I had two of my girls with me on one particular course walk. From the middle of the ring, they concluded that they were interested in taking a more "direct" route from jump five to jump six. The path they wanted involved making a sharper turn, but they believed it would give them a straighter path to jump number six. I disagreed, but I kept my mouth shut, and instead told them to walk it and see what they thought. It only took them half the distance to the jump to realize that the direct path wasn't straight at all, and would set them up for a really awkward turn on the other side to get to jump number seven.
I could tell that they were disappointed that they'd even suggested the route, but I told them I was glad they did, and glad that we decided to see what would happen should they have taken the direct approach. I wanted them to see for themselves why the route wouldn't work. If I simply told them no, they always would've wondered how that path would've ridden. Now they had a better feel for the whole ring. More importantly, they didn't just know which path to take, they also understood why.
As I explained this to them, it hit me how this same principal can apply to my main character and the course she's walking. It's made me brave enough to send her down paths I know will lead to a dead end, because I learn more about her each time she makes a decision, even if I disagree with her. Especially if I disagree with her. When we explore these alternate routes together, more pieces of the big picture and plot line fall into place. Even better: I understand what aspects of the plot are most important and why.
p.s. A huge congratulations to my team - we won high point champion team of the day, and qualified five riders for Region championships.