02 February 2013

Kiba's jumping

I was a little down on poor little Kiba yesterday. And by that, I don't mean mad at her - I mean sad about her career. She has done quite a bit for a soft, kind of crazy little dog. When she was young, she was so soft that I thought she'd never make a competitive national-level dog, but she just got faster every year and now I have to stop and think to count how many Finals she's been in! She's still kind of crazy, and still does not have a very good frustration threshhold in training, but now when she gets upset she just kind of throws herself at obstacles instead of running away and quitting, so I can deal with that!

she clearly took off way too early here
Anyway, on to the jumping. Kiba's a little thing, her structure is just so-so, but she has always had some drive, and she is light weight. But she's never been a very good jumper. She just moves her legs so fast now that people have a hard time seeing it. She takes off early. I think she has a mild form of ETS. It is getting worse as she is aging. Back when she was 5, there were two main reasons I dropped her to P16" from C22" in USDAA - one is that her back was quite tight and the lower jumps seemed to help, and the other reason is that she just could not get a Grand Prix qualification at 22", and it was always ONE BAR that was losing it for us. I could see that even though that doesn't sound awful, one bar, it meant she was struggling. This is a dog who used to RUN AWAY from a jump when the bar fell down, now she was knocking a bar or two every weekend. Jumps had become difficult for her. So I dropped her down to P16" where she has proceeded to get PGP Q's usually 2 in a row every year (this year included) with hardly any bars. But since last June or so I am seeing a new trend, and that is that the "one bar" issues have returned. This is especially noticeable in AKC where we chase the ever important "Double Q", and I can't even count how many of those she has missed over the last year due to "one bar". And it isn't usually on a tricky handling sequence, a hard front cross, anything like that. It's on relatively simple sequences, sometimes a straight line, sometimes an easy 90-degree turn. Yesterday it was the 2nd jump on the course.

Super cool photo! But what you can't see is that the next photo in the series was her almost landing on the bar!
We are entered in the AKC National this year, in 6 weeks time. I am going to approach it with a vengeance because I felt that I gave it away last year, that Kiba should have "had that" - it was my fault we didn't run clean in the Final, not hers (although she did me no favors either ;)

But I am also going to have to let go a little bit. I have to let go because otherwise if we go to Tulsa, and she hits one bar every day, I will be really upset. I have to let go because the bars are not really her fault. She does not mean to hit them. I think she hates hitting them, actually, so I am pretty proud of her for continuing to run so hard all the time for me. We will still try hard, and we are still on a mission to do enough jump training and conditioning that she can get through the National without even a single bar, as she did last year, but I will also be working to step back from the NAC dream with her and just accept her for who she is - a dog with a jumping problem. I will probably continue with my retirement plans for her - we are going to AKC Nationals this year in Tulsa, USDAA Nationals in TN, and then AKC Nationals next year on the East Coast, and that will be her final big event, just a little over a year from now. She will be about 9.5 years old for that, and hopefully still jumping 16" - though so far we have done 4 days of AKC without any QQ's, I am still optimistic that we can get through them even with her jumping issues.

It took me 3 weeks to teach her a strong verbal cue for these monster spreads, or she landed on the back bar every time.
Here is a video I made a while ago to study her jumping takeoff's, it is from WAO so she is jumping a little over 20" instead of 16", but that just makes her issue a little more obvious. It is in slow motion because it is more clear that way. Here is another one of her in the summer jumping 16" at AKC trials.


Julie Jenkins said...

What a great post. Kiba has so much heart. So many people blame their dogs for everything. Thanks for talking about why you don't blame her and giving her credit where it's due. And also having high hopes and expectations but remaining realistic, that seems like a healthy balance I'd like to emulate

Rosanne said...

Kiba does have a big heart. I wish I had video of her first year or two of training and trialing, I think a lot of people would be shocked at how far she has come!