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.