30 January 2013

Training from last night

Had a lot of fun running the course I posted the other day. Strafe ran the entire thing clean, and then we played around with some different ways of doing things. Kiba had a couple problems with 1-3, and after we sorted that out she ran the whole thing with just the 2nd to last bar down (I'm running her at 18"). Seri surprised the heck out of me by staying on the course - that is my goal with her, to work on getting enough control to stay on course when I run her. She hit the bar/wing on the converging element of the serpentine, and then I failed to help her enough to get the weave entry right after that, but that was her only 2 faults so I'm more than happy with her.

Here's the videos:








29 January 2013



Starts TOMORROW at Agility-U!

(click it, it's a link:)
Don't you want to sign up so you can call me Professor? And get feedback on your blind crosses? How could you not want that?


Here's a picture of my dog, to help convince you ;)

Drifter says even this old dog learned blind crosses! 

28 January 2013

Planned for tomorrow



I had originally made it longer and more difficult, but I don't want to push myself or my dogs too hard, and I also want to give Strafe a few opportunities to open up and move, and make the entire course doable. I am also going to work Seri and Kiba a little bit on it, so I can't make it too ridiculous as they have different skill sets from Strafe ;)

Today has nasty weather, but hopefully we can start hiking again later this week! Looking forward to it, it's been so deathly cold and then I've been busy teaching this past weekend.

22 January 2013

Cold

No, it's not as cold as Minnesota, or Sweden. But it's down below freezing today and tomorrow. We cancelled our classes in the unheated indoor. And I am only taking the dogs out for short walks (10-15min) bundled up in their coats to keep their muscles warm. I worry about their feet as well. So short walks only. It will give me indoor time to work on my online coursework and plans for my seminars in NJ this weekend.

From this morning:

Border collies. Always lining up.





We got a little bit of snow last night Not much. But with this cold, it won't be leaving for a few days.

21 January 2013

Srsly?



There are quite a few people signing up to audit or observe, but working spots are not full yet! I think some people who haven't done them before are a bit afraid to try them on video - don't be afraid! We are starting with the very basics and working up from there! The other reason might be that people who have already begun to do them are thinking this will be too easy for them - well we will start at the basic level but we will progress to all of the various types of blind crosses that are useful on course, so if you've had any trouble with them, this is for you! This is a great opportunity to get feedback on your performance without having to travel to a seminar or private lesson. We will also be discussing the timing, positioning, and handler's path. We will also do some analysis on competition videos if any working students have some to submit! It will be a very informative 6 weeks, and I expect all participants to be very well schooled  and confident in blinds by the end of it :)


20 January 2013

A walk in the sunshine

**Picture post!!**

The weatherman this morning said the lovely unseasonably warm weather would depart after mid-day, so we went for a walk late morning. Since the camera on my Droid has decided not to work very well, I took my little Canon PowerShot point and shoot with me.

Beautiful weather and a beautiful place to walk


Kiba is pouting really badly here. She laid down on the previous attempt and I yelled at her a little ;)



The orange-clad tricolor dogs kept lining up with each other...


Happy Seri, always smiling!
Strafe waiting for me to release the other 2 dogs
Seri after I let them run a bit - her tongue is quite impressive

19 January 2013

Had fun running the course I posted on Tuesday. Strafe and I did not quite ever get through it clean, but we did get a run where I forgot we had parked the aframe close to the tunnel (which was not intended to be a trap on course) and he touched it before going into the tunnel, and another full run where I caused him to knock a bar. I was pretty pleased. Hopefully next time we can make a full clean run. Working all the way through a 30+ obstacle course is some pretty serious training, and I can see why it has become somewhat popular in parts of Europe. It is a physical and mental test for both dog and handler. I was pleased to try it out the day before Ria was here to check my dogs out - Strafe held up really well and we are cleared to continue training like that once a week or so in the arena.

