Thursday, December 10, 2009

Naming my puppy

This afternoon I completed a large research project two days before the deadline. I should have taken advantage of the extra time and gotten a head start on the next project but no, I ended up spending the last few hours surfing the Internet for puppy names.

I have a list started. I have no puppy but I darn sure have a list of possible names. I did this with Sage and Summit. I spent months researching the etymology and examining each name based on how it looks in print and how it sounds (a name sounds very different when spoken softly and when screamed on the course to avoid an off-course tunnel).

Why the obsession with names? I don't know but I take naming my dogs very seriously. I really like the sound of "S" names - Sage and Summit. I am tempted to continue the trend of "S" names (although quite a few on my list do not begin with "S") in addition to sticking with the nature theme of the Rocky Mountain West. The name needs to be no more than two syllables and if longer, needs to be able to be shortened for a call name on the agility course. As a really impressive example of creativity, Summit's name is shortened to "Sum" when I need to verbally get his attention while running a course.

I have a lot of great Border Collie names but somehow they don't quite fit a Sheltie.

So far my favorites are the following names: Soleil (French for sun for a Sable Sheltie); Kite (a rare and endangered Raptor in the British Isles known for graceful flight)...

Any suggestions?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Last agility trial for the year and Sage's *almost* MACH

Thanksgiving weekend we attended an AKC trial in the Black Forest (outside of Colorado Springs). Joan Meyer was the judge and she put up some fun and challenging courses.

On Saturday, both Sage and Summit double Q'd. Sage placed third in Standard with 38 seconds and around 7th or 8th in jumpers with a time of 25 seconds and double Q number 19.

Summit won Standard with a time of 34 seconds and won jumpers with a time of 23 seconds for double Q number 5.

On Sunday Summit NQ'd with several faults in Standard but had a nice run in Jumpers that afternoon but with one bar (would have been first place). I admit that I walked the course with Sage in mind when I ran Summit, made handling decisions on the fly.

Sage WON Standard and that afternoon, we ran Jumpers to earn her MACH. She had a lovely run (very smooth) except for a missed weavepole entry. It was such a rush to go for that MACH run. I loved the pressure and although it didn't happen that weekend, it will eventually.

Overall I was very pleased with both dogs' performance. A few things to work on to improve. Summit is starting to push his contact behavior in competition again so it's time to start reminding him in training about his release cue. Sage was awesome and very consistent all weekend.

We are taking December off from competition. I have several seminars and workshops planned for Summit and of course, lot's of hikes for all the dogs.

Below are videos from the weekend.

Summit Saturday Standard - 1st place

So in case you are wondering what the fuss is at the startline. Summit did not want to face away from the course. I put him in a down at the first jump (facing away from the rest of the course) and he argued with me, "No Momma, the course goes the other way!" Joan was laughing and I finally just picked him up and placed him down and ran with him.

Sage Saturday Standard - 3rd place

Summit Saturday Jumpers - 1st place

A wide turn into the weavepoles. I ran Sage second and did a front cross two jumps before the weaves which really tightened the turn.

Sage Saturday Jumpers

Summit Sunday Standard - NQ

I ran Summit first. I was not really focused on handling him and had really walked the course for Sage. Needless to say, I made several handling mistakes and sent him off course after the chute.

Sage Sunday Standard run - 1st place

This really was an awesome run!

Sage Sunday Jumpers - almost MACH ;-)

Summit Sunday Jumpers - dropped bar

Friday, November 20, 2009


Gator, Summit, Puzzle, and Trick at the USDAA Nationals

Couldn't resist posting this picture that Lori took at Nationals. Can you tell they are all related:-)
There is nothing like returning from a big event like Nationals with renewed inspiration and training goals. Having seen and experienced the level of competition, I know what we need to work towards. I also know I have a dog who has the speed, athleticism, and training to be very competitive. I was the weak link in our teamwork last week which is actually a good thing...

I am pretty happy with my execution, but the handling choices I made were not always the best to get the tightest and most efficient lines. It's been a long time since I've taken a group class since I don't really learn anything in the limited amount of time I spend with an instructor in group classes. However, I already have set up private sessions with a top trainer in order to work on my course analysis skills and receive feedback on what we need to work on in training.

We still have snow on the ground so this morning I just worked Summit on jump grids (compression) and lateral leadouts. Once the snow melts and we have dry ground for speed work, I'll set up a course with wide-open sequences that lead into boxes and/or tight turns. One of the skills I need to improve on is cueing relative collection and a turn when I am behind my dog.

I worked Sage on boxes and discriminations. With her being a uni, I find that it is even more important to set a good LOM going into a box and staying on the same side (not RC) since she can't always triangulate well when I call her name to get her attention.
This weekend we'll be relaxing and the dogs will get to hike offleash in the mountains.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

USDAA Nationals

From left to right - Gator, Summit, Puzzle, and Trick

We arrived back home yesterday afternoon from our very first Nationals. What an amazing experience! The level of intensity in the air... walking and running courses with the top handlers in the country... very cool!

I am very proud of both my dogs. Sage had great runs in Team Jumpers, Standard, and Gamblers (didn't get very far in Snooker). She had a fast run in Steeplechase quarterfinals and made it to the Semifinals. She had another great run in Grand Prix quarterfinals but dropped a bar which added 5 seconds to her time, so we didn't make it to the GP semi's.

Sage's run in the Steeplechase Semifinals was awesome! But of course, not fast enough to make the finals (as I expected). Her time was 27 seconds and 25 was the cutoff. But I was thrilled that she made it into the semi's.

Summit has a smokin' fast Steeplechase run in the quarterfinals. But he missed the second to last jump at the finish (I didn't support it). I was thrilled though with how focused he was. He also had nice team standard and gamblers runs. He wasn't entered in Grand Prix.

My group walked our courses early in the morning (7:30-8:00) and we didn't run until 4:00 p.m. Wednesday, I walked Team Snooker at 8:00 a.m. and didn't run it until 5:30 that evening. This was very difficult for me and something I will need to practice. It wasn't an easy Snooker course either and had three combinations (5a, 5b, 6a,6b, and 7a, 7b, and 7c).

I was very pleased to see that Summit's course times were up there with the top dogs. We just need to improve our consistency. I learned a lot by attending and have training goals for the upcoming year. I remember when I attended our first Regional competition and how I felt it made me a tougher competitor. Now that I've been to Nationals and seen the level of competition (you read about it but until you see it and compete at that level, you just can't imagine). I am very inspired to train even harder to improve our performance. A local trial just doesn't seem the same now. Although I will be looking forward to a very relaxing, low-key, three day AKC trial next weekend.

I also learned a lot by watching the top handlers in the semifinals and the finals. The times were very close and hundredths of a second separated the top 10-15 spots.
I met several of Summit's relatives... Lori with Puzzle (Summit's Aunt), Jody with Gator (Summit's Uncle), and Sandy with Trick (Summit's half sister). We got a picture of the four dogs under the USDAA banner. I also met Kim Dash and Will (Summit's cousin). And of course, got to see Susan Garrett and Encore (Summit's other Aunt).
I also got to play with the mother of my future Sheltie puppy (she wasn't competing) and watch the sire run several courses. He did quite well (making it into the Finals in both GP and Steeplechase).

