Monday, July 5, 2010

Weekday Practice & A New Venture

We haven't done any agility other than a time or two through the weaves and a few jumps at home since our last trial two weekends ago. Of course having a Monday off gave us a different opportunity. We went to the barn at 10am today and ran two courses. I didn't stick around for the third, but I had an interesting opportunity. I ran the barn owner's Australian Kelpie. It's an interesting breed, one I had never heard of prior to agility and taking lessons (when we began). Here is a picture - not Boomerang, but of a Kelpie.
Boomerang is almost eight years old and wow, what a dog. I have never run a dog in agility before except Vegas, mostly out of fear of embarrassment, lack of skill, and I don't know what. It was really fun! I have never had to run so fast in my life. I suppose a little distance work would have been effective. The cool thing was running a dog that is already trained and so well. I just had to make sure I gave the queues early enough and kept moving, just like Vegas - except maybe faster. It was a great experience and I hope to have a chance in the future again.

Okay, so that was that. Running Vegas....well, the first course was an "almost" JWW course. I say almost because the course had a tire and an AKC JWW course does not have a tire. The second course used the a-frame twice and the dog walk twice but otherwise was just jumps and tunnels, using portions of the previous course sequence. It was tricky, but fun, giving me an opportunity to try crosses versus "switch" maneuvers with Vegas to see what works best. There was one of the courses that I struggled to get her over one of the jumps. It was the fourth jump or so in a short sequence of jumps followed by an almost 180 degree turn and another run of jumps. Turns out it was showing me how responsive Vegas is to my body movements. I was dropping my shoulder and pulling back toward the second row of jumps. We did get it; I just had to push out a little farther and not retreat quite as quickly.

I left before we had run all the courses because the first two were quite tunnel heavy and Vegas was really slowing down. It didn't seem fair to keep pushing her when she was clearly done. There's a general rule that says you should always leave the dog wanting more and I hated to push her beyond where she already was. But it was fine - and what a nice change of pace from our typical Monday morning.

And now, for our news. Last summer Vegas and I had been practicing and training pretty intensely in rally-obedience. Vegas wasn't all that into it then - it seemed to be too slow a pace for my goofy, speedy girl. But, I've still worked on bits and pieces here and there, more so in the last few months as a focus exercise before our runs at agility trials. Also, about six months ago I started watching the AKC events schedule for a rally trial that I could enter. But, with our intense agility schedule, any local rally trials always conflicted with our agility schedule so no go. Well, I was sitting around twiddling my thumbs, debating whether to enter, hemming and hawing and trying to talk myself out of it - all the typical excuses: "We aren't ready," "Our heeling needs major work" etc. A friend posted to Facebook that she had just started teaching a class in rally and was entering her first trial and one thing led to another.... Our first rally trial will be Friday, July 16 in Albany. It's hosted by a Shetland Sheepdog club but the rally trial is open to all breeds. I'm not a 'little bit nervous;' I'm a whole shipload nervous. BUT, that just means I need to work really hard this week. My biggest concern is the heeling. The rest should be fine; we know the moves. Although I will be reviewing the novice level signs to make sure I've got them down. I'm excited, too. We worked very hard last year and I hated to see that go to waste. Plus, our heeling will come together. My friend Jennifer, a dog trainer, is going to be in our area next week (Monday, July 12) and we're going to get together for a training session. Her dogs are amazing and I have no doubt we will benefit from her expertise. Sooo, rally-o here we come!

1 comment:

  1. Good luck! Can't wait to hear how you guys do.

    We'd love to do rally, but "our heeling needs major work". Which is more truth than excuse. Well, I guess another way of phrasing it is, our heeling isn't so atrocious that we'd definitely NQ but we wouldn't get scores that I know we would otherwise get.

    Have fun at the training session, and good luck in rally!