learnings

Hey! So, to take a break from agility for like, 5 seconds… I’ve been teaching myself a language. And it’s completely impractical because it’s a language that like, 98% of people have never heard of, but some of my kids at school speak it and I think it’s really fun to be able to say little things to them in their own language and the more they teach me the more they open up to me so that’s really fun, plus I just find languageΒ fascinating. I find learning new sounds fascinating, and new letters, and new ways of pronouncing things. I find figuring out how to put words into sentences fascinating, and I love watching them teach me. One of the kids who’s in year 6 is becoming the most awesome teacher – he knows to speak nice and slowly and clearly when he’s teaching me new phrases so I can watch his mouth to get the sounds right and then he’s so stoked when I pick it up on the first or second try. I know how to call someone a dog as an insult, so that’s handy, and they’ve now told me how to tell someone to be quiet (which they then laughed and said it’s more like ‘shut up’. Yes, I have VERY easy-going relationships with my kids. I’m not strict AT ALL and that’s how I like it). I just taught myself a few ways of asking how they’re going (though, they told me the “cool” way of saying it already) so I’ll go in tomorrow and ask and see if they understand me or not, hahaha.

It’s difficult though because I’d like to continue learning, and actually work out how to make my own sentences rather than just getting sentences made for me, but I don’t know if I’ll be teaching there next year. I’m currently driving an hour each way to school and I love it there – I love the philosophy, I love the kids, the staff are cool, the Principal is great, we laugh in staff-meetings and have wine in the 1st grade room on Friday afternoons… but… I’m a teacher… one of the brilliant things about my job is my ability to work 5 or 10 minutes from home. Think what I could do with an extra 50 minutes a day!!! All the hiking I could do, maybe I could actually train Lumen sometimes! When we get another dog (in a couple of years) I could actually have time to train all 3! I could write books! I could actually do my own exercise, or go to a yoga class and not feel guilty because it’s a “one or the other” scenario (dogs or me). But it’ll be sad… I have such a nice little bunch of kid-friends at my school and I really have them trusting me… I don’t want to abandon them. And what if a different school is all strict? And what if they don’t like how I do things and they want me to do worksheets? And what if kids don’t walk around at yard duty chatting with you about things and teaching you how to count in another language? Sad times.

Speaking of learnings though (I can’t keep away from agility can I?) – Loki has his first seminar ever this weekend. A FULL WEEKEND OF AGILITY. His face is going to melt off. I can’t even… he’s going to explode by Sunday. I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned it. It’s OMD. It’ll be fun. I think I’ve mentioned it.

Lovely DW hits tonight. When we finished I took him for a walk around the paddock then we came back and worked on tight turns off the DW. Although he wasn’t targetting his target, he was hitting consistently every time, collecting up… so maybe it will all be ok.

And his weaves are nearly there. Entrances are BRILLIANT. I can hardly trick him with left entries now from what we’ve been doing (always work to do) and the middle poles are ALMOST closed. Oh, so close. I have them at an angle now as Silvia says in her DVD but as soon as I make them straight his little brain can’t compute. Not sure how to get to the next stage here apart from ‘keep trying!’. He can do the first 5, then misses 2, then does the last ones.. just those 4 in a row of straight poles are very hard for his brain. Maybe I just close one at a time instead of the 2 middle ones. That might be a better idea – then he’s still doing 3 closed poles in a row, then slightly closed. Yep. I’m going to do that. Thanks everyone for your input.

Everything else is super funtimes. A-frame/tunnel discriminations are good to go. Tunnel threadles are still a work in progress but usually ok. Bars without wings BAAADDDD NEWS but we’ll get there. Backside-y, wrapp-y jumps are looking lovely… did a sweet backlap to a far tunnel the other day… Oh here, have a video. Lots of learning going on!!!

courses for horses

Hello

I feel like since RC class has ended and Loki & I are settling into how that whole behaviour is going to look, I haven’t been nearly as active on here. Also I just don’t have time. But otherwise I suppose things are just chugging along.

Weaves are slowly closing – I tried to push too quickly and blew his brain so now I’m being more careful and moving them all in about 1cm at a time every few sessions. Also working exits & always independence. Funny though he’ll do the whole 12 with me running backwards or sideways or whatever, but if I race him to the end, that’s where we run into trouble.

Possibly not that surprising. Interesting, maybe.

