Friday, February 12, 2010

Training for the Weekend

SUMMARY: Serps, bars, USDAA this weekend.
Yes, boys and girls, we have a USDAA trial this weekend out in Turlock. And, since I've been concentrating on other important things in the meantime [um--facebook?--]*, and Boost turned 5 two weeks ago and Tika turns 8 this weekend, I figure it's time to finally spend some time fixing ALL OUR AGILITY ISSUES before the trial this weekend.

In class this week, Tika did our jumpers courses just absolutely beautifully and looked completely healthy. I'm sure that, had we done contacts, they'd have been perfect as always (they were last week).

It was Serpentine night, and Boost and I demonstrated once again that this is a major chink in our armour: Boost wouldn't come in, or knocked the bar when she did, or in one memorable escapade, took me out at the knees so that my denim-blue-colored fleece became stylishly mottled with mud-colored mud. Both with serps and with blasting through a tunnel, if I'm yelling to get her to come in my direction, she keeps going in her original trajectory full speed while LOOKING at me, and then after evaluating that I'm not moving, makes a huge ugly L-shaped turn to come in to me.

She also [gasp!] knocked bars in several places.

So yesterday I actually set up some serp thingies with jumps and tunnels in my yard. Tika did them flawlessly (when my timing was good, anyway, and even sometimes when it was iffy). Boost had a terrible time.

So we backed off to just our customized bar-knocking drills, and after doing about 40 just-one-jump drills when she got to where she wasn't even ticking the bar any more, we went back to the serp drill and broke it down into pieces until she could finally do two at-speed single-jump serps without knocking the bar, and we quit that for the day.

Also working on contacts with both dogs. I have suffered for my sins, oh Dogfather! I relaxed my nose-touch criteria and both dogs' contacts have deteriorated. So we went back to remedial nose touches to a target, then standing at the end of the ramp doing target nose touches, then partway down the ramp and running to targeted nose touches, until I ran out of special treats and we left that for the day, too.

I hope I can get more of all of that in today, among packing, going for a nice brisk hike with a friend, and work, and--um--facebook.*

*OK, some facebook, but really photography and work and random random random things, but saying "facebook" is funnier. I think.

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Thursday, February 04, 2010

Life in the Agility Lane

SUMMARY: Dogs + class + car + yard + blahblahblah
For some reason, people seem to think that I'm into dogs. Go figure.

For example, my nephew gave me a lightweight fleece blanket with a picture of golden retriever (or maybe lab) puppies on it. Very nice blanket. But, see, dog stuff is not part of my *normal* life (in which I might use a blanket); it's part of my *dog* life. My house is decorated with dragons, not dog stuff. But, well, it gets cold around here with the heat turned down, so, nifty, a blanket. I take it down to my office chair to wrap around myself.

Also, here's a collection of greeting cards I've received over the last year. (Did I ever mention to anyone that I'm also known for things piratical? Apparently I did--)

Despite trying to keep my dog life and regular life separate, they all intertwine. Last night, backing out of the driveway to go to agility class, I broke off a sprinkler riser by the driveway. Eight and a half years in this house, backing out of the same driveway, and I've never touched it. Go figure.

Dogs did well in class last night. Tika's contacts were beautiful (sigh), very fast 2-on/2-off. Boost's weaves were beautiful. Boost still knocking some bars and not wanting to come in to me on serpentines. We were lucky: Tuesday classes were cancelled due to rain and it's supposed to be raining again today, so we just squeezed in Wednesday.

I'm trying to transfer out of the Wednesday night class because it's getting close to Real Hikes season with the sierra club Wednesday Night Hikers. But evening classes are very popular and at the moment there might not be any other openings. (My old Thursday night class was turned into a world-team class. Go figure there are enough people at that level around here for their own weekly class. Tough competition all the time at local trials.)

This morning the Merle Girls and I dropped off MUTT MVR at the dealer to take care of a few things. I set the alarm for 6:30 to be first in line, and the dogs were VERY excited because alarm always means going to dog agility. They were a little confused when I did a few things that I don't normally do on agility morning. (Yes, they did really look puzzled.) After dropping off the van, we walked home the two and a half miles. I remember making this walk back when i first moved here, and being exhausted at the end. Now? Piece of cake. I don't hike all that often at the moment, but when I do walk or hike, it tends to be more than a mile, so am I a studly hiker or what, doing my 2.5 completely level sidewalk walk?

