Monday, June 28, 2010

Agility Club of Indianapolis trial, day 3

Whew! I was completely exhausted by day 3. The girls did an absolutely wonderful job again on Sunday. I'll go in chronological order for this post.

Page, Novice JWW
This course was a bear. Later in the day I realized it was the Excellent JWW opening and closing bridged by a tunnel (at the end of the weave poles). I decided it would be a forward moving front cross drill for Page and I. I had learned a few things about Page on Saturday that I wanted to put in practice.

First, I realized she was rock solid on her start lines. Since she was steady, I wanted to push her and see if I could get a lead out to where I was comfortable. Page held her start line, and I liked the first front cross.

Generally the opening to the tunnel I was very pleased with. I wish she would not have had that first refusal, but she is a baby dog and those things happen. Page never let that tunnel bother her as an off-course option, which is remarkable for a baby dog who loves tunnels. That tunnel got a lot of extra work in Novice!

I never found a good way to run the ending after the tunnel. Even after a lot of study, I never found a simple option. Even the seasoned Excellent dogs had trouble there, and Devon went around the second to the last jump. It's too bad one of the last two jumps wasn't tweaked to make it doable for baby dogs. Even though we didn't Q, I still felt like this was a very good effort by Page.

Devon, Excellent A Standard
This was a really fun course, and Devon was ready to run it. I think Devon did a fantastic job with this course, except for the weaves. Since she was feeling fine and gave me no effort, I made her do them again. Of course, she popped out at pole 10 to do the teeter! I'm so thrilled with her confident, happy teeter, I didn't mind.

After the teeter, Devon put on the afterburners. I'm not sure it comes through on the video, but she was moving and I was barely in control! She was 11 seconds under SCT and that was with a second attempt at the weave poles! You can see with her speed she doesn't bother to hit the A frame contact. But I really enjoyed her burst of speed because it meant she was having fun and really enjoying herself out there.

Devon, Excellent B JWW
Very quickly Devon was up in the JWW ring. This was quite a technical course, so I worked very hard on my handling. I thought we did a great job with a very difficult course. Again the weaves bit us in the butt; can you tell what our homework from this trial is? I will not fault Devon for missing that next to the last jump. I made an assumption she would take it and I didn't support it fully.

Page, Novice Standard
I saved the funniest video for last! But before the clip, I'll continue with things I learned about Page this weekend. On Saturday night as I was thinking back over Page's JWW run, I realized why she struggled with the forward moving front cross/going around a jump in two places and didn't in the third. Page has always favored her right lead over her left lead. In fact, when she first started jumping, she would only turn right around the jump which clued me in that she was only using her right lead. After 3 days, this went away.

On Saturday in JWW, the two jumps Page went around where when she was on her left lead. When she was on her right lead, she was comfortable with more lateral distance and less support from me. I used this knowledge when I walked the Standard course, and I made note to work extra hard to support jumps when she was on her left lead.

The next thing I realized is that she hadn't missed a weave pole all weekend. All our weave entrances had been off-side until the last run. The tunnel, jump, teeter, weave, broad jump section of the Novice course looked to me to be more difficult than it presented on paper. If I was running Devon, I would have picked her up on my left out of the tunnel and pushed her to the jump, working her on my left through that section.

But Page doesn't push well and I knew I'd have to support that jump. She would also be blasting through that tunnel, and I didn't think I could get into a good position to support that jump if I picked her up on the left. Since her weaves were so strong, I decided to pick her up on my right and rear cross into the weaves. I could support the jump-teeter combo and if she didn't get the weaves I'd just turn her around and try again. My plan worked well!

Even though I made a note to support jumps on her left lead better, I missed one before the A frame. It didn't really matter because of the table...

Be careful what you train. On Sunday, Page wasn't going to sit on that table for anything. I knew by the look on her face when she went down she was staying! This is the entertainment factor in the video. The only way this video would have been funnier is if you could have seen Judge Christie Bowers jumping up and down and acting just as nutty trying to get Page to sit as I was. Luckily I've only signed her up for one more day of AKC agility before Sept. 1. And if it's a sit on the table that day, I'm taking it as a training run!

It was a long weekend, and this is our only trial between the end of February and the end of August. When I considered whether or not to do this trial, it seemed silly to spend the money on the entry when it was our only agility trial in a 6-month period. However looking back, I think it was a very valuable snapshot on what we are doing well and what we need to work on for the next 4 months.

Devon's biggest accomplishment is her success on the teeter. I know I cannot take this obstacle for granted for a while, but she was very confident in her runs. I plan to continue taking her to a few other locations in the next two months to train. I'm also looking forward to the CPE trial the end of August before some fall AKC trials. The more trial experience she gets with the teeter, the better!

I also know that the other reason she did the teeter so confidently is that her "self esteem" was high. On Friday she was "special dog" because I didn't bring Page; she had me all to herself. This is very important to Devon. She was spoiled as the most important dog to train from the time she walked in the door until the day in April 2009 when Gayle secured Page into the crate next to her. As much as Devon likes her little sister, she doesn't enjoy spitting training time with Page. I will need to do a few "Devon only" trials to keep her attitude up.

I need to go back and work weave entrances. I think that Devon's shoulder being out and sore began this problem about 10 days ago, but now it's created a small training issue. I doubt I'll have to work hard to get Devon's weaves back; she has nice weaves. But I will need to make an effort.

Generally for her first weekend in Excellent Standard and her fifth weekend in Excellent JWW, I think Devon is doing a lovely job! We are well on our way to becoming a seasoned team! I'm looking forward to fall trials with Devon.

Page showed me some incredible things this weekend. She never went off course. She always looked to me for direction, which is remarkable for a 16 month old high drive pushy pup. Page knows this is a team of two sport, and she's all for it. What a privilege it is for me to run her!

Page never missed a weave pole, even with very challenging off-side entries and a rear crossed entry. Her performance in the poles was off, but I know that's totally due to there only being 6 poles. I can't wait to move her into Open so she can see 12 poles.

Page's start line was completely solid. I never once thought she would break. All the hard work on her start line criteria paid off this weekend. It's so nice to know I can get that lead out I'll need. I will need to maintain this skill and be ever vigilant.

Page stepped up on day 2 and nailed all three of her contacts. Even though she missed her correct performance on the teeter and dogwalk on Saturday, she did get the A frame. The fact that she improved her performance on day 2 once again speaks to the remarkable dog she is. That said, proofing contacts is our big homework assignment in the next 2 months. I want her contacts to be more solid to a verbal release regardless of my movement.

Finally, I'm pleased with Page's jumping. She is over jumping, which I've been assured will fade quickly with experience. She doesn't over jump in training, so I'm comfortable. I do need to really think about where I need to be to support jumps for her so she can gain confidence, especially on her left lead. While this is a longer term goal for us, I can still set up jumping drills and work that left lead.

This weekend told me Page is set up to have a fun fall of agility trials. We have work to do, but at least she has the foundation in place and she's a very willing partner, holding up her end of the bargain. What more could I ask for?

1 comment:

Amy / Layla the Malamute said...

Congratulations on such a great agility weekend, particularly on Page's debut!

I loved the videos, and I'm so happy she had such a great time.