Dogwalks are also coming along, bit by bit. I initially ignored Silvia’s advice to very gradually add speed, and now I am taking that advice and we are very gradually adding speed. He hits about 90% of the time, but how safe those hits are is the problem. So we’re working on exits. Lots of exits, and we’re doing sequences after. I think he likes this. And if he misses a hit, he doesn’t get to do the sequences… He usually has a really awesome hit the next try. πŸ˜‰

A-frames are… generally ok. I think they’re ok when a reward follows, but if a sequence comes before and after, it all sort of falls apart a bit. I’m thinking he might need a stride regulator or something to help but I’m not sure itΒ will help, or if I just need to heavily JP the best ones and hope he figures it out. Today I did A-frames turning toward me into a tunnel for the first time and he thought this was super easy, and wasn’t phased by the tunnel/A-frame discrimination either. Go puppy!

And after some bar knocking the other day I’ve been trying to include my PVC uprights more but boy do they come down a lot. The problem with them is that even if he brushes the upright itself (and not the horizontal bar), the bar will drop. So it’s hard to tell when it’s his fault or not. I’m so worried about him jumping the metal jumps that most Australian judges use. He’s knocked off 7 jump-cups from my wings from the height above what he jumps, which means he’s come so close to them that they’ve been pulled off. The jump cups on Australian jumps are SHARP METAL. He’s only done two sequences with those jumps before and I already noticed a little patch of fur missing on his nose near his eye. 😦

Yesterday the usual gang came around for some post birthday agility training and we ran an O/E “Intermediate/Novice” sequence. It was loaded with traps and hard parts but I was glad to see Loki’s speed is back 100% after he fell a bit flat a few weeks ago. On the downside, I just haven’t been working on backsides lately so uh… they were a bit of a challenge (I didn’t include the attempts where he was confused by what I was asking πŸ˜‰ )

He’s very fun to run, and sooooo different to Lu. But it’s amazing, I feel so much more confident and smooth with her now. I guess having to react so quickly to Loki and having to get from one place to the other so fast, and not having rock-solid commitment yet, when it comes to running Lu, I have a longer time to react, I can get places easier, and her commitment is way better. Shame she thought all wraps should be S-turns πŸ˜‰

rainy days

We’ve had a lovely day – first some agility training with Loki. I’m building up his dogwalk again to try and promote better running style and stretching over the apex. We’re on 600cm again and doing well. It’ll be interesting to see if it helps.

We also ran an O/E course that our friend brought around on Sunday & a bunch of us broke down into pieces and worked on. I got some feedback from my online coach Niki and went and ran it again with both the dogs. I still couldn’t get all the way through with Loki but we did pretty well. He’s still a baby who doesn’t commit as well as Lu.

Lu and I managed to get all the way around perfectly! Despite not feeling a ‘connection’ with her the way I do with Loki, and not necessarily finding her the most fun to run, this course ended up being really good for her – I could keep her in extension the whole time, there were no wraps, she likes pushes to the backside like in this setup, there weren’t too many tunnels… it ended up being quite a Lumen-y course.

Then we headed off for a nice hour-long hike. I’ve been getting a bit brave with Lu since I took her to the park with Penny’s dogs and let her run free, and she kept coming to check back in… Remember she’s been on lead for walks (apart from at the beach) for like, 6 months so I wasn’t really sure if she’d remember how to recall or what…nic & I let her off on a hike the other day with a bear bell on… we saw kangaroos and she was off on their trail, but we could hear where she was which was reassuring. Then when she came back she got a steak. I let her off in the bush again today and she ran off 3 times – once she got so far that I couldn’t hear the bells any more… but she came back. The good thing about the bells as well is that I can hear when she’s coming back so I can be verbally praising her for coming back even though I can’t see her and she’s still a distance off. More steaks and off we went again. My main fear initially when letting her off (because I knew if there were roos, she was going to run after them) was that she wouldn’t have a distance threshold any more after that one broke its leg. I also didn’t want her to corrupt Loki & for him to learn to hunt. So the good news is that she does have a distance threshold and will come back within a reasonable timeframe… and the other good news is that Loki doesn’t go with her. His recall off of chasing with her is AWESOME, and once he’s with me, he stays with me (looking nervously in the direction she went). So that is very cool. It’s lovely to be able to let her off and have all 3 of them tearing through the bush, banking on the trail-bike tracks and running together. It’s the best.

