Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

More video

Last weekend I met Jen and Donna for a training session. We worked the adult dogs for 2 hours and then got the puppies out to play. Jen filmed Soleil doing a couple of restrained recalls and some flatwork.

I have the planks ready to begin Soleils running contact training. I can't believe she is going to be 7 months old this weekend!!!

I've begun proofing her stays with distractions and so far she has done very well. This morning we went to Mary's house and Soleil had good solid sit and down stays while Mary was working and playing tug with Tangle (6 month old BC puppy) about 20 feet away.

Restrained recall

Restrained recall with Front Cross

Flatwork with change of direction

Restrained recalls flyball style

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Training and hiking

We have a month off from competition. After week three I am starting to go through trialing withdrawal. However, we've been fairly busy doing lot's of trail runs in the morning, hiking on weekends, and some training. Summit hasn't actually gotten a lot of training except for a couple of drop-ins we did to proof contacts. Soleil though has been working hard on foundation and her recalls while off leash on a hike.

Her training is coming along SO WELL that I want to share a video of her weaving 12 poles! She is just so amazing for only 6 1/2 months old!

Ok, so the real story is Jen and I had just finished a training session with Summit and Bode and I asked Jen if she wanted to see Soleil's weaves (it was a joke). Of course Jen fell for it (I think) and said, "Wait, I must get this amazing act on film!"

Does Soleil look small for 6 1/2 months? She still seems so tiny but then I'm used to Border Collies.

So what Soleil and I have really been working on....

Proofing sit and down stays - increasing duration and adding distraction

Table games! The table is now at 16" and I am withholding reward until she offers a down. I need to move the table from the sunroom to outdoors because when its dinnertime and I'm gathering up the dog bowls from the crates, she immediately runs to the pause table, jumps up and lays down... waiting .... too cute!

Lot's of handling on the flat. I'm using two traffic cones (and if you've watch MEB's DVD, you'll know what we're doing). Also using jump wings for turns on the flat. She is getting MUCH better at recognizing which side to come to and has pretty much stopped crossing behind me.

Recalls to heel and circle work

Restrained recalls (on the flat and through a straight tunnel)

I ordered a Ready Treat from Clean Run and will start plank work this weekend. I'll start with a plywood plank about 24" wide and 8' long. I'll use this until we've worked up to 16" and then will transfer to the full dogwalk (lowered to 16"). But that will be several months from now.

One thing I've noticed different about Soleil (vs. the BC's at this age) is she can be easily distracted by her environment. When we train in a building or the house, she is 100 percent focused. When training outside in the back field, she can be distracted by strange noises (car door slamming for example) or movement (squirrel running across the fence). Many times she'll alarm bark at a strange sound. Most of the time, I can get her back but sometimes it's too much and we'll simply call it good and go back in the house. What is interesting is she can be ringside at a busy agility trial with hundreds of distractions going on around her (movement and noise) and stay 100 percent focused. Possibly a fear period she may be going through?

Summit hasn't been getting as much training but I have been working on some specific skills with him. Convergence has been our main goal. Not just on a serpentine but lot's of recalls followed by pushes. He is doing so well considering how difficult this skill used to be for him.

Also working on recalls over jumps at depressed angles.

After not having worked contacts in 8 months (other than those he saw at a trial), we are proofing the release again. After Nationals, I pretty much broke his 20/20. We did a drop-in at the Jeffco Fairgrounds last week specifically to train contacts. It was a fun course and we got to work lot's of different skills. Here is a video.

The course ended at the tire and after that I was making it up as we went; wanting to get in lot's of contact reps.

Our next trial is the 31st-2nd in Windsor at an indoor soccer field. Until then, we'll be training and hiking and taking advantage of the strange 60 degree weather in December.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Hiking, Training, and Tunnels

Saturday Summit, Bode (Summit's younger brother), and Soleil went for a hike at Coot Lake. The boys were crazy and running through mud, weeds, and the edge of the lake. Guess who kept up? I brought home a muddy and burr infested very happy Sheltie girl (who promptly got a bath and blowdry). The biggest surprise was when she followed the boys into the lake. She got the zoomies and ran back and forth into and out of the water (along the edges). She seemed to think it was all grand fun! Later we posed the three dogs on a park bench. Soleil decided her sit stay was long enough and jumped off the bench in the first picture.