However, it might not end up being this week. They are forecasting the temperatures for Tuesday and Wednesday at a high of 25F (-4C) with the overnight low between days possibly down to 13F (around -10C). That is just too cold to ask my dogs and myself to be running agility - it is dark by the time we set the course, meaning the temperature drops pretty quickly. It is hard on muscles and lungs to be working an aerobic exercise in such cold weather - the arena is not heated or insulated, and while it has a small viewing room (we use it for crating) that is heated, we can't actually run inside there. So probably no more courses till the following week. I have a possible course plan made already but will wait and post it when I know when it will be set up.

Today the weather was gorgeous. It was 50F (10C) and sunny all day. We went for a nice hike, then a 2nd shorter walk in our field in the afternoon. Tomorrow will be almost as warm, just with a bit more wind, so we will probably try to go for a longer hike since it might be our last chance for a while. We will still get a bit of exercise when it's below freezing but I'll keep it short to avoid hurting anyone's lungs or feet...

Nice ears, Strafe.

13 January 2013

In the interest of making myself and my dogs mentally tougher, I am going to begin setting up and running a long, tough course every week. I will then use a modified version of the set-up for my classes, which won't be running the exact same course. But I want to do this for at least 6 weeks or so leading up to Nationals so we are all a bit tougher; I plan to do it again for a few weeks leading up to Tryouts and the EO as well. I will be posting the course here each week (for free!) just because I'm cool like that. I may draw some inspiration from international judges or courses, but I have to design them myself for class and to fit the space I'm working with.

Here's the one for this week, which won't get set until Tuesday:



When I design these, I try to make them challenging for myself, where there is a mix of running, difficult close maneuvers, and things I know I will have to work hard to get... I am making them longer in the european style of making me push harder, faster, longer - I want to be breathing hard at the end and I will have to work hard not to become sloppy as that happens. This is great mental and physical work both for handler and dog (as long as both are in good shape!). The other aspect which adds difficulty is that if we get something wrong we are going back to the beginning to start over! Fun but tough... (if we get too exhausted we'll take a break ;)

Strafe efficiently jumping over one part of the bar

12 January 2013

Professor!

News!

I am now  Professor at Agility-U! I got invited to teach there and will be starting out with a 6-week online course on Blind Crosses! Read about it here!

I am excited to be teaching an online course, and I think it will be a great way to teach people to blind cross. Having it spread over 6 weeks will give me a chance to lay some groundwork, start with simple sequences, and work our way up. Being an interactive course will give people the ability to get feedback on their performance and problem solve if things go wrong. I also plan to post some courses and discuss where blinds might be appropriate, and allow people to post videos of "blinds gone wrong" and we will discuss what happened that caused the problem. By the end of the 6 weeks I expect everyone to be a lot more confident in using blind crosses! It will be appropriate for any dog who is sequencing reliably, and all the exercises will fit in a relatively small area with just a few jumps and a tunnel.

Hopefully the end result will be a bunch of people who are confident handling like this:



I spent the day today teaching a seminar on International skills and coursework - we spent the morning working some skills on one jump, and then ran a difficult course in the afternoon. Strafe was a really good boy - he is getting to be a perfect demo dog; I leave him on his bed out of the way, and if I need him he comes, if I don't need him he lays quietly and holds his toy while he watches. He also got to try his hand at the whole course at the end of the day, and while I was disappointed that we didn't run it clean the first try, he did pretty well and did run the whole thing clean all at once after a couple of minor mistakes.

Here's the course, if you're interested.  I made it up.




10 January 2013

Not very January-like

It's been well above freezing here during the day and it has been wonderful weather for walking in the sun! Today I took Kiba, Seri, and Strafe to Fair Hill and brought along my nice little point and shoot camera since my Droid's photos have been very grainy lately.

We are so lucky to have moved close to such a huge place to walk the dogs

Yay!

Posers.
I don't always bring Seri so she was happy to come this time.
This is located in the area where I think they usually start the horses for some events. I did not look inside.
Tree on the left is a weird shape
Dressage judging booth


I hear the judges are tough this year ;) Seri is excited!