Next year Nationals is supposed to be in either Louisville, Kentucky or Philadelphia, PA. We will definitely be attending if they are held in Kentucky.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Flatirons AKC trial - Double Q's for Sage and Summit

This weekend was our last trial before Nationals. Both Summit and Sage were 50 percent on Saturday (Summit qualifying in Standard and Sage in jumpers). Sunday both dogs double Q'd! The really cool thing on Sunday was that in Standard my dogs took the top two placements! Summit won and Sage got second place. This was a two ring trial with over 50 dogs in the Ex. B 20" class.

Saturday morning Sage had a very nice Standard run. However, I released her from the table just before the judge said "GO"! I have no idea why I did that... so we got a fault. I remember thinking, I wonder if she's going to call that - it certainly too her long enough to think about it:-)

Also, because Sage does not have independent contacts, I was not able to get the FC after the chute so did a last minute rear cross (I had walked it with a FC).

Here is my run with Summit. I chose to do a blind out of the tunnel and I almost didn't get there!

Sage qualified in Jumpers that afternoon with a 4th place. I ran the course with Summit first and he took a wrong course jump after the weave poles (insead of jump and turn, he kept going straight). I realized that my lateral motion (to get into position for the FC) actually cued the wrong course jump. So when I ran Sage, I chose to stay on the same side and run down the line to the tunnel. I didn't do this with Summit as I didn't think I could get down there to cue to correct tunnel entrance. Here is Sage's run.

Sunday we had Jumpers in the morning. I ran Summit first and we qualified with a second place.

Here is Sage's run. I think she got 5th or 6th place.

Here is Sage's Sunday Standard run. She got second place and a double Q.

Here is Summit's Sunday Standard run. 1st place and double Q.

I'm almost packed. We leave for Nationals tomorrow!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Fun in the snow

We had our first heavy snow fall on Thursday. The campus was closed, so after lunch I took the dogs out to the back field to play a game of snow Frisbee. The snow was about 17 inches deep and we lost the Frisbee several times. It's amazing how just a half hour of running in deep snow will tire dogs out. They were content to nap the rest of the afternoon.

Throw the Frisbee!

Where did it go?

Where is Summit?

"What do you want? I'm busy."

"Ha! I found it!"

"Oooh, are those more toys?"

"Bleh! I got snow down my throat."

"Who are you laughing at!"

"Can you see me?"

"Weeeee! A snow tunnel!"

"Where is that Frisbee!"

Happy dogs!

Monday, October 26, 2009

LPDTC AKC - A weekend of nice runs but not many Q's

Another weekend of AKC. Saturday morning we had a wicked jumpers course. Both my dogs NQ'd on this course. There were 5 qualifying runs in the 20" class (out of 45 dogs), zero qualifying runs in the 24 inch class, 3 qualifying runs in the 16" class....

Here is the course map.

The places that got most teams were the #3-4-5 jump sequence in the beginning, #12-13-14 in the middle, and the #16-19 at the end. Lot's of traps and handler motion was restricted. Sage took the #18 jump in the beginning (instead of #4) and Summit took the #2 jump after #16 at the end. I ended up layering twice with Summit (something I do not like to do). I RC'd #4 and sent out to #5 while running on takeoff side of the 270 towards #6. Then RC'd #8 into the poles. Then did a forward send to #13 then took off towards #14 (layering #6). By the time Summit took #16, I was so far behind, as I moved in towards #17, my motion pushed him to take #2.

That afternoon, Summit has a gorgeous standard run but dropped a bar on the triple at the end. I ran the course with Sage with the only purpose of proofing her contacts. She had a wrong course (chute instead of the tunnel) but I wasn't really handling to run clean but to work more distance in her contacts. She didn't miss a single contact and I got some good lateral distance on the dw and the teeter.

Summit's Saturday Standard run

That afternoon, Summit had a nice run in Ex. B FAST. I just wanted the Q and walked for a fast flowing sequence. As it turned out, he missed 1st place by one point. He had 71 points in 23 seconds and First place was 72 points in 29 seconds.

Summit's Ex. B FAST run

Sunday Sage qualified in Standard with 2nd place. We lost some time on the table because she zoned out. It was strange but she wasn't focusing on me and kept looking around and it took some time for me to raise her to a sit.

Sage Sunday Standard run - 2nd place

Summit would have had 1st place but we were called for a refusal at the tunnel. It was dogwalk to tunnel (underneath) and something that I should practice at home. I practice a turn away from a contact to tunnel but not a recall from contact to tunnel and this just felt a bit awkward to me. The rest of the run was nice though.

Summit Sunday Standard - one refusal

The jumpers course that afternoon was FUN! Summit ran clean with a 2nd place (by 100ths of a second). I had confidence that Sage would get double Q number 18 on this jumpers course. Not to happen, I got too far ahead of her going into a box, turned my head to look back for her which opened up my shoulders and she moved away from me and took a wrong jump.

Summit Sunday Jumpers - 2nd place

It was a fun weekend but the courses were really tough and although I love challenges, I could sense some negativity from other competitors. I think the low qualifying rate discouraged many people as team after team (good dogs and handlers) NQ'd all weekend.

We have another weekend off so will plan on a hike in the mountains if the weather is good.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

I know, she is NOT a Border Collie

This is the VERY precocious Mira. She was born last month - a single female puppy. I have been on the list for over a year now (which fit my timeline of a puppy in late 2009 or 2010). But there was no puppy for me this time since I only want a male. Another breeding is planned for Spring 2010. Hopefully there will be a little boy for me.
The sire is a national champion and has been on the US World Team several times. Momma goes back to some great performance and working (herding) lines.
I love my Border Collies and my family has had BC's since I was 5 years old. But I have always yearned for a small dog and I am looking forward to the different challenges I will face in motivation, training, and handling.
I already have a name picked out for my little Sable boy - whenever he arrives...

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

TAKC AKC trial - Sage earns QQ #17. Summit has a tunnel fixation

It was a pretty good three-day weekend. Sage and I had good teamwork! Summit had some nice runs and some not so nice runs. I'm seeing a new confidence level in my young dog which is resulting in some wrong courses and wide turns. I'm also finding I need to adjust my timing better between the two dogs. This has been a challenge for me. Sage's committment point is much later than Summit's. With him, I have too much forward motion and I'm driving in too deep which is resulting in his not collecting enough for turns.

Friday's standard course was very tough. There were 6 or 7 qualifying runs in the entire Excellent B 20" class . I ran Sage first and she had a wrong course. I ran Summit and he qualified and won the class by 6 full seconds (all the fast dogs NQ'd on this course). When I went to the line with Summit, I knew I would have to handle very aggressively. Being able to not have to run all the way with him to the end of the dogwalk gave me a huge lead out advantage for the ending sequence.

Sage qualified in Jumpers that afternoon with 7th or 8th place and Summit had a refusal on a jump that I did not support. It was a nice course and offered the opportunity to excecute a post turn towards the end. I was quite proud of the post turns I had with both dogs since its something we don't practice. Here is Sage's run.

Saturday Sage had an awesome Standard run and won the class! I changed my mind the last minute to do a recall over the jump after the yellow tunnel instead of the front cross (which I did with Summit). Notice her tight turns and how close I drive to each jump. Don had someone new filming so the video jumps around sometimes.

Here is Summit's run on the same course. I ran him after Sage. What can I say... he suffered from endless tunnel LOOP syndrome. I lied to the judge. After the second time he took the tunnel, I told the judge, "This is the last time, I promise." then he took the tunnel again... sigh. I finally put him in a down in front of the aframe. I think I heard the judge chuckling.

