just doesn't feel right having another Jack. So I have, being hopeful, named him Benji. He's a chestnut, with a blaze that widens downward over his nose, and one tall white stocking on the hind.
I rode him around today, and he has noooo stamina right now. Definitely needs to meet a lunge line. Doesn't know how to jump - yet. He wasn't too happy today, and we discovered it was because he had a cut on the corner of his mouth. He also needs his teeth done. But he was a good boy to have such a bad mouth! I was surprised he didn't pitch much more of a fit than the bit of head shaking he did.
He's a little scared of blankets, but we worked on that and he doesn't act like an idiot about it. It's a bit of a tender subject, but he fits my cooler and show sheet. Needs his feet done BAD. Sooo much flare. Toes need to be backed up too.
A little ADD. Needs a little bit of work on manners. He circles at the mounting block like nobody's business. It's a project. A fixer-upper. But he's got a good head on his shoulders. There was a tractor across the road plowing up a dust storm and you'd expect him to be spooky, being in the new place and all that going on across the road, but he wasn't even terribly looky.
Right now, I'm just going to take it as it comes. I'm not banking on the trade off. If it doesn't happen, I'll be going through with deeper investigation of this stifle issue. For now, it's up in the air.
Everyone seems really happy for me and seems to think we'll be a good match. Casey does, most importantly, and I trust her judgement.