Strafe is more contemplative

09 January 2013

Something fun and new is in the works, stay tuned ;)


In the meantime, went hiking with a friend yesterday, I made a brief attempt to take a picture of all 4 of my dogs and all 3 of hers when they stood in a small area on the porch together but they wouldn't cooperate and I decided it wasn't worth it. The long hike made me feel better about the huge Chipotle burrito I ate at afterwards (YUM!)

I have no trials planned now for the rest of the month of January - I teach classes and a couple of days of seminars, and basically just continue to keep my dogs fit and get them stronger. Today I found out Kiba still triggers a positive result on the SNAP 4DX test for Lyme and now she also trips it for Anaplasmosis which is new, so she's on Doxy now. She is basically asymptomatic, although all her life she's had issues with a tight back and lately her shoulders have been tight as well. But she's also a tense little dog in the house so it's basically impossible to to know if the Lyme has had an effect on her joints long-term. Oh well. I also pulled blood for the Distemper/Parvo titers - she is the first dog I owned that I never did adult boosters after the 18-month age. (we do Rabies to stay legal)






07 January 2013


Worked on playing with Strafe on this yesterday, with lowered jumps. I made it harder by handling the whole thing with the dog on my right, using the "flick" maneuver as taught by Jaakko and Janita. We hit a couple bumps where Strafe committed to the obvious side of #2 so we worked on our timing with that and with him coming straight to my arm when I lower it and call him strongly. No, I did not get video. No I probably won't use this on American courses, but it's a fun skill to have and it is a very straightforward way to handle it - no side changes involved, no blind crosses, just a quick "flick" maneuver, the dog does all the work. Fun! But it's something you have to practice before trusting it at a trial... and it's especially hard for us to master since we really don't ever get a chance to practice something like this at a trial here in the USA. But I like having a ton of skills!


We did use our weave entries and backside skills to win Team Snooker at USDAA Nationals!

04 January 2013

Just one of those random posts

Kiba and I with our 2nd place ribbon from Individual Pentathlon Jumping 2

Going to try not to continue neglecting my blog as I've done occasionally over the past few months - it started with my old laptop going down and then I just wasn't really doing anything I considered blog-worthy.

Sometimes Strafe seriously poses like he wants someone to paint him
So this post is just a random post. It contains pictures, because pictures are cool. And it contains a picture of each one of my four dogs. Because they're each cool in their own way.

Pausing to read the map in Kensington Park, London
Tomorrow I am teaching a seminar on blind crosses, then Sunday we will probably go see Les Mis. Every day I am also trying to do some strengthening/bending/plyometric exercises with the dogs - a mix of stuff. Today we went for two 15min walks (one of these I ran partway so we all moved a little faster), Strafe and Kiba spent a minute or so with the wrist weights on both front and then rear legs, and we went to the agility ring and practiced bending around a jump standard and driving out of it. (no jumping, just bending and driving)

We got a little bit of snow a few days ago but it melted. This is from several years ago though.
We are using a lovely indoor over the winter, and will probably keep renting it until our own indoor is finally finished, because the owner is very easy to work with, the footing isn't bad, and that way we don't have to worry about weather (unless it snows really bad and the roads are a mess).

And that's pretty much the end of my random post. Stay tuned on the email lists and facebook for upcoming seminars at the indoor facility in Oxford, PA. I've got one this weekend and next, and we're planning a couple in April and May as well. Hopefully they will help fund my trip to Belgium for the EO - that event is still 6 months away but I'm already excited to go - Strafe will get to see his breeder and mother again! Plus it's a huge, fun competition with great courses. Can't wait!

Just for Janelle, here is a 2nd picture of Drifter.

Drifter really enjoys our daily walks.