"Ok, fine.... I'm a very busy Sheltie girl but I'll stay for a picture!"

I've been slowly working through the stuff from the MEB Foundation videos. The list is getting long... we certainly don't lack for training ideas. Soleil is doing well with the teeter bang game, she offers to jump up on the pause table for a game of tug. Now I'm waiting for her to offer the down to begin the tug game. We are proofing sit and down stays. She will let me circle her and jog away while she holds position. Also spending time building lots of value for her release cue.

I purchased the Ready-Treat device from Clean Run yesterday. I will train her to drive to the RT on the flat and then start plank work. I will need to purchase a video camera so I can document our running contact sessions and watch them in slow motion. I've been carefully observing her running stride on the flat while she's out running with the other dogs in the back field and on hikes.

Here is a video that Mary took of restrained recalls through a straight tunnel. We decided to end the puppy training session with something fun. Mary cut it out of the video, but I am playing a game of tug with Soleil after each recall through the tunnel. I am not training tunnels yet, we just thought the dogs would like a variance on the restrained recalls on the flat.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Thanksgiving weekend trial

What a great Thanksgiving weekend! Dinner with family on Thursday and then Friday morning we headed to the Black Forest (near Colorado Springs) for a three-day AKC trial. Great judge and great courses (its so nice to see challenges other than big circles and pinwheels). My whole goal that weekend was reminding Summit of his contact criteria. After we returned from Nationals, he's been pushing them and I've been letting him release himself. Friday we got second in Jumpers with a nice run. Standard he ran his dogwalk and A-frame (I think the teeter too ;-)
Saturday he had a nice dogwalk and teeter and when we got to the a-frame, he self-released and we left the ring. Sunday he was a good boy and held all his contacts until I released him. He ended up second place with held contacts. We had a nice jumpers run that afternoon but I called his name while he was over a jump and he dropped the bar.

I'm very happy with his contact performance on Sunday. We have the month of December off from competition so I plan on doing some drop-ins at local arenas to continue to reinforce his 20/20.

Soleil was measured by the VMO. She only measured 13.5 inches tall. So she is still under 14". She was great at tugging and playing with me ringside (while dogs were running in the ring and others walking by her on leash). She was 100 percent focused on me. I did not get the same focus when I tried some training with food. She was a bit distracted everytime a dog would pass her. So obviously, playing/tugging still remains her primary reinforcement.

I've decided to train her to jump up in my arms after an agility run. Anyone have ideas on how to train this?

Here is one of Summit's jumpers runs. I really liked how I handled the serpentine on the outside. I think only one other person handled it that way. Everyone else either front crossed the landing side of the jump after the weaves to handle from the inside or rear crossed the second jump of the serpentine and then another rear cross on the fourth jump after the weaves. I preferred not to rear cross the 4th jump and be in position to send instead. Since I could leave Summit in the weaves (you had to be able to leave your dog in the weaves in order to be ahead to serp), I found this strategy worked best for us. I was also in position to restrict his landing to create tighter turns.

I received Mary Ellen Barry's Foundation video last week. Six DVD set! So far I've viewed the first DVD and have started working with Soleil on some of the things in the video. Some of the exercises are familiar but with a different twist. Hopefully I'll make it through the entire DVD set by the weekend.

We'll be hiking every weekend until the New Years weekend holiday when we have a three-day AKC trial indoors on soccer turf. I love this venue! There is a bar/restaurant upstairs where you can sit and watch agility down below.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Soleil is 6 months old

Soleil will turn six months old this week. Hard to imagine how quickly the months have flown by. She is filling out and getting her adult coat. She is looking like a big-girl-sheltie now. She is still under 14" - it will be interesting to see how tall she ends up. She's got a lot of leg though and her groundspeed is amazing!

She has been on many off leash hikes now and her recall has been 100 percent (so far). She hikes with Sage or Summit and a friend's BC's (including her 8 month old BC puppy, Meg). She has a lot of her adult teeth in now. I am impatiently waiting for the time I can stop gluing her ears.

