Ok, so mostly I have disjointed thoughts and answers regarding my current state of mind with Miss Pia. Please bear in mind that in no way have these thoughts been the result of prolonged thought or consideration, but rather they are a mediocre collection of some rambling, my BO's thoughts, my family's thoughts and the general blogosphere :)
Coherent and meaningful thoughts have not matured yet... so accept this as sporadic and spastic brainwave activity.
A: I don't think so. She has been examined every which way, and nothing has shown up. I'm not ruling pain out, but I don't think it's the primary cause. Also, not that this justifies me being ok with her possible pain, but I've had horses who basically lost legs with me on them and they still "kept calm and carried on." So I'm not sure that's a full explanation for her behavior even if she is hurting somewhere.
Q: Does she like her job?
A: Apparently not. I mean, my gut says that this is mostly attitude... and mostly an objection to working, so I'd venture to guess that she doesn't like her job. However, her choices for a job are somewhat limited. Mostly because of the Wobbler issue. I just don't trust her over fences. Cavaletti at the highest setting has been my personal boundary for her "jumping" until I know for certain that she's not slip-sliding all over the place. Her balance is still an issue - it's mountains better than it used to be, but while the slight drainage incline of a ring isn't noticeable on most horses, it feels like a real hill on P. That is kind of my barometer for how loose her balance is at this point..
Q: What's her "day" like, (food, turnout, etc)
A: She's fed lots of hay (6 flakes) and her grain bucket twice a day. Right now she's on Envision and a baby scoop of rice bran along with her smartpak, multivitamin and Quiessence for "calming" (ha). She's on the loading dose of Quiessence.. but I'm not sure that's helping much. She's out 24/7 with a really nice three sided matted shed. She runs around with the other ponies and has line of sight with the entire herd. She isn't turned out with anyone right now, but I'm ok with that. She gets MASSIVELY herd bound, if she is. She is/was worked 6 days a week, with at least 3 good free lunge sessions in there as well to let her stretch her legs aaaaaall the way. By no means is she on 4 acres of grass, but that's a rarity in my area, and I couldn't afford it even if I found it. The fact that she's out all day is pretty rare in itself.
Q: Hormones?? Haven't you talked about that non-stop?
A: Yes, I have. and I haven't done anything about it, so that's my first stop. In fact, after I post this, I'm emailing my vet to discuss Regumate and get her on it ASAP. In my head I was going to wait for spring when her ladybits went totally bonkers, but really there's no reason to wait.
Q: Why are you keeping her?
A: Uh. Cause she's my horse. And I don't feel like giving up (yet). Also, I can't afford two of them, and I've learned that I need a horsey in my life to not be a crazy human. Oh, also, even if she's not my perfect match, she's not particularly sell-able. I'd obviously disclose the Wobblers, and I'd also disclose her current tendency to bounce around in the air on a regular basis. There are very few riders out there who I would even feel responsible about turning her over to. She's not exactly a 4-H project for your average 10 year old...
Q: Do you think she's dangerous?
A: I don't know? I know a couple things. I know that she NEVER EVER pulled this shit with her Super-Mom, so she's capable of not being dangerous. But I also know that I've never been taken advantage of like this by anything. Not by sneaky ponies, not by crazy abused OTTB's, etc. If I can't correct the behavior (and don't get me wrong, I don't think I'm a horse whisperer, or magic trainer, or even that great of a rider.. I'm just brave and consistent..) then I'd have to say, yes. I do think she would be "dangerous" for a lot of people out there.
Q: Aren't you scared of her?
A: No. I'm not scared of "her." I'm a little shaken, and have zero confidence in my riding right now. I know that she only pulls this crap if you let her, and somehow, I'm letting her. Maybe I'm not reacting fast enough, or strong enough.. I'm a little tentative with our transitions, and definitely a little defensive about cantering, but I wouldn't say scared. Of course I say that right now, when I haven't been on since Monday... But I have been to the barn and groomed and played with her, and there's no PTSD kicking in :) so that's good.
Q: Your Dad is offering you a new horse, what the hell are you waiting for?
A: Well, sort of. He's offering to pay for P's "retirement" if I want to try and find another partner. It's hard for me to even type this without feeling massive waves of guilt crashing at me from multiple directions. For one thing, I'd feel horrifically guilty putting P "out to pasture" at 7 years old. Horrifically. I'm pretty sure that mare is capable of some neat things, and I'd hate to waste her. On the other hand, what horse doesn't want to just be a horse? Maybe my reluctance is me being selfish..
The other guilt issue is being "Daddy's Little Girl" and letting him bail me out. I know I can afford a horse. Realistically I can afford another horse a lot easier (something that I don't need 4 lessons a week on is a lot cheaper). But I don't like the idea of it. I just don't. Oh, and then there's the guilt of just straight-up giving up. Regardless of the impact on P or on my family's pocket book, I just don't like the idea of giving up. I've never "given up" on a horse. Ever.
Q: Wait, your DAD would pay for it?
A: Yeah, the idea of me ending up in a chair, or even just in a hospital bed for an extended time because of a horse is horrifying to him. He's always supported my decision to ride, and to event, and to fall off and get trampled from time to time, but he does NOT support me getting on every day knowing the big bucks are coming. In fact, he's very vocal about his disapproval and the least supportive he's ever been of my riding because of it.
Q: What's your BO think?
A: Good question. She is supportive, but currently is definitely playing Devil's Advocate for moving on. She's a mom, and she saw the fall on Monday from her living room. I believe her when she says it was the meanest looking outburst she's ever seen. But then again, she is used to a barn full of well behaved, well mannered, really talented geldings. She freely admits that she doesn't tolerate snarky horses and she rarely buys mares. I think she would be relieved if I moved onto another horse, but I might be putting words into her mouth with that one.
Q: Is she smart?
A: Too smart. Waaaaaay tooooo smart. She's sneaky, and I feel like boredom might be what this is stemming from. But I try to mix up our routine as much as possible. I don't have an obvious solution for engaging her more. We play with poles, we play with cavaletti, we play on our own. We play tag, we stretch, I give her days off with just love, I give her days where she's is worked to the bone. I'm certain she's too smart, I'm just not certain how to stay one step ahead of her :)
Q: What do YOU think?
A: I don't know. I'm trying to be realistic and not think from a place of diminished confidence, or fear, or desperation. I do think that P could come into her own and that we would be RAD if I can figure out how to keep her engaged and not bitter. I also know that it's not worth my body, or my confidence to totally get wrecked on this mare. What I can't tell is if we're at that point, or if this is a tiny speed-bump. I'm pretty sure that in a year or so, I'll be able to look back and tell how significant this is, but I think I'm a little too close at the moment.
If I could wave a magic wand, I'd want P to be happy and not bucky. I love her sass, her interactions and her brain (most of the time). I don't care that her gaits aren't the most competitive for dressage, or that she's pissy sometimes. I really do enjoy this horse and the time I spend with her - That isn't in question. At all.