Wednesday, August 31, 2011

BRAG Trial 8/27-8/29, Lexi only

This past weekend we had another trial here in Columbus. Unfortunately I did not feel comfortable enough with Bentley's recovery to enter him (it hadn't even been a month since his surgery), so he stayed at home while Lexi competed. This was her first trial competing in all advanced classes (she had only been in advanced gamblers before).

First up was Advanced Gamblers. I was feeling pretty confident because this is Lexi's best event. The gamble was tougher than usual (essentially, a very tight pinwheel...but the gamble tape made it really tough). The key, for Lexi at least, was for me to run her towards it, and front cross to send her out through the pinwheel on her own. I knew that if she was on the wrong side, I would have to use too much lateral movement and she would come back across jump 1. Well, halfway through the run I strained a muscle in my quad (not horribly, just enough to totally throw me off) and I couldn't get there to get the front cross in, and as predicted, Lexi didn't make the turn around the pinwheel.

Second was Advanced Standard. Lexi did fairly well, but we definitely noticed a few things (trends as the weekend progressed) that needed work. First of all, she refused the a-frame, which is a fault in advanced. She also dropped a bar (not sure why), and didn't hold her teeter or dogwalk contact. Naughty girl! You can also see her thinking really hard on the table trying to remember what to can tell that we haven't practice the table in MONTHS! Despite that, Jonathan got a nice lateral send at the beginning, and a RC in to the weaves.

The following run was Advanced Jumpers. I didn't run because my leg was feeling really sore, so Jonathan ran Lexi...and Qd! But, the Q isn't what amazed me...I was amazed because of Lexi's progress. She listened, didn't go of course, and gave Jonathan some nice turns. She also ran 6 YPS--amazing! It's runs like these that remind me why we work so girl has so much potential!

The final run of the first day was Steeplechase. Encouragingly, the course did not look too technically challenging, and my leg was feeling better so we gave it a shot. Sure, it wasn't clean, but again, I saw some great things out of Lexi. I got a nice lateral send at jump 3 (she didn't even look at the jump after that one...progress!) She did refuse the a-frame again, and missed her weave entry. She got an off-course, but it was my mistake. I pushed her out too far and didn't decelerate enough. But at the end, we got some awesome distance as Lexi totally out paced me and accelerated through the end as I told her to go on.

The following day we started with Jumpers. Lexi had another great run. At the end I hesitated a bit (couldn't decide whether or not I needed to rear cross) and Lexi hesitated, and missed the second to last jump. Totally handler error. So again, I was very proud of her efforts! She also flying during this run. I pulled her off of the jump after the tunnel, too (I was worried I'd push too far, and over compensated). But again, saw some really nice stuff!

Lexi's following two runs don't even deserve video evidence, but not because of her. In Standard Jonathan held her attention too long and set her off course on the third obstacle. Then, she pulled off of her contact on the a-frame and Jonathan (possibly inadvertently?) backed up and she got back into her 2o2o. He was excused for training in the ring.

The second mishap was in Snooker. Jonathan had a good plan, and was executing it well. Lexi dropped a red, so Jonathan headed to another red to make up for it. However, he was whistled. Apparently this course's rules were to attempt ONLY 3 reds (Lexi dropped one, and Jonathan went and attempted a fourth). However, the judge didn't mention it in the briefing, and the club did not have enough maps for everyone, and we ended up not getting one (we looked at it afterwards and it said "Attempt 3 of 4 reds"...why the judge didn't mention it in the briefing is beyond me). Again, not Lexi's fault, and pretty frustrating.

We did end the weekend on a good note. Lexi ran with her "friend" Drew, the corgi, and our friend Becky Dean. Although not the prettiest run (I gave Lexi NO information on a rear cross), I was pleased because I got semi-collection at the beginning when I asked for her to do a foundation RTH after the first jump.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Rear end strength

You'll remember that we had been trying the 2x2 weave method with Lexi. I think the method itself did help her to see the weaves, but she was still was having trouble making tougher entries, and just didn't seem able to hang on if she did get them.