She's attended several foundation seminars and her focus has been very good. Happy to tug and work with me with the distraction of other puppies nearby. She's been to every agility trial (including a National event) since she was eight weeks old. She tugs ringside and is getting used to seeing dogs running in the rings without screaming. She is very good with other dogs and although very confident when meeting a strange dog, is very appropriate. She is a bit standoffish with people she meets for the first time but interesting enough, she adores children and gravitates towards them - her whole body wiggling.

Our training sessions mostly consist of sits, downs, backing up, stays, hand touches, target touches, going around a cone and jump wing, flatwork (which includes all crosses on the flat, pushes, pulls, and circle work). She is learning that reinforcement always comes from my side and she's getting better about not crossing behind me. Now that she has a stay with enough duration for me to lead out ten feet or so, we are starting the foundation recalls to heel on the flat. Her issue with the teeter board (see earlier post) is gone and she is happily playing the Bang Game. Other than the teeter game and tugging on the pause table, she hasn't been exposed to any agility equipment. I will however begin plank work with her the end of next Month (when she turns 7 mos. old) for running contacts. 

Here are a few (ok more than a few) pictures I took of her last night. The last picture is of her Daddy on the podium at Grand Prix Finals - 3rd place (not sure what year this was taken). I think she looks a lot like him.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A competition video and a training video

First, here is Summit's Standard run from Sunday. I love this run and really liked my handling. I was one of the few handlers who did a rear cross on the flat (between jump and teeter) but it was the best option for Summit. His 1st place time was 32.70 seconds!

Here is a video from Monday's training session at Mary's house. First a little background on the teeter board...
Last week I took my teeter board off the frame and put it on the ground (it has a three inch block underneath it). Soleil had a lot of fun jumping on it and making it move. The next morning, I went out with her to play on the board and it was covered with frost and very slippery. So I moved it into the sunroom and she offered to jump up on it. Well it made a noise on the tile floor and also the vibration was different. She was NOT comfortable and avoided it after that. So my goal that entire week was simply to build lot's of value for the teeter board. I put towels on each end to muffle the sounds and after a week, was able to remove the towels and she was happily offering to jump up and walk around on it without fear.

The video shows the first time she got on Mary's teeter. We lowered it as low as it would go and then put the pause table top under one end. Once she got on the board, I was clicking for any forward movement. When she reached the point where the board would tip down, I jackpotted that. We are not *training* the teeter nor am I asking for any end behavior.  As you can see, she quickly becomes comfortable on Mary's teeter.

I will continue to play teeter games (eventually we'll tug on the teeter but right now her gums are sore from teething) until December. Once I start plank work for running contacts, I'll put the teeter board away as I don't want to confuse her.

Monday, November 8, 2010

More Soleil videos and a cool overlay of Summit and Indy

We were at an AKC trial this past weekend. Summit had great runs and a 50 percent Q rate. We had a bar in jumpers both days. He won standard on Sunday with a 32 second run!

Soleil had fun at the trial and got to play with her Sister in the x-pen both days. This morning we got together with Mary and 4 1/2 month old Tangle (a Cedar Border Collie puppy related to Summit) at Mary's house to train and let the puppies play. I have a video of Soleil on the teeter which I'll upload later. For now, here are a few fun videos of 25 lb. Tangle vs. 11 lb. Soleil.

Wheeeeeee! Notice Soleil looks back to see how close Tangle is.

Here is a cool overlay of Indy (Contact Point Indy Go Girl) and Summit. Indy and Summit were less than a 10th of a second apart (The time was 21.__ something seconds). Don and I found it interesting that although our handling paths were different, our dogs' paths were almost exactly the same. Each dog dropped a bar (Summit dropped the triple and Indy dropped a single) but would have take First (Summit) and Second (Indy).

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Soleil - 21 weeks old

Soleil is 21 weeks old and at the trial last weekend, she measured 13 inches. This puts her potentially at a mature height of 14" or slightly taller (so I've been told by several experienced Sheltie folks). Not the 15 1/2 inches I was hoping for but that is ok.