At home, I'm sitting at the breakfast table, which on my split level looks down over my office, just a wrought-iron railing separating them. Tika comes over, looks through the railing, and starts growling, then when I say "What?" she goes into full offensive barking, looking down into my office. I look that way to see what evil she has detected (note that Tika is NOT Boost, who sees evil in many places, but not Tika ever). Go figure. Here's what I see:

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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Weaves. Terseness.

SUMMARY: wha's'up?

Practicing being concise, succinct, terse. Short blog posts. Yes. Sure.

Practicing weaves. Tika, who doesn't usually pop out in competition, I can get to pop out many times. Boost, who too often pops out in competition, I can't trick into popping no way no how.

Practicing serpentines. I need to practice (after all these years) to be in the right place. Boost needs to practice coming in & going out at sharp angles. I think we're both doing better.

No bar-knocking drills so far in the last week. Need to get back to that; bars are coming down again.

No competition again until Augst 29! Yay! Boo! Yay! Boo! Yay!

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Friday, December 12, 2008

Working On Keeping Spirits Up

SUMMARY: Because those spirits sometimes sink more than one would like.


Spent the day Thursday with mom in the hospital. She looks and sounds fine, but there are critical medical issues occurring. We were hoping that she might be home today, but I've not heard anything today at all. Thank goodness for another sister who spent Wednesday and probably most of today there.

Boost and bars and serpentines

Last night in class, we had a bunch of serpentine exercises. Boost got through most of the ones that I did with her, but that last one, grr. During the evening, I'm guessing that she knocked 2 or 3 bars per run, and these are sequences of no more than 14 obstacles. Not promising for getting that jumpers qualifier this weekend.

And the last serpentine was one at a very shallow angle, so the dog is taking the jumps almost parallel to her body. These are of the type that Boost always wants to run by. Well, for fun, we were timing this particular sequence because there were two ways to handle the ending--not even involving these two jumps.

Well, Boost first went past the 2nd jump a couple of times. Then she went into her alternative mode for Me No Jump, Me Run kinds of jumps: Run almost past it, then swoop in with a couple of little steps and hop over it facing almost in the opposite direction. Was driving me nuts. I tried being further behind her, further ahead of her, yelling my lungs off, telling her to Hup Hup Hup!, with assorted advice from instructor and classmates. Every. Bloody. Time. You'd think that after all those repetitions she'd figure out where we were going and adjust her path. But no.

I took a break, let some other dogs run, tried again. Same thing. Finally I said screw it, she's just going to do it the way she wants to do it and I'm going to try to finish the run to get the time on the last part. Well, I tried so hard to get to where I wanted to be and get her over the jump also, that I crashed backwards through the side of a heavy wood-winged jump with the built-in metal ground bar, and somehow my hand ended up beneath me.

Nothing broken, near as I could tell (jump or bodily parts), but the thumb hurt enough that all I wanted to do was to get home and ice it. Put the dogs in the car, downed some NSAIDs, and headed home. Turns out that ice on my thumb was more painful than the injury. Don't know why it helps so much on a sore knee but not the thumb--not enough flesh to absorb the cold?

Waking up today, I'm also thoroughly bruised on my opposite arm, although I don't even exactly remember hitting anything with that arm.

I hope things go better tomorrow in Santa Rosa...


...Oh, the snow level's now supposed to be down around 1,000 feet "in snow country"; Santa Rosa isn't, really, but it's at about 350 feet. Could we have a White Agilitymas? That would be cool. I mean...really really really cool... like, guess I should pack my long down coat.


Spent two hours today trying to solve the issue of why I could send email up until 9:25 this morning but not after that. An hour and a quarter with AT&T (service provider), 5 different people, and they said it's not their problem and I finally believed them and hung up. Except that they basically run their service through yahoo (I'm not entirely clear on the concept), and it's apparently yahoo's AT&T servers that are giving me the problem, and their online help covers a lot of ground but not the ground in which my problem is growing roots. (OK, give me a break, I'm coming up with metaphors in a rush here.) Problem is not solved. Have to copy and paste everything I want to send into a rudimentary web email facility to get it to go out. Well, at least I can *get* email. Or... I was, before I started fixing things. Hmm, nothing has arrived in several hours. AM I getting email still?

I hate computers.


