Monday, January 10, 2011

Training Shows

First show of the year done and dusted...

I am quite happy with the result, even though there is still a little bit of fine-tuning to do.  Now before I give the rundown on the show, let me mention this.  In all my infinite wisdom and intense training over December, I neglected a couple of things... namely spreads and the long jump...  everything else got trained.  So what happens?  Why Chaos knocks the spread and the long jump of course.  Haha, at least it proved that my training helped.  So guess what we will be training this week???

Volt went with of course and the little golden boy that he is, continued to amaze me.  We ran around like hooligans a bit and did some general socializing.  Him and BC Sassy (imp UK) had a huge game, the high Voltage gaining advantage by climbing on top of me and Sassy's owner.  He did all his tricks with no fuss, even entertaining a friend's daughter by continually giving her his paw.  Never have I had a puppy this happy and 'issueless'.  I have said it before and I will say it again, thank you Jenny for this amazing boy!

I have been thinking of trying a different start line routine for a while now and I am happy to say that it works.  Oh hat of zeus, this is going to require one of my infamous explanations.  Chaos has terrible terrible downs.  I mean in the house or in a very neutral environment they are quite good, but if there is the remote possibility of doing agility, even if the first obstacle is a remote dot on the horizon, Chaos finds a down position very very hard.  Yes, yes we can trace it back to some fundamental mistakes in my training, hell it won't even be that hard, but let's rather talk about fixing the problem.  I like down stays, my personal opinion is that a dog can get the best acceleration from this position.  I like my dogs starting from quite a distance from the first obstacle.  If the arena allows, often 7 or 8m.  The other problem with Chaos is that if you place him in a sit or down stay he places ALL his weight on his front quarters, often causing a stumble or faceplant before he has even reached the first jump.

So 6 months ago, I started a new routine in training.  I would walk him (off lead) to a relatively desirable distance from the first jump and stand facing away from the jump and wait... intitially, I waited... and waited... and waited, Chaos staring at me, every few seconds quickly glancing at the jump, just to make sure the agility grinch hadn't made it magically dissapear, and waited... la-di-da-di-da... and waited.  Eventually Chaos would move his bum in line with me (ie now his head was past my back facing toward the jump) and start his painstaking process of downing.  Seriously it must be the world record for the slowest downs, the strain it must take on his muscles is definitely more than an entire agility course.  It took some time, but he gets it now.  We finally have a routine that does not involve me pushing him into a down and then returning to him 7 and a half times to push his bum down.  We walk to the start (off lead)  I stop at the desirable distance, facing away from the jump, he moves himself past me and downs. Voila!  Anyhow it worked, definitely much more relaxed starts!

So back to the important stuff.  We ran contact first yesterday, relatively straight forward course, with two small sections of control.  He started beautifully, with me pushing him a smidge too far for his see-saw approach, he recovered nicely.  Nice and tight onto the back cross over the next jump, which I wasn't quite expecting, so I ended up pushing him into the poles a bit wide, very good poles with good rythym.  I nearly lost my head and sent him into the wrong tunnel entry, but he was so responsive to a soft verbal and hand signal and flew to the right side.  Woohoo in both tigth spots I ran and did my front-crosses!!!  No b*tch slap for me!  He flew up the dogwalk,m but was a bit creepy on the down :(  Oh well, will keep working at it.  He got a clear and a second, if I hadn't wasted time in three places and with a normal speed dogwalk, it would have been a first.

The non-contact was next, a more technical course, although not over the top.  My one gripe about the course is a pull through off a spread, personally I don't like that sequence, I would never put it in a course I am judging, purely because I feel it is a bit of a sledgehammer for the dogs.  Anyhow,. as previously mentioned he knocked the spread and the long jump because he hasn't trained them  (the long jump was also into 'empty space' and almost 90% of the dogs knocked or turned the wrong way...  I guess South Africans need to train more long jumps), then he had a refusal, because I did not pick him up after my back cross (it was at the last jump), bad bad handler.  That might sound like a terrible round, but everything was my fault and Chaos was FLYING.  He was working like a dream.  Unfortunately certain unnamed cameramen only got half my round :)  To give you an idea, the course was 138m, my time was 32.56 seconds (=4.24m/s) WITH the refusal, which cost me 4.85 seconds which would have given me a time of 27.71 seconds (=4.98m/s).  The point is, Chaos can get there this year, if I am not a complete and utter jack*ss.

Dog Jumping was a very very straightforward serpentine course.  Up, down, up, down.  I have this teensy tinsy problem with bending down way too much when I run my dogs, as a good friend so likes to yell at the top of her voice from the side of the ring 'T*ts OUT!*.  So I did it again, bent down, causing a knock, but the rest was brilliant going at over 5m/s.

Hmmm, now I just sound like I am bragging.  I am not, I am not!  Just trying to express my progress!  And one thing that is very very apparent on all these vids... I am letting up on my handling before the last jump and Spaz visibly slows down, another thing to train...

Just a quick note: I so wish there was a way to standardise course measuring.  I mean no insult to any judges out there, we all have different perspectives, but if you take my two agility rounds.  I had a good contact round, and even if my slow dogwalk cost me a full second (it wasnt that much) it would translate to 0.10 m/s and I ran this course in 3.86m/s.  Yet I ran my non-contact course (with a 4.85 second refusal) at 4.24m/s, without the refusal it would have been near 5m/s. If you look at it another way, it means that I lost 7.45 seconds on my contact round... erm I don't think so.  That is just not realistic.  I mean you can watch the videos for yourself and decide... but really...  Unfortunately I did not watch one of the judges measure their courses, which I normally do, so I cannot comment.  It is just a thought.

Just a few thoughts on today...  My entire day got caught up in work, agility admin for the province, ridiculous traffic and shopping woes...  I was so wired by the time I got to the dogs, but each and every one of my boys topped my training and playing and hanging out expectations today.  After a busy and generally crappy day, they came through for me.  And that ladies and gentleman, is why I live with dogs!

Looking forward to Lee Gibson's visit next week, it is going to be filled with workshops and seminars, haha now if only I can get all the admin done that goes with it!

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