Here are a couple of short videos of the Little Miss Sunshine "Soleil"

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Tracy Sklenar seminar

On Friday, Soleil and I attended a full day foundation seminar taught by Tracy Sklenar. It was a great seminar and Tracy is not only a very gifted and knowledgable trainer but a good presenter as well. I would love to bring her back to Colorado.

Tracy was very impressed with Soleil's tug drive. I thought Soleil did very well keeping her head together for over 7 hours of instruction (we had a 1-hour lunch break).

We spent a lot of time on impulse control games (which also build drive). It's your choice, Levels 1,2, 3. and crate games, and Mother-may-I.

Focus work such as Focus Forward. We would put the dog in a sit stay and walk about 5 feet ahead and drop their favorite toy on the ground in front of them (we would be standing even with the toy about 3 feet lateral to the side). When the dog stops looking at us and focuses forward on the toy, you release them to the toy and then play tug. You eventually replace this later with a jump. This translates to the dog learning to focus forward on their "work" not on you. This is good for complicated lead outs on course where you don't want the dog turning and looking at you but looking forward at their line.

We did flat work and worked on beginning to train directionals. Left and right. She does it differently than GD who teaches his dogs to spin. I don't use directional cues over jumps but I will want them for Soleil's running contacts.

The main thing I took away from the seminar was her philosophy of training and how she sets up and manages her training sessions. She begins each training session with a game of tug to get the dog in "drive" then she will quickly get out the treats and ask for behaviors. This goes into a shaping session and then another break with a game of tug. Then training again. It's done quickly with no down time and the dog is highly motivated the entire training session.

Saturday and Sunday we had an AKC trial. Summit won standard both days (by several seconds) but had a wrong course in both jumpers runs. The first run I'm not sure why he continued on his line when I was moving laterally and cueing the turn. Let me know if anyone sees anything.

On Sunday, the sun was shining through the windows at the top and as I turned off a pinwheel, I was blasted in the face by sunlight and was totally blind.

Here is Saturday's Jumpers run. He takes the wrong jump at the begining (second turn). Not sure why.

Saturday's Standard run - 1st place 37 seconds

Sunday's Standard run - 1st place 36 seconds

This week I took my teeter board off the frame and put it in the sunroom (along with the pause table minus it's legs). I shaped her getting onto the board, walking and turning around on it and end to end so it tips at each end. The movement didn't bother her but once she left the board and it continued to move and made a noise on the tile floor, she was bothered by this. So for now, I'll be building great value for the board and will incorporate playing tug games on the teeter board like we do on the table.

She is progressing very nicely in her understanding of lateral motion. She is performing front and rear crosses on the flat, and pushes and pulls. We continue to work on stays. Her sit stay is progressing nicely. The down stay not so much. She went on her first off-leash hike on Sunday afternoon and I was very pleased with her recall response. It was 100 percent with the distraction of running with three Border Collies - including her BFF Meg, who is 8 mos. old.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

I'm so pretty!

...because I just had a bath and a blowdry.

Tomorrow I am participating in a full-day agility foundation seminar taught by Tracy Sklenar from Canada. I think she will be very impressed with how fluffy and pretty I am.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Soleil update

The very cute (and precocious) Soleil

Soleil will be five months old this coming Tuesday. I can't believe how fast the time is flying. Upon returning from Nationals, I've ramped up our training. Up to now, I had spent a lot of time building tug drive and shaping lot's of behaviors such as position, box work, targetting, etc. followed by restrained recalls and chase games out in the field. Random recalls have been ongoing.

This week we started turns on the flat, conework, continued building value for her release cue (which also incorporates impulse control) and increased duration of stays.
1. Circle work both directions (acceleration/deceleration)
2. Front cross on the flat
2. Pulls
3. Extension Recall to Heel

Conework turning both directions. She is so cute. The second time we went outside to train, she saw the cone and immediately started interacting with it ;-)

Next week I'll add rear crosses on the flat, basic recall to heel, and figure eights in our circle work. I also took the legs off the pause table and we'll be playing tug on the table top.

