I got out on Dharla yesterday. It was a sunny, not-a-cloud-in-the-sky, warm day. Perfect for a nice easy walk/trot down the AL trail. Our nighttime temps have been in the low to mid-twenties, so the icicles were back. We didn’t get very far before we had to confront that issue. We probably worked about ten or fifteen minutes before I could get Dharla to move through the first Big Scary Place. If she decided to back up, then we backed. If she tried to turn around and go the other way, we circled. We stood our ground and thought about it …. a lot. Eventually, she determined that nothing was going to kill her and we made our way forward very carefully. *Shrug*
We encountered the second Big Scary Place about five minutes up the trail. Wash, rinse, repeat. This time I got the sense that she knew the drill, but she had to try to avoid going forward just to see if I was going to let her get away with that. Um, no. Again, if she wanted to back up, then we backed …. and backed and backed. If she tried to circle, then we circled. Once again, it took about ten or fifteen minutes of this before she inched her way forward. Every attempt to move in the right direction was met with tons of praise and neck petting and although she remained spooky and snorty, we advanced. Naturally, once through the scary place I turned her around and we walked back and forth through the passage several times before moving on. I gave her lots and lots of “Atta girl’s”
The next few segments of the trail went very well. We just took our time and enjoyed being out. There were a few bikers and dog hikers out and as usual, she took all that in stride. We eventually came to the spot where we struggled on our last ride with the tree logging. She was alert, but moved right through the passage without any major issues. I was quite pleased. The next Big Scary Place was about ten minutes up the trail. Again, it’s a narrow passage between two steep rocky ledges that have icicles hanging off the ledge in places. Dharla did her usual song and dance: Stop. Blow and snort. Try to back up. Try to circle around to the opposite direction. Again, I followed the same drill. At one point she was fussing and as I circled her she inadvertently stepped her back feet into a shallow drainage ditch that had water in it. That made her decide that maybe it would be better to move forward than mess around there. We made our way though the passage slowly and carefully. I gave her lots of time to think about things, letting her stop and explore if she wanted and giving her tons of encouragement and praise for her bravery. Silly girl!
Coming home was uneventful. Funny, how Dharla isn’t nearly as bothered about any of the Big Scary Places when we’re going home. She had (what I call) her “going home” walk goin’ on and we moved along at a good ground-covering pace. Actually, I’d eventually like to see her head out at this pace some day instead of dogging it so much, but all in good time. Overall, it was a good ride, longer than I actually wanted to be out, but the extra time was spent working on fear issues. It felt like Dharla really tried her best today and I was quite pleased with her efforts.
On another note, my back is REALLY uncomfortable today. Or maybe I should say it’s more uncomfortable than usual. Ug.