My timing was exactly what was needed for Sage but not for Summit. I drove way too deep when I cued the tunnel after the weaves. Then I had to catch up because he came blasting out the tunnel and I was not in position to cue the next two jumps. Then all that forward motion sent him turning very wide over #2 jump and then of course, my flailing arms and my bad positioning sent him to the tunnel the first time (you can see how I'm very late with the shoulder pull). YIKES! But the rest of the run was nice (although another very wide turn to the triple). I left him on the dogwalk while I ran past the finish jump.

The Jumpers course that afternoon was very challenging (same judge as Friday's Standard course). I ran it with Sage first and qualified with a third place and a double Q! Summit got the wrong course tunnel towards the end (as did the majority of dogs). I actually at some point was moving backwards pulling Sage past the plane of the tunnel entrance (a Snooker move:-) as I didn't have the advantage of saying her name or of using motion since the handlers path was restricted by the first jump in the 180. It was a tight little box and any motion towards the correct jump also cued the tunnel.

Sunday's courses were the nicest of the entire weekend. Sage had a nice standard course but missed the dogwalk contact. She later qualified in Jumpers with a 5th place. Summit had a wrong course jump at the beginning and then won Jumpers that afternoon.

Here is Sage's Standard run

Sage's Jumpers run - 5th place

Summit's Jumpers run - First place

We have next weekend off and will be doing some hiking in the mountains. My training goals this week are to work on some foundation skills with Summit (forward and lateral sends). Really work on my timing of deceleration for tighter turns. I think I will set up a line of jumps and practice running at the start (no leadout) and decelerating at different locations to cue 180 degree turns.

With Sage, I will continue to work on the dogwalk. She is becoming very consistent with her running a-frame but I still have to really manage the end behavior of the dogwalk.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Just one little thing.... USDAA trial, Fountain, Colorado

We were in Fountain, Colorado (about 2 hours South of Denver) for three days of USDAA competition. Friday was DAM team. Sage's team ROCKED! and we ended up with 4th place overall. Summit's team did not Q but we ended up just below the qualifying cut off.
Friday morning it was 33 degrees and the sprinklers had not been turned off in the park. The grass, equipment, and tents were covered with ice. Team jumpers was first and the class was delayed an hour in order to allow the sun to melt off the ice. I had an elimination with both my dogs. I was slipping and sliding all over the wet grass - I couldn't keep my feet under me. Sage popped out of the last weavepole and I didn't see it and cued the next jump (tweet!) and Summit took the wrong course tunnel because I was so late with my front cross, I actually cued extension and the tunnel that was in his path (tweet!). We weren't alone though, I think every team had a teammember that E'd on that course.
The rest of the day went well and the grass eventually dried out. So Sage has her DAM team qualifier for 2010 Nationals.
Saturday morning both my dogs got a very difficult gamble. I was confident that Summit would get it but was pleasantly surprised when Sage got it too. Then Sage qualified in Grand Prix with a 5th place. She had a really nice Snooker run going. We had completed all four 7's and were starting the closing... I didn't support the #4 jump (depressed angle) and she went around it. She had a wrong course in Steeplechase. Sage was only entered in two classes on Sunday. The gamble was not something I train with either one of my dogs so we just practiced contacts and I crossed the line to do the gamble obstacles. She later qualified in Snooker but dropped a bar in the last 7 so she didn't get a chance at a Super Q.

Summit and I had a fairly good weekend but it could have been much better. He had nice runs but with one little thing that kept us from qualifying.
We had two opportunities to earn that last Standard leg for his MAD title but it didn't happen. Saturday, he slipped off the end of the wet dogwalk and then stepped back on (wrong course) but the run was very nice. Sunday I misplaced a front cross and so was out of position to push to the tire and he missed it. In Grand Prix, I pushed him past his weavepole entrance and he went in at the second pole (otherwise beautiful run). Saturday Jumpers I had a flying arm episode and sent him over a wrong course jump, Steeplechase - not sure why but he took the wrong end of the tunnel from the a-frame. He did have a beautiful run in Masters pairs and we took 6th place. He also had a nice Jumpers run on Sunday with a 4th place.
So my goals for improving my handling ... watch my arms (keep them low). Be more careful with front cross placement (location after rotation and which direction my shoulders will be facing). Incorporate more rear crosses with Summit.
Training goals for Summit: work more on his understanding of collection and turning cues when I am behind.
Training goals for Sage: None - she's perfect:-)
The highlights of the weekend:
Sage had awesome contacts.
Summit only dropped one bar the entire three days.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Videos from FRAAD AKC

Sage, Sunday Jumpers - 6th place and Double Q
There were very few qualifying runs on this course. Summit took the wrong course double after the first serpentine. Getting Sage's head after the tunnel was challenging!

Summit, Saturday Standard - 1st place and double Q
36.15 seconds. I liked this run. I was late cueing collection and the turn from the tire to the teeter so he was wide there. The offset serpentine at the end was challenging and NQ'd a lot of dogs (they ran by the middle jump or missed the last jump).

Summit, Saturday jumpers - 1st place and double Q
Even with the spin before the weaves, his time was 22.30 seconds. I had slight lateral motion into him and he read that as a rear cross over the jump before the weaves. I am not liking my conflicting cues just before the rear after the weaves. I use an outside arm to bring him in (should cue a FC) and then drop the arm and step into him laterally to cue the RC. Darn! I'm trying hard not to over use the oustide arm with him (It's an attention cue for Sage and it has carried over to using it to cue convergence with Summit).

Summit, Friday Standard - would have been 2nd place and a double Q
I called his name just as he jumped the double and the bar came down. Duh!!!!!

Summit, Friday Jumpers - 1st place
So what's up with the inchworm (creeping butt) startline. This is fairly new and I don't see it because my back is turned.

Monday, September 28, 2009

A good weekend at FRAAD AKC in Castle Rock

We were in Castle Rock, Colorado Friday-Sunday. Three rings (Standard, JWW, and FAST). I did not enter FAST because of ring conflicts in a three-ring trial and I don't like the stress of keeping track of the three rings.

Friday was Excellent only. Both Summit and Sage had nice runs in jumpers. Summit won the class and Sage placed 4th. Summit had a nice standard run but dropped the third to last bar (double) when I called his name as he was clearing the jump. Sage had a wrong course.

Saturday Summit again won jumpers and Sage placed 4th (is that funny weird or what?). Sage NQ'd in standard (called for a refusal - I sent to a jump and didn't support it well enough and she turned off). Summit won standard that afternoon for a double Q with two first places AND earned his MX title! Needless to say I was pretty pleased with my young dog.

Sunday the courses were VERY technical. I will post course maps when I get them transferred to CRCD. I really liked these courses because they had challenges that you normally don't see in AKC. The challenges involved multiple 180 degree wraps, pull throughs, and serpentines. I was excited to run them. I also got some good feedback from my dogs' performance and have some training goals.

Sage ran the jumpers beautifully. It felt smooth and effortless and she handled the technical elements very nicely. She Q'd with 6th place in jumpers. We had a little more difficult time with the standard course but only on one segment of the course (most teams had trouble with this section) but we made it through and the rest of the course ran well. Sage got 3rd place and a double Q! I am not sure but I think this is either #16 or #17 towards her MACH. Getting close.....
Summit did not handle the challenges as well. Part of it was my timing was off as well as my location. But mostly he was just not ready to handle these types of challenges. So we have a whole new level of skills to work on at home.

I do train 180's, serps, pull throughs, etc. with Summit but what made it more challenging this weekend was that the dog was coming into these at full extension and the handler needed to handle these from behind with rear crosses. Rear crosses is a weak skill with both my dogs (since I prefer to be in front). I've been practicing more RC's in training but obviously have more work to do with Summit.