A friend of mine who is a VMO measured her for me at the last trial. She was smaller than I thought (12 3/8" tall). I measured her last Tuesday and she was roughly 12 1/2" tall. I've been having to redo her ears every two weeks because they've grown out but it's going on three weeks now and her ears are almost the same. So not much growing these last three weeks. 

She will go on her first hike tomorrow. A fairly flat trail that is perfect for puppies.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Nationals update

It's been a busy week at work and I've just gotten a chance to give a short update on Nationals. It was six long days in Louisville, KY. The first three days we only had one run a day which created a LOT of downtime. I am hoping they shorten it to just four days next year. The venue was ok. However there was a lot of dust which made it uncomfortable to watch in the stands for very long. USDAA is aware of the dust problem so I'm sure they will remedy that problem next year.

Summit ran VERY well. He was awesome! We had nice runs in all the team events and were sitting above the cutoff for team finals until a bobble during Team Snooker by a teammate. However, we still ended up 39th out of 205 Championship teams. Not bad for a young dog team.

I made a handling mistake in both the Steeplechase semi-finals (pulled him off a tunnel) and in Grand Prix quarterfinals (I failed to see a potential line to an off course tunnel at the start). But other than my handling errors, Summit ran very well in both tournament classes. The best part is he only dropped one bar (European Standard) and would have placed 4th but for the bar.

I am not happy about the handling errors. Especially pulling him off the tunnel in Steeplechase since I did the exact same thing three weeks ago at a local USDAA trial during the steeplechase run. After making that mistake at the national semi-finals, I don't think I will do that again. MUST SUPPORT ALL TUNNELS!

I also came home with a couple of  training goals and a realization.

Training goals:
1. Convergence
2. Recalls to heel
We have both the above skills but I really saw them applied at a very high level at Nationals. Especially during the Steeplechase Finals. Both of these skills create tight turns and efficient lines. All the teams who made the finals were very skilled - good handlers and fast dogs. However, it really came down to who had the tightest turns and set the best lines.

Ok, so not a total surprise but again, I was reminded that running a local trial just to be clean to qualify (or get a double Q), does not prepare one for competing at a national event. Not even close.

So my plan is to incorporate more agressive handling in our local runs in order to push myself to handle at the next level.


Soleil was the perfect puppy! Nothing fazed her! She handled the environment at nationals like a pro. She relaxed in her crate (indoor crating area was noisy), she tugged outside, inside in the stands overlooking the rings, and ringside. She slept through the night in her crate in the hotel room. She met lot's of people including children, other dogs and puppies. She pranced around the venue like she owned the place. I got to see several of her relatives run (including one who is on the US World team and one who is on the Canadian World team) and met her half sister who travelled all the way from Mexico to compete at the Nationals.

Here is a quick video of her running around the backyard yesterday. She does not ever stop moving so it is hard to get a video.

I plan on videoing some of our training sessions this weekend.

Edited to include GP Quarterfinals course map and analysis.

Summit went into the tunnel after wrapping #2 (wrapped to the inside). I was out of position and didn't see the line to the tunnel until afterwards. The rest of the run was clean and fast. Many teams faulted in the box  (took the wrong course #18 after #15). Other common WC's were the wrong end of the tunnel after the triple, tire after the teeter (instead of weaves) and tire after the #10 Triple. And a few dogs with running contacts took #11 tunnel after the dogwalk.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

More new titles for Summit and a few videos

It was a fun-filled exhausting three days in Fountain, Colorado for USDAA. I drove up Thursday night after work and spent the night at a friend's house in Colorado Springs (Fountain is 15 min. South of the Springs). Friday was DAM team only. Summit had nice runs but dropped a bar in the first three classes (Team Snooker, Standard, and Jumpers). I was a little concerned and planned to take him to his chiropractor to get adjusted before Nationals. The last two classes (Team Gamblers and Relay), he did not drop any bars. Our team won the relay and we ended up 4th place overall (cutoff line for qualifying was at 13 teams).