After speaking with our instructor, she confirmed what I've suspected is the issue...Lexi doesn't know how to use her rear to slow down and collect/shift her body weight. So, we've started addressing this issue on the flat to build rear strength AND awareness.

In the past week or so, I've been working with Lexi to teach her to back up and to teach her to rotate around a target with her back legs. I'm very pleased with the results so far, and documented our week in a few short videos (these videos are not all of our sessions, but the majority of them).

Backing up:

I need to continue to work her backing up to add more distance, and I'd eventually like to teach her to back up steps.


As for the rotation, I am only able to get her to rotate one way...I'm not sure why. I have tried and tried but can't get her to turn the opposite direction.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Disappointing Final Class

Last night we had our final class. The set up was a full course (jumpers with DW) with multiple sends and recalls to be identified and then performed. I have been working on these with Lexi for the past few weeks. Clearly she hasn't mastered them, but she did not run one segment of course correctly. She cut behind us multiple times, failed to read our body language, etc... It was really frustrating. I expressed that I was frustrated because I felt that as handlers, we had broken a dog with a lot of potential. Unfortunately, I think our instructor agreed (not that Lexi was broken, but that she could be really good with the correct instruction.) She even said, "I really like her..and I don't normally like dogs other than my own". Sigh.

I asked her if she thought Lexi had improved over the 7 week course. She said yes. But, she said that she felt like we as handlers had improved more than Lexi has as far as getting her the correct information. I guess that's good. We can't teach her if we don't know what we're doing, so we'll have to keep working on it.

I'll post the "course map" with analysis another time.

I am attaching 2 videos from a segment some friends of mine are calling "How would you handle this?" My friend went to a Daisy Peel seminar, and was presented with some tough sequences.

Here is how I would handle them...

Apparently I misread both course maps, so here are the "actual" sequences, and how I would handle them.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Recall to heel video

As promised, here is a video with a short clip of each recall to heel position. Remember that Lexi has by no means perfected this (in fact, her collection still isn't what I want) but you get the idea!

Friday, August 19, 2011

BRAG Trial 7/29-7/30 Tournament Trial

I have been procrastinating sharing this video for a number of reasons. First and foremost after the second day of the trial we lost a friend, Dave Seeger. Dave was a USDAA judge whom we had met previously at a trial in Charleston. He was super friendly, and my husband and I had the privilege to take him out to dinner--and we thoroughly enjoyed his company. He encouraged us to give him a call as soon as we moved to Columbus, and we did.

After our move he was extremely welcoming, and offered to be our third teammate on our DAM team. Saturday evening he went home and had a heart attack. Though I would not say that Dave and I were close, it was extremely sad, and incomprehensible.

Dave clearly loved the sport, and inspired a sense of fun and camaraderie in everyone he met. Needless to say the outcome of the weekend became completely secondary, though we went on to run Sunday in his honor.

Completely tertiary were the extremely difficult courses (had I known I would not have entered the baby dog) and poor handling on my behalf as a handler.

Nevertheless, I created this blog to track our progress, so here are the runs from the day. I made one video for both dogs since they ran the same courses.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Bentley's Surgery

I thought I would do a quick post regarding Bentley's health.

As some of you may know, Bentley ate part of an antique leather box while we were in Virginia visiting family (a whirlwind trip for my grandmother's funeral). The box wasn't big, but the leather expanded in Bentley's stomach and caused an obstruction.

The day after surgery:

He underwent surgery a little over a week ago (8/8). Luckily for all of us it did not progress to his intestines, and the surgery was not as bad as it could have been. The vet told us that it took them 30 minutes to remove all the leather.

Gross! This is only a portion of what they removed.

He is already doing much better, and has had no issues now that we are transitioning him back to dry food. (We were feeding wet, prescription food). However, he is still (obviously) on crate rest, and has been basically living in an x-pen ever since. Now that he is feeling better he thinks that he is fully capable of doing things like chasing the cat and jumping on the couch.

"Let me out!"

He will have his staples removed Monday (14 days after surgery). We will start rehab (slowly!) at that time. He will not be on any agility equipment for at least 2 months.


