Monday, October 31, 2011

Fun times at camp

PowerPaws camp was fun.  I might even say I learned a few things.  We had 3 full days with 6 instructors.  Two instructors each day, one in the morning, and one in the afternoon.  Hanging out with my good buddies was one of the best parts.

 Camp life is what you'd expect.  Canopies everywhere.  The days started out cool and mid day were a tad bit hot.  We kept ourselves and the dogs hydrated and put sunscreen on frequently.
 Our canopy seems to be one of the taller ones.  We camped with our good buddies all around us and as usual had all the elements of a good agility camp.
 Lectures were minimal.  Mostly we were on our feet walking, analyzing, and then running some really creative courses that tested our techniques.  Every single instructor gave me feedback that I can use to improve my skills with my dogs.
 Some instructors used white boards to help explain the techniques, but the focus was on practice and I loved it.
 Each instructor spent time with each individual.  We all learned from what was said.
 Although the days did start a little chilly, sweat shirts were replaced with light T shirts by 11am and we really didn't need anything until late in the evenings.
 Rewards were stressed.  Don't forget those startline stays!
 We all had questions.
 Even the dogs.
 Fin wanted to show the people pottie area. 
 And where the people got lunch.
Every day Fin got a massage by Linda.  She is starting to really love her massages.  I tried laying down next to Fin to see if I could get a massage.  Linda didn't fall for it, and I did not get my massage.

 Monkey had loads of fun and enjoyed practicing her contacts.
 Fireball got to play too. 
 Monkey showing off her mad tugging the Frisbee skills.
Fin showing what she did best after 3 days of hard work.

Over all, the instruction was amazing, food was good, people were tremendous, and in the evenings sharing a meal and wine with good friends was priceless!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

And we are off...

We are off for three fun days filled with information, friends, dogs, dirt, sun, and fun.  Perhaps a glass of wine or two might be on the agenda as well.  Last year I thought my head would explode by the end.  I expect the same for this year.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Some things worked, some things didn't, some things I can't remember

The startline stays that Fin had this weekend, rocked the house.  For the most part, her weaves were great, but her weave entrances were amazing.  She hit some weave entrances that more seasoned dogs had trouble with. 

 Contacts rocked.  Sometimes flying over the apex of the frame caused momentum that pushed her off the end of the A, but she stopped on every single one.  Teeter was fantastic, even with a teeter that sucked.

Rear crosses were nice, even when I was so late, the train left without me!  I did no serpentines, but her threadles off the tunnels were great.

What didn't go so right:

Crashing the triple.  Gosh how I hate when she does that.  Weak areas continue to be jumps after weaves (crashed and go arounds). 

Aframe/tunnel discrimination.  Why does this make me shake in my boots!  I will get better, I will be better, I will have confidence.....

Overall, couldn't have a more fun time then I'm having right now.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Weekend Theme: Run hard, run fast, run the course you walked, take some chances!

The weekend was a great success.  One Standard and one jumpers to show for it, and fun, fun, fun!

The goal was to run the courses I walked and let Fin take care of her parts.  Out of all the runs, there really was only one that I felt I let Fin down.  Every other run I felt I kept my eye on my dog and worked hard to be were I needed to be. 

There were a few go arounds, a couple dropped bars, and one popped weave.  For contacts, Fin was perfect.  We even got some nice downs on the table.

Every day, Fin was on fire and only came out of the weaves the one time to try to nip my heel.  I believe she was saying, "Mama, you do not need to be so close to the weaves, get some distance girl and show me where I'm going."  All I saw was her popping the weaves, mouth open, teeth showing, and tongue hanging out coming for me so I stopped and had her sit as quick as I could to save my nice jogging pants.

Overall, I am not disappointed.  Fin and I are a team.  We might still need more work on all the details, but from a big picture Life is Good!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

USDAA Summary

This weekend we have a weekend off.  Well sorta. I am dog sitting for my buddy while she is off enjoying life without a dog. 

Last weekend did a quick USDAA with Fin and Tazz.  Tazz did everything right...just at Tazzie power which doesn't seem to be part of the USDAA program.  Some runs we were as much as 6 seconds over, but in others, .10 seconds over. 

Overall the courses were tough and it seemed that the times were tight.  I actually really enjoyed the challenges.  Fin was amazing but only one Q for the weekend.  I really felt that we connected well this weekend.  Minor little things here and there is all. 

As we head into November, we are looking at a lighter and lighter schedule.  I'm going to take a real break from agility over Christmas.  We'll train only once or twice a week and we'll have 5-6 weeks free of competition.  I have a bunch of friends going to the AKC over New Years, but I doubt I'll go.  I think instead we'll spend our time hiking, playing fetch, and learning new tricks. 

