Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Agility Season Begins!

This weekend begins the 2012 Agility season for us. Friday, Sunday, and Monday Summit and Soleil are entered in AKC. Summit has had seven weeks off from training and competition. Soleil has had lot's of training, proofing, and fun matches since her last competition and she is coming along so well!

We have two back-to-back weekends of AKC and then the third weekend is our first USDAA trial for the 2012 qualifying period. This will also be Soleil's very first USDAA trial. I am excited to run her on USDAA courses! I also entered her in Steeplechase and Grand Prix with the goals to get her qualified for Nationals since they are in Denver in 2012.

We went to a fun match on Monday and here are the videos.

Soleil's first run-through. I'm very happy with her dogwalk contact. She is really driving forward into 20/20 position. She tested her startline stay in both rounds. I was wondering when that would happen - she's been so perfect at the startline. I was a little worried ;-)

Round two. I wanted to get in a few more aframes. Also wanted to avoid the table because not only was it really slippery but it sucked up 5 seconds of course time. Both my dogs attempted it though...

Summit had a turn and he was sooo happy to play!

I am looking for a baby dog DAM team for Soleil for the FRAT March trial and the Rocky Mountain Regional in Albuquerque, NM. - Any takers?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

I'm Baaaaack!

It was an intense several months and although I was pretty good at posting video and updates on FB, blogging takes such more mental effort that with work being so intense these past several months, it was hard to find the time (and mental energy) to post.

I mainly want to update on Soleil's training and competition. She has done three AKC trials this year. The first two I just entered her in jumpers with weaves as I didn't think her dogwalk had been proofed enough for the ring. She moved up to Open at her second trial. She had her third AKC trial in November and was entered in standard for the first time. She had a really nice run and qualified with one refusal (she came back out of the chute barrel) and her dogwalk contact was good. She was absolutely WILD in jumpers both days and fell off the aframe her first standard run. That makes two dogwalks and an aframe she has fallen off of. Hopefully, she is now savvy enough to pay attention to where her feet are and not just going as fast as she can.

We have been struggling the last couple months with her generalizing the behavior between the teeter (4-on) and the dogwalk (2on/2off). She would often stop at the end of the dw with 4-0n. I brought back the nose target and we worked on reinforcing the nose touch to the target at the end of the dogwalk (I previously had faded the target once she was running a full dogwalk and think I faded it too quickly).

Here is an earlier video of her dogwalk during a standard run at a DOCNA trial.

Here is a video of her recent standard run (the first weekend in December).

It's taken some time but I'm happy with her progression. I haven't gotten to the stage yet of really proofing the release on the dogwalk. I've just been focusing on her driving with speed into the 20/20 position.

I'm starting to Send her to turning obstacles so that I can get ahead to set the line to the next sequence. She is really sending with confidence adn I feel like I'm not so late with my front crosses as much.

I have to say that I am thrilled with her jumping form. She rarely ever drops a bar and she is very good at judging her take off.

Convergence is something we need to work on. She doesn't always like to come in to me and can wing out with a wide turn instead of coming in. Although she is very good at converging over the middle jump of a serpentine when I am recalling (vs. pulling).

Our next competition is the New Years weekend. It's a 4-day trial but I only entered the dogs in three days. Meanwhile, Soleil has participated in several fun matches at different locations with different equipment. She is really starting to understand her job. Summit has been on Winter break. No training or competing but lot's of conditioning.

Here is Miss Soleil's jumpers run at her last trial. In hindsight, I should have trusted her sending skills and front crossed on the landing side of the purple jump instead of on the flat. This really slowed her down.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Updates and Soleil's Second AKC and DOCNA Trial

Work is still taking up a lot of my time but I though I needed to post an update on our training and trialing.

A couple of weeks ago at the Terry-All AKC trial, Summit double-Q'd on Saturday. He would have QQ'd on Friday but he slid off the table (it was really slick and he wasn't the only dog to slide off). Sunday he had a bar in Standard. He was 50 percent Friday and Sunday. I am thrilled with our consistency. Now that I'm running a baby dog, I can appreciate how much of a team Summit and I have become.

Soleil did well too. She had a bar in Novice jumpers on Friday and then earned her title on Saturday. She ran her first Open jumpers course on Sunday and had a bar but it was a very nice run.

This past weekend she was entered in a DOCNA trial. She had some really nice runs and a couple of "Sheltie OTT" runs. She is getting very excited while in the ring. I'm still learning what works for her warmup routine. I tugged with her before a couple of runs and others, I tried food and keeping her calm. I think right now the food is the best choice.

Here are a few videos from the weekend.

Summit Friday Standard - he slid off the slick table. Poor guy really tried to hang on.

Summit Friday JWW

Summit Saturday Standard - QQ

Soleil Saturday Jumpers - 1st place and NAJ title. Don missed most of the run but did get the ending and her amazing wp entry.

Here are a few videos from last weekend's DOCNA trial
Soleil Beginners Standard - 1st place. She sometimes confuses the teeter behavior (4-on) with the dogwalk (2-on). I think she'll work through it as she gets more ring experience.

Soleil Jumpers run - 1st place

A short cameo of Soleil and I waiting for our turn in the ring. Thanks Don!!!!

Monday, September 19, 2011

MACH Summit and Soleil's AKC Debute

I have been SO busy at work (and teaching) that blogging has just not been happening this last month. However, I just had to write about our wonderful weekend at the FRAAD AKC trial.

Summit just needed one more QQ for his MACH (and two more for Nationals). Friday was Excellent only and he was clean in Standard but that afternoon, he dropped a bar in Jumpers. Saturday he triple Q'd and earned his MACH!!!! He is now MACH ADCH Cedar Pinnacle View! (the third Q was in FAST which he won).

Could it get any better?

Sunday Summit double Q'd AGAIN to finish qualifying for 2012 AKC Nationals!

Could it get any better?

This weekend was also Soleil's AKC debut! Saturday she qualified and placed third in Novice Jumpers and Sunday, she won Novice Jumpers.

Could it get any better?

Soleil's first official measurement is under 14"!!! She will continue to jump 16" in competition (since she measures into that height class in USDAA). However, if her second and final measurement is under 14", she will get to jump 12" at AKC Nationals. She will be at the top of her class height-wise vs. the bottom.

So here is some video to share our wonderful weekend.

First is Summit's MACH run. The best part of this video is at the end. He grabs his leash as usual and I tug with him. Then Liz hands me my MACH bar for our victory lap. I ask him to release the leash, I drop it on the ground, he immediately picks it up again. I ask him to release, I drop it on the ground, he pounces on it and then does a play bow - he thinks this is a fun new game! I am thinking, "How do I do our victory lap when he has a leash in his mouth?" Finally the judge says, "Give me your leash."

Soleil's Saturday Jumpers with Weaves run. I thought she did a great job considering the busy venue (three rings) and the loud announcement during her run. I'm doing my best to give plenty of forward cues and not worrying about tight turns. I was so happy to her get her weave entry on the first try as well as keeping up all the bars. The sand in the back of the arena where the double was located was pretty deep.

Soleil's Sunday Jumpers run. I was so focused on my dog that I forgot where the course went (you see me decelerate suddenly before the left turn to the yellow jump). Again she nailed her weave entry the first time and kept up all the bars.

We have two weeks off (there are trials both weekends but I did not enter them - will spend time off hiking in the mountains instead).

