Thursday, December 30, 2010

Our goals for saturday's debut

a brief summary:

-remember our Webb lessons
-during the walkthroughs, break the course into achievable segments, memorising and visualising each segment and the course as a whole.
-take the time to connect and play with soph before running.. remember our warmup rituals.
-run with intent and focus, providing a constant flow of enthusiastic, consistent information on what and where I want soph to be doing.

and of course, have fun!

the rest will be gravy. :)

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Tis the season for reflecting and planning

for the year ahead. In 5 days, we'll be making our Ontario AAC debut at Acton Agility on January 1st. We've entered three classes - jumpers, standard and steeplechase. Our goals for the day are:
-to have fun (that's a given!)
-to break down the courses into manageable sequences of 4-6 obstacles, and memorise and visualise these sequences
-to maintain focuss and drive during those sequences
-and to bring chocolates and cookies to placate the judges and ring crew if Sophie decides that mugging is more fun than running.

Longterm goals for the year:

I'd like to get some more level 1 q's in CPE - I do still love that venue and the games.

Aiming for the regionals and nationals in Barrie - if nothing more than the steeplechase, the nationals are an experience and with some more trial miles under our belt, we'll enjoy it a lot more.

Working with Cassie - my goal with her is a little less ambitious but no less important. I would love to get her into a group class of some kind by the end of year.. probably rally o, at least to start with. Right now we're setting up some folks to do some parallel walks with, and working hard on our CU skills.

Professionally, I need to do a ton more self promotion - never my strongest point.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

House League

was a hoot! Started out with a speed game, snakes and ladders, which involved a down and back course of jumps, frame, walk and weaves - four columns - and 60 seconds to get as far as you could. If you reached the end and still had time, you would start back tracking. Points were given - 1 jump, 2 tunnel, 3 tire, 4 aframe, 5 dogwalk, 7 weaves - and no faults for refusals or retakes, just loss of time. Sophie was HOT, finishing the first go-round and getting about 3/4 of the way through the loop back. We ended up with 57 points and 3rd place for this game. Most importantly, she was driven and focused on the course and my direction and didn't blink at the ring crew or the judge.

Next up was steeplechase, and we back slid a bit - tired? a bit lost? maybe. She drifted off a few times and I ended up calling it a training run and rewarding her three times, and finished the course.

Standard was the third run - a twisty complicated course which actually worked very well for us. Took a long time breaking the course down during the walk through, doing the visualisation, the two walkthroughs (one for soph, one for me) and then breaking the course into manageable chunks. And that really seemed to work - I kept communicating with soph throughout, calling her well in advance, keeping on top of her turns and giving enough time for her to find the path successfully. We finished with 5 faults and a time of 1:24:03, ending up in 10th place.

So at the end of the day what was learned:

- the revving up and tugging at the start is really helping - we will need to work on her out and leave it.

-communicate throughout - she has amazing obstacle discrimination and we need to use that more. Call out the turns well in advance.

- really, really take lots of time to memorize the course and my strategy. Walk it for soph and then for me, twice if time permits, and then visualize each section. Don't rush this! Webb's suggestion of chanting the course (jump jump frame front cross to tunnel) as you visualise really helped me during the standard run.

and have fun!

At the end of the day, Soph and I were proud to be awarded the "Most Improved" prize and we will certainly enjoy our festive red/green tennis ball!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Super practice evening!

Some lessons learned tonight:

Be careful about over-drilling and wearing Soph out. She can't keep herself high working straight through 60 minutes - frequent breaks and short practices during station work, mean we can get two full courses and maintain drive at the end of the night.

Forget about start line stays for now.. rev her up before we get to the start line. Pushing games, spins, bounce-touches and slap-da-dawg are all good at getting her ready to work.

Direction changes or when 'dangerous' judge/ring crew is in sight - call before she reaches it. Worked BEAUTIFULLY on a straight ahead run past two of her fav. folks, was still able to get her to turn away to the next two obstacles.


Monday, December 6, 2010

Summer and Fall update

Well lots to report on - sadly, I lost my grand old girl on August 26, probably to a stroke. Kaylie was likely 16 years old - in the last year she had been growing increasing frail and cautious. On August 25th I came home to a confused, distressed dog keening her discomfort - she was unable to walk without being held up and assisted at each step. By morning she was unable to stand at all, and it was clear that it was time to say farewell. She went gently on ahead - many thanks to my compassionate vet and her staff for getting us through such a difficult time.

Spruce Meadows was a lot of fun for Sophie and I - unfortunately, she had stomach issues (water? food? mountain air?) beginning the first night we arrived. She was fine once we got home, so it was something location specific. Sadly, that did mean that she wasn't running her best - but we did manage to put on a decent showing in the steeplechase class. We also had an enjoyable day hiking in the Rockies - found a great new picnic spot. (We won't talk about the fact that the trail was closed the next week because of a grizzly bear family - Sophie swears she didn't call them!)

Our fall training regimen is progressing nicely - we have class once a week and i drop in on Saturday afternoons for a casual practice session. We joined a House League which offers a trial-like atmosphere and a taste of competitive team-spirit, all in fun of course. Our first session clearly demonstrated that we are far from ready to enter a trial - Sophie was completely disconnected and I just couldn't get her on my team. We'll have another league day coming up this Sunday, and we've been working hard on distraction proofing, so hopefully we will see an improvement in her focus.

Really would like to get her in a trial before she turns 10. :)