I'm a Christmaholic. Usually can't get enough of it. I have tens of thousands of lights in boxes in my garage that are not going up this year. I have a couple dozen boxes of Christmas ornaments and gewgaws and decor in my attic, only some of which will make an appearance this year. I have an entire 60-disk CD case that is filled to overflowing (as in, maybe should get another one) with Christmas music. Love it love it love it. Have more Christmas CDs than all other kinds of music put together. I will listen to all of them, sometimes multiple times. Deck us all with dogs and dog hair, fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-laaaaa-laaaaaaaah!

I turned it on about half an hour into my journey through AT&T's support system to try to remind me to keep the holiday spirit. Not sure it helped. Made it harder to understand what they were saying, sometimes, which was maybe not a bad thing.

Dogs pretty much ignore the music, unless I sing along, which disturbs them greatly. At least, having all girl dogs these days, I don't have to worry about what alternative uses they might conceive of for my lovely Christmas tree, whose twinkling lights I can see above my computer monitor. Yay Christmas!

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Friday, June 13, 2008

Not Going To Nationals

SUMMARY: The big decision has been made. Probably.

So, last night in class, two funny (ha ha!) things happened related to my last couple of posts:
  • The instructor claimed that we were sending the dogs around a 270-degree turn when it was, in fact, about 220 degrees. The misterminology is endemic, I tell you!
  • Two days ago I said, "I am very good at remembering courses that go in a straight line and go "jump jump tunnel jump jump tunnel," and of course that never happens in dog agility, but guess what our first exercise was in class last night? Yes! Tunnel jump jump tunnel jump jump tunnel, in pretty much a straight line! Who'd have ever guessed it? Of course we had to do some creative and useful agility-training sorts of things like rear crosses.

Later, however, Boost demonstrated that:
  • At full speed after a couple of straight-on obstacles to the weaves at an angle, she skips pole #2. [Insert assorted curse words.] We had that entry several times in class, and I tried it several times each of those times. The only things that got her to do it successfully were (a)put her in a sit-stay about 5 feet from the entry so she's not going really fast (yeah, like that's practical at an agility trial), or (b) put some kind of stupid barrier (e.g., a cone, a jump bar on the ground...stupid things that aren't really barriers except visually) on the ground next to the 3rd pole to "force" her into the correct 2nd pole. (Yeah, REALLY practical at a trial.)
  • If I move laterally away from her in the weave poles, she skips the last weave.
  • If she goes wide on the first jump of a serpentine, she will not--will NOT--come back in to me to make the second jump, just keeps running full speed in the direction she was going, looking at me over her shoulder to say, "come on, you're not really going to make me slow down to do that stupid jump, are you?" World Team Coach, after trying to help me in class, tells me that I have to go home and practice that move (gave me specific instructions) "a thousand times."

Tika, meanwhile, did only 3 runs last night, and they were perfect. Spot on. No bars down. No wrong turns. Very fast and completely perfect 2 on/2 off contacts, just like we trained them. Which doesn't explain why, at trials, she's flying through the air with the greatest of ease from halfway down the contact ramps. And it was completely fun to run her, at speed, with just lovely handling. And it goes to pieces at trials.

So I have been mumbling for a while about whether I should go to the USDAA Nationals this year. I have been every year that it has been anywhere near California. Last year was the first year that Tika hadn't qualified in everything (missed Steeplechase), but this year she's qualified for all three main events with room to spare.

However. She just doesn't have the speed and we don't have the consistency to have any real chance of doing anything other than simply being there in the preliminary rounds. We've never even made it into the Grand Prix semifinals, and EVERYONE (using whiney voice) makes it into the semifinals sooner or later. We just got lucky the one year that we squeezed into the DAM team final round. And the way I've been playing this year, no one will want me on their team anyway. I've just had good teammates to cover for my mistakes.

Boost has qualified only in the Grand Prix. But not in any noteworthy manner--no placements at all. She has never. In her entire life. Qualified in DAM. She has only one Steeplechase Q (needs 2 to go to Nationals). And talk about inconsistent. Goes from one round where our "only" flaw is a knocked bar, to a round with 4 knocked bars, 2 refusals, and a bunch of spins and miscues.

