Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Peeling An Onion

Agility is a never ending lesson in life. Since Wyatt is now healthy and has reliable (though not perfect) contacts as trials, the next thing to work on has unfolded. I see now that it was always an issue but due to our focus on contacts, it was hidden from the forefront on my consciousness. The issue now is off courses. Specifically, if there are two (or more) jumps in a row, with the path veering off to the left or right to another obstacle, we have a strong tendency for an off course. I really focused on this issue this weekend and made very good progress. The biggest issue for me was deciding when to use a RFP, when to use a call off, and when to pull or push with a v-set. The biggest issue is mine; I need to cue him in time. I tend to be way too late to change his path. Wyatt is so fast and jumps so big that he can be over the (wrong) jump before you can blink.

We had a good weekend at a CPE trial getting 2 level C Qs and 2 firsts Saturday. We missed standard with a teeter fly off. The teeter was bouncy and he was surprised the first time I think. Too bad because the rest was flawless and we really need standard Qs. Also Qed in Snooker and Fullhouse. We made it all the way to the end in Snooker.

Sunday we 3 of 4 Qs in standard (2nd), wildcard (2nd), and colors. That was our last wildcard Q needed for our championship. Now we "just" need 8 standard Qs. We have 2.

Here are some photos from the previous weekend's trials. Photos are by Barry Rosen.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Video Link to Snooker Run

Here is a link to the Snooker run I was discussing yesterday. I am looking for advice on the off course at the end (the second tire to a jump).

Video Link

From what I see, I did not turn soon enough or far enough in my RFP.

Never mind the beginning sequence. There were problems there too but I know what went wrong there...

Monday, May 21, 2007

CPE Results and Off Courses

Wyatt and I had a good weekend at the SOBAD CPE trial this weekend. We Qed 3 out of 5 times both days with placements in each. We finished our colors championship requirement and received a Q in wildcard with only one more left. We did not get any standard Qs however. We have one more trial before the requirement change to 10 Qs in July so we still need 10 Qs total - one wildcard and 9 standard. We have one more trial until July.

Wyatt's contacts were great. We were not called on one contact. However, I still see a difference between class/home and trials. At trials, he does not drive to the bottom but waits for me up on the contact and waits to be released. As the weekend progresses, I worked more on getting him to go lower on the contacts before being released. Best thing of all was that he was happy and fast all weekend.

We had some real hard breakers though. In snooker Saturday, we had a fabulous run going. We got lots of points in the opening and had a great closing going where we could have got through 7 in time. After a #5 A Frame, there was a #6 tunnel where the ends where wrapped around one side of the A-Frame. I took him in the wrong end even though I walked it correctly. In standard, I got through the really hard opening sequence and was a little lost after doing a front cross at the end of a tunnel. I ended up facing the dog walk and not the correct weave entry and paused enough for him to take the incorrect dog walk. He ran perfectly when I got him back on course. On Sunday, another great run. After I got him though a difficult threadle, there was a 90 turn to weave with the final obstacle finish line jumps in line with the jump second jump of the threadle. It felt him he was over the incorrect final jump before I could even react. No doubt, I did not cue him early enough or needed a front cross. A very similar thing happened in day 2 snooker (I have a video of this). He jumps so long and is so fast, that I sometimes do not anticipate the off courses like I should and do not cue fast enough.

All in all, a great weekend though. There is always something to learn. I will post the link to the video later...

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Steering and the RFP

I think I have finally, after 3 years, understood how to steer my dog.

I used to use a reverse flow pivot (RFP) only when there was an obvious and severe obstacle discrimination problem. But after watching some really good handlers - especially in NADAC where you have to handle at a distance - and finally getting it in class, I see that I really need to turn in much more to steer Wyatt.

Last night, we had a situtation where there was an A-frame and then a set of 12 weaves sittiing fairly close and parallel to the A-Frame. So you had to do the A-frame and then turn your dog 180 degrees back to the weave poles. In order to get a good entrace to the weaves, the best move was to collect your dog by doing a subtle RFP, collecting the dog by standing still, and then moving ahead when the dog was collected and headed to the weaves. If you did not do this, the dog would go wide of the weaves and get a bad entrance. There were a number of places on the course where this type of move was needed.

I am also seeing that this move can be used in many places and also on the fly as a way to steer your dog back on track.

The other insight I had last night was that agility handling should not be thought of as obstacle to obstacle but as a continuous flow. You are always steering. Even when the dog is committed to the obstacle, you should be steering to next obstacle.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Wyatt Is Back

I am so happy with this weekend. Wyatt is back and wanting to run agility. We had a good weekend - a little rusty but he is basically back to his old enthusiastic self and such a great agility partner. You may recall that our last trial at New Year's, he did not want to run and ran out of the ring. We figured out with the help of a sports vet that he had a back problem. With a lot of rest, stretching, and massage, he healed up and he gradually let go of some behaviors that were a result of the injury (such as avoiding jumps and going way out of the way to do contacts.)

We did not get tons of Qs but we got some really hard ones. He got 2 elite regular (standard) Qs, which are really tough to get in NADAC due to the fast times required and the distance challenge in each course. He also placed first and second. Wyatt also got an elite jumpers Q yesterday and a second place. He had a few contact issues but in NADAC you can go back and redo them (you don't qualify of course) so we used them as learning/training experiences. By the end of the weekend, his contacts were solid again. One thing I realized is that I need to do more distance work for NADAC, which would be fun anyway. There was a really hard tunnelers course today and he was a rocket but I could not keep up with him to cue him at close distances.

But more than the Qs and placement. it is great have such a wonderful partner back in the game.

Here is a video clip from today showing our second place, qualifying standard run.

I hope you enjoy it.

Wyatt NADAC Elite Regular Run

Friday, May 04, 2007

Agility This Weekend; Rally Last Night

Went to a rally class last night which was really a run through. I thought we had everything down but I did learn a few things. #10 Spiral Dog Inside, I had never seen at a trial or practised so that was very good. I had it all wrong the first time. It was challenging to keep Wyatt from lagging at this very busy class. Also, on Halt, Down, Sit, I need to work on getting a straight sit from the down.

Wyatt was great in class Wednesday. The instructor said he looked happy and back to normal. Our first trial since his injury is this weekend so we'll see. My goal is just to have fun and make sure he is happy...