06 April 2011

Old Dog, New Dog

This week I am back to training Seri again. My handling style with her is evolving into one that's markedly different from the others, although the basics are very similar. My choices are different for her. This week I am trying to do more blind crosses in non-wrap situations so that both she and I can become more comfortable with them. I have decided not to bother training Drifter and Kiba for these. Drifter becomes somewhat distressed if I do them, and Kiba is so fast at 16" that to be honest it's very difficult to be far enough ahead to do them most of the time on USA courses. She has very quick airtime with a flat trajectory, so changing sides as she approaches or jumps a jump will still do some weird things to her path. And if you haven't figured it out yet, I walk every course looking at the "lines", both the ones I am on, and the ones I want my dog on. I am still pondering whether to bring Drifter to AKC Nationals next year or not. He may decided for me, if he has any health issues by winter next year, but even if he doesn't, I am not sure I want to fly him that far. He will be 9 this September, and while he is obviously still competitive, I worry about his heart murmur and the small stiff or sore spots that pop up here and there. He felt pretty good in Lexington, although on Friday his hock was crackling and his pelvis was shifted slightly. After we fixed that he was fine, but it seems every big event there's some new strange thing he's never had before, and I don't want to be a person whose dog grows old on course, I'd rather let him retire with dignity before anything begins to cause pain for him. Anyway, we shall see. He is still attending the WAO next month, and USDAA Nationals in October, after his 9th birthday, but I am not planning to run Team with him so he will have fewer runs. I had my first day of classes at the new place yesterday. i have more today and tomorrow. It is very strange and nice to be able to just walk outside to the ring and teach, with no driving or rental required. I am getting used to being able to train that way now as well. Very cool stuff, and I truly hope that it can get Seri improved to where we need to be in order to do well at AKC Nationals and Tryouts next year. I counted the days of AKC trialing I have planned, and it is something in the nature of 32 days of trialing, which means she'd have to QQ 6/32 days. I'd like to say that's perfectly reasonable, but I'm not really sure yet with her. I have a feeling her consistency will improve as the year goes on and we settle into trialing seriously together, but I certainly cannot guarantee we will be able to qualify in that time period. I do believe the goal of 4 QQ's by next March, an entire year, is a perfectly attainable goal for her, but we all know that if you go to Tryouts without having done well at Nationals, you are not a serious contender.

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