Maddie and Rocky will be thrilled to have their mom home on the weekends!

Thanks to Lisa Williams for the great photo of Fin! 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Foot work is incredibly important.  Think about walking down the hall in the morning. If you do not put one foot in front of the other, point your feet in the direction you want to go, and keep a consistent pace towards your destination you many never get to the kitchen for that all important cup of Java (or hair of the dog...just saying).

I find that footwork is really important when I go to dinner with my friends.  Just getting to the bathroom and back can be an adventure and all I have to worry about is myself.  If I take a little detour, no one needs to be the wiser.

However, when walking, running, skipping, or otherwise moving with my dog, where I place my feet is the difference in where she ends up.  Lead out pivot and face my feet towards the tunnel (even if I want her to go to the Aframe), I'll get the tunnel 100%.  But, if my feet face the Aframe, I have at least a chance that she'll take the Aframe over the tunnel (albeit a small chance given Fins tunnel love).

You may think me silly, but I practice footwork all the time without my dog.  She sits on the sidelines with the other dogs in the household (I'm sure they are making fun of me) while I get out there and practice my front crosses, serps, threadles, and rear crosses. I practice on dirt, in short grass, in tall grass, in sand, around gopher holes...whatever surface I might face.

It is like dancing.  You practice, practice, practice and each time feel like a uncoordinated fool.  Then one day, it all comes together and you feel amazing.  The sun comes down and radiates on you, little blue birds are singing, and your dog knows exactly where to go.  It is an amazing feeling.

Then the next day, you loose your mojo, and back to practicing you go.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

So much more happens in my backyard than just agility....

... last night I set up one of those fancy night vision cameras.  It is amazing what I was able to see.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Learning my letters...

If you are an agility enthusiast, immediately, before breakfast, before work, before you take your shower, order this book.  Alphabet Drills by Nancy Gyes, is jam packed full of fun and education.

I don't know about you, but sometimes I get out in my field and I ask myself, what am I going to work on today?  I generally have a list of things that I need to practice:
  • Wraps
  • Rear Cross
  • The dreaded Threadle
  • Timing of my front cross
  • Lead outs
  • Send to the backside
  • etc.
Before I got Nancy's book, I would use my old clean runs to get ideas for practicing these handling moves or fumble with setting something up.  It is time consuming and takes away from my training time.

Now, I just look through the book.  There is a letter for everything.  Many of these letters only require a few jumps so you can set it up anywhere.  On page 181 there is a very handy grid that lists a number of handling challenges and the letters that help work that challenge.  Now I decide what I'm going to work on, find an appropriate letter, set it up, and I'm ready to go.

Go now and get this book!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Backyard Drama

The story ends well with a chicken sitting down on the ground and giving up.  Two shelties crouched with noses 4 inches from said chicken waiting for it to move.  And, finally, me getting to the chicken, picking it up off the ground, and launching it over the fence.

PS: in the real life images above, imagine me running behind the shelties yelling, "Lie down!  Lie down!"  One of the shelties is excuse for the other.

For a weekend I was home doing nothing...I sure got a lot of driving in...

Guess what I did this weekend?  Imagine my amazement when the trial secretary told me that I could still get into the show?  Off Laura and I went to Leon Equestrian Center in South East Sacramento area.  What a wonderful facility.  The footing was like running on clouds.  Now I know how an expensive hunter jumper horse feels like.  Oh and those horses are beautiful!!!  They are growing them bigger then ever.  Just amazing to watching the riders jumping these beasts.   Very beautiful.

So how'd we do?  Well no Q's, but I felt my handling was top notch.  I decided going in that my focus was on running the best courses that I could run. Here were my criteria:
  • Run the course I walk - check
  • Run with confidence - check
  • Get to position and FC as much as possible - check
  • Don't loose it when mistakes happen - check
  • Have fun - check check check
Despite Fin popping her weaves, I felt that my jumpers runs were brilliant.  My standards were so very close.  So very.  Day two was perfection except for that long sprint to the tunnel and me being too far behind to send her to the weaves so she did the tunnel twice. But Day one, I'll just say two words.  Running contacts.  So we got a few refusals because I was not letting her get away with that naughty action.

I really had a heck of a good time.  This week we are doing a few weave drills, hiking, and heading up for some USDAA action on the weekend.  A surprize performance from little Tazzie this weekend.  He'll be trying out some Standard and Gambler courses.  Most of all, he'll be trying out walking around and not acting like an idiot!

Hope you are having as much fun with your dogs as I am with mine.