03 January 2013

2012 - 2013

I am just not a sappy person, I don't really do emotional "year's end" posts. But I will review briefly what 2012 brought me and what I am hoping to achieve in 2013.



in 2012 Strafe finished his NA, NAJ, OA, OAJ, AX, AXJ and qualified for AKC Nationals and Tryouts. He also got his AD in USDAA and qualified for and attended USDAA Nationals (Cynosport Games). There he won Team Snooker and Standard, came 3rd in Steeplechase Semi-finals and 2nd in Steeplechase Finals, was top Team dog individually in 26", his team came 4th in the Relay and 14th overall. We applied for WAO Team and despite strong application videos were not selected. We attended a seminar with Jenny Damm and had fun, attended a seminar with Jaakko Suoknuuti and Janita Leinonen and had fun. And we learned to be a good team with a hugely promising future.

in 2013 Strafe and I are attending our first AKC Nationals together, going to AKC Tryouts and hopefully the European Open. We are also planning on going to 2 USDAA Regional Events and Nationals in Tennessee in the fall. What we hope to accomplish? Well.... world domination basically! I would love to win the AKC-sponsored spot for the EO Team, but I am planning to go whether we do or not. And of course I'd love to make EO Finals and do well, but I won't hang my entire happiness on a goal like that!

Smaller goals for 2013 are to make Strafe stronger physically and braver about jumping - he needs to leave strides out here and there to continue to get faster, and while I feel that he is trying, he has a ways to go before he can do it consistently without knocking any bars.

Here's his best runs from the AKC trial this past weekend where he got QQ #9 and a few single Q's.

The little smidget Kiba had a pretty rockin' 2012 as well although I have a few handling regrets that are unusual. We attended AKC Nationals in Reno, winning 16" Time 2 Beat, JWW, and Hybrid rounds, with a 4th in Standard. In Finals I made a really stupid handling mistake that most likely cost us the win. I made the exact same mistake at the USDAA Regional, costing us a PGP bye. Kiba did place 2nd in Triathlon Final at the Regional which was an extremely great moment for her since I ran her in C22" where she struggles to keep up with the "big dogs" usually. We attended the World Agility Open, where another stupid miscommunication handed us a big fat off course in our very first run, although we came back to put in 3 solid Team runs, helping our team win Bronze and get Gold in the Relay. she also pulled off a 3rd in Gamblers, and a 2nd in one of the Ind Jumping classes which I was very proud of. Over the summer her jumping went a bit downhill and I have decided that she is now staying at 16" permanently in every venue. I elected not to bring Kiba to USDAA Nationals in Denver, the first time she's missed the event since she started attending in 2008. She qualified for AKC Nationals over the summer, although her Q rate is surprisingly lower than Strafe's. I discovered I can NOT get her to measure under the FCI Medium mark no matter how hard I try. And this fall she qualified for USDAA Nationals the same way she did last year - with 5 out of 5 Q's (2 PSJ, 2 PGP, and 1 PVP)



for 2013 Kiba is returning to AKC Nationals, where I hope to be better focused and maybe put that elusive NAC title to her name. She has no international plans any more, and will likely take the summer off after attending the USDAA Regionals in June and July. Then she goes with me to USDAA Nationals in TN, which will very likely be her last time attending since rumor has it that the event will be moving out "west" for 2014 and she hates to travel.

Here are Kiba's best runs from this past AKC Trial over New Year's. Due to a couple of knocked bars and a very strange weave pole fault, she did not get any QQ's, but she got 3 single Q's and 79 points towards qualifying for next year's Nationals.

ETA: I did not mean to exclude Drifter, somehow his bit got lost! He is going to finish his MACH2, hopefully in February, and then continue to enjoy retirement. He does not seem to miss traveling very much and has a grand time staying home and emptying my mother's toy box and chewing up dog beds and foam mats!

Seri's goal is to be the funny, goofy, happy dog that she is. If I find myself in a financially favorable spot I may enter her in a few trials just because she loves it, but I have no real competition goals for her. She is doing well though.

For me, I want to try to get a bit more fit than I am, including more hiking and running with the dogs, along with strengthening my bad shoulder. And I want to pressure myself to run harder and faster at every trial. I've been trying to do this already, just want to continue in the same vein. I also want to keep pushing myself to learn and handle in a more "european" style, getting as much speed as I can from my dogs while also clearly indicating the correct obstacle and not causing knocked bars. Non-agility goals include keeping tabs on any possible Strafe puppies that are born, and possibly bringing home a Strafe half-sibling as my next puppy.