So not a bad weekend with two QQ's and a new title (darn! I forgot to grab one of those pretty purple new title ribbons).

This Thursday night, Jen and I are leaving for Fountain, Colorado for three days of USDAA with DAM team on Friday.

Sage is on a "Witchy Women" team (I did not come up with the name;-) with BC, Jane and JRT, Whim.
Summit's team is called "Red Hots" and very apropo as his teammates are red Cattle Dog, Rita and red Cattle Dog, Lucky!

Monday, September 21, 2009

MHACB AKC trial - results and videos

What a fun and relaxing weekend! After three days of Regionals, it was so nice to relax at a one-ring outdoor trial. We had perfect weather (not too hot) and the courses, although very challenging, were a lot of fun.

Sage qualified in both Standard runs and I was thrilled to see big improvement in her contacts. I was even able to get some distance and independence on the a-frame on Saturday's standard run. She had a nice jumpers run going on Saturday (for a double Q) but then I left out the first pinwheel (very embarrasing since I had already run the darn course clean with Summit). She got 3rd place in Standard on Sunday but then had a wrong course tunnel in jumpers that afternoon. I knew the chances of her getting the tunnel were pretty high. The course was three jumps straight to a wrong course tunnel requiring a 70 degree turn to the weaves after the third jump. The problem was if you decelerated and got a 90 degree turn off the jump, the dog was faced with the middle third of the weavepoles. So you still had to push out a bit after the jump which cued the tunnel and then use a verbal weave command. It was really windy and Sage just locked onto that tunnel.

Summit had four awesome runs. He got second in Jumpers on Saturday and won Jumpers on Sunday. His Standard run on Saturday was nice but he missed the wp entry. Sunday's Standard was also nice but with a dropped bar (handler caused). The morning sun was in my eyes and I couldn't see the jump (and barely could see my dog), I called out his name and then heard the bar go down. In hindsight, I would have handled the chute to the 270 differently with Summit. With Sage, I have to meet her at tunnel and chute exits to get her head since she does not hear very well when she is in a tunnel. With Summit, I would have stayed on the landing side of the jump for a recall after the chute and then pushed to the next jump and rear crossed to the table.

Summit, Saturday Jumpers - 2nd place

Sage, Saturday Standard - 5th place

Summit, Saturday Standard

Sage, Sunday Standard - 3rd place

Summit, Sunday Jumpers - 1st place
(late and missplaced front cross at the end - I forgot I had planned to fc there:-)

Summit, Sunday Standard
(he was a bit OTT going in the ring, kept pulling hard against his leash).

Friday, September 18, 2009

USDAA Rocky Mountain Regional

Last weekend was the Rocky Mountain Regional competition. Sage was only entered in DAM team and Grand Prix. Sage's team (Elicia Calhoun with BreaSea & Liz Blasio with Ticket) were 5th place overall!!! Elicia needed this DAM team Q for Nationals so I was thrilled that not only did she get her Q but we placed high as well.
Sage had a beautiful GP run but got called for an a-frame contact. Her time would have put her in the top 10.

Summit had an interesting weekend. His DAM team (Bordering on Insanity) did not qualify but all three young dogs on the team had some great moments as well as some not so great moments. Summit had some amazing runs in the regular classes considering I was pushing him and proofing his training. I got some great distance from the teeter (lateral send to the teeter so I could get in a FC), RC's at weaves. I left him in the weaves twice while I moved laterally away in order to FC for a tunnel discrimination. Left him on the dogwalk for another lateral move for a FC. The most fun was in Master's Snooker where I did a lateral send to the #2 tunnel in the closing so I could get in position to back up just past the jump for a tight turn which set him up nicely for the teeter approach.

For some reason Summit was very high at this trial. I'm not sure if it was because it was a Regional or because I was pushing him a little and asking for more obstacle independence. Summit had several runs where he just was not thinking. He had two wrong courses in Team Jumpers and a wrong course in Team Relay. We have our share of mistakes but not usually a wrong course. He also missed his wp entries 4 times - which is also unlike him.
This weekend we are at a small one-ring AKC trial. I'm really looking forward to relaxing and running AKC after the pressure and excitement of a Regional.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Videos from Salt Lake City, Utah

Last weekend we were in Salt Lake City for AKC. The trial is held outdoors at a beautiful site. A horse farm with lot's of trees for shade and open fields to run and play with your dogs. Both dogs had a 50 percent qualifying rate. So no double Q's this weekend but nice runs with placements. Summit earned an Ex. B FAST leg, Standard leg, and another Jumpers. He now needs just one more jumpers for his MXJ and two more standard legs for his MX. Sage also had nice runs and some very close double Q's but for a missed contact, one refusal, and something else (I can't remember). She wasn't entered in FAST so just had two runs per day. I was able to get some videos of some of our runs.

Summit Ex. B Jumpers - first place

That was such a fun jumpers course. There were two common mistakes made by handlers on this course. 1. taking the tire jump for granted and many fast long strided dogs landed deep and ran around the tire. 2. not cueing the weaves soon enough. Some dogs missed the wp entry because of the momentum out of the tunnel and jump to the weaves.

Summit Saturday Ex. B Standard - 2nd place

There were 5 qualifying runs out of the entire 20" class! It is hard to see in the video but the sequence from chute to jump to panel is where most handlers had problems. Most tried to hang back and recall their dog out of the chute and then attempt to get them over the jump which caused either an ugly loopy turn, or dog sliced the jump and ended up on the a-frame, or dog missed the jump completely. I decided to go in and do a double front cross. My dogs are trained to not jump past my outside arm so both collected and had nice turns. Several other handlers tried this after seeing my run and their dogs still jumped extended and landed past the handler and took the a-frame or went past the panel jump.

Sage Ex. B Standard

This would have been a double Q for Sage (she qualified in jumpers) but for the dropped panel. Many handlers had trouble with the weavepole entrance (dogs took the chute instead) and the long straight line of jumps at the end. I thought this was a really fun course to run.

Summit Saturday Ex. B Jumpers

Another run where I end up on the ground (Do ya think I need cleats!). I recover nicely though and was even able to still get that front cross in after the tunnel. Unfortunately, Summit turns too tight on a jump and takes out the upright. This would have been a double Q for Mr. Summit if he hadn't taken out the jump. Luckily Summit was ok, but I was not. I ended up with 12 inches of swollen black and purple on the side of my thigh. I must have landed on something harder than grass.

Sage Saturday Ex. B Jumpers

I had already run Summit on this jumpers course so was very careful NOT to fall down again. I thought Sage had some beautiful tight turns in this run.

Summit Ex. B FAST - third place

FAST is AKC's version of Gamblers. The buzzer goes off just before the a-frame at the end but I wanted to practice his a-frame contact so I kept going. I knew he was fast enough to make up for the time lost. I think this is Summit's very first leg in Ex. B FAST. The class isn't offered very often and I only enter FAST when it's a one-ring trial as it creates too many conflicts in the three-ring trials.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Videos posted

I've added the videos from the Windsor, Colorado AKC trial below...

Monday, August 31, 2009

How to trip over your dog on the agility course

So today's agility lesson is how to take your eyes off your dog while she's shooting out of a tunnel so that you can rotate quickly out of a front cross, take a step and procede to fall on top of your dog who is not where you thought she would be.

Sage and I were having a beautiful jumpers run for a double Q (would have been QQ #16) and luckily, Sage was OK. She was happy to run out of the ring with me and get her special treats. No special treats for the handler.