Our next AKC trial is in three weeks and Soleil is entered in Jumpers again all three days.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Soleil's First Trial

This past weekend Soleil debuted at a DOCNA trial outdoors in a beautiful park with a creek. What can I say except that I was so proud of her! She did awesome for her very first time in the ring. She was focused (a little excited), and other than her dogwalk behavior needs way more proofing, I was very pleased with her performance on all obstacles. It was a great experience for her and she had a lot of fun. She even qualified three times with three first places.

In DOCNA you can train in the ring and this trial I treated as a large fun match. It was two rings but one judge so only one ring was active at a time. Depending on the speed of the dog running in the ring before her, sometimes when we went to the line, she would lunge and bark as the dog before her was finishing. However, once I asked her to sit and removed her leash, she was all business.

She is entered in an AKC trial in September. Based on the feedback I received from her performance this weekend I've cancelled her entry in the Standard class because I think her dogwalk needs a lot more proofing. I do think it's important for her to continue to gain ring experience so she is still entered in Jumpers with Weaves.

Her next DOCNA trial is in October and then she has another in December. I may enter her in a few more AKC trials this Fall just in Jumpers.

Here are a few videos from the weekend. I think she is so stinkin' cute sitting at the startline!

Gamblers - great opening. Of course, I did not attempt the distance challenge. Just made up a nice little course for her to run. Got to train the dogwalk

Standard - 1st place

Jumpers - 1st place

She also had a great jumpers run on Sunday (one bar). I trained in the ring during her standard run. She then had a perfect stop on the dogwalk that afternoon in Snakes & Ladders and ended up winning the class.

This weekend we are in Laramie, Wyoming for USDAA and then the following weekend is a two day AKC trial. Summit earned a double Q last weekend in Durango so only needs one more for MACH and two for nationals.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Soleil Training

This week we've been practicing sequencing full courses. When I looked at the video of her run at the fun match, I noticed although she ran the aframe, she didn't have as much extension over the apex as she normally does. I didn't know if it was because she was in a new environment and running on different equipment or perhaps it was because there was no stride regulator. At home, I always have a SR at the first slat to lengthen her stride over the apex. So this morning, I decided to take it off and see what she had. I am pleased to see that she doesn't need the SR and her Aframe performance at the fun match was just a baby dog's lack of confidence on strange equipment in a new environment.

We ran the sequence twice. She took the tunnel instead of the Aframe the second time and I had to quickly pick her up and send over the jump and then Aframe again.

Here is the second time. Still looking good.

The sequencing is going well. I just need to really remember that I need to incorporate lot's of forward cues. The courses we are running are Masters level courses. She is doing quite well on them; especially when I actually support each obstacle ;-) We begin each training session with DJS drills followed by some DW contact proofing (RS method), and then run a few courses. I am getting nice turns with a FC and RC but we need lot's of work on pulls. I think I'll go back to the flatwork and one jump work for pulls emphasizing lateral motion to cue the turn.

Both my Border Collies were almost two years old before I put them in the ring. I was also taking a lot of group classes with both. Unfortunately, group classes haven't worked out well so Soleil and I train only in our backyard. So she will be debuting in AKC at 15 mos. This is the only way to get her on different equipment and in a more exciting environment than our good ol' backyard agility.

She has a DOCNA trial in two weeks and then the second week of September, she is entered in her first AKC trial.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Soleil's First Fun Match

It was a pretty quiet weekend. I worked half a day on Saturday and then Sunday morning drove about 10 minutes from my house to the fairgrounds for an agility fun match starring Little Miss Sunshine!

I was so pleased with how well she did. They ran small to tall and a very fast drivey BC (jumping 16") went in just before us and Soleil was going nuts, barking and lunging at the ring. I thought she would be totally OTT. She pulled me into the ring but by the time I put her in a sit, removed her leash, and lead out... Missy was all business.

I was thrilled with our sequencing, her jumping, and her weaves! She even performed the chute! Things to work on:
1. Train the tire!
2. Continue to proof 20/20 on the dw and put tunnels next to the dw (she was confused about the tunnel being so close to the downramp).

Here is the video. My plan was to front cross on the flat after the triple to turn her to the teeter but because I had to babysit the tire, I got too far behind. I did not want to decelerate before a spread in order to pull to the teeter. You can see I hesitate the first time because it took me until the triple to realize she had gone under the tire ;-) Before I could think about calling her to me, she headed to the teeter so I went with it but not how I wanted to handle this section. The second time she didn't hesitate and jumped through the tire.

This morning we trained the tire. And then did some sequencing.

We leave Thursday for Durango, Colorado (South) for a three day AKC trial. The following weekend, Soleil is entered in a two-day DOCNA trial. I will plan to get all of our runs videotaped. DOCNA is great for baby dogs because you can train in the ring and the atmosphere is so laid back.

By the way, Blogger is being weird again. I've been catching up on reading blogs and have been unable to post comments. Annoying!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Double-Double Q Weekend for Summit and Soleil's first Trial

Work has been extremely busy and I've not had time to read my favorite blogs let alone post on my own blog. But last weekend was a fantastic weekend for Summit and I.

Friday - 1st place Jumpers, 2nd place Standard - QQ
Saturday - 1st place Jumpers
Sunday - 2nd place Jumpers, 2nd place Standard - QQ

So that leaves three more QQ's to finish qualifying for AKC Nationals!!! Oh, and he needs two more QQ's for his MACH which I guess he'll earn on his way to qualifying for Nationals. I really want to go next year as it is in Reno, Nevada.

Soleil's training has been going well. We continue to work the drills in DJS and continue to proof her dogwalk and weaves. Her teeter is looking great. She did go through a period where she would offer 20/20 on the teeter and 4-0n the dogwalk but on the advice of a friend, I began to train both obstacles in the same sequence and she soon figured it out.

So, I have decided to enter her in my club's DOCNA trial the second week of August. I want her to have her first ring experience in a fun organization that is low-key and allows training in the ring. I entered her in Standard, Jumpers, and the two types of Gamblers (we won't be doing the distance challenge). We may run a full course or we may do 7 obstacles and leave for a game of tug. I was tempted to enter Summit to do some contact proofing but decided I wanted the day to belong to Soleil.

Here are a couple of Summit's runs from the past weekend. The courses were pretty fun!

Friday Jumpers - 1st place

Friday Standard - 2nd place

Saturday Jumpers - 1st place

Sunday Standard - 2nd place (he released himself from his dw - bad boy)

Sunday Jumpers - 2nd place (can you see where I forgot I was going to do a FMFC? I remembered almost too late. Such a good boy, he not only kept up the bar but didn't take out my knees either ;-)

Thursday, July 7, 2011

RM Regional and Soleil training videos

A quick recap of the Rocky Mountain Regional held over the 4th of July weekend. The event was held in an indoor soccer facility without air conditioning and it was HOT! Luckily we finished fairly early each day and missed most of the hottest part of the afternoon.

One of our team members was focusing on World Team points and the other was a young dog. We did not Q as each of us had a single elimination. Friday Summit was very high and released himself from the aframe and took a wrong jump before I could redirect him. He had nice runs in Gamblers and placed 4th in Steeplechase Round 1. Saturday he blew his aframe contact and dropped a bar in Steeplechase Finals and in GP round 1, he missed the aframe contact again. The last time he missed an aframe contact was at the South Central Regional during Steeplechase Finals.... hmmm I'm seeing a pattern here. I tend to get very competitive and push him when I don't need to. He is fast enough and when I start to push, his brain explodes. Definitely a mental management issue on my part.

