Sunday, February 1, 2009

Update on the handling - wow I have been missing a trick here! Just a small change, but I think it will make the sharp turns towards me much smoother, and my handling much clearer. I think at best in the past I must have been half-halting my dogs to get tight turns, at worst my handling could have been ambiguous. Zazzy was fantastic today. My goodness she is a fantastic little dog. You show her something, she thinks about it for a while, then not only does she do it, but she makes it look easy! I have started her A-frame training again using half an AF lying flat on the ground. Yes I have gone the running AF route, even though there are many scary and as yet unknown future variables that have made me think about re-training her to a target now that I have the opportunity. Having weighed up the pros and cons, on balance I have decided to continue with trying to teach a running AF. It's the only way to make that progress of finding out if I can do it! The deciders for me are many-fold; firstly there's the problem of the strain on the dogs' shoulders when you ask them to stop at the bottom of the AF. Also, I have had to solve problems with the stopping method, so perhaps I will be able to sort out problems I get with the running method as well (???!!). With Becky I found that when she was taught the two on two off position, in competition she would target the ground with her front feet, and found that she could get into position perfectly well without hitting the contact first. So if she stopped dead, her back feet would land on the contact (some judges will eliminate for that), but if we carried on running the course, her back legs might get the contact or might miss it, either way some judges are only looking at the front feet. It was fixed by not releasing until she got to the bottom, or until she hit the contact if it was a class we need to run, of course this means taking longer to complete the obstacle. With Kaydee, she started her agility career flying over the top of the AF and landing in the contact zone with her second stride, but with repeated stopping at the bottom I found her putting more and more strides in, perhaps four or five on the down side, which is obviously much slower. I have seen dogs fly over the AF straight into a dead stop, but how much soft tissue damage does that do? Anyway, for better or for worse, the running AF is our chosen path.
I also had great fun running Becky and Karens poodle Tikka round some low jumps, they were so joyful and enthusiastic it was brilliant. Kaydee had to settle for some tricks and learning to run to a mark, but she enjoyed that. Then we had a lovely long walk over Chobham common where the views from the hilltops were gorgeous in the weak winter sunshine, although there was a bitterly cold wind there were some pretty mini flurries of snow.
I really want to mention Karens new sheltie puppy, Yazoo. She is astonishing! At eight weeks old she came trotting out today with real confidence, gumption and attitude, she is wonderful! She already has a brilliant attitude, shows great understanding (can a puppy be wise at 8 weeks old?) and aptitude for learning, and she is amazingly co-ordinated for her age, my goodness Bernadette has done a fantastic job with those puppies!

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