The venue was awesome! Indoor soccer field with sport turf. The dogs ran really fast on this type of ground. Outside was a large field where you could walk and play with your dogs.

Saturday both dogs qualified in Jumpers with a 2nd and 4th place. Sunday Sage qualified in Standard with a 3rd place and Summit won Jumpers that afternoon. Summit had a gorgeous standard run on Sunday morning but earned a refusal when I dropped my arm too quickly after a send to the panel jump and he pulled off the jump to come in to my side (good boy).

I should have videos of some of the runs. And if I'm really brave, I might post the one of me falling on top of Sage if Don was able to get it on film.

Heading to Salt Lake City, Utah Thursday morning for 4 days of AKC agility. Beautiful outdoor site with lot's of trees and places to play with the dogs.

Summit Saturday Jumpers

Sage Sunday Standard

Summit - Sunday Jumpers

...and featuring the video from the popular TV show - Agility Bloopers

Monday, August 24, 2009

Two Super Q's for Sage

It was a fun USDAA weekend in Laramie, Wyoming. One ring at a great site (well, except for the pesky flies on the last day!).

My goal this weekend was to earn that last GP leg that Summit needs for Nationals as well as the jumpers and standard legs he needed for his MAD. Well we got the jumpers (awesome run) but not the GP or the standard. He did win Masters relay (with Norm and Fl'n) and earned his Masters Relay title. However, something even more wonderful happened this weekend that I did not expect - Sage earned two Snooker Super Q's!

Friday night was Masters Gamblers, Steeplechase, and Snooker. The Gamble was not one that either of my dogs would get so I used Gamblers for warmup and training. Summit had two faults in Steeplechase (would have been a second place) and Sage had a beautiful run and qualified for the finals.

The snooker course was technical with lots of "snookering" between obstacles. I chose to do three sixes with both my dogs. Sage had a nice run and I knew she Q'd but assumed it wasn't fast enough for a SQ. Summit also had a nice run but dropped the number 4 double in the closing. That was the last class and I packed up and went to the hotel - not bothering to look at the snooker results.

The next morning I grabbed a Q ribbon and looked at the results to write down Sage's time/points. There it was - "SQ" next to her name! She got the 7th SQ out of 8 total.

Sunday we had another snooker class. This course was set up for wicked speed. The three reds were set up in a line and directly across from them was the combo 7 which was a straight serpentine. Of course, the 2 and 3 point obstacles were in the middle between the reds and the combo 7, but getting all three 7's was pretty doable. Sage ran pretty early in the class and we had a smokin' fast run. However, there were still a lot of very fast BC's yet to go and many nationally ranked. Sage ended up with the second fastest time and of course, another Super Q! This Snooker course was designed for her. Rather than having to rely on loud verbal call-offs (which seem to be typical of a technical Snooker course), this course allowed the handler to run a nice flowing path. It really did come down to just speed.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Rocky Mountain Regional DAM teams confirmed

So DAM teams for both dogs are confirmed and I mailed off our entry yesterday.

Sage is on a competitive team with Elicia Calhoun/BreaSea and Liz Blasio/Ticket.

Summit is on a very fast young dog team with Donna Thomson/Indy and Liz Blasio/Deuce.

I have been training some specific skills for Snooker and Gamblers this week in addition to brushing up on discriminations (jump boxes, contact/tunnel).

Today we trained early in the morning and then went on an awesome hike in the mountains.
Heading to Laramie, Wyoming this Friday for USDAA. Maybe Summit might earn his MAD this weekend!

Friday, August 14, 2009

24 inches???

Had an awesome private lesson with our instructor this morning. I learned some new drills to set up to work on getting tighter turns with distance.

I've been training Summit with the jump bars at 24" for several months now. My instructor told us today that he jumps much nicer at 24" (rounder) and that I should consider jumping him at 24" in AKC. I hadn't thought about it but looking back at photographs and videos of him at 20", he does jump flatter and more extended than he does in USDAA where he jumps 22". I like his jump form better in USDAA at 22" but it never occurred to me to move him to the 24" class in AKC.

He is not a tall Border Collie but he can handle 24" just fine. I don't tend to worry about jump heights with a BC of his structure. I think tall a-frame heights and weavepoles are harder on a dog's body than jumping.

So something to think about. At this time, I'm not sure what I'll decide...

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Straightlines and boxes

This week I've been training both dogs everyday. The usual routine is to work Summit for about 15 minutes then have him wait on the pause table while I work Sage. Then I finish up with a shorter 5-minute specific skills session with Summit (wp entries, contacts, etc.). The diagram above shows the different handler paths for each coordinating colored jump in the box. I love setting up these simple exercises.

I always begin Summit's session with basic RTH exercises focusing on collection. I use food as a reward since I want Summit calm and thinking. I use the flying squirrel (or other tug toy) to get him in drive for the speedwork. He is happy to accept the treats but every once in awhile, he turns to look at the table where the flying squirrel is laying there waiting.

Straightline of jumps (bars set at 24"), into a box using lateral motion for a pull or a RC. Using deceleration and a forward send to cue a 180 degree wrap at the last jump in the box.

jump, tunnel, a-frame discrimination. Forward sends to the weavepoles varying my location (middle of poles, opposite end of poles, etc.).

I have not been leading out very far for the straightline of jumps. I don't race him but I do set a good running pace down the line. Monday he dropped several bars during each session. Today, he did not drop a single bar. I've spent a lot of time working on collection with Summit but not so much extension. Not that a Border Collie needs to learn how to extend over a jump, but (in Summit's case), how to jump extended without flattening out too much and dropping a bar.

I've been working a lot of discriminations with Sage. Many including like obstacles (jumps). Other than the straighlines (which she doesn't need), I work many similar exercises with her that I do with Summit. It is very interesting to see the difference in how each dog will read my motion, location, and arm cues. This difference has nothing to do with Sage being unilaterally deaf as I rarely use verbals with Summit during training because I really want to see the effect the other cues have without relying on a verbal recall.

Summit has a pretty solid foundation in APHS; Sage does not. Sage will diverge off my line to take an obstacle, she also does not have as good an understanding of location cues. She is however, very good at reading motion. Its quite interesting to work both dogs on the same exercise and observe the differences.

So I've been attempting to fill in those holes in Sage's foundation training. Focusing more on incorporating more use of location and other arm cues (in addition to the OA collection/turn cue) to support my motion. Who knows, there may yet be a Super Q in her future!

Tomorrow morning we are taking a break from training and going swimming at Chatfield.

We have this weekend off and then the following weekend we will be travelling to Laramie, Wyoming for a 2 1/2 day USDAA trial, followed by a 2-day AKC trial, followed by 4 days in Salt Lake City, Utah for another AKC trial. A very busy three weeks!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Agility in the mountains!

We spent the weekend in beautiful Durango, Colorado playing agility outdoors. The venue was gorgeous. Nice grassy ring surrounded by lot's of trees. The area was surrounded by 350 acres of woodland and meadow so lot's of off-leash hiking with the dogs in the evenings.

Summit had two blazing runs on Saturday to earn a Double Q with two first places. Sage dropped a bar in jumpers that morning but then had a very nice run in standard for a 4th place.

Sunday, again Summit had two nice runs but he dropped a bar in each class. Sage missed her dogwalk contact in standard and earned a third place in jumpers that afternoon.

