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16 runs is a lot!

What a fun weekend at the CPA trial in Raleigh!  It was *very* well run in my opinion.  Efficient. Indoors was fabulous - especially since it 1. POURED down rain a few times and 2. went late into the evening a couple days.  The title ribbons were gorgeous. The "you can win money for playing or volunteering" was awesome.  Hospitality room was full of yummies.  I will definitely go again.

Ok, I know you people with multiple dogs are going to make fun of me but sixteen runs this weekend was a lot for me a my doglette.  I mean, with AKC its 4 runs a weekend.  Normal USDAA for us is 10, 12 on the outside.  All that walking on cement and running on dirt made my legs hurt and made Nikita a little sore by the end of the day on Sunday.  I saw her limping just a bit when I got her out of her crate before run 14.  She walked it off before we got to the ring so I think she was just stiff, but I decided to take it easy on her and not run the last two classes. 

I had planned to go home, but then a friend suggested I might want to use those as training for my startline - which had degenerated a lot due to me being a bad trainer and letting her self release.  So the last two runs involved me leading out, pausing to breathe and to tell her she was a good girl, and then saying "Yes!" and running back out to get goodies (in this case little tins of catfood).  I hope that made a big enough impact on her to carry to the next trial.  And, in the future I need to be fully mentally prepared, with criteria, to walk off the course with her little furry butt if she leaves before the K in OK.

The other nice thing this trial did for me is challenge my mental management. I had to walk two courses before I got to run them and there was a lot of busyness and noise and people. My strategies kind of fell apart in the face of all of it. I didnt visualize long enough and get myself centered before each run. And I was really worried in all cases I was going to forget my courses - I was unable to recall them to mind when I stopped and closed my eyes.  So I'm going to spend some time thinking about how I plan to deal with similar situations in the future.

Nikita and I's high points for the weekend were our Steeplechase Round 1 and Team Gamblers.  Steeplechase was fast and efficient and even with a suprise blind cross by my zippy little dog, I managed to hold it together (yay!).  Team Gamblers was this crazy complicated set of rules I had never played before and I was concerned. But my plan worked out nicely and I managed to get in a a couple extra points before the whistle because she is so crazy fast.  We had the highest points of any dog/any height, I believe.  So proud.  And, bonus, most of our bars stayed up this weekend.

More later when I post video!

Excited and slightly nervous

I'm really excited and nervous about the trial this weekend.  Not sure why.  Its bigger than I expected maybe?  But I've attended trials this big in the past with no issues. 

I suspect that it's because we've been a bit out of practice due to the weather shutting down classes/practice for the past 2 months.  Thank goodness for the classes we had this past week! I was rusty.  But I feel like I was getting back into the groove near the end of class.

I need to concentrate on my mental game this weekend:  I am calm at focused at agility trials.  I handle smoothly and deliberately.  Nikita is an excellent jumper.

Deep belly breathes.


OMG.  A friend told me about this Cardigan breeder she knows up in the NorthEast and I finally went to check them out this morning while trying to avoid doing any actual work. 


I am officially in love with this woman and her dogs. It is the most charming down to earth website and blog about Cardis I have ever seen.   Definitely read the section About Cardigans.  She's got a great attitude. She's involved with her dogs and her puppy buyers. She breeds for temperament and function.  When she sends the puppy home with you she sends a DVD of all the pictures and videos and temperament tests and little bits of info she has about your puppy. She sends you money  (she calls it a rebate off the purchase price) if you do puppy kindergarten and put a title or do a herding instinct test on your dog.

She also will very soon have a litter on the ground of blues from her really drivey bitch, Clue. Want want WANT.

She did manage to make me feel guilty that I don't feed a raw diet.  Maybe when I'm back down to two dogs.  I also need to really find a way to make it cheaper and easier.

Nikita OA but not *quite* OAJ

We had a really respectable weekend at the local AKC trial.  We went 2 out of 4 this weekend.  We finished our last Open Standard leg Saturday morning with a really good run - 4.03 YPS.  I was really proud of both of us - I kept my head together and she was really responsive and did her job beautifully.  I got a really nice lead out from the startline and from the table.  However, looking at the video, I was just a little behind where I needed to be for most of my turns and cues.  This was actually the theme of the weekend.  You can see me being a bad trainer at the start line in the video:

Saturday's Open JWW course felt messier than it looks.  I was beating myself up about it afterwards but watching it now, it really wasn't bad.  The good things: I got a nice long lead out (after threatening her on the startline :) ), I decelerated going toward the poles so she wouldn't blast into them and pop out, I made myself take a single stride past the end of the poles so I didn't anticipate and pull her out early, and I rear crossed the triple to pull her to the correct end of the tunnel (I think I was the only one who did that - most people pushed because they were afraid a rear would drop a bar).  The mess up was an off course in the middle of a line of jumps.  I had intended to rear cross the jump, but was really late putting that plan into action (How did I get on top of this jump so fast?) and tried to pull off the cross after the jump.  She went wooshing over the off-course jump before I could even blink.  I was still busy thinking about that, when she took a second off-course on the way out.  My theory about what went wrong was was that I did not spend the time I usually do really picturing myself running the course, exactly where I am going to be and what I was going to do. So when that section of the course came up there was a second of thought "what do I do here?" and then it was too late.    And I just had another epiphany - I think I visual myself running the courses too slowly!  When I visualize, everything is smooth and moderately paced.  I have lots of time to cross, and my dog is always where I expect her to be.  What I *should* be picturing is my dog running up ahead of me (because she is) and the obstacles streaming past reall quickly so I have to make those handling moves quickly.  I'm going to work on that. 

