Monday, March 28, 2011

Weekend Summary

Well another weekend come and gone...

Yesterday was just one of THOSE days... Everyone was on edge and I am surprised that no-one got shot (or at least beaten up) in 'Agility Rage' (it is the equivalent of Road Rage, just in Agility).  Whether it was the moon, or just weather or whatever, it was not exactly fun...  I generally avoid the screaming and swearing, because I was too caught up in my own current problem...  Out of Chaos's nine rounds this weekend... he lost out on FOUR, yes count them... one, two, three, four QC's because of one knocked bar each round.

The problem with this is the amount of 'knock' training I do...  What is knock training in my world, you may ask?  Well it consists of many different exercises.  I have done grid work with my dogs since I before STARTED agility...  in 1994... co-incidentally in fact.  See I used to ride and because we did loads of grid work with the horses, it just seemed like a good idea.  I didn't think much of it or WHY I did it at that stage... that only came later... the point is that all my dogs have done grids... progressive, regressive, even and random grids (or whatever they are called in 'dog terminology').  Once I figured out the value and why I was actually doing these, it became even more of a habit.  I also do a lot of one jump training... this involves me doing a LOAD of weird things (eg. sitting down, running in the opposite direction, climbing a tree, running inside the house, spinning in a circle seven times (yes, yes, exaggerating, in case you have not noticed)), while I send my dogs over a jump and reward if they don't knock.  The idea is to teach them to clear the bars DESPITE my actions... and of course I never reward on any sequence unless they have cleared all the bars.  I will not re-do the ENTIRE sequence (how the hell are they supposed to figure out what is going on???), but only redo the section (one, two or three jumps where they knocked) and reward for NOT knocking...

I even did an experiment today... running progressive jumping grids, varying the distances (between 2.5 and  5m) and the heights (between 500mm and 750mm) on EVERY single grid I ran... he only knocked ONE out of 40 jumps (5 jumps per grid, two training sessions, where I ran each grid 4 times)... and the knock was on a 2.5m bounce, on 650mm and 700mm respectively, which, lets face it, is quite a lot to ask from a dog that is over 570mm at the shoulder...  I honestly do think my dog knows how to stride.  So what am I supposed to do???  HELP ME!!!!

Anyhow, yesterday was a busy, busy, busy day... six rounds in total, so I could not manage to get someone to tape every time, but here are some of my rounds...

I have to mention this... out of the nine courses from this weekend, 5 did not comply to our South African (or the FCI rules), purely because of the fact that the distances between obstacles were below minimum, being less than 5m... I wish I had all of Chaos's videos, because he bounced all of those distances (the ones in a straight line ofc), but still... I do not agree with this... purely because I feel all judges should stick to the rules... my dog didn't knock and perhaps our training should be of the quality that none of the dogs knock because of shorter distances (like they have in the UK for example)... Eish, but stick to the rules.

On another point, some close friends were very upset this weekend, complaining that the courses were just too much and drained all enjoyment from agility.  I am hardly ever on the fence, but on this subject... it is a difficult one.  Sometimes technical courses suit me, because I have taught my dogs those skills, however other times I do feel that it DOES upset me... Where is the line?  We had a few instances this weekend where NOT ONE dog could get around a course... is the fault with the (very small) South African agility community... or is the course design just really too much?  Most of these courses will be posted on my new website... which will be going live a few days later than planned since I  have been caught up in processing all the results for the last two weeks.

My one observation on that subject will be:  As a judge I set up VERY technical courses, ask anyone that knows me, but they are all very open... I very much lean towards maximum distances in between obstacles, where as 99% of the technical courses set up here are on absolute minimum distance (or less).  Obviously these do not suite me as I have VERY tall dogs (Chaos 57.5cm, Quake 56,8cm, Echo, 56.9cm)... and my opinion might change with the High Voltage Maniac... there will always be such a large 'personal preference factor' in agility... I really think we should all just stick by the rules and as long as those are followed shut the f$%k up... haha, not going to 'slap Alett for free' card with this one, since I am quite prone to the whole complaining thing... haha, just know I do it it because I am passionate, not because I am trying to nail anyone!

All pictures courtesy of Melissa Wilson.

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