Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Dusty, Dirty, & Chilly - Ohio Agility Trial

This weekend found the Stump Kids and me in Springfield, Ohio, at the Gem City AKC Agility Trial playing in the dirt at the Champions Center. It was two days of lots of dust and dirt, with some chilly breezes outside. The arena's heated (thankfully), but the crating area was still a little chilly, which meant the dogs all felt good when it was finally their time to run.

The trial was running tall to small, so Jodi and I headed up Saturday morning. We took our time, but apparently we didn't take enough time, because when we showed up at 10:30, the 20-inch dogs were still walking the course! Needless to say, it was a long day--I didn't get to do my first run with LaMesa until 2:30 on Saturday.

The one thing I hate about this trial is how it runs. One ring is always behind while the other is always ahead. Both Saturday and Sunday was a day of waiting, waiting, waiting, then hustle! I'd run LaMesa in Standard and watch my friends run 8-inches, then hurry to get Dally to run. After Dally's run I'd have to get her back to the crate quickly (no Corgi Cooldown) and hustle over to the Jumpers ring because they were walking the 12"-4" class while we were still finishing up in the Standard ring! So we'd be done within a couple of hours, after spending many hours waiting all day! Way too crazy.

Anyway, LaMesa's runs on Saturday weren't as good as I had hoped they'd be. I was still on a high from our weekend in Nashville, so I was hoping she'd repeat with solid weaves. Both runs saw her slipping in the loose dirt and coming out of the weaves. (She'd nail her entries, though.) Both times I stopped, froze, waited for her to offer the weaves, and then we'd start the weaves over, and she'd do all 12 just fine. So, no Qs on Saturday, but she handled things very well.

Sunday I made sure I decelerated more for her weaves in hopes she wouldn't slip/trip out of them like the previous day. We got our first Excellent Standard Q on a great run (and first place) with a 44.64/68! The second to last jump I heard her tick and I was afraid that meant the triple (last jump) was going to come down, but every jump stayed up!

In Jumpers, I ended up losing her behind me as she tried to go back to the weaves a second time (she was solid in them), but I called her back to me (no refusal) and sent her to the next jump. Unfortunately the next jump was the double, and her rhythm was off, so down came the jump. Otherwise, it was a great fast run, and I was happy with how she handled everything. It just goes to show that when you train weaves so much, they'll always want to go to them on the course! ;-)

Dally's weekend was one of mixed emotions as well. She Qd in Masters Standard on Saturday, but with a rather slow time, coming out with only 8 PACH points (she usually averages around 15 in Standard). I had to take her back to her crate quickly, which meant no cooldown or tennie toss (but I did give her some SPAM), so I could walk the Jumpers course. She must have not approved of that because when it came time for her to run in Jumpers, she walked out of the weaves. So, I sent her back in them again and after about 8 she just came out of them. I didn't know what else to do, so I just took off running and made her run. It was a great opportunity to work on some blind crosses, though, so I'll take that as a learning opportunity.

Sunday saw a faster Dally in Standard--she was rocking it and came out of the ring with 25 PACH points! She even weaved quickly and looked like she was having fun. This time I made sure to take a little extra time with her afterwards (but not too much, unfortunately) and let her eat some SPAM and get a little extra love before I had to put her in the crate and rush to walk Jumpers. I had hoped that'd fix everything, but in Jumpers she once again walked out of the weaves. I was at a point where I wasn't sure if I should put her back in the weaves, pick her up and walk out, or just run. I just ran and made her keep up with me.

If anyone knows my history with Dally and agility, it's been a long road to have her enjoy agility and to run happy. She's a soft dog (though that Corgi exterior tries to cover that), so it's a fine line to try to tell her she was wrong in what she did. I watched my videos--I didn't do anything out of the ordinary for her to come out of the weaves. If this wasn't our last trial before AKC Nationals, then I probably would have carried her out of the ring and hope that we could work through the problem at the next trial. But, we aren't going anywhere until we head West to Tulsa, so I wanted last experience in the ring to be a positive one. So from now until Nationals, I'm going to be doing a little more intensive training with her and hope she'll have her act together by the time we step in the ring. She was naughty at our last trial before Nationals last year and then made up for it in Reno, so let's hope she does the same this year...

Monday, February 18, 2013

Corgis Herding Cattle

I know I mostly talk about agility with the Stump Kids, but I was inspired to talk a little about herding today.

Dally hasn't been very interested in herding, at least when it comes to sheep. I tried taking her to a herding club meeting and she wasn't very interested in the fuzzy white things. But she's always been very interested in chasing our horses, especially when they're first turned out. It's a vice that's been a bother for me because I have to make sure she's locked up in a stall when we're turning horses out. Every other time she's just fine with the horses--I can ride them with her loose and she doesn't chase them. So I was bummed she wouldn't be interested in herding so I could teach her to leave the animals alone (but it's kind-of hard to teach herding commands when the dog won't herd).

But I've never tried her on cattle. She doesn't seem to care much for the cattle, either, but I haven't even really tried. This video clip tells the story of a Montana cattle rancher named Scott Wiley and his ranch crew--four Pembroke Welsh Corgis! Bevy is the star of the clip, as she's the smallest of the four (runt of the litter) at 22 pounds. (Dally weighs around 24 pounds, for comparison.)

