Hi. I'm sorry for the length, but I think you need to know the history to help. Skip to the last few paragraphs if you don't agree. Thanks.
7 years ago, I began training a severely abused and wild pony for my old barn. 13.0 hands, 17 years old, Welsh/Connemara cross (we think), and the most amazing jumper i've ever ridden. When in shape, she jumped me over a 3'6" oxer. She free-jumped 3'9" while messing around in a ring on her own. She was also an amazing beginner/ intermediate lesson pony (as long as I jumped her on a regular basis).
About 6 months ago, at 23 years old, she walked out of her stall dead lame. She didn't want to put weight on her right stifle. We tried stall rest, bute, hand walking, the works. I paid for the vet on multiple occasions. He said she might never be sound again. 5 months stall rest and she only got worse. She got fat. So, I did the only thing I could think of to keep her safe.
I bought her.
She has been living on outdoor board for 1 month. She's getting sounder and sounder. 2 days ago, she was playing with another pony in our outdoor ring and jumped out of the 4 foot ring fence... from a standstill. I trotted her and she was the same soundness as before. I buted her and she went back to the paddock.
Now my boss says the only lameness in her is in my imagination. How do I start bringing her back without pushing too hard? I don't want to ride her without her being in shape.