30 January 2010

maybe this weekend I'll actually update my blog here. Half the links are outdated. . .

29 January 2010

Mentally I've been quite busy lately. CPA down in NC went well. Kiba's back was pretty sore so she didn't run completely clean in much, but her Team qualified easily. Drifter was great, he won all 4 individual Team classes, his Team won overall, and he won Grand Prix with a bye voucher. Schiz also won all 4 individual classes (although of course P12" is much less competitive than C22"), and her PVP Team ended up 3rd overall for a Q. She had some major brain farts in Grand Prix. Seri wasn't running because she was in heat. Yay for bitches that stay on schedule - I hadn't entered because she was due in.


I do have a couple runs each for Drifter and Kiba on video that I just haven't uploaded yet. Will do this weekend. Lots of dogwalks into the wrong end of a tunnel. Lots of running and pivoting for me.


Most of my mental space lately has been planning IFCS trip. Flying the dog into the UK is going to be a pain in the ass, and expensive. Like mulitple thousands of dollars expensive. Just for him. But I'll do what I have to do, and fortunately my parents will help out. And individual fundraising IS allowed so any donations are gladly accepted! I've cut my tentative itinerary down a bit to we're spending about 2 days in London after landing to adjust to the times and let Drifter relax after the grueling flight-customs experience. I love that the parks and public transit and some pubs over there are dog friendly. It makes planning some sight seeing with a dog MUCH nicer; I won't have to leave him in the hotel hardly at all. After the event, which is near Bristol, we will spend a day or two in Cardiff (we're HUGE Doctor Who fans:) and southern Wales, probably seeing Brecon Beacons park and Pembroke Coastal park, including a castle or two, as well. The hotel the team is staying in is just GORGEOUS and is right ON the sea side, on a cliff above the water, in a large old 1800's estate type place. I am excited for this even.


In all that mental acrobatics, I've sort of neglected the most important bits - me and Drifter! We did go see Ria last week, but we are both out of shape by far compared to last fall. The weather's been a pain in the ass, warm and wet followed by a hard freeze and cold, so it's either mud or frozen mud that's not only hard but slick and with sharp edges to it. I am going to start hitting the local park and forcing myself to run for at least 30 minutes or so every day I'm not otherwise busy (like teaching for 5 hours).


Here's the practice set I plan to do tomorrow when we rent an indoor to train. One of the judges is a British guy who has some pretty difficult courses - at least difficult in that they are very different from the US styles.


12 January 2010

Preparation

FOUR MONTHS
I leave for England in less than 4 months. Hard to believe. I have been researching hotels and flights and such. I decided NOT to go in through Paris - it is a lot cheaper to fly a big dog as excess baggage into Paris but I think I'd rather just land in Heathrow and get it over with. Otherwise we'd have to land and use up a whole day transferring trains, cars, etc just to get up into England. And what would I do with his big-ass airline crate? No, better to just spend the extra $1000 or whatever and land in my destination. Then while Drifter gets shuffled off to the Heathrow Animal Reception Centre I can go to the car rental place, rent my drive-on-the-wrong-side car, and drive over to wait for him. Then we're done. I am currently planning to fly in Saturday night/Sunday morning, meaning we'd arrive pretty early Sunday morning. It takes a few hours to process the dog, so then if it's not yet check-in time at the hotel I'll take the short ride over to the Great Park at Windsor, which sounds beautiful, and is dog-friendly. We can wander a bit, look at the castle, then when check-in time comes drive to our hotel and crash. I am desperately trying to find an affordable hotel on that side of London, not IN the city itself, that takes the dog and ALSO has affordable all-day parking. Monday I'd like to do a little bit of easy sight-seeing, but I do NOT want to drive into London itself. I watch BBC, I know it's a huge pain. And dogs are allowed on buses and trains so I can just leave the car with the crate, and take Drifter in to the city with us to sight-see. Perfect! Tuesday we'll probably drive over to Bristol area, see whatever there is to see there, then check into the team hotel. I'm assuming Wed will be a Team practice somewhere, Thursday is check-in, practice at the site, and measuring, etc. Then after the event we'll spend a day or two touring Cardiff and south Wales, another day or two to see whatever we missed in London, then head home by Friday night. So in total just under 2 weeks in the UK. Sounds wonderful!

Now if only USDAA would tell us . . . well. . . something!

Anyway, the other preparations I've got are a wonderful dirt/rubber mixture indoor that we train in, which should be fairly similar to the dirt/sand surface of the horse arena the IFCS competition will be in. I'm also trying to attend mostly indoor/dirt surface trials. I'm entering a few AKC trials at 26" in Feb/March even though I hate AKC at 26" for him - they're local and on dirt, so perfect practice. He'll be over-prepared for the AKC Nationals at 20" but that's ok. I'll use a week or two before that to drop him back down. Dropping down to 20" is easy, working back up to 26" is not. After AKC Nationals I'm considering doing a dry run flight to another dirt surface trial - fly down with just him, rent a car, focus on him all weekend. Last year whenever I ran just him alone, we generally underperformed compared to when I was running multiple dogs. I have to figure out what weird mental quirk causes this - is he feeling too pressured? Is it me? I don't know. Generally he gets keyed up by my adrenaline and pressure, so I don't really think that's the issue - he usually performs BETTER on a bigger stage. I generally describe it thusly; if I don't take it seriously, neither does he.