Now it’s raining and everybody is sleeping in front of the fire. School holidays are the best.

land cruiser vs. mazda mx5

Yesterday I was doing some RC training with Loki and we had leaps for the first time. I don’t know what was going on, he wasn’t driving for the tunnel or he was leaping. I may have thrown him by starting him from a wrap but the wing he was wrapping was literally about 50cm from the beginning of the dog walk. Hopefully it’s just confidence and he’ll be back to normal in a session or 2, since we’ve only been doing static, close, slow starts, this just might have worried him a bit. Not sure. I’m hoping to raise the plank in the next couple of sessions since Lu seems to be getting her groove back and Loki WAS doing really, really well… I’ve managed to slim Lumen down a LOT in the last 2 weeks and she now has her beautiful trim, shapely figure back. I’ll be curious to weigh her. We’ve also begun trail running together with her on a belt pulling me along so that has to be fantastic for her muscles and cardio.

 

Anyway, after Loki and I did the terrible RC session I let him hang out while I set up this sequence I found on agilitynerd.com. I was only going to run it with Lu, and only run it once as an “All in” session since I’d like to start alternating between ‘skill building’ sessions which will be more technical and probably less exciting for her, and ‘all in’ sequence running sessions, which will hopefully mimic a trial more, with no mistakes, or, if there are any, they don’t matter and we just continue on. As I was setting up, Loki was hanging around and I decided I’d use him as my guineapig and memorise the course and get the handling perfect with him before bringing Lu out. He’s much more forgiving than her and doesn’t mind that repetition as long as he gets his rewards (and he does, every time I stuffed up, he’d get his reward!).

I filmed both as you can see below. I don’t have Lu’s bars on full height because I’m trying to rebuild her ability to turn and wrap and she can’t do it very well yet – as I found out. Although she’s moving pretty well here I still know it’s not as fast as she can go, and so to me it feels like with her I’m driving this big clunky bus or SUV, and with Loki, he’s like a little sportscar. He whips around the corners and charges down the straights and if you get in the way, look out!

It was actually really fun walking this course and thinking really hard about my handling options and how I would show him where I wanted him going ahead of time. In the end I would have done 11-12 as a front cross instead of blind like I did, and I probably would have made 10 more of a wrap so he didn’t crash on his face. It’s certainly not perfect but it’s really the first time I’ve done a sequence that hasn’t had the ‘instructions’ like the sequences in Silvia’s foundations class, and that have a number of different handling options that I could have tried. You’re only getting the finished product here, not all the stuff-ups with Loki before this attempt. And Lu – I ended up doing it twice with her but both were pretty similar in terms of what went wrong. Of course the 2nd half of the course after we repeated the tunnel was a bit of a write-off because I was out of position so was turning too late and trying to remember where I was going.

The map

The map

And

 

 

There’s a bunch of these little courses so I’m looking forward to trying some more.

Shape up Dogs seminar is this weekend, so I’ll try and squeeze in a few more weave sessions, a few more RC sessions (even though it’s low), and a few more backside & threadle sessions. Oh, and wraps. Gotta keep working on the wraps. Plenty to do.

Video

training from last week

So the day after my last post, I went and did some more training, this time trying to make some little sequences stuck together by doing the dogwalk once or twice in the middle, and including the weaves, too. I mixed up the sequence in some way every turn so she wouldn’t pattern to it.

What I found was that

1. She is so not used to hitting the weaves with speed.Β And if her rhythm gets mucked up at the start because she gets a little hooked up on one of the poles, she’ll skip the last few poles. She’s still learning so I’m not concerned. And she was happy, so I’m happy.

2. The dogwalk exits to a bar are starting to look much better. You can see in the video that it’s quite far from the end of the DW and that occasionally she’d still glance back but nothing like she was doing the day before. The bar before the tunnel was much easier and I was really impressed with the drive she was giving toward the tunnel, too. I think this was pretty much the first time we’d done the DW in little sequences like this so that’s useful. I’m going to try and set it up myself tomorrow to get some more practise in before the competition on Saturday.

3. She really had trouble with the bar before the dogwalk, either from the 180 turn (when the bars were like this: – Β  Β  Β – Β ) or from the far side of the tunnel to the bar directly before the dogwalk… She’d slice that bar which would put her out wide and have to come in to get on the walk… which I actually think was good learning and practise for her to do ‘slower’ dogwalk entries in that regard… But I’m not sure if that slicing could have been changed by my handling of the 180 somehow…. or if I should have left earlier as she was coming out of the tunnel (but then I worried she was going to miss the bar, or, like a weird, take the other bar).

4. It was cool to do some threadle-arm pulls to the opposite tunnel exit, but gosh she doesn’t need much of a pull (… sometimes).