Saturday was titling classes and GP and Steeplechase. Summit had a nice Standard run and placed 2nd which was the last leg he needed for his championship (SACH). He also took a tumble off the teeter which I never saw as I was already moving away towards the next obstacle. In Gamblers we had a nice opening and I got to proof several a-frames but the Gamble was not something we would be able to do so we left after the buzzer went off. Next was Steeplechase and I pulled him off of the tunnel at the beginning and he went up the aframe (elimination) but the rest of his run was nice. Grand Prix we placed 4th (holding dogwalk contact), Jumpers... again I pulled him off an obstacle at the beginning by not supporting the second jump long enough but the rest of the run was nice. Then we had Snooker at the end of the day. Now that there is no pressure for those Super Q's, I've decided I quite like playing Snooker. So I planned a nice flowing course that would give us a Q (remember, I don't care about SQ's anymore). We did a 5combo, 7combo, 6combo, 5combo and then finished the closing. I liked this plan also because I got to practice threadles. Well wouldn't you know, that was 4th place and a SQ!!! ... go figure. It was also the last Snooker Q for his Snooker Championship title (SCH).
Anyway, not a single bar dropped on Saturday.

Sunday Summit Q'd in Standard (4th place), Jumpers (6th place), and Gamblers (1st place) and earned his GCH, and in Snooker, we never made it to the first red (I recalled through the other end of the course and he took a jump on the way to me. Again, no bars on Sunday.

I can't believe we are leaving for Nationals on Monday. We have a three day AKC trial Friday-Sunday and I almost cancelled our entry but then decided it would be good to get some practice on dirt before Nationals. So this week will be very busy getting things organized and packed up for Nationals. Sage will not be going since I did not even try and qualify her this year. Soleil will be accompanying us to Kentucky. This will be her first BIG event. I will try and get pictures taken of her this week to post before we leave. She has grown so much and her coat is changing. She also lost a couple of teeth. She looks like a lean leggy racehorse and she runs like one too. She is one fast girlie!

Saturday's standard run. 2nd place and championship title. Yikes! I didn't get to watch this until Monday. I can't believe he was able to recover enough to clear the jump bar. He saw the Chiropractor on Monday and got adjusted. His right hip and neck were out of alignment. But he's good to go now.

Steeplechase. Bummer about the tunnel. I just did not go in far enough and moved laterally way too soon.

Grand Prix. 4th place. Wide turn at the end of the chute. All of the fast dogs had a wide turn here. It was difficult to get up there to cue the FC. The offset angle of the jump made a RC not ideal.

Sunday Standard - 4th place. We lost time going from the chute to the tunnel. I got behind him and panicked and called his name (too strongly) while he was in the chute to avoid the wrong end of the tunnel which he really wasn't headed for anyway and he came into me too closely and I had to push him back out again. Can't see it as the a-frame is in the way.

Sunday Gamblers - 1st place and championship title

Thursday, September 30, 2010

ADCH Summit

It's been a crazy two weeks with work, family stuff, and getting ready for Nationals. Meanwhile, Summit earned his ADCH! As you can see in the picture, Summit is very proud of his accomplishment  - LOL! Actually, he is very happy about his flying squirrel laying on the ground next to me while I was taking the photo. I however, am very happy we've earned the ADCH and will be floating on air for some time to come. Especially since the three Snooker Super Q's were very difficult for us. I am Snooker challenged (although I am improving somewhat) but I can't say I like that game (Gamblers is my favorite).

We are leaving tonight to drive down to Monument for a three day USDAA trial. This trial is the first for the 2011 qualifying year. We have DAM team on Friday and then steeplechase, GP, and titling classes on Saturday and Sunday. This will be Soleil's second road trip and I'm hoping to get lot's of training and playtime with her ringside in between running Summit and working the other classes.

Soleil is changing every week (puppies do that I guess). Not just physically but her personality too. She's gotten taller and leggier and cruises around the backfield like a young race horse. Her coat is changing. The black guard hairs are coming in and also some softer, straighter golden hairs. She growls when she tugs and is really starting to lay back and put all her weight into tugging. She's also becoming very affectionate. She is less distracted by her environment and more focused on me. She is also beginning to want to cuddle more.
I will take some new photos of her and post them after the weekend.