We did very well on the IHC courses. I watched a lot of runs on these international courses and there were many faults. We had one off course in IHC Jumpers (it required handling past several obstacles to a tunnel entrance that was not in the dog's line of sight) and then we ran clean in IHC Standard and placed second (Mary Ellen Barry with Maizy was first).

Steeplechase Round 1 - 4th place (Jen missed the beginning because she was busy watching Mary Ellen run in the other ring!)

IHC Jumpers - even with the wrong course jump at the beginning (a common fault), I really liked how we ran this tough course.

IHC Standard - 2nd place

Soleil's training has been going well. Here are a few videos from this week. I am using food for jump sequencing as toys make her too high and I want her thinking about jumping not blasting through for the toy. I am still using food to reward the 20/20 behavior. At some point (like the teeter), I will switch to using a toy as a reward for further proofing.

First time running entire dogwalk with a stop at the bottom. I'm really focusing on rear feet position.

Running aframe - she hasn't been on the aframe for about a month. Still looking great! She really has her striding down.

Jump sequencing

We have a week off and then a three-day AKC trial in Castle Rock. Hoping for double Q's for AKC Nationals!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Summit Rocked at the DAPPR USDAA Trial!

A beautiful park in the Black Forest, perfect weather, USDAA agility, seven Q's out of nine runs and NOT A SINGLE BAR!

Pretty darn perfect!

I am so thrilled with both my dog's performance and his jumping. Saturday morning we had Gamblers. I did not attempt the gamble as it is not something I would expect my dog to do (a redirect at distance) so we worked our contacts and then left when the gamble buzzer went off. Then he placed third with a very nice run in Standard, GP I fell at the very end and although we lost some time, we did end up with a Q and 4th place. Steeplechase I did not execute a forward send very well and Summit did not turn and took a wrong course jump. Then we won pairs relay that afternoon.

Sunday, Summit won Standard, Q'd in Snooker, won Jumpers, and then won the IHC Jumpers class. I was very happy we ran IHC clean with no faults (lot's of handlers had faults) and then was thrilled when I found out we won.

Soleil had fun helping me scribe run (it was a long distance from the rings to the score table under the pavillion). She got to run off leash with a group of her Sheltie friends. She also got to play fetch and tug and visit the wading pools. She is starting to really turn on when she sees a dog running in the ring. She knows the game now!

Here are a few videos from the weekend. Feel free to laugh at GP. I really do look like a fish flopping on the ground. All I can say is it is a good thing I have a rear cross on the flat!

Grand Prix - 4th place

Masters Standard - 3rd place

Masters Standard - 1st place

Masters Jumpers - 1st place. This was a tough course and quite a few NQ's

IHC Jumpers - 1st place. Such a fun course and I LOVE threadles and pushes to the backside of jumps.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A Great AKC Weekend for Summit!

We were down at Castle Rock for three days of AKC agility. Friday Summit won Standard in the morning and then had a beautiful run in Jumpers (fastest time overall) but dropped the second to last bar. Saturday we ran Jumpers first and he won by a full second. That afternoon he had a nice Standard run (third place) for his first Double Q for Nationals. Sunday, again we won Jumpers in the morning. I was looking forward to Standard in the afternoon. We had a great opening but as I rotated out of a front cross, my foot slipped in the loose dirt and down I went. I had just cued the Aframe when I started to fall, I immediately jumped back up but as I'm doing so, I see Summit half way on the upside of the Aframe looking down at me with concern (or puzzlement more likely) and just as I thought we were going to be ok, he jumped off the side. Dang!

I am so pleased with our performance this weekend. Specifically Summit's jumping. We are at a point now in our teamwork where a wrong course happens very rarely. Our NQ's have been because of a single bar in jumpers. There are a couple of factors that I believe have contributed to the improvement in his jumping.

1. Building his core strength. We do "On The Ball" exercises twice a week for 20-25 minutes each session.
2. Stretching (active and passive). Passive stretching after exercise (training, ball work, and following his cool-down after a run). Active stretching following his warmup before going into the ring.
3. Jump grids (from advanced jumping skills section in DJS)
4. Varying jump heights while sequencing during training sessions (20"-22"-24") which teach him to pay attention to his jumping effort.
5. Regular PT visits to catch any soft tissue issues before they become serious.

We have a heavy competition schedule the next three weeks and then a nice break.

Here are a few videos from the weekend. Including of course the blooper!

Friday Jumpers with Weaves - 1 bar

Friday Standard - 1st place

Saturday Jumpers with Weaves (1st place) (missing video of Standard)

Sunday Jumpers with Weaves - 1st place

Sunday Standard - NQ because of handler blooper.

This weekend is the Utah 4-Star event and I can't go because I am teaching (already had a substitute when I went to the SC Regional in TX). So I will be playing in AKC this weekend. I do need the double Q's for nationals but still would rather be at the USDAA trial. There are several top International-class competitors who will be in Utah who I would have enjoyed watching.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Soleil's agility training

I need to take recent pictures of Soleil. She is so beautiful even though she has blown her coat. From what Sheltie people have told me is this is typical after they finish a heat cycle and her coat will fill out in the Fall. Personally, I think less coat makes her faster ;-)

So we continue to work through DJS. We haven't sequenced more than 3-4 jumps yet. She has seen the spread jumps and the tire. I am focusing on executing the turns on the flat.

She is weaving 12 poles now but I only have her weaving once a week. We do work on entries with two sets of 2x2's (4 poles) several times a week. As usual, the soft-sided entry is the most challenging.

The a-frame is at full AKC height now and she is figuring out her striding. She is looking good. So far I've just sent her over a jump and then cued the aframe while running ahead of her since I am encouraging lot's of extension over the apex and building confidence. At some point, I will add an obstacle after the a-frame and work on handling. I plan to turn her on the flat.

I am in the process of searching for a group agility class for her. A beginner/intermediate level would be great. She really needs to train other than my backyard and needs to get on different equipment.

Summit has had two weeks off of agility training. He's done ball work twice a week and jogs with me. Yesterday we worked a sequence for the first time since the Regional. We have a three-day AKC agility trial this weekend and then trials every weekend for the next three weeks. Hoping to get those 6 double Q's for AKC Nationals. This time last year Summit was already qualified for AKC Nationals. This year, we missed out on almost three months of competition because of his hamstring injury.

I really hope he isn't Mr. Onebar Wonder this weekend!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Soleil's Running Aframe

Last weekend I decided to begin Soleil's aframe training. I have been hoping that she had the stride length for a running aframe. I started out running her over a very low aframe and with all the plank work she did this Winter, she ran over the low aframe with confidence and speed. I had it raised to AKC full height by the third day then I added a stride regulator at the top to create extension over the apex. I moved the stride regulator a few inches lower this morning and am happy with the results.

She appears to easily have enough extension over the apex and her second stride puts her in the yellow. The third attempt she has too much extension and speed and decides to try a one-strided aframe. I didn't see that until I watched the video as I'm trying not to look back or decel while she's running over the aframe. Shelties CAN fly!

She is focused downward until she pushes off from the second stride and then she looks up to see where she is going. I won't be practicing many aframes. At most maybe twice a week. Next week I'll add a tunnel before and maybe a jump afterwards so the aframe is in a sequence.

She certainly is a lot of fun!

Friday, May 27, 2011

SC Regional Report and Soleil Weaves 12 Poles!