So why would I want to go to Nationals again? I am no longer feeling confident, like I did in the past, that Tika has a chance of doing "well" by some definition. I have no reason at all to believe that Boost will do well. I've gone, done everything, seen everything. The vendors weren't as many or as interesting last year as they were in earlier years, but anyway I wouldn't feel that I had extra money to spend. And it's a long trip that uses a lot of vacation and/or unpaid time off.

So I'm not going. At least, as of right now. Maybe Boost will go to the next trial and win the Steeplechase. Maybe at the Regionals Tika will shun tradition and earn a bye into the semifinals in the Grand Prix, and jeez, wouldn't it be a shame to waste that opportunity. But, for now, staying home seems like SUCH a much better plan.

So, that's my working plan and the universe will have to convince me otherwise.

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Saturday, July 28, 2007

Boost's CPE Weekend

SUMMARY: Spookiness, pesky jumps, and weaves.

Last weekend, Boost Qed 4 of 5 on Saturday and things were lookin' good.

On Sunday, she Qed in only 2 and spooked on 3 of her runs, and I don't really know what triggered the spooked episodes, although they were just like the previous 2 weeks in class, where she had done the same thing. I noticed that the wind had come up each time. But whether it's only that--goodness knows, she's been around wind--or a combination of that and general insecurity, or of needing to go potty, I don't know. And I throw in the nonwind choices because: This weekend, it seemed that each spooked episode was right after a hard calloff or a big mistake. And, although I try not to be negative, when she blasts past a set of weaves and I bring her back to try again, I know that she knows that that was incorrect.

AND, being an insane working dog, she doesn't want to take the time to empty her bowels while we're out in the field; she wants to PLAY! and even if I withhold play, she has the patience to sniff around only a few seconds and then ASK to play again. Or go check out what someone else is doing. The world is FULL of things that are far more fascinating than pooping! After the third spooked run, she finally did #2 immediately, and it was obvious that she had been holding it for a VERY long time.

So--wind with unusual smells, plus stress on course, plus needing to poop? I dunno. She'd just go into her danger/alert barking, semipanicked ears back, tail down. She didn't even know what she was barking AT. Tried the judge, tried the people next to the ring, tried something off in the distance that I couldn't figure out what.

I have visions of Hobbes the Wonder Baby, 2 years old and in the lead in the GP finals (2001?), going into a tunnel 2 jumps from the end of the course and never coming out.

OK, but about those weaves and serpentines:

  • Sat Full House (Q, 1st, and highest score of all 142 dogs competing! (Tika 2nd highest)) 2 sets of 6 not quite straight on, perfectly. But ran past a jump at a slight distance off the line from Aframe to tunnel.

  • Sat Colors (Q and 1st of 12 dogs; 2nd fastest of 75 level 3/4/5/C): don't remember whether there were weaves; no probs with jumps.

  • Sat Jumpers (Q but no place), no weaves, but ran past two jumps on a plain vanilla serpentine and then did several refusals at a straight-on jump with a sharp turn afterwards.

  • Sat Snooker (no Q), didn't try weaves in opening and I forgot what I was doing for an early offcourse.

  • Sat Jackpot (Q, 1st, and 6th highest of all 146 dogs (Tika 7th)): Don't remember whether there were weaves. Ran past a jump slightly off the line from tire to tunnel.

  • Sun Jackpot (no Q or place): Went into a tunnel and popped back out as I beat feet in a nother direction. HOW can she blast into a tunnel at 100 mph and do a U-turn like that??? Weaves in the gamble, but she came in to me instead of seeing them. When I finally got her to settle at my side instead of dancing around, she SENT 15 feet straight out to the weaves, made a perfect entrance, and completed them nicely (but over time).

  • Sun Jumpers (no Q): Didn't run past anything, but knocked one bar early, then after a hard calloff she spooked before the next-to-the-last jump and was looking over her shoulder when she jumped it and knocked it.

  • Sun Snooker (Q, 1st): weaves were #6 and we approached them only in the closing, she ran past them completely and then spooked; I did finally get her back and through them, but that meant that we were out of time before doing #7. We did Q, though.

  • Sun Colors (No Q): A very sharp angle into the weaves (about the same as sending her to the Jackpot weaves from 15 feet back), and she ran full speed through the first pole, out the other side, and went into spooked mode. I actually had to touch her, finally, to get her attention.

  • Sun Wildcard (Q, 3rd): Weaves last obstacle; she entered perfectly, did a couple, then popped out. But at least no spooked dog.

