In which we dance the Dragon Tango: two steps forward and one step back

After the wonderful breakthrough a few days ago, I was eager to "cement the lesson" by practicing it on the trail.
Fiddle had other plans.

We rode out yesterday with the Usual Suspects, and I could feel the Cloud of Snarkiness building.  Some days, she is completely content to tag along at the end of the train, and other days I'm riding a horse they should have named "Road Rage."  Guess which horse I had yesterday?


We practiced the halt-to-trot transition with excessive praise early, and she responded really well...until it was time to separate from the group and go solo. 

This is where Fiddle's personality is important to understand:  she would rather be Right than be Good.

She figures that she knows how things "ought to be".  

If I ask her to do something else, she figures that I'm probably Wrong, so she points out my Wrongness.  If I insist that she try the new thing, she gets mad--not because she doesn't want to do the new thing, but because she is, by gawd, Right, and I am Wrong (and also probably Stupid).  

Splitting away from the group is fine, we do it all the time.  However, we usually split up at the same place on the trail.  Splitting up in a different place is, by Fiddle's light, Wrong.  


We ended up fighting about it--and the fight was very venomous this time, because I was trying the new way of moving her forward out of a tantrum, and she decided that she didn't need to be cued anymore.  I swear, it's like having a teenager.  I could point her down the trail, but heaven help me if I cued her to go forward with anything other than the calf muscle of one leg, because "I'm not an idiot, I know how to do this, you can leave those damn spurs off!"

Please note that she doesn't mind the spurs when I am cuing her to do something that she didn't anticipate, like a lateral move, in the arena or on the trail.  She appreciates a precise cue, which the little Prince of Wales spur delivers nicely...I can use it to touch an exact location on her body to cue, rather than using the slab side of my leg.  She likes that.  However, since she was anticipating the cue to move forward, she got mad when I "over-cued" it with the spur.  She got REALLY MAD.  It was quite impressive--I'm sorry there aren't any photos.

The good news is that I think that I've (mostly) figured it out.  I will take her out solo this week to practice our new skill (with barely perceptible cues, which apparently is now important), and report back.  

Do I wish that my horse was sweet and compliant?  Yeah.  Sometimes I do.  She actually is "sweeter" post-surgery--we've all noticed it.  However, she's still a Dragon. She still has opinions, and she still isn't shy about sharing them.  Most of the time, that's a good thing.  I just wish I could ride her today so I would know that the issue is fixed, but my work schedule doesn't work that way. 

I have to wait, and continue thinking about how I'll do things differently the next time I get on-board.

Bah.  I hate waiting.


  1. oh, as bad as a ride that was, I'm cracking up at "she is, by gawd, Right, and I am Wrong (and also probably Stupid)." And next time, photos! (All in jest, I certainly do hope you figure out the Road Rage and hope you can work on some more attitude adjustments. )

  2. AH Hahahaha!!! Sorry. No laughing. But umm... I know that horse LOL! My standie has different triggers than Fiddle. But, oh my yes, she'd rather be right than good. Every now and then I lose track of the trail ribbons at a competition. And she NEVER loses track. She reads those damned things perfectly and gets seriously angry when I try to make an incorrect turn. And sometimes, I'm too stupid to see that she's right. So we go round and round in a fairly spectacular display until I see the damn ribbon that she sees and I missed. These little incidents to nothing for her confidence in my leadership I'm sorry to say.

  3. I know the whole I am right you are wrong issue! I have one who is that way( through buddy sourness tho!) To the point where trying to circle and circle, means the nice snaffle bit gets ignored and horse tug of war begins.

  4. Love that first photo- looks like a "talk to the hoof" picture to me, and they say horses don't have facial expressions! Ha!

  5. HUGS. That sounds awful. You've got a good plan, though, I'm sure you will work through this (and stop being Wrong and Stupid, snicker)

  6. That was a great post Aarene. Both funny and totally accurate. And I know how hard it is to wait. One spends the whole "waiting time" wondering how the horse will be on the next ride. Good thing is, you and Fiddle have a basic understanding that will take you through these little setbacks. Fiddle is lucky she has you. There are those of us who wouldn't appreciate her quite as much (me being a fan of sweet tempered, cooperative QH geldings). I admire you for what a great job you're doing with what is obviously not an easy horse.

  7. You put so much thought and character into your posts, it's always such a joy to read them!
    I have been in the same shoes countless times with Griffin over the years! ....and then when work takes up time you wish you could spend with your horse, it's even MORE frustrating (I worked 2 jobs up until about a year ago and HATED it....I had to just keep reminding myself WHY I had to work another job).

    Positive reinforcememt is wonderful, and works great.....until it doesn't......when your horse thinks you are wrong......and he/she is right.

    ....just like a nailed it there ;)

    ...and then we have to remind ourselves that gentle persistence is key (even when fireworks erupt).

    I think it's that firm persistence (with understanding of course) that makes a good rider. You have that quality - and as Laura said, Fiddle is lucky to have you. :-)

  8. Just love that picture! What an "expression"! If she could "talk" what would she have said? :-) To you? :-) I think you're "reading" her perfectly - & have to add that she does you! LOL!


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