Despite the absence of work it would seem that so many things have been piling up recently that I haven’t had the chance to notice I’m on holiday. It shall be definitely noticed Monday morning though. I’ve not updated for a couple weeks now so there’s been a few happenings to report on.
Saturday before last was the Perth Training Club Agility and Jumping Trial and there I was very pleased with most of the runs I did. Spryte did a lovely clear round in NFC Novice Agility (her first one at a trial so far) and then in NFC Novice Jumping she just mistimed her take off for one bar, crashing and face planting through it. Other than that she did a lovely clear round.
Cypher did quite well picking up 5th places in both Masters Jumping and Masters Agility. In Open Jumping he knocked the very last bar on the last jump – a spread. Other than that the run was smooth. Open Agility he missed the distance challenge, an unusual angle on the broad jump causing him to splice it. So all in all very happy with his runs. Raven did a cracker of a run in Masters Agility and I was extremely pleased with it – she got a tough call on the seesaw which I felt she had done correctly so I kept running like we were clear and she handled the course beautifully. Masters Jumping I wussed out on the lead out and let her go before I should have causing all sorts of problems. Open Agility I pushed her over a wrong jump, admittedly because I was caught on the back foot with her speed, she seemed to step up a gear and I just wasn’t ready for that. Open Jumping I did a crap front cross on her and pushed her over the wrong jump.
I joined up with Linda Mecklenberg’s AwesomePawsHandlingSystem email list last week and have found the posts to be extremely interesting in terms of discussion about handling and what we have been training our dogs to do with regards to understanding the combination of cues Linda uses when she handles. Great stuff and very high volume so I’ve flicked it to digest now.
I am still not happy with Spryte’s dogwalk contact and this week will get the contact board out again and do reinforcing sessions of her 2o2o position. Her weavers also need lots of proofing. I know these are all issues with baby, green dogs just starting out in Novice but it’s something you just can’t let slide if you don’t want to have to be paranoid about things when you are out in the ring competing. She had a glitch a couple weeks back with standing up on the start line and of course I drilled the sit/waits every day for two weeks to help overcome that little startline behaviour.
I think avoiding that chronically bad habit (and very hard to kick) of handling to cover gaps in training is one of the keys to success. I handle Raven like this quite often. Just the other night we couldn’t seem to get round a simple oval circuit of 6 jumps with a u shaped tunnel at either end unless I slowed off a little with my driving/running forward. Always bars kept being dropped. The minute I stopped running flat out she kept bars up. That really pisses me off no end. Clearly, there are and always will be, huge gaps in Raven’s jump training. Handling to protect bars or to ensure all the weavers get done or to ensure your dog hits that contact is completely restrictive and will never allow you to handle to your maximum best. So Spryte’s DW contacts will get a work out this week as will her weavers and some handling drills to extinguish this occasional occurrence and extremely irritating little behaviour she has of shooting off behind me from time to time.
Onto the State titles. The Agility Committee of the Canine Association of WA hosts the WA State Titles each year and this weekend the two qualifying trials took place Friday night and Saturday morning with the Finals being Saturday afternoon. Friday night was cold and windy but thankfully not very wet. Spryte was entered competitively in both Novice Agility and Novice Jumping. The older two were in their usual four runs. Spryte did a cracker run in Novice Agility (despite a very tempting contact just asking for her to shoot behind me at one stage of the course) yet I didn’t have enough faith in her for her weaves and my hesitation meant she halted in the weaves (after finding the entry beautifully) causing her to pop out. Her run in Novice Jumping was so smooth it went just how I planned and she came in clear with a 2nd place and a time 19 point something seconds. First leg of JD accomplished and spot in the Final!
