I rode Dawn this morning, and she was truly amazing. I was hoping to ride in the outdoor arena, but the mud between the barn and the outdoor was just too bad. So we were stuck in the indoor - this is only the second time I've ridden her in there while all the other horses were out in turnout. She wasn't too happy about that - she did some screaming while I was grooming and tacking, trying to determine if there were horses alive somewhere, since there were clearly none in the barn. But she was otherwise very good and stood well for grooming, tacking and for me to get on.
At the very beginning, there was some balking near the door to the turnouts - she would stop going forward and try to turn back towards the door. Last time when this happened, I got off and lunged. This time, I just kept turning her to keep her feet moving and kept my eyes and thoughts focussed on where I wanted to go - the other end of the arena. Within moments we were headed there and she didn't balk again, although she did tend to become distracted for a moment as we passed the door. And she coped extremely well with some other major distractions - two horses that came into the arena and then left for the turnouts, which is where she wanted to go; a barn worker washing water buckets in the wash stall just behind a closed double door - lots of clanking and banging; and two more barn workers just outside an open arena door putting in a section of paddock fencing - digging, banging, drills, nail guns, and several tractors transporting posts and boards. The only small spook she did was when the sound of concrete mix being poured into a post hole - it made a loud "ssshhh" sound - startled her.
Despite all of those potential distractions, and by herself in the arena at an unfamiliar time, she was amazing. We worked on our softness with my new understanding of following/allowing contact and mental softness, and I actually think that contributed to her ability to cope. Dawn, who has a reputation as an extremely high-strung and spooky/reactive horse, concentrated on her work and we managed some really nice stretches of truly soft walk and trot work - our mutual softness helped keep her from getting upset. She did get distracted from time to time, but was able to return right to work as soon as I asked. I couldn't have been more delighted! She was glad to get back to the pasture after we were done, and cantered off - and I counted at least 6 perfect lead changes!
Pie will be starting treatment (again!) for his EPM tomorrow, as soon as his medicine arrives. I'm hoping that he recovers quickly, as Dawn did, and since he's now been infected with all three strains that affect horses, I'm hoping for permanent immunity from any more opossum-induced diseases!