We returned home from Texas Monday afternoon. Since then I've had to play catch-up at work and just now have a chance to post. I loved the venue and the competition! Unfortunately, I was very sick Sat. and Sun. and wasn't able to handle my best. We did not get a bye in either Steeplechase or GP but we did get a team Q and our team won the relay. In Steeplechase finals, many teams had wrong courses. It was a tough course. I am happy to say we had a really nice run but Summit dropped a bar so no bye to Nationals. GP I overhandled a tunnel/DW discrimination and he came into me by-passing the dw for a refusal so no bye in GP. Summit had some really nice team runs and placements. I've posted our Team Relay run below. Our team won 22" Relay by over a full second. First to run is Stacy, then me, and Donna is third. Notice how differently Stacy and I handled the wrap to the aframe. She wanted to wrap to the outside so that Sobe (who had a running a-frame) had a straighter approach to the obstacle. For Summit, I liked the wrap to the inside as I knew I would get a tighter turn with him as opposed to the FC's.

Indy sips a Sobe on the Summit - team relay, 1st place

Soleil has been weaving 6 poles for awhile and on Tuesday, I added a second set of 6 poles. This morning, I began to move the poles closer until they became a single set of 12 poles. We ended this morning's training session with her weaving 12 straight poles. Tomorrow, we'll continue to proof entries from different locations, my motion (and lack of), and my position.

First is a short video of what Soleil is like when we go out the back door to train. Since I had the video camera with me I thought I would film. Her enthusiasm is so cute. She loves to go outside and train.

We have several weeks off before we trial again. My focus is now on AKC since we still need to get those 6 double Q's for nationals.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

USDAA weekend, a dance routine, and road trip to Texas

We were down in Pueblo this weekend for two days of USDAA. Summit did really well and he only had one bar the entire weekend. He got a GP Q, Snooker Q, and a Gamble Q. He also placed 2nd in round one of Steeplechase and then placed 2nd again in the Steeplechase Finals.

I love this venue. It's a large soccer field at the University and provides lot's of room for dogs to run off leash. Soleil was SUCH a GOOD girlie off leash. Stacy and I went out to the far end of the field with her new puppy, Witness, and Soleil. They played for a bit (well, Soleil herded Wit while he ran around with a toy in his mouth). All of a sudden, a BC goes flashing by chasing a ball. Soleil's chase drive kicked in and she took off after the BC, I called her name and she started to slow down, I called her name again and she immediately turned and came running back to me. I have never had to test her recall under those circumstances before and was very pleased with the result. She did take off after the dog one more time a few minutes later and that time she came back on my first recall.

Here is Summit's Steeplechase round 1 run. Jen and Bode (Summit's brother) took first!
In case you're wondering why the FC before the tunnel followed by the RC on the flat vs. just staying on the inside. The angle of the double posed a safety issue for dogs blasting out of the tunnel (they could hit the wing).

Steeplechase Finals - 2nd place (first place Kim Terrill and Steeple)
The straight line following the weaves was difficult. You had to set the LOM to move laterally into the dog's path and then a forward send to the last jump cueing the turn to the left with lateral motion (one step) away from the dog's path. Many dogs turned right over that jump.

Here is GP. I don't know where we ended up - maybe 6th place I think? I kind of ran this conservatively. Not sure why since I had intended to go for a BYE for our RM Regional.
I didn't know this until I looked at the video but he fell sideways on his right shoulder before the last jump. I think he's pretty amazing for falling that hard and then recovering enough to keep up the bar.

Donna, Jen, and I are teaming for the Rocky Mtn. Regionals and Nationals. Our team name is Triple Threat and we decided we needed a dance routine. Here is a sneak peak....

... hmmm, I think we need more practice.

Leaving for Ft. Worth, Texas tomorrow for the South Central Regional! This will be a large event because of the IFCS qualifying period. Looking forward to a new venue and seeing some spectacular handlers and dogs!

My team is the same from Nationals last year - Donna (with Indy), Stacy (with Sobe), and Summit and I.

Monday, May 9, 2011

A HOT and slippery weekend of USDAA

The weekend temps were in the mid 80's which made for a very warm trial. Other than the heat, the weather was nice (no high winds or micro bursts) and by Sunday, the club had put out wading pools for the dogs. Summit had some great runs on Saturday with Q's in Gamblers (he won), Pairs (he and Bode won), Standard (3rd place), and Steeplechase (6th place with a bar) and then a bar in GP.

Sunday we had no Q's. The grass had dried up in many areas of the ring and was very slippery. Summit slid on his side after landing off a jump in Masters Standard so we cut the run short and left the ring. After over 2 months of rehab, I did not feel like risking another injury. I did run Masters Jumpers and he slipped just as he was setting himself up to jump the triple and dropped the bar. I watched the video in slow mo and could see his left rear leg slide sideways and out - Yikes! That was the leg with the hamstring pull. There were a couple of dogs who slipped and several who crashed into jump standards and limped out of the ring. Luckily, as far as I know, the dogs were all ok.

Masters Standard - 3rd place

Steeplechase - 6th place with one bar

Here is the jumpers run. Watch his left rear leg as he turns on the grass towards the triple.

Masters Gamblers - 1st place

Relay - with little brother Bode. 1st place by almost a full second.

Soleil had fun walking around the trial grounds, barking at the fast dogs in the ring (when we were sitting ringside), playing tug, and meeting lot's of new puppies.

This morning I added a third set of 2x2's about four feet from the end of the last set. She is weaving four poles (two sets) and then running through the gap of the third set. I will begin to move that third set closer until she is weaving six poles. That will be so exciting!

We worked on RTH over one and two jumps also. Mixing up extension RTH with foundation RTH. She is having no problems with 16" and she is rocking back on her rear, pushing off, and jumping with nice round form. She is also changing her striding and takeoff between the two jumps depending on whether I am cueing extension or collection. What a smart girlie!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Soleil's 2x2 weave training videos

So this morning we did two sessions of weave training and I remembered to video. I had moved the 2x2's outside and so even though she had been weaving four poles inside, I did move them apart again for the first training session in a new location.

Once they are close together again, I'll continue to proof with varying location of dog and handler.

First session:

Second session: moved poles closer together.

Monday, May 2, 2011

It's Been a Rough Three Weeks...

This weekend I finally got my Soleil back. Where did she go? Physically - nowhere. Mentally - Hormoneville, USA.

We've done very little training the last two weeks. Short two-minute sessions was all I got out of her. This is my first experience with a bitch in season and I certainly have a lot of respect for those who keep their girls intact. Not me - Soleil will be spayed sometime this year.

This weekend we progressed through the single set of 2x2's proofing entries with varying locations of handler and dog. Then added a second set on Saturday and started closing up the gap. This morning I closed the gap completely between the two sets of poles and she is now weaving 4 poles. I moved the set from the sunroom (where I could throw food on the floor) to outside and will begin to use a toy for the proofing stage.

We've progressed to Part 5 in DJS (jumping for breakfast was about the only training we did do while she was in season). She is very confident jumping 16" now and I no longer begin each training session at a lower height. She understands my motion and location cues for extension and collection/turning. She also understands the verbal "jump". This week I will introduce spreads (at 12" and work up) and the tire. I plan to do all her training at 16". There is a good chance she may end up measuring into the 12" class in AKC but I plan to jump her at 16" until she's older. I've carefully observed her jumping form at 12" and she is flat. She engages her rear more and has a much rounder form when jumping 16" vs. 12".

She is doing the full height teeter with speed and confidence. I've incorporated a jump before the teeter now. Mostly sending to the jump in order to get ahead of her to the teeter. Also doing a FC on the flat landing side of jump and then sending her ahead to perform the teeter. Still proofing her stop when I'm behind her - she's not a very patient girl.