Raven had Open Jumping first up and when she knocked a bar we withdrew. In Masters Agility she pulled out a full effort and we ran clear albeit with a few hairy moments, she came in 4th and thusly qualified for the Finals Saturday afternoon. Cypher was really disconnected in Open Jumping – it really seemed like he got halfway round the course and thought we had finished as he headed back towards the start gate! Not sure where his head was at there. Then In Masters Agility we were going great guns until I didn’t cue a turn soon enough and he pinged off over an off course jump. My fault entirely there – he went exactly where I told him! Open Agility and Raven was first in. She did a blinder of a run and the whole 28 seconds felt very smooth, she ended up with a clear round and a first place and a spot in the Final. Cypher was also switched on but had one bar down. We redeemed ourselves with Masters Jumping, quite a technical course and he ran clear in that one. Raven had a bar down in Masters Jumping which actually happened just before I got the course wrong and pulled her off the wrong jump. It is one of those rare occasions where you are actually grateful for a dropped bar.
Saturday morning was fresh and a little chilly, the grass definitely being a little slick till the sun came out fully. Spryte’s first run was in the Novice Agility and instead of handling like I had no worries in the world I got paranoid about the weavers and completely stuffed her up again. *Rolls eyes to heaven* yes I do sense a pattern. Of course every other part was perfect. No Novice Agility final for us! Raven was next up in Open Jumping and we were nearly home when she knocked the second last bar from the finish. Not happy! I did quite vocally express my disappointment when the bar dropped I must admit. Raven, who likes to give everyone who expresses such opinions the furry finger, obviously took it a little to heart because pretty soon we were in the Masters Agility ring and she didn’t put a paw wrong! Another clear round, very fast and I was over my little internal hissy fit on the OJ course. We humans are so mercurial. We ended up in 2nd place (less than half a second off first place and an Agility Champion leg ARGH!!!). Cypher missed the weave entry on that course, I’m pretty sure I stood in the wrong place but he did a really nice Open Jumping run and his Open Agility run was even better. That run earned him a spot in the Open Agility final due to dogs who had double qualified. In Masters Jumping Raven dropped a bar and this time we did withdraw, it wasn’t a bar that had any difficult angle on it and I was running quiet and without any confusion in my signals. Cypher decided that he really couldn’t pull off an inviting spread jump which DQ’d us but I finished the course anyway. Novice Jumping Spryte and I did a really sweet run together and she ran clear to win first place and gain her second leg of Novice Jumping title. I was extremely pleased with the run as everything went to plan.
That afternoon the finals were held and Novice Jumping was first up. I think there were about 8 dogs in the Final. Spryte and I ran the course clear with one slight glitch in direction towards the finish line but other than that smooth and clear. I think a couple of other dogs went clear but it turned out that Spryte’s time had won it. She was the State Novice Jumping Winner – not bad for a little pipsqueak! I was more than just a little proud of her performance over the two days – she handled the environment and the courses really well and seemed to enjoy herself as much as I did. She is certainly a little rocket to run.
Raven and I had a bash at the Masters Agility run but unfortunately I just didn’t get into the right spot on course and caused an off course into a wrong tunnel entry. Apart from this she handled the rest of the course well and was still rocketing through her contacts like she was as fresh as the morning.
Open Agility and it turned out to be a tricky entry onto the seesaw (multiple dogs getting refusals on it) and also the distance challenge turned out to be too difficult for some. My two had no problems with the distance challenge but both had seesaw entry issues.
And that was it – another State over and done with. A tiring but ultimately fun weekend – some of my runs felt really good, others not so much but most of all I was happy with Spryte’s first taste of a full on competition weekend. Raven is feeling really very good and it’s hard to believe I have to take her into Murdoch Tuesday for her chemo, to look at her you would never suspect the stuff she’s gone through. Her whiskers have grown back from when they all fell out at the conclusion of her last round of chemo. Now I wonder if these newly grown ones will disappear as time goes on. Hopefully after another couple of months this will all be over for good.
2008 WA State Novice Jumping Winner –
Winpara Out of Sight HT – Spryte (20 months old)