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Thursday, April 19, 2007

Power Paws Camp Day 1

SUMMARY: A cold day but useful workshops in weaves and serpentines ("Serp City").

This year's T-shirt (just what I need--more t-shirts--): A nice cocoa-brown, with attractive but nonspecific artwork (no mention of Power Paws Camp specifically or of the year).
Boost in her pop-up crate, my purple chair, my black bag for carrying miscellaneous stuff (You never know what you'll need ringside). This is what we'll be transporting from ring to ring every couple of hours.
At noon, it was frigid and windy and threatening rain; three friends from Tika's Wednesday night class (Bobbie, Cathy, Ken) huddle out of the way of Mr. Weather. With my purple chair.
Kathie Leggett, our first workshop instructor, explaining the finer points of weave entries and exits.
Mary Ellen Barry walking along the first serpentine set-up which completely stymied me (as usual).

Mary Ellen demonstrates how the angle of your shoulders (and back) demarks the no-go zone for the dog.
Boost's alternate (and preferred) crate: My chair.

Our first day dawned chilly and windy and threatening rain; 40 degrees F in my back yard before we left home at 7. Fortunately I'm going against traffic for most of my trip, so the drive took less than 40 minutes and I just crated out of my car alongside the ring set-up.

It's very different from camp of previous years, which was a major production with 16 working rings plus several lecture venues and 200 or more campers and all sorts of events going on all the time. This was quite subdued; 8 rings, maybe 10 people per ring, and the check-in area. Lunch space was just a moderate-sized canopy with room for the instructors but the rest of us lunched elsewhere. Kind of funny that I recognized more of the instructors and staff than I did of the participants. Also very different from in the past.

Kathie Leggett taught our first 3-hour session, on weaving. Got some excellent advice on exercises to try. Quite a bit I'd heard before in one form or another, but I particularly like the suggestion about getting your dog to turn and find the weave entries (she credited it to Jen Pinder). Usual training methodology has you working in an arc around the weave entrance, having the dog alongside you, facing the weaves, and send her in. You vary the distance and the angle and the speed with which you're moving and add jumps and so on. But this suggestion was to be playing tug with your dog so that the dog's back (or side or whatever) is to the weaves, then wrestle the toy away as usual and just say "weave!" and let the dog figure out how to turn herself around and still find the weave entrance.

Mary Ellen Barry taught our afternoon 3-hour session on serpentines. I mentioned to her before we got started that she came highly recommended from a blogger--and then I couldn't remember the last name (Amy with Flirt and Bodhi, I said) and she knew the last name immediately. Interesting about all these cross-country, cross-internet relationshiops. :-)

I confessed up front that I've been doing agility for 12 years and I *still* can't do serpentines worth beans. Oh, my dogs learn how to do them as long as I stay out of their way, usually behind them or away from them (as in a gamble), but if I try to do REAL driving serpentines with me ahead of the dog, I bobble it. Which I then proceeded to demonstrate. So dumb, because I can WALK it perfectly every time, with the shoulders turned correctly and everything. But add a dog--pfft!

Anyway, she was very helpful. Again, much of what she said was things that I realized I had forgotten or not practiced as much as I thought I had, and so on, but she had some very specific suggestions for me in particular to work on for myself and for Boost, as well as the general concept that was applied equally to everyone. Another well-spent session. (If I have a chance next week I might try to draw a couple of diagrams and write up text for my own review and post here. TBD whether I'll have time.)

Interestingly, Boost did LOVELY weaves all day today, even on some harder set-ups in the serpentine class, which was NOT concentrating on weaves. Could we have more inconsistency, please? I mean, really--

Fortunately, it never did get around to raining, and it warmed up slightly in the later afternoon. Today we were done at 4:00. Helped set up the ring for tomorrow, frisbeed the dogs a bit, chatted with a couple of friends, and was still home, dinnered, and showered by about 6:00. A nice change.

Next two days are longer; start at 7:45 and go 'til 5:00, with sessions with three different instructors each day. Sunday is only two sessions again.

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Sunday, January 28, 2007

Mixed-Success Weekend

SUMMARY: Both dogs ran well and behaved themselves, but training and handling were issues.

I had a good time this weekend, loved running both dogs, and my knee held up fairly well.


