When I was in your position as a recent grad and a had an injured horse that i loved but couldn't do what I wanted to do anymore, I leased him out to someone who wanted to do what he COULD do. It had mixed results for me (one good lessee, one bad lessee) but it helped me afford the second horse. Then when older horse needed to be fully retired, I was in a financial position to take him back.
There are plenty of people who might jump at a chance to free lease a nice wtc horse like yours. Best of luck to you!
where are we going, and why am I in this hand basket?
I think you've gotten a lot of good advice so I'll just add on a little bit to the thing about in-hand stretching.
I have to say, I think it's helped my horse a lot (no real physical issues, but he is a draft so I've worked to help him develop his topline better). Before every ride (this also helps ensure there's not skin getting caught and pinched by the girth), I reach down and pull his legs out forward one at a time. He's caught on to it, really, and is more than willing to let me do it and stretches out himself so I assume it must feel good.
Most everything else I tend to do after we ride or work so his muscles are already warmed up.
We do carrot stretches (I stand by his flank and have him turn his head back toward me and stretch as far as he willing, hold it for a second, then he gets his treat. Do that on both sides. Also hold a treat between his front legs so he has to reach down and get it from there. This one took a while in that I kind of had to guide his head down at first with the treat, lol, but he's caught on to that one too and knows when I tap him between his legs he's about to get a cookie. Also I'll stand beside him and stretch my hand out in front of him so he has to stretch forward to get the cookie.
There's also a thing you can do kind of running your fingers (and digging in just a bit, not hard but you know, not light either) under his belly so he lifts his back.
And lastly, I don't do this one all the time, but I'll stand behind him and hold his tail and lean back (slowly!). This is another one he seems to like doing because he'll lean against me and stretch out for it. Of course if your horse is a kicker, you might not want to do this one as you are standing directly behind them.
I'm dealing with a mare that has never been pushed before and she is giving the trainer a run for his money! If I were you I would try the poprocks and keep her in training. Give it a bit of time to see if anything changes.
~I object to all posts made by "he who shall not be named" unless expressly written otherwise~ thanks to rugbygirl!
I applaud you for thinking this through so carefully. It is always hard when there is a disconnect between what you'd like to do and what your horse is suited for/wants to do.
FWIW, I have done a number of different things with my current horse. At various times, we've done hunters, jumpers, equitation and now dressage. I chose the dressage largely because I had to deal with a farrier-induced problem with my horse's feet that were going to take a long time to resolve, so that switch was only sort of voluntary, although it's turned out to be fun. However, although I love my dressage barn and plan to stay there, I am not giving up the jumping entirely, and once the foot issue is completely resolved, I'll probably ship out to jumping lessons and/or some H/J shows.
IF that injury had been something that would prevent my horse from ever being able to jump again, I might have chosen a very different path. I have had this horse for 8 years and I do adore him as an individual, but I also ride for sport and I am competitive. I don't know if *just* doing dressage forevermore would have been palatable to me... I might well have leased him out to a dressage situation or maybe even sold him if the "right" person came along who only wanted a fancy horse to flat. I spend a not so small fortune on riding, and personally, I think it is simply too much time, energy and yes, money, to spend on something if it is not very enjoyable - for the horse as well as the rider.
I have friends who have kept horses with very significant limitations, who have given up their aspirations in the process, and who kept those horses primarily out of guilt. (These are not injured animals but more along the lines of horses that are maybe limited in scope, or otherwise not suitable for the rider's desired use.)
It is everyone's choice to make, of course, and while I do not judge their choices, I *do* admit that I wonder if they and the horses in question would not have been better served by finding the horse a situation where they would be the perfect fit for someone else's dreams. To me, that seems like a win-win. Just a thought.
********** We move pretty fast for some rabid garden snails.
If everyone felt that they acquired a horse like a husband/wife, for life or else, were stuck with it thru any and all, well, there would not be many horses for sale so others can enjoy them.
If a horse is not suitable, then you have to decide if to change to what the horse is good for, or sell and look for another way to do what you are after from your horse experience.
Either way is fine, as long as the reason that horse may not be suitable is not one of borderline dangerous, like being over-horsed.
Then changing horses definitely makes more sense, before someone gets hurt.
Whatever way you decide, there will be some guilt attached to the decision.
If the horse goes because you gave up on those dreams you had with that horse, or if you give up other dreams to stay with that horse, well, that also will be something you have to be ok with.
Some situations don't have ideal solutions, you have to weigh the trade-offs that those bring.