Lily and I have been going to the arena at Royal Equus near Austin, Texas. Lily’s experience away from the ranch has been limited in the past but now in every instance of new experiences her behavior is exemplary. She observes everything with curiosity, and looks at the other horses to ascertain her proper behavior. At this arena she has done the same. We do a lot of things she is used to at home: stretches, work in the round pen, her same saddle, etc. Slowly she has been introduced to the large arena with a mirror and stalls of horses on either side. When I began riding her and a flock of pigeons burst out from the corner over our heads I nearly fainted but she just shrugged as if she wondered at my nervousness. Then when Patrick Tompkins began riding her she tried very hard to copy the movements of the Warmbloods he usually rides – relaxed, rhythmic, obedient. I was so proud of her! This is the way it should be. A good foundation of ground work, trust in her handler/rider and attention paid to a thorough and relaxed introduction to unusual experiences can create a stress-free experience for every one… an experience where a lot is accomplished and celebrated.