No ADCH again. One issue that keeps cropping up is to try to cover wide-open territory and then send her ahead of me to an obstacle. Jake used to do that really well. Tika bounces along in front of me telling me that she doesn't understand what I want and is really excited and wants to do something. So we might not have made time on our necessarily aggressive Snooker course anyway, but what ended up killing us was, during the opening, a really fast blast from a tunnel into the weaves for the second time, I had her so revved up that she hit her weave entrance and bounced into the 3rd pole instead of the second. That hasn't happened in a long, long while, as I've worked so hard with her on weaves. After that, there was no way we could get the Super-Q no matter what I did for the rest of the run. Crap.

She had a lovely pairs run, although got tangled in the chute for some reason--it might have been my cross-behind and strong call, which I haven't usually used in the chute. Still, she was clean although partner was offcourse.

In her standard run, she was offcourse immediately on a lead-out pivot that I didn't time anywhere near well enough. Felt like I was working in molasses and just couldn't get myself moving until she was already committed for the wrong jump.

And the gamble was tough--only 9 of 69 dogs earned Qs. A few more dogs got the gamble but over time. My practice at home this week was spot on--I decided to do "weird handler weaves" with Tika a whole bunch, where I just do weird things and move in odd directions and so on while she's in the weaves and reward her when she stays in. She was hesitant at the beginning of the week (after not practicing this for a long while) but stronger by the end of the week. I was feeling confident about this gamble, where most dogs were popping out at weave #10. But, to start with, *I* bobbled a weave entry in the opening--thought she was going to miss it and called her just as she made a difficult skid and turn and made the entry perfectly (that practice pays off!) but came out again in response to my call. Didn't trust my dog to do her job! So we ended up missing 7 points in the opening, and then the closing involved the same set of weaves and I hung back a little to avoid the problems that other people were having, and danged if she didnt make her entry and immediately turn back and come to me to see what was going on! So much for practice makes perfect...

On the up side, she had a flawless Jumpers run; don't know how I could have gotten any more speed out of her, thought we had a chance of finally winning one, but no--3rd place (which, mind you, I'm not complaining about), missing second by only .14 of a second.

And most exciting, she knocked only one bar out of all 5 runs, and that was the first bar of the gamble opening, where it really didn't matter (and that's because she lay down at the start and there wasn't enough room for her to get elevated again).

She stuck her start line, stuck her contacts (came off one early and I held her up, then she was fine again), and was just a total joy to run. If only she felt the same way about my handling!

Boost with her "New Title" ribbon for her AD.


My other goal for the weekend was to finish Boost's AD--which we did, Phew!, now we can move up to Advanced in everything. Not entirely sure we're ready for it, as our issues are, again, handling and experience (both of us with each other, Boost, with different situations). Once again our biggest issue was blowing past things, usually when I'd give her a little call to change her line a little, and she'd change her line by a mile and blast past the next obstacle while looking at me. As someone said, like driving a Ferrari, you make one twitch on the steering and she veers a mile offcourse--she is *so amazingly fast*.

She started the day with a nearly flawless pairs run. I just about floated off the course. From A to Y, almost couldn't have asked for anything better. Held her start line without even raising her butt a fraction. Made her 2 contact entries smoothly, hit her two-on-two-offs fast and held them until I released her, made a very fast weave entry and stuck them all the way through, kept all her bars up, didn't run past anything. The only thing that wasn't perfect was that she slowed a bunch on the dogwalk up--she seems to not yet be able to identify the difference between a teeter and a dogwalk, and the fact that I use different words for them hasn't sunk in.

Our partner had a fault, but we Qed on the run (although didn't place). And she Qed in her Standard for the AD, but again didn't place--blew past the weaves (my fault involving a complicated table situation and I don't think she had a chance to see them until she was past them) and a jump, both of which I had to come back for.

In jumpers, blew past 2 jumps when I made those little adjustment calls (was TRYING to keep my mouth shut) and I just didn't go back for them; just wanted her to keep running, and man did she ever!

In gamblers, had some issues with go-ons to obstacles in front of us, but were in nice position for the gamble--and she blew past a jump that required a little more direction ('out' or 'left' or something) from me, but did obstacles 1,2, and 4 with tremendous speed and elan. :-)

And in snooker, her opening of 5-7-7 was absolutely luverly including go-ons to obstacles way ahead of me, but the closing started with a serpentine-type move across a jump and she blew right past it into the next tunnel and I couldn't possibly call her off of it (flat footed yelling "boost!boost!boost!" but nooooooooo). But I already knew all too well that serpentine-type jumping is an issue with us: That was solidly drilled in on our courses at Scottsdale. Soooo need even more of that!