There were a LOT of bars coming down. The ground was a bit uneven with some dips. The judge ended up replacing the triple jump with the broad jump because the area where the triple was supposed to go, the ground was very uneven and he decided the broad jump would be a better choice. That is the first time I've seen a broad jump in the Excellent B class. It is legal, it is just something you never usually see.

I'm noticing that Summit's occasional dropped bars are when he's jumping with extension (straighline or soft turn). So I've set up a fairly straight line of 5 jumps with a box at each end. I'm working on discriminations in a box with Sage. Focusing specifically on using lateral motion to push or pull to the correct jump in the box. The lateral motion is subtle and I begin setting the line at the first jump (not as she enters the box).

I'm doing the same thing with Summit but also practicing keeping the bars up while I'm racing down the line with him. I've been using a timeout for ticked bars as well as a dropped bar.
I'll mark it, then stop and put him in a down while I reset the bar (or we go back to the beginning if it's a tick). Sometimes I'll not send him all the way into the box, instead taking the opportunity to mark and reward for nice jumping form.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Pikes Peak Obedience Club AKC trial

It was a good weekend and I learned two very important things.

1. Because of her hearing impairment, Sage is hyper-sensitive to my motion. A handling move that may work well with Summit does not always work well with Sage.

2. I really need to work more on cueing collection when I'm behind Summit. I work a lot on cueing collection when I'm in front of him since that is how I like to handle and I prefer to be in front of my dogs. I'm not comfortable steering from behind. But sometimes there is no other option and I need to practice asking for collection and tighter turns with Summit when I am stuck behind him.

Summit had a nice run in Jumpers but dropped one bar. That afternoon he took second place in Standard. So one bar short of a double Q. I was thrilled to see our consistency as both were nice runs.

Sage's run in Jumpers was clean and a third place. I handled the course the same for both dogs. However, she had a wrong course in Standard. Again, I handled it the same for both dogs. I ran it with Summit first and he read the line of motion to the teeter correctly, Sage did not. The dog came out of the tunnel faced with a wrong course jump in their path, the handler had to get the dog's attention as they came out of the tunnel and handle them through a jump box to the teeter. With Summit, I did not hang back but called his name before he exited the tunnel, turned and ran towards the teeter. With Sage, I had to hang back and clap as she came out of the tunnel so she would see me. Then I turned to set the line to the teeter but I was not quick enough and my shoulders were still slightly rotated in towards her and I had not straightened my path yet and she responded to that slight pressure and took the left side jump in the box. In this situation, with Sage, it would have been a wiser choice to front cross at the tunnel exit, and run on the other side towards the teeter. I walked it that way initially but did not like the line and was afraid with Summit, that I would get stuck behind the wing of the double. But I think the FC would have been a better choice with Sage.

Below is each dog's Standard run. I'm curious if anyone else can see any difference in my body position or motion in Sage's run compared to Summit. When I pause both videos at the same spot, it looks like I have more lateral distance and running a straighter line with Summit than with Sage.

Here is Summit's Jumpers run on Saturday.

On Sunday Summit had a nice Standard run and Jumpers but with a refusal in each. The Standard run included a tunnel to a tight 270 with a wrong course tunnel on the landing side of the first jump in the 270. Again, I ran Summit first and chose to stay behind and cue collection and the turn (and rear cross the 2nd jump of the 270). He responded to my lateral motion well for the turn but did not collect and jumped fully extended which caused him land just past the plane of the second jump.

In Jumpers, it was a two-jump leadout (second jump offset), I did not set him up correctly for a LOPush and he ran by the second jump. So something I need to train better.

Sage had a beautiful Standard run but was called for a teeter flyoff (hmmm... that would be the very first teeter fault in her entire 3-year career of competing). I had many people come up to me later and tell me it was an incorrect call (one of them is a judge). Oh well, I remember last year when I KNEW Sage missed her DW contact and the judge didn't call it - I guess I just paid it back:-)

That afternoon Sage had a beautiful run in Jumpers for a fourth place. It was one of those runs where you are in the zone - not even thinking about handling - just letting it flow.

This Friday Beth and I are headed to Durango, Colorado for another two-day AKC trial. The elevation in Durango is at 6,512 feet and the town is nestled between red sandstone bluffs in the vast Animas River Valley and lies just South of the peaks of the San Juan Mountains (10,500 feet elevation). It's a beautiful area and the trial is outdoors in a park. I think I will bring my camera.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


I've been in Chicago for 5 days attending the ALA conference at McCormick Convention Center and two days of strategic meetings for work. Downtown Chicago is a lot of fun. Good food and great places to walk by the river.

They put us up at the hotel Allegro which is on the Loop. It's a beautiful, historic Art Deco hotel. The lobby kind of reminds me of the Stanley Hotel in the movie, The Shining.
This hotel is very pet friendly and has a complimentary dog walking service and doggie massages.

This is my last day here (my flight is at 8pm). I am looking forward to returning home - I really miss my dogs:-)

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

USDAA weekend

We had the FRAAD/FRAC USDAA over the 4th of July weekend. Outdoors, two rings, and lots of fun at Adams Co. Fairgrounds.

The highlight of the weekend is that Summit got 2nd place in Grand Prix! And Sage also qualified in GP (10th place? I think) and finished qualifying for USDAA Nationals in all three events.

Summit had a blazing fast Steeplechase run (29.23 seconds) which would have put him in second place except..... TWO BARS! Stacy saw his run and said as he shot out of the tunnel towards the jump, he stumbled which caused the dropped bar and then the next jump was so close, he hadn't quite recovered from the stumble and so that bar came down too. Luckily he was all right. Unfortunately, don't have a video. But it was a beautiful run. The GP run was nice too. I ran him very conservatively though, didn't push for speed and made him wait on his contacts. I only wanted to ensure the Q - didn't care about the placement. So it was thrilling to see he earned 2nd place.

He had two very nice jumpers runs (one bar in each). Nice Snooker runs (one bar in the closing), and two nice Standard runs with Q's (I can't remember the placement). He had one nice Gamblers run and got the Gamble but I messed around too much in the opening and so ended up far from the Gamble line when the horn went off so we didn't make time.

Sage was only entered in the two tournaments, Gamblers, and Snooker. She had a nice, smooth GP run. One bar and one contact in Steeplechase, Q'd in Gamblers (6th place), NQ in Snooker.

She was very happy with just two runs per day and her shoulders never bothered her and she was not stiff or sore.

We had nice weather during the morning and early Noon but by 2-3pm, high wind gusts and micro-bursts. Yikes! It cooled things down nicely for the dogs but also made them wild and caused a lot of dropped bars. Summit wasn't the only dog dropping bars in the afternoon classes. In one jumpers run, just as he came around to take the second jump of a 180, a big gust of wind came up, the bar came down, and then just as he headed to the tunnel, both wings on the jump he just took blew over:-(

So now Sage is completely qualified for both AKC and USDAA Nationals. Summit only needs one more GP to finish qualifying for USDAA Nationals (AKC Nationals is not a goal for him this year).

Monday, June 22, 2009

Videos from the FRAAD AKC trial last weekend

I've posted the videos I was able to get of both the dogs. Unfortunately, Summit's Friday JWW video is only of the last half of his run. Also, in Sage's Sunday Standard run, she drops the panel jump before the dogwalk. The judge waits to call it until after she exited the dogwalk which at first, when I watched the video, I thought she was being faulted for a missed dw contact (I knew she didn't miss it and there was only one Fault on her scribe sheet). But when I watched it the second time, I realized he delayed calling the panel until after he had judged the dogwalk.

