Every few years the ride features beautiful weather. We're hoping for one of those years, and if we get one, we're going!
Just in case we do get one of those years, Fiddle and I need a few more workouts in the hills to stay in shape. I'm not too worried about her, physically. However, we're still working through some of her "backsliding" behaviors....and that is going to take time and practice.
I remember that John Lyons described a horse's learning curve as being not an "uphill" shape, entirely. Rather, he said to expect good behavior, then a step back into not-so-good behavior, then a step forward into better behavior, then TWO steps backwards into worse behavior, and then two or three steps forward into increasingly good behavior.
Thus, Fiddle has (predictably, I guess) been improving steadily, but backslid during the weekend at the Elbe ride. She isn't finished with her backslide, either.
She has been trying out all the "bad tricks" in her repertoire: biting, kicking, and crowding. I have been correcting all these bad tricks as they appear, and they are gradually disappearing.
Here's another way that John Lyons explained about backsliding:
You know when you walk up to a crosswalk, you can hit the button and pretty soon the light changes and you can progress forward.
So, one day you walk up to the crosswalk the way you always have. You push the button because that's what has worked for you in the past. And you wait, right? Because that's what has worked. But you don't know that as of today, the button has been taken off-line by the city traffic engineers.
And...the light doesn't change.
Do you immediately figure, "Oh, it's broken, the circumstances have changed, I'll have to try something else to cross the street" ?
Or do you hit the button again? And then hit it a few more times?
Maybe you hit the button harder than you normally hit the button, to see if hitting it harder and faster will get you the result you want?
She knows that biting, kicking, and crowding doesn't get her what she wants. Pulling back on the leadrope might work, right? (Note the broken buckle.) Now my task is to convince her that the button is permanently out-of-order, and that she needs to try different behavior instead.
It's a good thing I'm still young.
UPDATE: I bought two NEW leadropes, and tied Fiddle to the trailer with them when I got home. Then I gave her a bath. I'm thinking, "go ahead and pull back on that, punkin, and I'll not only spank your back end, I'll squirt you with the hose, too!"And what did she do?
Not a dang thing.
She stood there on a limp line, looking at me with an expression that said very clearly, "I don't have any idea what all your fussing is about. I'm not going to pull back. Why, I never pull back!"