05 March 2012

MACH on a borrowed dog, dogwalks, and little? sheltie

First off, I went into this 3-day akc trial needing 2 QQ's for Trig's MACH, and she got them Friday and Saturday. Video:

Drifter also QQ'ed on Friday and Sunday - the only 2 days I ran him. I let him have the day off on Saturday so he wouldn't end up with sore feet. He actually did a faceplant after the dogwalk on Sunday so I'm glad we took it easy. He now only needs 3 more QQ for MACH2 and retirement from AKC.

The only run of Drifter's I got on video:

Kiba had a few really good runs but only managed one Q. It's starting to get into crunch time in preparing for AKC Nationals followed by WAO in Belgium. Mostly we are just having some issues working out how to leave the bars up on hard front crosses at 20-22". She has a lot more trouble at 20 than at 16" and I am determined to figure it out, both by putting her on a very tough jump grid and conditioning schedule over the next 3 weeks, and by working on some alternate handling strategies that allow her to focus more on the jumps instead of me sometimes.

Strafe was a pretty good boy. He got 8 points in Time 2 Beat on Friday, got an Excellent A JWW leg on Saturday and an Exc A Standard leg on Sunday, so he has one of each now. He hit a few random bars, but overall handled really well.

Which brings me round to dogwalks. He did 3 dogwalks, only one was really perfect. Friday he missed again (barely), and while he managed to hit this one on Sunday, it wasn't a great hit and his striding was funny. So I'm devoting the next 2 weeks before the USDAA trial to intense dogwalk training to see what I can do with it. I'm using video, some back-chaining, some stride regulators, and a frisbee. I won't be posting all the video though, too tedious.

If we can't hit most of our dogwalks by the next trial I will seriously consider putting a stop on it. He was perfect from October to February, however, I think his increased drive and speed at trials has him overextending over the top ramp and landing in an odd spot. I would like to try to fix this seriously before giving up, however I am not one to spend months and months on one obstacle when my dog is otherwise perfectly ready to go. A nice fast independent stopped dogwalk contact is perfectly competitive in most situations, and my goals with this dog require consistency along with speed so I am seeking to get both fairly quickly. Only time will tell if my plan for dogwalk striding rehab will pan out or not. I would prefer to have a running dogwalk but at least he has a 100% aframe that is already quite independent.

Oh, and my sheltie puppy is not so little. A few people at the trial mentioned that he looked big, so I looked up the sheltie growth charts (sheltie breeders are obsessive about size!) and sure enough, my puppy is big. I will chart his growth for a few weeks to see if it is due to a spurt or not - he also comes from a small litter (only 2) and so I generally expect the puppies to be a little larger from such a litter. I really just want him to stay under the FCI cutoff of 16 and 7/8", and the vast majority of his relatives are under 16", including several close relatives under 14", so I don't expect him to be that big despite his current size.

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