Here is Summit's Friday Jumpers run. I way out of position for that FC before the 180. I just kept backing up for some reason. So he definitely lost some time there. Many dogs took the tunnel after the jump that followed the weaves. Summit also had a pretty wide turn after the triple but not sure how I could have cued a tighter turn there. And there it is at the end, that evil outside arm to cue convergence GRRRRRR!!!!

In Friday's Standard run, I was a bit out of position when I released him from the table to the teeter which caused a wide turn. I miscalculated his trajectory over that jump. I really like my double front cross on both sides of the jump before the chute. Most handlers didn't attempt the second front cross and their dogs turned right as they exited the chute. You also had to let your dog exit the chute at full speed so that when they turned, their position set them to take the jump straight on which put them landing right in front of the dogwalk. Handlers who called their dog's name as they were in the chute, caused their dogs to slice the jump which put them facing the wrong course tunnel.

I really like Summit's Sunday Jumpers run. Other than a wide turn from the tunnel to the weaves, I'm not seeing where we lost any time. The start was difficult to get a tight turn. Interesting, I usually always use a LOP (lead out push) but in this case, I liked the speed I would get with a front cross. I don't see much collection happening at the turn but no fast dog really collected there. I think it was difficult for them. There were quite a few good handlers with fast experienced BC's who did not get much collection for that turn.

I love how at the end of the run, the judge turns and looks at the clock to see Summit's time:-)

I only have two videos of Sage's runs. I really like both these videos.
She ran Standard in 38 seconds which would have put her in 3rd place if she hadn't dropped the panel.

And here is her jumpers run on Saturday. I think she ended up with 10th place or so? I can't remember.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Training session

This morning we worked on line of motion and convergence. Summit did not respond at all to my lateral motion to the wp's (handler's red path) and kept taking the green jump. I got a little frustrated because he kept driving ahead and taking the green jump. I finally came to a complete stop and then yes, he did turn and look at me but that is not the cue I wanted him to respond to. So I put him in the house and got out Sage. I was thinking maybe the red path was too difficult but Sage read my lateral motion very well and converged and performed the wp's. Sage is my test for whether my motion is cueing the correct path.

So then I brought Summit back and he did much better this time. I realized I needed to move laterally sooner since his committment point is so much sooner than Sage. Sage will change her path the instant she senses a change in my motion. The exercise looks fairly simple but was not. Especially with a very fast, drivey dog like Summit.
I ran these variations many times with both dogs. Adjusting my starting point (how far lateral to the dog), LOM, and location of lateral motion. The dogs didn't care, they were just into the big tug game at the end of each sequence but the information was valuable to me. I think it is just amazing how much can be learned by working such simple drills.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Sunday's Standard course 1-8

I lead out just past #2 (on my dog's right) and pushed into the tunnel and ran down the line on the right side. I wasn't fast enough and Summit saw my left arm out as he exited the tunnel and took the #2 jump. I ran Sage second so waited just on the takeoff side of the tire until I got her head, then I took off and that worked very well. Many handlers did a FC/BC at the tunnel and ran down the left side. If the dog was fast, they got too far ahead of the handler and turned before the #6 panel jump. If the handler was on the right and the dog got too far ahead, they took the unmarked wrong course jump. Some handlers tried a RC between #4 and #5. Sometimes it worked and sometimes the dog missed the panel jump. In hindsight, I would have run on the left side with Summit since he has independent contacts. With Sage, I needed to be ahead of her at the DW so being on the right worked the best. Either way, it was a very long straight line and quite challenging as the jumps were offset and depending on how fast your dog was and if your dog had independent contacts or not determined which side the handler chose to handle 1-7.

Sage ran the course in 38 seconds and would have taken 3rd place if she had not dropped the panel.

Summit earns his first DOUBLE Q

This weekend we had a three-day AKC trial in Castle Rock, Colorado. Three rings with FAST. I did not enter my dogs in FAST as I've learned my lesson - too many conflicts and walk-throughs that are cut short because of FAST. I decided only to enter FAST at one-ring trials.

Friday was Excellent only. Summit ran clean in Standard that morning and earned 2nd place. I felt very good about his run. He did have a wide turn off the jump before the teeter and so didn't have a straight approach to the teeter (lost some time there).

That afternoon he ran clean in Jumpers with another 2nd place. A Double Q! I think I'm still in shock:-)

Saturday he had a beautiful Jumpers run but I forgot where to place a cross and sent him off course. Sunday he qualified in Jumpers with a 3rd place. Saturday's Standard he dropped the panel jump. Sunday's standard was a little OTT. I think after three days, he had enough. But I am thrilled at his performance this weekend. He dropped two bars out of 6 classes (and one bar was because he slipped before takeoff).

I did do something very silly on Sunday. During Summit's Standard run, I sent him to the table (he has an automatic down), then I confidently turned and walked away to lead out to the next obstacle. As I'm confidently striding away, I realize I don't hear the judge counting. My first thought was, "the table was NOT the correct obstacle." I turn around and the judge is just standing there staring at my dog. Then I realize, "Oh yeah, it's a SIT!" I grin at the judge (who is laughing by now) and say, "Oops, my bad" and I tell Summit to sit.

Sage had an awesome weekend. She had 6 beautiful runs. No QQ's but very close. Friday's standard run I released her too soon from the DW and she missed the contact. She qualified that afternoon in Jumpers. Saturday and Sunday's Standard run she dropped the panel jump both runs. Very odd for her. Although a lot of dogs were dropping the panel at this trial. She does not drop bars very often and I can't remember the last time she dropped the panel. She qualified in jumpers on Saturday and Sunday. I did schedule a massage for her on Sunday but Jim didn't notice any hot spots.

But I have to say, her runs were so smooth and she knew exactly where she was going on the course. The courses had some challenges for Sage (Friday was a DW/Tunnel discrimination), but I'm becoming much better at setting lines of motion (letting her extend over a jump to land deep when I needed to set a line for the next sequence of obstacles or using lateral motion to get convergence or divergence).

So a very good weekend and lot's of fun. The courses were challenging and I'm very pleased with how well both my dogs ran them.

I did take the course map from Sunday's standard run and will set up the beginning to practice. I'll post it here once I get it in CRCD - it was a difficult beginning for fast dogs and it was handled many different ways. Robin Kletke was the judge. He had great courses all weekend but this Sunday course got a lot of teams at the first 7 obstacles.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


The field was mowed on Monday and I set up new drills for this week. I have several jump boxes set up to work on convergence. One of my bad handling habits is to use an opposite arm to cue convergence. So I am working on just using Summit's name and moving in the right direction. Jump boxes make me claustrophobic and I tend to want to overhandle them, thus that opposite arm tends to come up.

A lot of the jump sequences came from the APHS May article (convergence) and June (discriminations). I put a tunnel under the a-frame and worked both sides. I also practiced rear crossing the a-frame with Summit (something I wouldn't normally choose to do but doesn't hurt to practice it once in awhile).
I usually train Summit first with jump bars at 24". Then he waits on the table while I work Sage. I lower the bars to 16" for her and work the identical sequences I did with Summit. Sage is the final test on how good my cues are. I really enjoy working both my dogs without verbal cues as I can see what affect my motion has on their performance of the drills.
Here are two pictures I took this morning just because I thought the field was so pretty with all the green grass.

