At the beginning of last month, Pepper returned to SAFE for a refresh and restart at the request of her adopter, Sue, who had been unable to ride her for a period of time due to circumstances beyond her control. Taking a horse back into our training program who has been adopted out is not typically something we do, but in this situation, we felt that Pepper would have the best chance of future success if we were able to hep her and Sue out personally. So we brought her back into the fold, where she was reintegrated into her old herd (both Veronica and Sienna were very happy to see her), and where we could restart her and see what she needed.

After 30 days in training with us, our hope was that we could get Pepper back in riding shape and Sue could take her back home. Sue was out for the majority of Pepper’s sessions, watching, taking notes, and asking questions. At the beginning of what was to be Pepper’s last week with us, Sue came out once more, and while it was clear to her that Pepper had made some strides in her training, when they worked together again, it was apparent there were still some spots in there that made their partnership difficult.

The thing about Pepper is, that while she is suitable for a novice handler for things like leading and brushing, when it comes to groundwork and riding, she is not in a place in her abilities to be able to fill in very much for her handlers. She is a smart little pony, and requires a very confident leader who can appropriately guide her without allowing her to get pushy or tune her handler out, as she can occasionally be and do. Sue was also going through some ongoing personal issues she needed to focus on fully that would have further complicated things for the two of them. At the end of the day, all parties were in agreement that Pepper was the same horse we presented her as when she was adopted — a young mare who needs support — and that it was in everyone’s best interest that Pepper return to the SAFE herd to continue her education and journey with our help.

This was not an easy decision to make for Sue, who in no way failed Pepper during the time they spent together. We are so thankful for adopters like Sue who reach out when they need help, and who are able to make the best choices for the horse, no matter how difficult they are for the human. During the time Pepper was with Sue, the little mare knew nothing but the highest quality of care, and a tremendous amount of love.

It is never our wish for a horse to return, but we also adore Pepper and are excited to get to spend more time with her back at SAFE.