Summit and I haven't done a lot of training this week. Just proofing contacts (he was pushing them at the last trial) and working on the rear cross drills in the October Clean Run (Clean Run Central by Annie Pyle). These drills are really teaching me patience - something I always need to work on.

Monday, September 20, 2010

It's not always about the Q

Summit had a great AKC weekend. Saturday he double Q'd with two first places. He had two great runs and I'm feeling pretty good about our teamwork in preparation for Nationals next month.  Sunday morning he dropped a bar in jumpers. That afternoon in standard, I decided to execute a handling strategy that would not have been my first choice if I wanted to run clean. However, if executed correctly, would create a much tighter turn on a 180 and would give my dog better turning information quicker. Well, my timing was slightly off and we had a refusal. The rest of the run was nice though. I had several people tell me later what a great run we had and too bad about the refusal. When I explained that I wanted to step outside my "handling box" even though I knew I may not execute correctly, they were shocked. "But didn't you want to Q? You could have won!"

The one thing I dislike about AKC is the double Q requirement. The one thing I really like about AKC is the double Q requirement. Hmmm.. let me explain.

If I have a clean run in the morning, I will choose to run conservatively in the afternoon in order to get a QQ. By conservatively I don't mean slow (like I could really slow Summit down on the course anyway). But I don't take risks. I handle efficiently. Unfortunately this doesn't really teach me anything new. The handling choices I make are based on a history of success.

However, if we do not have a clean run in the morning, the afternoon is wide-open for creativity and trying new strategies. Pushing the envelope so to speak. This is when I really learn about our teamwork and what skills we may be weak on or possibilities I didn't know existed. Yes, you can try this stuff in training but it's when a team is under the stress of competition that is really where the good feedback comes.

I have video from this weekend and will post as soon as I get them. Meanwhile, here are a few videos from the USDAA trial a few weeks ago. Unfortunately, I don't have any of his Gamblers, Snooker, or Jumpers - just these few.

Grand Prix - 2nd place. Really wide turn at the beginning. Lot's of dogs went wide here. Not sure why. Although I think I could have improved my location (closer to the jump where the turn occurred). Also, my backward motion (albeit just a few steps) also cued the extension.

Steeplechase Finals - 3rd place. I caused the bar with my late FC at the end and then I almost fall on my face before the last jump.

Masters Standard (Saturday). Would have been 1st place. One bar. He actually only dropped three bars the entire 3-day trial but the only video I have is of those with bars (except GP) ;-)

Masters Standard (Sunday) - one bar. The grass was dead and slick on the takeoff side so may have contributed to the dropped bar as quite a few other dogs dropped the same bar

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

USDAA weekend and getting ready for Nationals

We had a fun three-day USDAA trial outdoors at a beautiful park at the fairgrounds. The weather was pretty nice. A little hot on Saturday but nice on Sunday and Monday. This location has very thick tall grass and there are usually quite a few dropped bars. Summit did have more bars than he usually does but I thought he did very well overall.

Saturday: Qualified in Snooker (4th place and one placement out of a SQ because I left out the #6 combo in the closing - duh!), Jumpers (forget placement), and Pairs (3rd I think), and placed 6th in Steeplechase Round 1 (with a dropped bar). Had a nice standard run too but dropped a bar. Had a great opening in Gamblers but the Gamble involved sending to a tunnel under the dogwalk to the teeter on the other side (layering the dw). I didn't even attempt the Gamble. As soon as I sent Summit to the tunnel and moved laterally, I expected a tight turn out of the tunnel in the direction of my motion, not exiting straight forward 15 feet ahead to the teeter. He was a good boy (and I told him so) and had a tight turn and came back to me on the other side of the dw.

Sunday: Qualified in Gamblers (a fun gamble involving a serpentine), Another nice Standard run but I sent him off course when I forgot for a split second where the course went next... but it was a nice run other than the wrong course jump. NQ in Snooker (we didn't get very far in the opening), 2nd place in Grand Prix and 3rd place in Steeplechase Finals.

Monday: Another nice run in Standard (one bar), Q in Snooker (again, one placement out of a SQ), NQ in Pairs (he missed a wp entrance and I didn't see it), and 2nd place in Jumpers.