RTH Positions

I'm sort of disappointed with myself because after several classes (and new positions learned) I was feeling confused and a bit frustrated. I wanted to be able to express myself on here regarding some of the positions...but I didn't. So, I'm going to try to keep up from now on.

More RTH Positions:

Directed Jumping:
Drills: Set dog up off center from jump (not directly in front of). Handler lines up across from dog (again, not parallel with jump). Handler’s arm is out (towards the jump) and “directs” the dog over the jump, though the handler never crosses the plane of the jump themselves.

Drill: Set dog up parallel to jump bar (near foot of jump). Handler lines up in center of jump, across from the dog (landing side). The handler can reach of the jump and call the dog as the handler turns. The dog has to get on their rear to jump to the owner’s leg.

Drill: Dog is set parallel to jump bar. Handler pushes the dog over the jump, shoulders facing forward and rewards as the dog jumps diagonally over the jump and lands parallel to the bar with no change in direction.

Notes: This was particularly difficult for Lexi. So, I took some time and practiced at home using two jumps (a bit more "realistic", but we did start with 1 jump). After several repetitions, she has figured it out. This one was actually easier for her to pick up on than it seemed. This video was our first "successful" attempt, so it's a bit dirty, and you can see me stop and wait for her, etc...

Backy Uppy:
Drill: Handler remains on takeoff side of jump. Facing the dog, legs apart. Again asking for true collection. The handler steps back with the leg near the dog (but does not cross the plane of the jump). The handler opens up and uses their arm, then feeds at the heel position. If you do not open up enough, the dog does not technically have “permission” to take the jump since the dog shouldn’t technically ever cross behind you. This handling move is often incorrectly used. In reality it is rarely used.

Drill: Place dog farther from the jump. The handler faces forward (again, farther from the jump). The handler is asking for extension—the only of the positions where that is the case. The handler puts the recall leg backwards and looks over that shoulder. The handler lowers the hand on that side and rewards the dog for coming to the hand. Although we are asking for extension, the dog still needs to collect at the handler’s side and not swing out or pass the handler.

Here are some notes that might make more sense.

Monday, August 8, 2011

2x2 Weaves Compilation

We decided to go back to some of the earlier steps in the 2x2 weave method. Lexi was still not getting her entries at certain angles. Here is a video documenting her re-training of the beginning few steps.

You'll notice that she still has trouble if she is on our left circling around to get the entry. She almost always goes in at the second pole.

When training this, it's like she doesn't seem to realize that she has missed it. She will do this over and over and over again. Once she gets it, and gets her reward, I'm still not sure that she understands why she was rewarded this time and not the time before.

Now that we are on a full set, I'm seeing MUCH better entries all around, but her entries from the left side from an arc are still 50/50 at best. I'm not sure what to do about that. I may go back to the channel method and open up the second pole.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Recall to heel (foundation)

6 Recall Positions:
1. Foundation Recall to Heel (RTH)
2. Directed Jumping
3. 270
4. Extension
5. Serpentine
6. Backy up

Foundation RTH:

Drills: The dog is placed in a stay in front of a jump (though this is just the RTH in its most basic form, it can be used when the dog is moving), the handler moves across the jump facing the dog, and turns the outside leg sideways (the inside foot is facing the dog/jump). The idea is to get close to true collection. True collection is when the dog takes off for the jump at the jump’s height, and lands at the jump’s height’s distance away from the jump. So for our dogs, the dog jumps at around 16” from the jump, over the 16” jump, and lands 16” from the jump. The idea is that the handler lines up around 16” beyond the jump to force collection.

Two problems are often seen when working this drill.
1. Swinging: The dog aims for your back leg and swings itself over the bar.
2. Diving: The dog aims for your front leg and pivots into position.

In other words, the dogs attempt to use their athleticism to get into place.
To fix the aforementioned issues, try first working this drill on the flat.
a) First, recall and feed when the dog is facing you
b) Then, shorten the distance

To stop diving, the handler can move to the side (rather than the center). Sometimes you can correct one issue and create the other.

These drills are designed to help the handler know their footwork and also to build the dog’s jumping skills.