In which there is some fizz but no badness, and Fiddle puts the blade down

Since our last ride included several sub-optimal draconic episodes,* (*understatement)
Today: ready for goodness.

today's objective was a long ride with maximum cooperation.

We headed out solo.  
The mossy log on the left (about 100 yards from the parking lot) was
 the subject of very close scrutiny:  intense ears and a few fizzy steps to get past it.
This is always the best way to clarify our communication:
I'm not feeding her fizziness.  I required continuous forward motion,
 but didn't demand a particular speed or gait most of the time.

we can focus on each other without being distracted by whatever the other people and horses are doing.  

Total time spent fizzing:  about 10 minutes.
After that, she gave up and put her attention on the trail.
 Soon, she figured out that the only thing she was going to get when she gave the hairy eyeball to various trail objects was a one-rein check and a cue for continued forward motion.

She gave this nasty hole in the trail a very careful examination.
The ground around the hole is untrustworthy and prone to collapse
because of all the rain we've gotten this week, so I dismounted and led her  past it.
 I deliberately chose trails that were in bad condition, so that she would think about what she was doing. 
 Fiddle is a very savvy trail horse--she knows how to navigate on slick, overgrown trails, and she does it very well.  

This route through bad terrain gave Fiddle an opportunity to be Right (using her trail-skills to the best of her ability), while simultaneously being Good (doing what I ask her to do without fussing).  

We ended up on a wide, flat, mostly-unused logging road that we haven't been on for months.  We were listening to each other, and we were cooperating, so I decided to ask for More:  

Okay Fiddle.  Put the blade down and go!

"Putting the blade down" is a phrase I learned from Dennis Summers' book 4th Gear: Power Up Your Endurance Horse.  

It refers to the thing that happens when the horse's whole being is focused on moving FORWARD: the head goes down, the back raises up, the nostrils open wide, and the rear end propels the entire machine down the trail.  

Fiddle's "blade-down" trot is awesome to ride.  We haven't done much of it recently because I want to be careful to stretch but not over-stress the area affected by the surgery.

At the trailer:  "fit to continue".
 It felt good.  We both thought it felt good.  Hooray!
Right side surgery incision site: Spay Day + 5 weeks

Left side surgery incision site: Spay Day + 5 weeks
Time on the trail: 2 hours 45 minutes
Distance:  14.25 miles
Average speed: 5.5 mph
Weather:  heavy clouds, some rain

An awesome ride on a cooperative Dragon:  priceless.


  1. Yay Dragon! I'm so happy you guys had a good ride. Sounds very fun.

    1. It was delightful. I didn't take many photos because my camera battery was weak and there wasn't much light (the clouds and rain don't let much light into the understory, even in June). But it was really, really nice!

  2. I don't think you can beat solo riding to teach a horse to focus on the JOB at HAND. My guy always does much better without other people/horse distractions as well.

    I love that you chose trails that had some flaws to get Fee to pay attention to what she was doing. I like to give Grif "obstacles" at times as well for the same reason.

    Fiddle's incision site looks GREAT! :)

    1. As a Trailmaster (, I'm really picky about trails and how they are built and maintained...which also means that I know EXACTLY which trails will fall apart at a particular time of year.

      Sub-standard trails = excellent training practice!

  3. Woo hoo! Montoya DSA, my superstar, did an awesome "blade down!" That girl could go and man, it was awesome! I miss that feeling. I don't get much of that in the dressage court. :0)

    1. It cracks me up that you don't get much of it in the dressage court, because I credit dressage practice (THANK YOU, DORY!) for teaching Fee to use those muscles and for teaching me to cue and support the movement!!!

    2. Speedy is a rather unmotivated pony. On the trail, he does it naturally. In the arena, I have to really ASK for it. We can get it, and it's awesome when we do, but it is much easier to get on the trail where he WANTS to go forward. That must mean I need to do more trail work!

  4. Yay! And I felt like I got to go on a trail ride with you too! Not sure Fiddle wants to haul an extra person around on her back though...

  5. That's an interesting term, I watch Cartman do that in the field sometimes and call it "landshark". I've only let him get into that mode very little undersaddle, since we've been focusing on slow and steady so far- but what I have done has been really fun.
    We missed you guys at Klickitat this year but
    Fee looks great!

    1. The drawback to the "blade-down" is that it is also the preparatory posture for "bucking your butt into the bushes."

      As I've said elsewhere, I'm tremendously grateful that Fiddle hasn't shown much talent as a bucking horse.

  6. A question, what brand of saddle is that? I am in the market for a new one.

    1. It's a Specialized Eurolight. There's more information about the saddle on the blog here:

  7. I have a queston; What brand of saddle is that?


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