By the time we ran Masters Jumpers there was a very high wind and the jump wings had to be weighted down with sand bags. I almost scratched since I saw no reason to run a jumpers course in high wind knowing a bar or two would come down. But when I walked it, it was so much fun (it included a pushout and a threadle), I wanted to run it and didn't care if we had a bar. Well no bars and second place (just 100ths off of first).

Summit earned his Tournament Master Bronze title this weekend. And he still needs that one SQ for his ADCH.

I am so happy with our teamwork. We are very much in-sync now. My timing is good and he responds instantly. I'm getting much better at setting efficient lines. What I did discover that we need to work on is his reading my turning cues for a FMFC (forward motion front cross). There were two places that needed a FMFC and Summit jumped fully extended and turned on the flat which gave him a very wide turn. I need to re-evaluate how I am cueing this. I'm pretty good at picking up the OA and rotating my shoulders into him but obviously those are not enough collection cues for him. Thoughts? Maybe more eye contact? his name?
I don't expect a lot of collection but at least some attempt to turn over the bar and not 20 feet on the landing side of the jump. The turn actually happens when I've stopped moving. We'll be working on FMFC's the four weeks before Nationals.

Soleil had a great time at her first outdoor trial. She played with a couple of BC puppies and met lot's of new dogs and people. We had our chairs ringside of the Masters ring and I was sitting there during one of the classes holding Soleil on my lap. She screamed at every fast dog that ran. I told Stacy, "I sure hope I'm up to handling this high-drive puppy!"

I put her on her long-line and we practiced circles. She's getting very good at reading my acceleration and deceleration. She was quiet in her crate unless I took one of the other dogs out of their crate and then she would bark "Hey, what about MEEEEEEE!" But after we left, she would stop barking and settle down quietly (according to friends).

So I'm getting excited about USDAA Nationals coming up in October. Our DAM team for Nationals is:
Donna Thomson with Indy, Stacy Peardot-Goudy with Sobe, and me with Summit. A FAST young dog team. Should be lot's of fun!

Next weekend is free and I think that Soleil may get to go for her very first hike (not offleash yet though, she'll have the long-line attached).

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Monday, August 30, 2010


The Rocky Mountain All Terrier Club hosted a three-day AKC trial at Arena Sports which is a very nice indoor soccer field. I love running my dogs on this surface. Joan Meyer was the judge and she designed some very challenging courses that were fun to run. A lot of extension leading into technical sequences and then ending with extension again.

Friday Summit double Q'd with two awesome 1st place runs (no video). Saturday, I pulled him off of a tunnel (refusal) in standard and then he won jumpers that afternoon. Sunday he won standard in the morning and then popped out of the weaves in jumpers (I stumbled and he turned his head to look at me and came out). I was very happy with all our runs. There were a few places where I would have either changed my strategy (RC to tighten up a turn vs. FC, etc.) or I would have improved my location or execution but overall, I thought I handled well (even when we had a double Q on the line) and didn't play it safe.

I also realized that Summit didn't drop a single bar all weekend.

Saturday's Standard run. NQ (refusal at tunnel). I did not support the tunnel. But I am very happy to see his response to my shoulder's turning away and lateral motion. Great dog!

Saturday's Jumpers run. 1st place 21... seconds. I LOVED the ending. It was a straight-out sprint to the finish.

Sunday's Standard run. 1st place with 35 seconds. Had a bit of a wide turn at the jump before the table. I did a forward motion front cross and even though I left him on the dogwalk and didn't release until I passed the panel, it was still late. In hindsight, I would have decelerated and sent to the jump and then pulled to the table.

This was Soleil's second agility trial and she was AMAZING! She was quiet in her crate. The only time she barked was when I would get Summit out of his crate (to go potty or to the ring) and it was just a few little yips. On Saturday, she got to play with her two Sisters who were there (both went to performance homes). I also brought her long-line and there was a nice grassy park next to the building where we could play chase and tug while she could run dragging the line. She got to experience a lot of activity and met lot's of new dogs including an 8 week old Aussie puppy.

This coming weekend we have a three-day USDAA trial outdoors at a wonderful grassy site with a lake.