Spent the last week or so doing a whole LOT of nothing with the dogs. Ran them in the backyard here and there. Taught the first session of the new classes, in our rented wonderful indoor horse arena. Hopefully it will continue to work out over the winter. It's a lovely sand/rubber mixture, that is not too deep and not too shallow, and they drag it to keep it even.
I did notice when I tried to run Seri on a couple courses Wednesday that she pretty much just refused to collect when asked so I stopped asking and put her back in the car. Collection exercises it is for a few weeks! Seri does this sometimes; her natural state of being is "EXTEND!" so I have to counteract that by working on collection and respecting my space with her. She won't run me over, but she definitely conveniently forgets all the lead-out collection work she's done sometimes. That's OK. Kiba actually went through a stage like this as well. At home on one jump Seri is remembering very nicely what to do, so I'm integrating more movement into the equation to make it more exciting. She'll get there.
I decided not to give Seri much time off from agility (aside from the week or so she already had to recover from the hard ground and long drive). She's due in heat end of December or early January, and I will probably send her to go live upstairs with my parents again, so she won't really get any work during that 3-week period aside from running with my mom's dogs in the yard or at class, so that will be her break. Drifter and Kiba are on break now, hiking and running but no serious agility training. I sent them over the dogwalk a few times Wednesday, and did some one-jump stuff in the yard at 12" and 16", but that's about the extent of what they'll do for a couple more weeks. I want to let their muscles recover with no repetitive pounding on them for a bit. Today we'll hit the park and go for a brief (60-90 min) hike, on leash (because it's Saturday and people may be out).
USDAA released their official point standings to team contenders. It affirms what everyone thought; 3 of us are tied for the 2nd and 3rd spots on the 26" IFCS Team. First tiebreaker is dogs defeated during the four 4-star trials attended. I win that! Drifter's average was about 10 dogs more than the next dog, who was about 10 dogs more than the 3rd dog, so that clearly breaks the tie. It kind of works out weird, and while I do feel like my dog performed well at the leading up events AND at Cynosports, of the other 2 dogs, the dog who won't make the team did better in AZ than the dog who will. They both did well at the smaller events, it just happens that one did better at larger events than the other. I am glad this came into play, but at the same time, the person who didn't make it DOES happen to live in a part of the country that just doesn't have competition. Not sure if I feel bad though. I had to beat a LOT more dogs to get my points than they did, so I guess it all works out in the end. My conclusion is; I'm really glad I made the team, I feel that I worked hard to earn it, including my very LAST run where I had to hang on to tie (glad I didn't know THAT going in!!). But I do think the point-earning system could use a bit more refining. There's still something not *quite* right about it. Hmm.
Anyway, USDAA hasn't made the phone calls yet, but there's no reason to think I won't get one!
Yes this is a rambling post, more than I have been putting up lately! And I'm not done.
After every large event i tend to look at what I did and didn't do well, whether I think my dogs are on the right "career path", and what I plan to do with them in the future.
A summary of my thoughts-
Drifter - as I've come to expect from him (with one exception - Tryouts) he continued to perform extremelly well under pressure. He came off his minor injury very well, only hit one bar all week, and brought home some ribbons, medals, a trophy, a shirt, and a world team berth. That said, I think IFCS is his last hurrah at 26". He is 7 years old, he is barely 20" tall, and he has a short, low-set neck. He can be fabulous at that height, but he is more fabulous at the lower heights. We will attend 2010 AKC Nationals at 20" as planned, and 2010 Cynosports at 22". This means Drifter will have to tolerate some jump height changes this winter/spring as we both prepare for IFCS at 26", and work towards qualifying for National events at 20" and 22". I think he can do it. We ran some 20" back in September and came back to 26" in October and he did fine. It's not the ideal situation but we'll survive it for one season. After IFCS in May, he is officially a 20/22" dog for the rest of his life. I'd like him to last. He's definitely not slowing down yet!
Kiba - i was SO thrilled that she was able to turn in the times to make Final rounds this year. She was the last dog to make it into Steeplechase Finals, but it was a pretty wide open course, not her specialty, and they only took 20 dogs out of that huge class, so for a 17.75", 27lb dog who used to run away if I said "no", that is a big accomplishment. She also had .5 second to spare in GP Semifinal - would have easily been in the Finals if not for the one bar. She did hit a few bars in AZ in other classes. 22" is by no means easy for her. It is comparable to Drifter at 26". She is turning 5 next week and has been pretty sound except for her recurring minor back pain. I will continue to run her at 16" in AKC and 22" in USDAA until I see a reason not to. I have full confidence in her ability to place at both National events in those heights.
Seri - well Seri had a few really big "baby dog" moments. But she also had some really good "adult dog" moments. She didn't hit a lot of bars. She DID miss a lot of weave entries but that doesn't really concern me for now. She didn't miss any contacts. She didn't break any stays. She only had 2 off courses and one was sort of my fault for assuming she "had" the right part of discrimination. Made Steeplechase Semi-finals. So I'm not sorry I took her, but I AM glad I wasn't trying to get her ready for Tryouts this coming May - not only because I won't be able to go (leaving for IFCS that weekend!), but because she isn't ready yet. My plan with Seri is to continue to hone collection skills and jumping skills, and impulse control, and to get into Excellent B and qualify for 2011 AKC Nationals and Tryouts with her, where she will run at 26". Not sure if she's ready or not, but we'll find out.