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:-)

Recap:
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.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Videos from MHACB AKC

Last weekend we were at a one-ring AKC trial in Golden. I was really pleased with most of the runs I had with both dogs. Summit had a 50 percent qualifying rate - which tells me we are becoming more consistent as a team. Both dogs would have had a double Q on Sunday but for a handling error with Sage and dropped bar with Summit.

It was a nice well-run trial with the exception of the ground. By Sunday the dirt was packed down hard and Summit, who really likes to "dig in", had a difficult time getting his feet under him to turn.

Here is Summit's Saturday Standard run. Q and first place with a time of 40.17 seconds.

video

I'm pretty happy with that run. I did cue too much extension over the jump after the teeter and had a pretty deep turn to the a-frame. I am really pleased with his performance of the serpentine. Surprisingly, many teams had problems here. Most handlers attempted a front cross on the landing side of the first jump but couldn't get there in time so cued extension over the jump. The result was wide loopy turns in the serpentine. I liked staying on the approach side and rear crossing the last jump.

Another thing I did differently than most handlers was the front cross on the flat between the table and the dogwalk. Many handlers led out from the table and attempted a lead out push to the dogwalk. This worked fine with the small dogs but quite a few large dogs anticipated going to the dogwalk and had a nasty approach. The front cross created a straight (and safer) approach to the DW. I don't have a video of Sage's run but it was really nice although she did miss the weavepole entry.

The next video is Sage's Standard run on Sunday.

video

What a nice run! What is that saying? "Great dog, shame about the handler"!

This would have been a double Q except for my mishandling at the end. Why I felt the need to turn and leave without first making sure I had my dog's head is beyond me.

I ran Summit second and so did not make that mistake with him.

video

He dropped the bar on the second jump. I was late rotating for the front cross and cued extension. He also did not read the collection cue from the tunnel to the table. I think he needed more collection cues. I was also still moving towards the jump as he exited the tunnel which also created extension. In hindsight, I may have planned to have been on the landing side of the jump and pushed to the table if I could have gotten there by sending to the tunnel - not sure. I ran Sage first and she had a nice tight turn over the jump.

Sundays jumpers run began with THREE pinwheels! Sage qualified with a 3rd place. I handled the course the same with both dogs.

video

Here is Summit's run. He also qualified and got first place. The funky half-cross move after the third pinwheel was unintentional. I forgot where I was going for a split second and started to front cross for another pinwheel before remembering that was the last one. Too many pinwheels on this course. I am particularly pleased with the forward send that allowed me plenty of time to front cross the landing side of the double. Most handlers chose to rear cross it.

video