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.