Last weekend I was at the USDAA Northeast Regional up in Bethlehem PA. I really wish they wouldn't keep returning to an outdoor location. Even though the grass at the site is lovely, one of the rings is on a slight slope, and so when it began raining Saturday morning, we had to deal with slick grass on a slopey surface in one ring. Not ideal for any dog, but especially worrisome for my injury prone reckless dog (Seri).
I should mention that Friday I stopped at my PT, Ria's house and helped her with some computer work for her business, and got her to check my dogs. On discussion, we are pretty sure Seri's shoulder is occasionally subluxating, and that's why I am sometimes feeling that it isn't quite right when I stretch, which is usually followed by a pop. It was in when I was there, happily, and she said the muscles in and around the shoulder were in no pain, there was no tenderness or swelling, and overall it actually looked pretty good. However, considering how hard I have been working to strengthen it for the last few weeks, there was surprisingly little muscle developement. I'm not sure if that's because I was taking it easy at first, or because she is more of a long, lean muscled dog rather than a bulky type.
So Saturday morning we ran Masters Gamblers, and I took it easy with Seri, only putting her in the ring on the wet in order to practice some contacts, which went OK even though she missed an Aframe (I am afraid to practice too many with her recklessness combined with a front end weakness!). I scratched Drifter, and ran Kiba who did well. Next up was the first round of Grand Prix, which none of my dogs really needed, but because it had stopped raining and the grass seemed OK, I deemed it worth getting them in the ring to get their brains in order. Kiba ran in the flatter ring, and put in a nice solid clean run in P16". Seri and Drifter ran in the slopey ring (really it wasn't that bad, but the wet made it seem much more uphill/downhill). Seri ran first and actually missed a jump because she didn't think she could make the turn downhill on the slick grass. Otherwise she actually did OK, she stopped on her dogwalk but self-released, which I let slide (and shouldn't have, as we'll find out later). Didn't hit any bars. Drifter was slipping. He slid a little bit early on, so I figured he had the hang of it, but he slipped badly later on and smashed through a jump, at which point I left to make sure he was OK. Approaching 9yrs old isn't a good time to start crashing jumps (he was fine).
Last run of the day was Steeplechase Round 1, and of course everyone has to run that since there are no byes to Round 2. Seri was up first again, thankfully in the flatter ring. I handled very carefully, utilizing blind crosses in somewhat silly spots just to avoid facing her over a bar, and it worked - her only fault was to hit the broad jump in the closing. Drifter had a lovely run with just one bar - I was so focused on figuring out Seri's handling that I didn't spend enough time working out his, and forgot how easy it was to get ahead of him compared to her, and so I found myself accidentally converging on the triple at the end, which he knocked. Kiba had a clean run up in the much drier slopey ring, and was first place in that round.
Sunday dawned wet and misty again (sort of like England rain!). Unfortunately they had all the important 2nd round Finals in the slopey ring because that was the livestream ring. First thing was Grand Prix Finals. They started with Performance and small dogs, so Kiba was up first. She had a brilliant run and won her class. Drifter had a brilliant run *except* that he pushed his see-saw just a little farther than the judge would allow so we got a flyoff called, which was a shame because he was more than a second faster than the winning dog. Seri knocked the 2nd bar, then ran straight off her dogwalk without even hesitating, so I walked her off after the 7th obstacle. So a bye for Kiba in PGP, but the other 2 got nada.
Last class I ran on Sunday was the Steeplechase Final. Kiba was up first again, and had another brilliant run with the exception of a quick spin on a weird handling maneuver in the corner of the ring - but because Steeplechase does not fault refusals, we only wasted a tiny bit of time, and we still won by a good margin. She has really picked up speed this last year; I think her confidence level has really come up at the lower height. Next up was Drifter, who also ran very well, although he didn't spin he did lose a bit of time in the same corner as he slowed way down to do the rear cross/flip manuever I asked for. We ended up 4th place, less than a second out of 1st, behind 3 much younger dogs, and got our bye, so I was happy with that. Seri was up last, and it really was sort of a run full of small problems. I should've walked her off for being goofy, I think, but I didn't. Also, when I got her out of the crate to warm up, she was moving stiffly up front, and Ria said her upper back was a mess and she had to mobilize it before we could warm up. So yet another issue!
So sum for the weekend: Kiba rocked it, winning PSj and PGP and getting both byes to the Semifinals. Drifter did well, getting a Steeplechase bye and almost wining GP, and Seri, well, she was Seri. What I learned about Seri was that slipping and jumping 26" did not pop her shoulder out all weekend, but it did mess up her upper back, and it also re-aggravated her bad wrist that she injured last year. Until yesterday she was off and on lame on the wrist so I've been icing it and lasering it and only leash walking her. Yesterday I allowed her off leash (she is already not allowed to run full-out on walks and she knows that), and she did very well. Ria said to give it 4 days, so in exactly that it seems back to "normal" again, so I think this is not a true reinjury, just an aggravation. What I did take away from this weekend though, is that I'm pretty sure Seri is not going to Europe. Mental issues aside, I just cannot trust all her various body parts to keep functioning painlessly, and she is so hard on herself that it's impossible to just take it easy and expect her to do the same. I pulled her out of Team classes in Kentucky at Cynosport, and will have to see how she is doing near the entry date - if she isn't completely sound I will probably leave her home. I put Drifter on Team instead, as aside from some minor weakening (which i can work on), he is holding up pretty well.
I am also seriously considering finding a way to get Kiba to Belgium for the WAO next year. I think it would be both a lot of fun, since Kiba is easier to run than Drifter - she doesn't push me all the time, she stays on the start line, and she doesn't really run her contacts - and also it might be good to show the WAO organizers that a dog doesn't necessarily have to be at the cutoff to compete in that division; that it's silly to say "all the medalists at 550 were at the cutoff because the smaller ones couldn't keep up" when the truth as I see it "all the medalists at 550 were at the ctuoff because that's a very average height for BC's and Kelpies" oh and don't forget "most dogs on the low end of the cutoff dont' want to jump 550 or 525, they want to jump FCI Medium height!"
(ETA if it isn't clear, Kiba would have to jump 20.5"/525mm if I took her to WAO, and no she is not a perfect jumper, but since we've moved her back has been doing a lot better, and I believe if I run a trial period of a few weeks at 20" in AKC and have her thoroughly checked and it goes well, that I can reasonably expect her to do 20" for a few months next spring as well. In other words, it would be a temporary bump up to a higher height, not a permanent one. Many people do this for EO and such without an issue)