I love the part showing her riding along with "her human" on a horse, and I love watching Scott pile all the Corgis on the back of a 4-wheeler (if only they showed them riding on the 4-wheeler).

It's such a heartwarming story to see how this family cares for their Corgis and how these Corgis work their hearts out for their humans.

Who knows, maybe I'll give Dally another chance with herding. But really, LaMesa's the one that needs the work the most--and she loves herding! Maybe one day I'll hit the lottery so I have the money (and the time) to start taking herding lessons and competing with LaMesa. I hate that I can't let her natural instincts shine.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Friday, February 8, 2013

LaMesa's Little Sister

While we were in Tennessee for the agility trial a couple weeks ago, I got to finally watch LaMesa's little sister run! Flicka share the same mom and dad as LaMesa, but she's about a year younger. The two look similar, but Flicka is built more like their father and LaMesa more like their momma. She's owned by Sally, who has done awesome things with her--she finished her AKC Championship (and possibly her Grand Championship) in conformation, started in herding, and won "Most Versatile Vallhund" at the 2012 Swedish Vallhund Club of America's National Specialty in Texas in October.

The Vallhund girls! Sally with Flicka, me with LaMesa. LaMesa was trying to shy away from Flicka.

Flicka competed in Open Jumpers and Excellent Standard on Sunday, so the girls were competing against each other in standard. I enjoyed watching Flicka have a good ole time in Open Jumpers. She got sucked into the tunnel vortex, which reminded me of the time LaMesa did that at the last NADAC trial we went to.

By the time we competed in Excellent Standard, I think Flicka was a little worn out and stressed out (she had competed Thursday and Friday, but Sally gave her Saturday off). She doesn't take off confidently like LaMesa does, but she jumps about the same.

It's interesting because Flicka is very confident and loves everybody! She's not shy when it comes to other dogs or people--she'll get right up there to play. But LaMesa is shy when it comes to other dogs she doesn't know, even other Vallhunds. She was overwhelmed by Flicka when they were playing around after LaMesa's Excellent Jumpers run. And it's funny because I made sure to get LaMesa out and about from a very early age to meet new people and new dogs. But some times she just turns into a little scaredy pup.

Here's a comparison of how the two ran the Excellent Standard course. (Bear in mind, LaMesa is a year older and has more time under her collar. I think Flicka is going to be awesome once she matures, just like LaMesa is still finishing her maturing in the ring!)



I look forward to seeing Sally and Flicka more and watching her progress. It's fun to run with your dog's siblings!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Stump Kids Snow Play

The weekend brought with it a few inches of snow, which meant the Stump Kids wanted to play! Our favorite winter game is "snow tennie"--get the tennis ball from hiding, throw it in the snow a couple of times and let LaMesa roll it around until it's covered with snow, and there you go! Snow tennie!

Open gate = more room to run to chase the tennie! 
Collisions are the norm when it comes to the Stump Kids playing tennis...

Friday, February 1, 2013

Ending the Q Drought!

So if you're a regular reader to my blog, you know LaMesa and I have had some struggles in the past year--missed weave entrances, popping out of weaves, dropped bars, etc. And you know we've been working through those issues with the weave pole bootcamp and Dawn Weaver seminar. Well, I'm so happy to say that hard work is finally paying off!

LaMesa's weekend was definitely more successful than Dally's weekend in Nashville. Saturday we started off in Standard. She knocked the second jump, but nailed her weaves!! I was so excited to see her drive to the weave poles and nail all 12 (THE FIRST TIME!). Then we had a little bobble on the teeter--not sure what spooked her, because normally she loves to make the teeter bang, but oh well--she nailed the weaves!

Next came Jumpers--and we were clean! No knocked bars! Twelve weave poles in a row, the first time!  After she cleared the triple jump (which tends to be a nemesis of ours some times), I took a deep breath and sent her into the weaves after the tunnel. She drove through them like she was on fire, even hopping out at the end like she was just as excited as I was. Now I was just holding my breath, willing her to jump just a little higher so she wouldn't knock a bar. I even changed my plans on the serpentine because I didn't want to risk her shortening her stride. As she got over the second-to-last jump, I could feel it, but I knew we had one more jump. Once she took off and she landed with that bar still up, I had tears in my eyes and I was hopping up and down--so proud of my little Vallhund! As Merinda says in the video, yes, I did cry a little. It was such a relief, and she ran so beautifully!

Sunday's runs were very successful, but we didn't come away with any Qs. In Standard LaMesa came out like a rocket--she was moving so fast I couldn't get in a planned front cross (which you can see in the video). Then coming off the table, she moved so quickly to the teeter, I couldn't pull her back to jump the triple. Still, we regrouped and continued, and she nailed the weaves yet again, and then rocked an awesome 4 jump serpentine.

In Jumpers LaMesa wasn't moving as quickly as I thought she would be for me to do a rear cross, so I pushed her past a jump. But she still left all the bars up and again drove through those weave poles.

I'm feeling so much more confident handling LaMesa now. A few friends were saying, "No more worrying about those weaves!" But I know differently--there's always a slight worry about the weaves, and the jumps, and everything else. Dally has taught me to never take a clean run for granted and to always continue to train and push for a faster, clean time.

Our next trial isn't until the end of February...ugh!