The table has become a fun place to play and she's readily offering to jump up for a game of tug. It is time to add the down position. Someone asked me last weekend (at the trial), why I started training the table so early (since she was 9 weeks old) and why I spent so much time on it. I explained that I didn't really train the table, I just spent a lot of time playing tug games on the obstacle with all my puppies. Only after a year of table games do I begin to ask for a specific position and a stay. But by that time, my puppy is happily driving with speed to get to the table. I also like to end a training session on the table since right now I am only using food as a reward for jump work, plank work, and the teeter and I like ending each training session with a wild game of tug on the table.

I've started training a 20/20 on a travel plank. Again, haven't done much with this for the last several weeks. The 20/20 will be for the dogwalk.

I won't do any jump sequences with her until she's completed her jump training. I am confident she'll progress quickly once we begin to sequence as she knows all of the turns on the flat and responds quickly to my turning cues when we do flatwork.

This weekend Summit and I have a USDAA trial outdoors and Soliel will get to go. Now that Summit is all qualified for USDAA Nationals and has a bye for the Regional GP Finals in Texas, we'll be hoping to get another bye for the Rocky Mtn. Regional in July.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Summit wins Grand Prix and earns a BYE for the SC Regional

Well it was a successful trip to Utah. Summit earned that last Steeplechase leg to finish qualifying for nationals and he won Grand Prix - earning him a bye to round 2 at the South Central Regional in May - woohoo!!!!

The trial was held outdoors on grass. We got lucky and the weather was almost perfect! Friday Summit had nice runs but for one bar in all 4 classes. The grass was thick and the ground very uneven; there were hills and dips and if there was a low-spot before the jump, the dogs were jumping higher. By Saturday he had figured it out and only dropped one bar. Sunday he had no bars.

I really missed Soleil! She has one more week to go and then she can start going to trials with me again. We have next week off and then three USDAA trials in a row. FRAC in Brighton, ACAT in Pueblo, and then the South Central Regional in Ft. Worth, TX. 

Meanwhile I'll continue to work jump grids twice a week with Mr. Summit as well as jump sequences with variable jump heights (20", 22", and 24") and variable spacing.

Here is Summit's Grand Prix video. The weaves were really off set from the teeter so you had to push your dog out to get the entry (some dogs missed the entry). I also took a step past the weaves in order to set a nicer approach over the jump as well as the approach to the following jump. Some dogs got the tunnel after the a-frame. I made sure I was moving laterally towards the jump after cueing the aframe. I could have cued a much tighter turn over the jump but with the uneven ground, decided to be more conservative and give him plenty of room.

Masters Jumpers - 4th place

Steeplechase Finals - 1 bar, 7th place

A fun Snooker course with pushes to the backside of the jumps

Monday, April 18, 2011

Soleil is growing up...

I love this picture of Soleil at 9 weeks old. Time sure does fly....
Summit and I (along with Jen and Summit's younger brother, Bode) will be heading to Utah this Thursday for a three day USDAA agility trial. Grand Prix, Steeplechase, and double games - can't beat that for FUN! The venue is a beautiful outdoor site with climate-controlled indoor crating. I am sad that Soleil won't be going with me. She came into season this past week. I just can't believe how fast my little girl is growing up! I've never left her at home before and will really miss her this weekend.

Meanwhile, it explains her less than normal amount of focus lately while training. We did get in some training sessions and I've discovered short and fast is the best approach. We started something new this morning - 20/20 training on the travel plank and she caught on very quickly.

So hopefully Summit will get his last Steeplechase Q for USDAA Nationals this weekend and we'll be all set to go to Kentucky in October.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

A plan and a video

Linda M. provided some excellent feedback on my videos of Summit's jumpers runs and suggested a training plan. I will revisit the Advanced jump training in DJS and incorporate different jump heights such as 18", 20", 22", and 24". Basically he is 1. jumping way too flat at 20". 2. He lacks the ability (or he is not bothering) to look ahead and adjust his striding between jumps. He jumps with such a flat trajectory and extension that he tends to land too close to the take off side of the following jump. He needs to learn to balance his strides to accomodate different distances between jumps. So jump training begins tomorrow (this morning we had wet snow).

Here is the video of my running Crook (Soleil's half brother)in Jumpers. Unfortunately, Don missed videoing a couple of the jumps at the end but it was basically a straight line and I had to really run hard. I certainly could have tightened up some of his turns but this is only the second time I've run him and I don't have a definite feel for his committment point yet. I love this dog! He is so much fun to run!

Soleil did her first RTH over one jump this morning. We also worked on the 2x2's which I am really enjoying since I can use a toy and she is much happier chasing and tugging than eating Bison lung. I really love watching her think through how to earn reinforcement. I've also noticed she is far more accepting of failure when a toy is involved vs. food.

We were almost done with this training session before I remembered to video. Dang! Will video tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


So after having such a great weekend in USDAA, we were back to dropping bars again this past weekend. Three days of AKC and one Q out of six runs. Four NQs because of bars and one refusal (I slipped in the loose dirt and almost fell and pushed Summit off his wp entry). We won Standard on Friday and would have won again on Sunday but for one bar.

Very frustrating but we'll continue to train and condition and practice jump grids and work on my handling and timing and and and .....

.... continue to be one bar short of the QQ's we need for Nationals.

Summit jumps very flat at 20". His jumping is much rounder at 22". Could this be the cause of the bars in AKC? On the other hand, he has had two months off for rehab and perhaps he is not in top condition yet? Does he respect the bars at 22" more than 20"?

I posted on the APHS Forum about considering moving him up to 24" because of his dropping bars at 20". The suggestion was that it was the obstacle spacing in AKC vs. USDAA that was more than likely the cause. So I've incorporated some variance in spacing between jumps in our training. I have also started training him at 24" (nothing new, I used to jump him that height last year in training). I think training at a higher jump height will make him think about jumping (using his rear) as welll as improve his conditioning. He looks really good at 24" and I can tell he is really making the effort to jump rather than just pulling himself over the bars.

Today he had his chiropractic appointment and he was in great shape. Only needing a minor adjustment.

Soleil is beginning DJS at 16". She is not totally confident at 16" yet so we are still at the offering stage. She also started 2x2's class. It is great to have her in a class again. We worked on sit stays inbetween our turn on the poles. She continues to challenge me with her lack of food drive. She is bored now with the bison lung so off to find something new and better.

This weekend at the trial I had her measured by two VMO's (non official measurement). She measured OVER 14"! She may drop down some when her shoulders lay back but it may not be enough to get her under 14". Luckily she is athletic and has some long legs that will make jumping 16" very doable.

I ran Crook (her half brother) in Jumpers on Sunday. We had a bar but he was only one second slower than the winning 20" time. Don did video us and I will post the video of Crook and I as soon as I get it.

Friday Jumpers with weaves - nice run but two bars. Ok so the story about the long start is 1. Summit does not like to face away from the course. He thinks I am placing him in the wrong direction. 2. the jump steward couldn't figure out how to replace the bars on the triple so there was this long delay while waiting for the triple to be reset and argue with my dog about which direction he needed to face.

Friday Standard - 1st place
The judges table count was really fast and I ran out of time to get into position. I should have not released him until I was ready. We had a wide turn to the weaves.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Summit gets GP and Steeplechase Q's for Nationals!