But altogether she was a pleasure to be on the course with. Did all of her contacts beautifully, made all of her weave entrances except that one and stayed in all of them once she was in, kept all her bars up, etc. etc. What a good girl.

How many Boost trials?

So I don't know what to say about "Boost earned her AD in only X trials." It's a weird count. At the Labor Day trial, I entered only one class a day and used it for training, not for Qing (e.g., repeating the missed weaves in the gamble opening even though the whistle had blown). So does that trial count, since I deliberately blew off Qs?

At the next trial, she Qed 6 of 9 or so--short only 1 for her AD. And that's the one where my knee blew up.

At the next trial, we were handicapped by the fact that I literally could not run with her because of my knee, AND by the fact that that's when her weave poles fell apart and she couldn't complete a weave successfully all weekend. Would it have mattered if I could have run with her? Probably not, although a couple of classes that was decidedly the relevant factor in not Qing. So maybe I should count that trial and maybe not.

The next trial was the Nationals, and we were trying to make a go of it on masters-level courses and she did very well (including weaves) except for the aforementioned serpentiney kinds of moves. So do I count the nationals as a real trial? Not on the AD campaign, because she couldn't earn Qs.

So she completed her AD in only--um, 2, 3, 4, or 5 trials depending on how you count 'em. (grin)

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Monday, January 01, 2007

Agility Goals

SUMMARY: I always have goals that I pay more or less attention to. Here are some current ones.

One of the only 2 or 3 agility blogs that I follow (Training Journal for Devon and Jaime) stated her 2007 agility goals and challenged readers to share their agility goals for 2007. I responded with a summary of the following:

I don't really set New Year's goals; my agility goals evolve and I try to keep them current based on our current issues.

My current goals with Tika are to practice jump-knocking drills 20 times 3 times a week and practice serpentines 20 times a week. And to fix the dogwalk up contact by practicing touch-n-go drills, crud, I hate these, 10 times a day, 3 days a week. I hope that's enough. I had intended to work on the dang dogwalk while we had all this down time, to really develop her skill and muscle memory for it--we've done no agility since the Nationals at the beginning of November--but look, here it is January and only 3 and a half weeks to our first USDAA trial of the year! (I'm not doing any CPE this month because I'm still not running full out as I continue knee recuperation.)

My current goal with Boost is to learn how to do serpentines and threadles. (I should have been working on these all along--they're a big gap in our skill set compared to our classmates.) I have some excellent notes from Nancy from class that I need to dig out and review, because I've been trying to reproduce from memory and am not succeeding. I don't know why I'm willing to try 20 or 30 times to figure it out on my own but not willing to walk out to the garage to get my training notebook from the car. My laziness manifests itself in odd ways. And our first class since before Thanksgiving is this Thursday! So I want to be ready to go...

And my goal for my knee recovery is to get back to doing my exercises for my quads--at least 30 minutes of exercycle a day (snoooorrrre) and at least 15 minutes of other exercises, and to keep walking more every day to build up to a mile a day again. I did actually do exercycle and leg lifts today, and I have been walking more and more all the time, have gone back to parking my car way far out in the parking lot and walking into the store and all that, and the knee is holding up better and better for just walking. And I need to start working in some jogging around the yard and a little tiny bit of working up towards sprinting, to really confirm where the knee is still painful and where it's just stiff or getting out of condition.

I think I'll be fine for the Jan 27-28 trial. At least it's low-key: Saturday is only Masters, so that's 5 runs with Tika, and Sunday is only Starters and Advanced, so that's 5 runs with Boost. But the following weekend is a full-scale USDAA trial out in Turlock--4 runs plus Steeplechase EACH on Saturday; 3 runs plus Grand Prix EACH on Sunday--and I just filled out my entry to run in everything for both Tika and Boost.

And, oh yeah, speaking of goals that I don't have specific control over: I want to finish that one Snooker Super-Q for Tika's ADCH and that one Standard leg for Boost's AD! ASAP! (But the former will be helped by bar-knocking drills, and the latter should be immensely helped by all the weave-entry practice we've been doing.)

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