Jump drills

Tunnel/A-frame discrimination (red jump, blue jump, to either tunnel or a-frame)

Friday, June 5, 2009

FMFC (Forward motion front cross)

Had a nice training session yesterday afternoon and this morning. I set up a simple sequence to work on FMFC's with Summit. As with most Border Collies, collection is not something that comes easily and we've worked through the entire DJS book last year and at least twice a week, we work on RTH and collection exercises from the book. A FMFC (where I am giving my dog turning cues although I maintain forward motion) has not been easy for Summit. But in the last month, he has been responding well to the cues (outside arm, shoulders rotated in towards dog) and collecting for a nice turn.

This is the sequence I set up. I purposely had the 4 main jumps spread far apart to practice the FMFC. I also mixed it up by doing a FC on the takeoff side as well as running down the line to cue extension.

Exercise 1: white circles. FMFC on landing side of 3. Serp. 4 & 5. Repeat on other side #5-6-7-8 (FMFC on landing side of 7).
Exercise 2: white circles 1-3, black circles 4-7. FC on take off side of 3. run towards 4 and FS to to 5. Turn and run towards 7 cueing extension.
Exercise 4: start with white circle 1. Lateral lead out, release dog over 1 and recall over 2 and run towards the unnumbered jump.
Exercise 5: start with white circle 1. Do not lead out. Cue extension over 1, turn and run towards 3 (cueing extension).

I also practiced cueing a FS to the pinwheel as well as a LS for a 180 (instead of the pinwheel). Summit responded well to both my motion cues.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Four Pines hike

Another busy weekend. Saturday Laura and I did a 1/2 day hike with the dogs up in Chatauqua. Then I had to drive way out to a sheep ranch in Bennet to pick up two Jacob ewes that were culled (meat for the dogs). Then Sunday morning (9-11am), Sage and Summit were demo dogs for the AKC Judges Seminar which was a lot of fun. Afterwards we met Jen, Bode, and Jane at the Four-Pines trailhead for another half day hike which also included playing in the the several creeks we crossed. At one point, two deer jumped out of the bushes right in front of us and took off. I was able to easily call Sage off the deer but Summit was more difficult (he has a bit more chase/prey drive than Sage). The scenery was amazing with all the rain we've had the past month. Green grass, wildflowers, and Border Collies.

Mr. Handsome

The brothers racing to the top of the hill

Bode and Sage (Jane at the very top leading the way)

Playing in the creek

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Springtime in the Rockies

Today we did a half day hike starting at the South Boulder Creek trailhead to the Blue Stem and then up and over the South Mesa. It had rained a lot last night so the colors were bright and fresh this morning. It was blue sky and sunny until we got up high and into the clouds. Sage and Summit are crashed out at my feet - two very tired Border Collies.

The beginning

Summit waiting for me to catch up

Wild Iris
Summit cooling off in a creek

Taking a break from climbing

Pretty Sage in the clouds

A lone cow

Purple wildflower

Drinking rainwater collected in a boulder

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Summit's Brother, Jimmy

Here is a recent picture of the male puppy that Carolyn kept. Jimmy is a lighter red than Summit and shares his high drive, athleticism, and speed. Maybe someday I'll have a puppy sired by Jimmy:-)

No agility trials this weekend. This morning I took the dogs for a 5-mile jog at Bear Creek State Park (we run on the dirt equestrian trail). Then David and I went and saw the new Star Trek movie. AWESOME and I highly recommend it. Great actors and super action with stuff blowing up in space and all that. Tomorrow I'll take take the dogs for a 4-hour hike up in Eldorado Springs.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Can Sage get a Super-Q?

So this past weekend we were in Pueblo for two days of USDAA. This trial offered double-games. I have been doing USDAA with Sage now for about 1 1/2 years. We don't have much USDAA locally so we've only done about 6 trials per year. She has earned her Masters Standard, Masters Jumpers, Masters Relay, and now has her Tournament Masters Bronze. She is close to her Masters Standard, Jumpers, and Relay Championship titles with very limited showing.

She only recently earned her MAD because it took her over a year to get a single Masters Gamblers leg. It also took her a year to earn a Snooker leg. Before Summit was in Masters, I thought that Gamblers legs and Snooker super-Q's were practically unnatainable but to a handful of the experienced elite. Well in only his second USDAA trial at the Masters level, Summit has 3 Masters Gamblers legs and his very first Q in Snooker (on Sunday) was a Super Q!

When I looked at Saturday's Gamblers course, I knew Sage could never get it (it required either independent stopped contacts with a "stay" or a verbal "get out" command to push the dog away from the handler to the left after the a-frame a good 20 feet to a jump). Summit got the Gamble easily.

Saturday's Snooker was very technical if you wanted a chance to SQ in the 22" class. Many of the blazing fast dogs crashed and burned so the moderate speed dogs took the SQ's. Because of my not being able to use my motion effectively, Sage had a wrong course in the opening. Sunday's Snooker course was all about SPEED. You could easily get all three 7's with a nice flowing path. This is a course that Sage could have easily done (because she was not feeling well, I had scratched her from her runs on Sunday). However, looking at the dogs' times who SQ'd (there were 5 SQ's. Summit placed 3rd with a SQ), Sage would not have been fast enough to get a SQ.

I've spent a lot of time observing Snooker runs and it seems everyone is calling their dog's name or using other verbal cues to direct their dog on course. I mean, Snooker is known for being a very LOUD class. Even with Summit, I was using his name and other verbal cues for collection, turns, etc. which I normally do not do when handling him on a Standard course. How can I expect to run a dog in Snooker for a Super Q without verbal cues? She can hear them but cannot triangulate very well at all (sometimes she'll turn and look the opposite direction when I yell her name).

The weekend was fun with nice weather, great courses, and Jen and I discovered this little Italian restaurant with the BEST PIZZA EVER!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Sage qualifies for AKC Nationals!

Sage double-Q'd on Saturday and again on Sunday at the GSPC AKC trial this weekend. It was the German Shorthaired Pointer National Specialty so the placement ribbons were stunning! I normally do not take placement ribbons but I just had to have some of these:-)

Saturday Sage placed 2nd in Standard and 2nd in Jumpers (Summit won jumpers).

Sunday Sage again placed 2nd in both classes. Not a lot to say about her runs. They were all very smooth and fast and I was happy with my handling.

On Sunday, that was her 6th double-Q required during the qualification period for AKC Nationals. So Sage is qualified for AKC Nationals and just needs one more GP qualifer for USDAA Nationals.

Mr. Summit was amazing as usual and such an honest little guy. We had some really nice runs on some pretty technical courses. He won jumpers on Saturday (by 2 full seconds). The other three runs were also very nice but with a refusal in each. All three refusals were the result of my taking off too soon and not supporting the next obstacle so he is following my motion and not committing. I not only made this mistake all weekend with him but also in class last Wednesday (I can still hear Liz lecturing me about that). So from now when I go to the startline with Summit my mantra is going to be, "support every obstacle!"

I am very happy with how Summit's training is progressing. I was able to turn away and leave him on the table for a long lead out several times this weekend. In Sunday's jumpers run I was able to send to the weaves and then move laterally to get a front cross at the exit of the tunnel (which was the next obstacle) and he stayed in the weaves. Also in Sunday's jumpers run I cued extension over the second jump of a 180 to set him up nicely to serp the next three jumps to the tunnel. As soon as he committed to the second jump in the 180, I set a line of motion to the tunnel. There was another wrong course tunnel facing the landing side of the 1st jump in the serpentine that many dogs took if you didn't set a good line. I handled this the same with both my dogs with success.

So a good weekend with lot's of Q's with Sage and good learning experiences with Summit.