02 September 2011

Tightrope Walking

Day one of an AKC trial today. Despite the large entries in this area (we fill 2 and 3-ring trials all the time) the well-oiled machine of organized AKC secretary and club runs well, and despite a 1h45m drive, I got home around 2:45pm. I ran Trig for my mother who is having some allergy issues and figured it was better to just  stay home. Trig ran very well for me, got 2nd in Standard and a nice run in JWW (left before I found out the placements) for a QQ. Kiba also ran pretty well, but was a little crazier than usual. She pushed every single contact in Standard but didn't get called on any of them, but also hit a couple bars in each run. I think that she just is so enjoying her increased speed and my more aggressive handling (blind crosses and lots of running) that she keeps forgetting that 20" is a lot harder than 16". Again, her actual jumping does not look bad, she is just a little more careless than she should be to jump 20" cleanly. She had the fastest time in Standard, moving at 5.23YPS, and was almost 2 seconds faster than Trig in JWW.

I have to keep a fine balance with Kiba, since she is, at heart, a soft dog. She also, when not feeling confident, does sometimes stutter step before jumping. I haven't seen a lot of that at 20" lately, and I believe that's due to the time spent at 16" building up her confidence. She's put on speed, drive, and some extra sheer joy in trialing since we did 20". She isn't worried anymore. However. . . that means she's running a bit carelessly. So now I have to introduce a little "hey, remember your job" into her joy. It saddens me a bit, because she is REALLY flying and having fun, but jumping over the bar instead of through it IS her job. So today after I got home, I gave her a few minutes rest, then took her out to our field and set up a line of jumps, including a parallel and extended double, all set at 22". Spacing was typical AKC spacing, 15-18 feet or so. And I ran ahead of her. And she hit bars, finally, since I so obviously induced it. In the course of normal handling work she does NOT hit bars. In a footrace on a straight line with 22" jumps, she did. And, meanie that I am, I corrected her for it. I marked the knocked bar verbally and stopped immediately (I'm quick), reset the bar, and started over. Because she is soft inside, this did make her stop and think. And it did produce a bit of a stutter step as well, but I ignored it and praised the heck out of her when all the bars stayed up. We did this a few times in each direction, me running like a wild thing, her being expected to keep bars up. She got it, and by the end she was starting to reaccelerate a bit and lose the stutter. But it IS a bit of a tightrope with dogs like her. Not correcting knocked bars leads to increased speed and confidence and joy, and also more knocked bars. Correcting knocked bars leads to less speed, a bit of a stutter step, less joy, but also less knocked bars. I have to balance it. She has outgrown the times when she would not knock bars at all because she was scared of them, and now she doesn't seem to think about it enough. . . so I put a little more "think" back on her mind. And hopefully she will remember tomorrow at the trial that she needs to pay attention to the jumps, not just race willy-nilly around the course, posting great times that do no good since bars fell down....

Don't worry, she'll still get rewarded at the trial, even if I do mark a bar verbally on course...

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