Another preparation is that I am buying some shoes, they are trail runners but very supportive for my flat feet/weak ankles. I don't need cleats for indoor dirt surfaces and would rather not have them at all, actually, since they pinch a nerve on my left heel. I generally stick to trail runners anyway.

Here's what I ordered, they're a bit bright, but sound great.

09 January 2010

More from BARK! NH USDAA

Kiba - same 3 runs as Drifter. She had a few "duh" moments, not taking send cues out to the tunnel in Standard and a jump in Steeplechase. Even on replay, I think my tunnel cue in standard was pretty obvious to her, she de-commits at the very last second as she sees me heading off to front cross. Oh well. Note that even though she looks really sad, I really wasn't that mean to her, she just worries a lot when she's wrong, which also causes the stuttering on jumps to be amplified on this run.





Seri was pretty darned good, she slid past a couple weave entries (she is such a big fast "forward" dog that she needs to sit on her ass and SLIDE at least 5 feet or so before the weaves so she sometimes forgets that. Overall I was really pleased with her runs, and Team Standard was great, I think she just didn't quite prepare to go up that see-saw as she was too excited by my lateral motion as she headed up it. I hesitated more to check that the judge called it a flyoff, wasn't harshly correcting her or anything.




and my lone video of Schiz from last weekend. She was fairly good, had a very naughty dogwalk that somehow didn't get called.

First Youtube off new laptop

I have downloaded all the videos from BARK! onto my laptop but this is the only one I've finished so far. I had to find the widescreen tag setting download program (SDCopy) and then I had to find a free movie editor since I can't find the disc for my old one (ended up with Windows Live Movie Maker - it's fine, I don't need anything fancy).

Here's 3 of Drifter's runs from BARK!. Later today I'll have 3 of Kiba's runs, 2 of Seri's, and 1 of Schiz to post.





ETA: halfway through the day I noticed the widescreen wasn't set properly, so I apologize to those who commented already, as I deleted the original video, reset the widescreen and re-uploaded it. It was just an editing detail I missed. All videos are up in widescreen now.

04 January 2010

010410

Well last week I broke down and bought a new laptop. I used a special at Best Buy so I don't owe interest if I pay it off within 18 months. It's pretty nice. Smaller but good clarity on the screen. Easy to type.

This past weekend I made the trip up to southern New Hampshire for a tournament trial at BARK. It was a nice enough site, I really liked my hotel room (I do enjoy the down time of just me and the dogs in a nice hotel room!), I paid my extra $5 a night for a fridge/microwave/couch room. I entered this trial with all 3 of my guys and also my mom's JRT Schism in PVP. Friday was all Team classes, and we did pretty well. Seri was my only E, on the 3rd jump of an interesting jumpers course, after that everybody stayed on course. All 4 dogs got their 2010 Team (and PVP for Schiz) Q's. That was good since Seri is due in heat any day now, and will most likely be in during the CPA trial in 2 weeks, which I didn't even enter her in. It was snowing on and off all day Friday and when I saw the news at night they said basically it would continue all weekend. Encouraging! At least up north there are plows! Anyway I got some food to keep in the fridge in my room just in case we got snowed in. Saturday the roads weren't much worse, just a few inches of snow, so off we went again. Kiba started the day by finishing her ADCH with a pairs leg, getting a HUGE GINORMOUS ribbon. She's the oldest ADCH I've had in years, since I never enter all the classes, and then I didn't realize how close she was - I had no idea when she got her JM or GM until I got them in the mail. Duh! After that she and Drifter also got a Masters Standard leg, placing 1st and 2nd respectively in 22" (his table was a smidge slow). Then all 4 dogs got Steeplechase/PSJ Q's. Drifter had the fastest time by almost a second, and it was a pretty big show. Seri would have had the fastest 26" time if not for a missed aframe contact, so I was happy with that, and she also got an Adv Jumpers leg.
At night the forecast suggested continued snow, PLUS very cold wind for the next day. When I got up Sunday morning I decided I had two choices; stay overnight and go home Monday, or leave Sunday morning so I'd get home at a reasonable time. I was sore from speed walking on concrete to switch from dog to dog, and the dogs looked tired, and I really wanted to head back, so I went to the trial site, packed up my stuff, and left. Even without the GP, it was a good trial and worth the trip. I do have several local GP's coming up this spring so I'm not too concerned. I'm also STILL waiting to hear where USDAA Nationals will be held, and if it's out west then forget it, no more USDAA for me this year. Too much money. I have AKC goals I'd like to meet too and I need to get Seri into Exc B to meet them. But I ALSO have to be able to afford to fly Drifter to England for the IFCS event in May. So much to juggle financially and I just don't have that much cash, so I have to be really careful. Unfortunately that means not being able to attend every trial I want to attend, but that's life I guess.

Because I've only just gotten the new laptop, it may take me a few days to get the scattering of videos from BARK uploaded. I need to install the video editing software (or see if there's any already loaded on the computer - it's the first NEW computer I've had since 2000), and download the small conversion program that changes the weird camera video file into a readable MPEG with a 16:9 widescreen.

Today though, just mentally resting. 5 of my 7.5 hour drive home was in snow, top speed about 45mph in the "clear" stretches. I passed several skid-off-the-road accidents.