What a great USDAA weekend! Summit placed 2nd in Grand Prix and WON Steeplechase! Now he only needs one more Steeplechase leg to finish qualifying for nationals. But at least he is now qualified to enter both the South Central Regional in May and the Rocky Mtn. Regional in July.

The best news is he only dropped a bar in a single class the entire weekend. It was in the Gamble which was the first class Saturday morning.

He also qualified in Jumpers (2nd place), Standard (2nd place), Pairs Relay (1st place) and got a Snooker Q. In Steeplechase finals I pushed him too hard and he missed the wp entry. I should have kept going on (I usually do) but for some reason (must have been thinking about the time plus faults rule of Round 1), I asked him to repeat the weaves and of course he missed it again, and then a third time. I KNOW this about him.. he does not like to be wrong and stresses up and loses the ability to focus. I thanked the judge and we left the ring since he was way past thinking at that point. I played a game of tug with him after we left the ring so all was good in his world.

I also got to run Crook in Steeplechase. He is Soleil's half brother. He is a puppy from a previous litter and has a different mother. He is young and wicked fast. We won 16" Steeplechase!!!!

Soleil got to play ringside and went shopping at the vendor booths. After sampling many different kinds of homemade treats, Miss picky decided the dehydrated Bison Lung was the winner.

This weekend we have a three-day AKC trial. Our plan is to run well and earn the QQ's for AKC Nationals 2012 which is supposed to be (so far) in Reno, Nevada.

Steeplechase - 1st place 25 seconds

Grand Prix - 2nd place (I was running conservatively for the Q and held his aframe contact). Now that we are Q'd for Nationals I'll be running GP more agresssively for the BYE.

Masters Standard - 2nd place

Masters Jumpers - 2nd place

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Training and trialing

Last weekend was three days of AKC. Because of his injury, Summit is behind in qualifying for AKC Nationals. This time last year he already had the six QQ's needed. This year, we have not gotten a single one yet and we didn't get them last weekend either. But we had awesome runs and he won Standard and FAST on Friday, I sent him off course in Jumpers that afternoon. Saturday second place in Standard, won FAST again, and two bars in Jumpers. Sunday won Standard (no FAST offered on Sunday) and dropped second to last bar in Jumpers. The dropped bars in both Jumpers classes were located in the same area of the ring where the ground was churned up and very deep. After his Jumpers run on Sunday, I scribed the next class and the judge said to me, "Nice run too bad about the bar; it is really deep back there and if you had run at the top of the class, he probably wouldn't have dropped the bar."

This weekend we have a two day USDAA trial and still need two Steeplechase and one GP leg for Nationals.

Soleil is doing very well with her training and I will post some video soon. She is now doing the full height teeter. She is driving ahead of me to run to the end and shifting her weight back as the plank drops. We are beginning to do a little proofing of the end behavior. I am going to start RS's drills to proof the release (on the flat) in preparation for proofing the end behavior on the teeter.

We started DJS this week. She is offering to jump the bar at 14 inches. Last weekend she was measured by a VMO (unofficial measurement) and she is 13 3/4" tall. I think she will definitely stay under 14".

We are playing on the table again. The verbal "table" has become a cue to have a rough game of tug. I enjoy pushing her back and revving her up and then saying, "Taaaaaaaaaaable" as I race her to the obstacle and play tug. Not asking for a position yet.

She is still running a low dogwalk and is close to 100 percent. However, I have decided to put a stop on the end. I will still have her run it for another month at the low height to maintain confidence and speed (I did this with Summit). Once I have the 20/20 on cue and proofed on the travel plank, I will raise the dw and backchain.

Here are the videos from last weekend...
EX. B FAST - 1st place with 80 points, 30 seconds

Standard - 1st place, 35 seconds

Jumpers with weaves - wrong end of tunnel. It was a stronger push than I anticipated and Summit didn't read it.

Saturday Jumpers with weaves - two bars (I actually caused the last one by moving too suddenly into him as he was over the bar). Would have been 1st place. I love his independent weaves!

Saturday Standard second place - we lost all the time on the dogwalk. Almost every dog bailed the dw at the end to take the wrong end of the tunnel. I should have trusted my dog but instead i way overhandled the contact (direct eye contact, shoulders turning into him, outside arm), poor boy didn't know what I wanted. You can see he's confused.

Saturday Ex. B FAST - First place with 78 points, 29 seconds
So I am not sure if I "broke" an APHS rule ;-) Did I cue my dog to diverge or did I send to a non-turning obstacle. My plan was to run a straight path along the gamble line and use the obstacle name for the aframe and see if he would figure it out - he did!

Sunday Standard - first place, 34 seconds
That little stumble at the end.... I momentarily forgot where I was going and was moving towards the chute when I suddenly realized, "Wait, we already did the chute!"

Sunday Jumpers with weaves - one stinkin' bar.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

USDAA and Soleil's Teeter

Summit had a great weekend his first trial back after over two months off. Friday was all team events and although Summit was a Rock Star - my handling was not. The first class was team jumpers. I was a nervous wreck and hoping his rehab vet was right and that he was ready to go back to work.

I pulled him off a tunnel and then sent him over the wrong jump - EEEEEEE for the team! I felt bad but my teammates were awesome and assured me my timing would improve and that Summit looked great and fully recovered. I started to relax and not worry about my dog and started handling better. Our team ended up with third place and the Bronze medal.

We didn't get either a GP leg or Steeplechase. I pulled him off a tunnel in Steeplechase (seeing a pattern here) and so he took the a-frame. He did have a nice run in GP but dropped the triple. He did get several titling legs though-
Snooker Q, won Gamblers, 2nd place in Standard, another Snooker Q, won Pairs Relay, and nice run in jumpers but dropped the third bar. Not bad for two full months off from agility.

Soleil is now performing a full height teeter dropping onto an 8" table. She continues to be very confident and fearless. Once she's performing the teeter without the table, I will switch to rewarding with the tug toy for the end behavior and food for the release.

Her running contacts still look good except that I am not exactly happy with how much time they suck up. I work and have limited training time. I am finding that these running contacts not only take a lot of time but are somewhat boring to train (what! did I say that?)...

Here is a video of Soleil's teeter session this morning. And a few from the USDAA trial.

Summit's jumpers run. Notice my abrupt pivot out of the front cross which causes him to drop the third bar (would have been 2nd place).

Summit's standard run - 2nd place

Summit's gamblers run - 1st place (there was grease on the lens so video is cloudy).

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Running Contacts

Well it certainly has been a learning experience. Who would have thought I would have spent thousands of hours carefully observing my puppy run on the flat, on a board, on a wide plank, and now on the actual dogwalk. The wide green plank has gone away and been replaced with the dogwalk plank. Although the wide plank was 16", I lowered the dogwalk flat on the ground and spent a week backchaining until she was running the entire obstacle. Dogwalks look funny when they are flat on the ground (and longer ;-)
Her gait and speed was good but we did have a problem with an ocassional rear foot (or two) coming off the side at the end. I put two jumps parallel on each side of the end which really helped keep her on the board. She had over a 90 percent accuracy rate the entire week so I raised the dw a few chain links, good; raised it again, and this morning, raised it to four chain links (13 inches).

She jumped the first attempt and then followed with five successes. I had my video camera set to film but forgot to turn it on. I did capture the second session and she was 4/4. The last attempt I could tell she was tiring so we stopped after the fourth rep.

1. I reached a point when I was back chaining the flat dw that I could no longer stay stationary and send her ahead as I couldn't throw the toy that far and have it land 20 feet beyond the end plank. So I had to figure out how to solve this problem. I tried sending her to a dead toy....