I moved up to Excellent Standard on Sunday. Woo!  It was a little bit of a mess.  The bad: I was late on my cross and she pulled a bar down, so then I was late indicating the poles.  We had a little bit of an argument on the teeter and the table. I peeled off the A-frame too soon and she missed her down contact.  The good: I led way out from the table and we got the DW/tunnel discrimination that caused a lot of people issues and  our serpentine was quite nice.  I also did a little fast thinking on my feet by rear crossing the next to last jump to keep her from blowing past the final jump. 

Our Open JWW class on Sunday was really fast and fun.  No real issues except that my front crosses were really late in all cases - I generally had to pull her around me.  I was pleased that I positioned myself correctly after the tunnel and heading into the weaves - I was closer to the tunnel so that I could check her stride slightly she she didn't blast past them coming out of the tunnel so fast.  That was our second Open JWW leg - One more to go!

My turn!

1) Put your music player on shuffle
2) For each question press the 'next' button to get your answer

If someone says "that's okay" you say? Shine Like it Does - INXS

What would best describe your personality? After Hours - Rickie Lee Jones

What do you like in a guy or girl? Dance with Me - Orleans

How do you feel today? Love is Not Enough - Nine Inch Nails

What is your life's purpose? All Day Afternoon - The Judybats

What is your motto? Head Over Heels - Tears for Fears

What do your friends think of you? All Around the World or the Myth of Fingerprints - Paul Simon

What do you think of often? Don't You Need - Melissa Ethridge

What do you think of your best friend? Blood and Fire - Indigo Girls

What do you think of the person you like? Its in the Way that You Use It - Eric Clapton

What is your life story? Doppelganger - Curve

What do you want to be when you grow up? No Myth - Michael Penn

What do you think when you see the person you like? What happens tomorrow - Duran Duran

What do your parents think of you? How to be a Millionaire - ABC

How will you feel at your funeral? What I make Myself Believe - Lowen and Navarro

What will they play at your wedding? Not a Pretty Girl - Ani DiFranco

What is your hobby or interest? Fortress Around Your Heart - Sting

What is your biggest fear? Blood Red - Rose Chronicles

What is your biggest secret? Survivor - Destiny's Child
In chat today with a friend...

Me: I used to consider myself fairly laid back
Me: but thats really just a lie I tell myself
Me: I'm laid back compared to some
Me: Much like my corgis are laid back compared to a Border Collie
Me: But I'm still pretty much an obsessive heel-nipping control freak

By George, I think she's got it!

The other night I arrived really early for class so I took the opportunity to set up a jump and practice "go." Nothing fancy, I just started really close to the jump and tossed the bait bag and *very* quickly she was sending from a good 20 feet away. She loves her bait bag. She slobbers on it and mangles it and tries to shove her head in while I'm opening it up.

I added the L/R by starting back close to the jump again. Asked her to "go jump" then I'd toss the bag as she was landing and say Left or Right. Then I just slowly backed off tossing the bag until after she had offered me the correct direction. After a little trial and error on her part, and to my amazement, I could see her think about my L/R command and offer it to me. I was SO proud of her.

I have to admit I had my doubts we could actually learn do this particular skill. Or more specifically, that I could teach it. So I am still basking in the wonder of it all. It feels like magic.

So now... maybe another time with just a single jump and then I'll work in a single box and then a double box. And I will definitely be working with this on contact/tunnel discriminations.

We also spent a short time working on her staying in the poles while I peeled off - tossing the bait bag to her when she stays in. A couple good reps with that and it definitely needs so further work.

Lefts and Rights

First, the left and right spins in front of us.
Then, the left and right spins at our side.
Then, left and right spins while we're moving.
Now, to translate that to a jump. MUCH harder than I thought. It was really difficult to get her to "go" over the jump, even when we were practically standing on it and with arm and leg cues. And then the L/R didn't seem to mean anything to her in that context.

I got a couple of them, but I'm thinking I may want to go back and work on more basic stuff again. First, "go" by itself, maybe to a target or a toy, and then "go" over a jump. Its been ages since we've done any of that and its obvious she doesn't know what it means. Separately, I think I may do more moving L/Rs with me tossing the toy/food out and away from me so she's not so concerned about being as close to me as possible.

Anyways, a work in progress.

Things to work on

For Nikita:
1. "Go" - especially to table and jumps
2. Left and Right on the flat - take the jump and then turn to go to another obstacle (about 50% of the way on this)
3. Tightly wrapping a jump standard left and right - with accompanying command (unsure yet what to use - zig and zag?)
4. Come/Side - in context of agility, get her to come directly (and close) to me and not take anything on the way
5. Independent obstacle performance - especially the weaves, tunnel and the A-frame

For me:
1. Timing - especially to warn her about a turn after a jump
2. Run harder
3. Mental game - stay focused on what is happening in the moment

What I took away from Silvia

1. Run fast. You're not going to be able to get to the place you need to be, to make it clear to the dog where to go, unless you run fast. So RUN, dammit.

2. Independent obstacle performance. If you have to babysit the dog in the weaves, or on the A-frame or teeter, then you are not going to be able to run fast and get to where you need to be.

3. Efficient lines. She doesn't care how you do it, but do not waste any yardage. Make the best, shortest line possible.

4. Tight turns. Don't waste time and yardage on the jumps either.

5. Talk to your dog. Repeat your commands multiple times till the dog commits. Don't leave them with any doubt where you want them to go and what you want them to do.