When You Don’t Know The Answer

Curse the Heavens and get very, very angry.

Being a very good, calm boy getting tacked up

Sunday I had set up three trot poles on the other side of an empty standard. It hadn’t even crossed my mind that this would pose an issue for my big huggable Doofaloosa. I mean, he jumps just fine. Trot poles should be remedial work for him.

It wasn’t.

The jump standard blew his mind. He leaped through it as though there was an invisible fence set up and that set the tone for the trot poles after it.

It took a while but he did eventually get it and I moved on not really thinking much of the exercise or his reaction to it.

I left the single pole after the standard and then moved the other to set up two trot poles on the diagonal creating a bending line

Last night I set up the above exercise. My main goal by moving two of them to the diagonal was to hopefully mitigate some of his tension about the imaginary fence. Plus I liked the idea of having a bending line for me to work on my precision steering.

I was caught a bit off guard when his reaction was nearly the same regardless.

Walking over them was no big deal. Well, no big deal the second time. The first time he threw his head around, tried to grab the bit and run off but a very strong half halt and voice command kept him to the walk.

She tells lies!

Once I asked him to trot though. Well. Let’s just say homeboy got extremely angry at the world in general and those poles in specific.

Turns out he does not like not knowing the answer. He doesn’t like to have to think. He likes knowing. His larger than life ego needs to have everything under control and know he is an awesome super star.

When I asked him to trot the poles and he really had zero clue how to do so, he threw a fit. Then he tried to barrel through them at approximately 100mph, clobbering each of them making them scatter. When that didn’t work, he flipped me the bird and just avoided the entire exercise by careening off and refusing to go anywhere near them.

The look of defeat

I laughed at him. He really was doing everything he could except trot nicely over them and it was really pissing him off.

I broke it down for him and just did the single pole on the long side. We walked over it. He got praised. We walked the other way over it and halted between the standards. He got praised.

I could visibly see his ego start to swell and so we tackled the two diagonal poles the same way. Walk. Praise. Walk. Praise.

Waggy introduced Einstein to the fun of ground poles.

Once he stopped caring about that I added the trot back in a few strides away from the poles going left over the two diagonal poles and then bending to the single and through the standard.

It took a lot of half halts and holding with my body coupled with more praise then I’ve given in 36 years total, but he trotted through that exercise like a big boy.

And then I made a near fatal mistake.

Once he was through the standard at a nice, calm trot I leaned forward, patted him and celebrated his very existence.

All good things.

Except he took this as party time, leaped into the air with a squeal of delight and took off on his own victory gallop like he had just won the Olympics.

It took a long time to settle him back down and at that point I called it a night. Part of me really wanted to go over it again and this time avoid the celebration but it seemed better to let him stop while feeling on top of the world versus drilling it and risking him getting it wrong.

The view out the barn doors

He is slowly teaching me what he needs to succeed. He does not like being wrong. He does not like not knowing. He does not like it when he faces the reality that he isn’t the second coming of Christ. He needs his ego stroked and he needs to feel like he is King.

Starting small and working up will be my best friend and I am getting even more excited about Friday!

16 thoughts on “When You Don’t Know The Answer”

    1. He has a really big personality and I’m learning how to juggle that and still get done what I want to. He gets so so angry when I ask him to do something he doesn’t already know. It’s actually pretty funny now that I know he isn’t going to be dangerously stupid


  1. Oh my goodness I long distance love him. I think you will very much be able to make that attitude work for you in the long run. And how awesome that a pat and praise are high value rewards for him.


  2. That’s how I did it with Carmen. Minus the victory gallop. She hates not knowing too. I think it’s good to quit to let them figure out that that was indeed what you were looking for.


  3. oh man, charlie is the same way in HATING not knowing the answers, or being defensive when he thought he was wrong. nice job working through it!


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