2. She does not drive to a dead toy at top speed.

3. I can't outrun her - that little girlie faster than me ;-)

4. When we start from the other end of the dw, I need to start running and throw the toy when she is on the middle plank. This not only allows the toy to land at least 20 feet beyond the end of the dw but also creates acceleration down the end plank.

5. If I throw the toy too late (after she's on the end plank), she can jump. I need to throw the toy no later than when she is on the middle plank.

6. I am peeling away laterally after I throw the toy and she is continuing to drive ahead on the dogwalk to get the toy.

7. I do not use a NRM with her. Good attempts - reward with tugging; Excellent attempts - big tug party; jumps - say nothing. just try again. She gets the toy but no tugging.

Friday - Sunday we will be at USDAA! Summit gets to compete and I need to get a measurement on Soleil.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

It was a great weekend

Friday afternoon Summit had a PT appointment and also an appointment with the rehab vet. He got a thumbs up from the vet and his PT! He's back to normal and can begin regular conditioning and agility training. We did a few bounce grids on Saturday and short sequences. Sunday I took him and Sage for an hour trail run on the Vista trail near Boulder. You have no idea how much it means to me to be able to have fun with my dog again. I'm not talking about agility competition but just everyday fun. Sage is retired from competition but she and I get to go for a run everyday and play in the back field in the evenings after work. Summit was on exercise restriction and all he could do was controlled drills and stretching.Not much fun for him or for me.

I spent the weekend catching up on some training with Soleil. Mostly RC work. I am really thrilled with her speed and striding across the plank. I really suck at throwing toys and a couple of times the toy ends up going straight in the air like a rocket and straight down. Soleil doesn't seem to care. Running the plank has become reinforcing in itself which is unexpected but I love it! That girlie sure does love to run!

I'm still shaping cute little tricks with Soleil every morning. Random stuff. This week it is all about pivoting on a board. I get so much enjoyment out of this and I think she likes it too.

Here are a couple of videos from out sessions this weekend. When I watch the video in slow motion I'm seeing a nice consistent running stride across the green plank. 


Sunday, February 20, 2011

Soleil training

Here are a couple of videos of training sessions. The first one is the teeter. I had the end of the teeter held up by a jump upright the beginning of the week and now progressed to a 24" table. She has absolutely no worries about the movement or height. I'm mostly releasing her from a sit stay but today I will send her around a cone first which will give me a head start.

After the teeter I worked on crosses on the flat around three cones. We learned this in Mary Ellen Barry's advanced flatwork session at the seminar. She is doing very well with the turns. Still working on a little impulse control and she starts to go into herding-mode at the very beginning. Interesting... when Summit would become too excited he would push into me from the front (cut me off). Soleil barks and runs in wild little circles.

Today we'll do running plank work and go for a hike on the South Mesa trail.
Summit is coming along well with his conditioning. He is doing three jump bounce grids and trotting for five minute sessions during his walks.

Friday, February 18, 2011

For Kathy - LOPivot

Hopefully this is large enough. I think you can click on the image and make it larger.
Blue handler - leads out and cues an extension RTH (dog must not pass handler continue to dummy jump or cross behind handler to take #2 from the front side since handler's back is to the #2 jump). Red handler - FC on the flat landing side of #2 and move towards #3.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Seminar update

So one of the problems with taking four days off to attend an agility seminar is when you return to work, it takes you a whole week just to catch up! '

The seminar was amazing (as I knew it would be) and although I had taken some of the same sessions last year, I came away with a notebook filled with notes and many light bulb moments.

Summit was still in rehab so I did all the Masters handling sessions and the Balancing Cues session with Sage. She did great and even though I really wanted to run Summit in the Balancing Cues session (the timing between him and Sage is very different), I still learned a lot by running Sage. It really was about the handler learning how to balance cues rather than strategy.

In the Balancing Cues session with Mary Ellen there were several learning opportunities and new understanding of how the balance of cues works.

1. Of the 6 cues available in APHS, ideally you have a 4-2 ratio of forward and turning cues. A 3-3 ratio (50/50 split)  is too "balanced" and there is not enough differentiation between forward and turning.
2. Experienced dogs can cover for the incorrect cue ration (they recognize patterns and will anticipate) but you don't want to encourage this.
3. Perpendicular and Parallel Forward Sends: Parallel creates a much more difficult jumping effort for the dog and is important to practice.

I also came away with a much clearer understanding of why you use the OA for a Rear Cross on the flat. It differentiates it from a push. And of course, the IA is used for a RC over a jump because of the need for an additional forward cue.

APHS Masters Handling with Mary Ellen-
1. LOPivot... used to cue extension and the turn happens on the flat. Especially useful if you need the dog to bypass an obstacle or take the backside of the jump.
2. Tunnel discriminations are examples of convergence (well of course! but I never thought of it that way).
3. Relative Collection - really means a "turn" not collection since the dog is really deciding what he needs to clear the jump and turn.
4. Tight turns (involving true collection) vs. relative collection (ie., a regular turn) is all about the NET number of strides on a sequence not about getting the tightest turns. Example, in a 4-jump pinwheel configuration, handler may cue a tight turn over the first jump but then that sets the dog up to have to take two strides to get to the second jump vs. if the first jump was taken in extension and the dog had only to take a single stride to get to the second jump.  Still end up with the same NET number of strides whether the dog turns with extenion or collection. Many times a dog can be faster taking jumps in extension and having wider turns (can set them up better for the next sequence as well) vs. a dog who is jumping with collection and having tighter turns but adding more strides between jumps. 

Last year I took the full day APHS Foundation and Basic Skills from Mary Ellen and this year Jenn taught it. It was very interesting to see the slight differences. I learned a lot again this year in the session and some concepts were clairified.

Soleil did really well in the full day Foundation and Advanced Flatwork on Monday. We practiced the turns on the flat as well as the recalls to heel on the flat in the morning (as well as some fun stuff from Mary Ellen's DVD). That afternoon we worked Sends to cones and did some sequencing with three cones incorporating the turns on the flat (except for the push).

Mary Ellen was impressed with Soleil's toy/tug drive. At first she said it was probably not a good idea to practice "It's Your Choice" with toys with a Sheltie (just food). But after seeing Soleil bouncing up in the air to grab the toy in my hand while I was trying to do some cone sequencing, she told me, yes, probably not a bad idea to do a bit of "It's Your Choice" with toys too.

So there are the highlights of the seminar. I've been incorporating all I learned in Soleil's training sessions. It is really great to have new stuff to work on and have a deeper understanding of the APHS handling system as well as improving our mechanics with the turns on the flat and RTH presentations.

Summit had a PT session yesterday and he is back to 100 percent. Now I am gradually working on conditioning. We are doing thirty minutes of walking/trotting, three jump grids, yoga ball work, stretching, and some yoga dog positions. He should be ready by the second week of March for a three day USDAA trial.

Since the snow has melted the last few days, we've been able to get outside to train and I will film some of the cone sequencing with Soleil.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Mary Ellen Barry and Jennifer Crank Seminar

Summit is doing fantastic with his PT and is healing quickly. The Rehab vet thought he would be fine for the upcoming CKC AKC 4-day trial in a couple weeks but I decided to be very conservative about his return to competition and cancelled his entry. That was hard as that is my favorite AKC trial of the year. But I think it's a good decision. His first trial will be a three-day USDAA the second week of March. He is on a DAM team (hoping to get his brother qualified for Nationals) and we'll be looking forward to getting that second GP qualifier.

