Sweetpeacefuldream has been collecting a variety of new experiences here at Bit of Honey. In addition to becoming llama-proof, she has been riding well on her own in the arena, and so I tried to ride her while I was teaching a group lesson last week. It was a bit too much for her, she was SURE that with seven horses in the arena we were getting ready to head to the starting gate for a race! I was able to teach the lesson, though, and I used her as a demo horse. However, with all her excitement we demonstrated things at the trot and canter and she struggled with slow walking. This is all very normal for a horse who recently came from the track, she just needs to learn that this type of life is a lot easier than racing and she can relax even in a large group of horses.
That led to my next ride with her, where it was just Miss Pea, the dogs, and I. We went to the arena this morning and I lunged Miss Pea a little so she could get her yee-ha out. She wanted to play with Mahzi and there was some frolicking on the lunge line, but nothing too exciting. Then I got on her, and we just spent some time walking around the arena on a loose rein while practicing her steering using my weight shifts. We went over the poles, weaving between jump standards, and watching the dogs in their earnest attempt to catch a rabbit. She was not at all concerned about the bedlam my dogs created rummaging in the tall grass to flush out bunnies. When the dogs actually caught a couple rabbits I dismounted and went over to dispose of the bodies. Miss Pea followed me calmly. She seemed to really be enjoying her laid back work session. I like to do this periodically with the horses so they learn that I'm not always going to ask them to sweat bullets in physical effort, that humans and riding can be fun and relaxed, too.
When we were all done I redressed her in her fly armor. She is in a sheet with a neck cover and a fly mask, and gets sprayed daily with an oil-based bug spray. This seems to be working well to minimize the insect bites to which she is so sensitive. It's a little hard to get a photo of her when she's loose in the paddock where she lives, she's very friendly and likes to follow me around and stay close. She also spends a great deal of time asking for scratches - she adores being groomed and curried.
I don't think this is just a response to the mosquitoes, because I've been in contact with her race owner who told me she was just as friendly and affectionate at the track. Really a wonderful mare who is a pleasure to handle! She is a fabulous example of the lovely temperaments OTTBs have, and I'm so pleased to be training her to represent CANTER Colorado for the makeover.