Soleil has really matured in the last month. She turned 8 mos. old the end of January and I think she is absolutely stunning beautiful! She is so much fun and I love her Sheltie attitude. I took her ears out a couple weeks ago and so far, they have stayed tipped. With Summit on rehab, Soleil has gotten a lot of training - especially on the weekends. This is what we've been doing:

Flatwork with speed. The binder clips are gone and she's heeling nicely at my side. We've incorporated speed and turns on the flat. Now its finally easier to execute rear crosses on the flat now that she is driving ahead. She has a good understanding of lateral motion for the FC and RC. She is also learning pushes on the flat. The push was the most difficult for Summit and I'm seeing some similarities between him and Soleil in regard to "space".  She is pushing well at a walk and trot right now.

Increasing duration and distraction while in sit/down stays.

I enrolled her in an advanced foundation class. This is her first official "agility" class. My goals were to get her in a group of other young dogs and work on focus in a distracting environment. She's done quite well so far. The instructor is having us sequence jumps (no bars). Simple 3-4 jump sequences incorporating pulls and front crosses. I've been continueing some of that at home and Soleil RC's, FC's and pulls around a jump upright. Its been fun (almost like *real* agility ;-) but once I start DJS jump training, I'll stop having her go through jump uprights without bars.

I haven't done any work with the teeter. I have continued with running plank work. The plank is still low and right now and I'm focusing on just speed across the board. We've had cold snowy weather for awhile now so training has been indoors doing precision work.
I've been very busy (which explains no blogging) coordinating the final details for my agility club's Winter seminar. I invited Mary Ellen Barry and Jennifer Crank back and I'm looking forward to four whole days of excellent APHS instruction!  The unfortunate part is Mr. Summit will not be participating. But Sage and Soleil will be plenty busy at the seminar. I have Sage in the full day Balancing Cues with Mary Ellen, full day APHS Masters handling with Mary Ellen, and full day APHS Foundation/Basic Skills (for the RTH Flatwork, I will use Soleil) with Jennifer Crank. Then on Monday Soleil has a full day of puppy foundation and foundation flatwork with Mary Ellen. 

Once the weather warms up I will be back outside training and hope to get some video uploaded next week as well as post an update about our 4-day Seminar.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Poor Summit

It's been awhile since I posted on the blog. The weekend of the USDAA trial (and four days after his Chiropractic adjustment), Summit was dropping bars even more frequently than at the previous trial. He also missed two straight forward easy weavepole entries. So after having Stacy watch his jumping for me (he was pulling with his front again), I scratched him for the rest of the weekend. However, I was in charge of hospitality for this trial so I had be at the site from 7:00 a.m. until the last class ran. AND on top of that, I was really sick (flu, fever, and then head and chest cold by Sunday). So not the best weekend. I did play with Soleil ringside and we practiced our heeling and turns on the flat in a very busy exciting environment.

Summit saw a rehab vet the following Thursday for a complete work up and the prognosis is a pulled hamstring muscle (probably from compensating when the hip was locked). So that is actually good news that it isn't anything more serious and that he'll only be off work for about four weeks (although I may cancel his entry for a trial that is five weeks out just to be conservative). He is getting once a week PT appointments and at home, stretching, icing, and ball work.

Soliel is continuing to run the plank with only a couple of jumps (one was when I decided to try carrying the toy in my hand and throwing it as she exited the plank. Won't be doing that anymore). I've also been working on her heel work and turns using the binder clip idea from Mary Ellen's Foundation DVD. I was amazed how quickly Soleil caught on to nose targetting the binder clip. In one session she went to offering to nose touch the binder clip in my hand to walking at my side and targeting the clip on my pants.  What a smart girlie.

*Note to self - if you train heeling with binder clips in the morning before work, don't forget to take them off your pants. It really does generate some strange stares and comments from students and faculty.

Here are a couple of videos of our heel work with a couple of recalls to side.

She is so much fun and she loves to train.

Monday she attended her first agility class. It is an advanced level foundation class. She was very focused when we worked even though there were several puppies in the class who she knew and played with as well as her sister, Belle. After the class, we let Soleil and Belle off leash to play (indoor building).

This week I will continue the heel work (switching to the smaller binder clips), more running plank work (I'm going back to using a stationary target at the end of the plank - food and toys), and working turns on the flat (emphasis on rear crosses), and simple sends around a jump stanchion (followed by a FC or Pull).

Last, here is a cute video I took while sitting at the kitchen table and just happened to have my video camera handy. The tall cupboard is where the dog's toys, treats, brushes, etc. are kept. I noticed the tennis balls were out of the cupboard the other day and two of my Border Collies were carrying them around. I wondered how they got them out of the cupboard.... well here is the culprit. Except this time, it's not tennis balls she's stealing.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Dropped bars and Running Contacts

So the title sounds like a wild crazy Border Collie running amuck on the course. However, the dropped bars pertain to Summit and the running contacts to Soleil.

We were at a three-day AKC trial over the holiday. Indoors on nice sport turf. The courses were challenging all weekend and Summit and I had the best runs we've had ever. We were a solid team (well except for Sunday's afternoon jumpers when I pushed too hard through a turn and caused a WC). But overall I was thrilled with how well we did. The disturbing part was we ended up with a single Q all three days because of one, two, or even three bars. At first I thought he was slipping on the turf but we had shown at this same venue last Spring and Summit dropped a single bar out of six runs. So it wasn't the ground. Many other people at the trial also shared a concern since we usually don't have that many bars on the ground.

I was able to get Summit in to his chiropractor on Tuesday and his left hip was locked up and he was compensating on his right front which also caused wrists and elbow to be out of alignment. Dr. Jay adjusted him and was able to free up the hip. He said he should be ok this weekend but wants to see him again next week.

I knew there had to be something physical causing the bars. Another reason I never correct my dogs in the ring. With the exception of using negative punishment for lack of impulse control (start lines and contacts), I never blame my dogs. And even startlines and contacts need to be thoroughly trained and proofed before expecting the same performance under stress and pressure in the ring.

Anyway, here are a few videos from the weekend. The first is a standard run (one bar), then a jumpers run (first place), and finally Sunday's jumpers run with the wrong course towards the end. I almost have to say Sunday's jumpers run is my favorite for two reasons:
1. I loved that I could leave early at the second jump (with the LoPush) in order to get ahead of him going in to the box. There were few Q's on this course and the reason was most had problems getting the dog through the box with out the wrong course jump or the tunnel.
2. I liked the line I set in the box and how Summit turns over the jumps going in the right direction versus how most dogs landed facing in the direction of the tunnel and the handler had to use a strong call off.

We had a smokin' run going and at the end, I moved forward too soon (needed to use patience there) and did not let my dog land and turn before starting forward motion which cued the wrong jump.

Standard  - one bar

Jumpers with weaves - first place

Jumpers with three boxes - wrong course

Soleil has been doing plank work for a week now. I bought a video camera and started recording the sessions a few days ago. The video below is with the plank raised 4.5 inches. After many sessions at 100 percent, I raised the plank to 6.5 inches. I video taped this session but haven't uploaded to youtube yet. There were two attempts that I thought might be jumps but when I viewed the video in slow motion, she was clearly running but just had more extension over the board than she usually has.

She loves to train RC's and barks excitedly when we get ready for another attempt on the plank. Here is the video at 4.5 inches (notice the peanut gallery behind the French doors).

Friday, Saturday, and Sunday is USDAA (yay!). Hoping to get that second GP leg for Nationals.