Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Santa Photos 2013!

This year Matt and I decided we wanted to skip the usual photos with Santa at PetsMart--the quality was getting rather shoddy. We couldn't afford to do the awesome Bluegrass Barkery Santa photos that my friends do, but we found that our favorite humane society was offering photos with Santa. So we packed up the Stump Kids and the cats (yes, the cats, too) and headed to the Woodford Humane Society where we knew 100% of our money was going to the humane society where we adopted Sarabi, and the set up was quite nice!

So, from our house to yours, we wish you and yours a very, Merry Christmas! The girls hope the Christmas Corgi (or "Santa Paws" as LaMesa calls him/her) bring your pups everything they hoped for!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Playing Around with Invitational Courses

The Stump Kids and I have been on a little vacation from all things agility with the weather, move, etc.

But Thursday night, we headed over to Goose Creek Dog Sports to do a little training with my friend Camille and her Miniature Poodle James Brown and Papillon Gus. I expected to have to set up some sort course (which I am not that good at doing), or just doing some jump grids and weaves. But, I was excited to see that the jumpers course that was used for the 2013 AKC Invitational Championship!

It seems like LaMesa does better with the more difficult courses because we have to really work together. Maybe it's because I am more in tune with her and how to run her on the tighter, difficult courses? Or maybe because those types of courses don't really call for a lot of all-out speed, which can start to get to LaMesa's head. Whatever it is, it works. I worked her over this course multiple times, starting off by working different sections here and there, mostly with rear crosses.

When I worked Dally on the course, I had a lot of blinds, with one rear thrown in, and those worked great with her because she was on fire. I don't typically school a course over and over with Dally any more, but if it's something that I know we'd benefit from by working different parts and seeing what I can do to make our course more efficient, I will.

Anyway, I finally decided it'd be fun to video me running LaMesa on this course. By this time, we had really worked on a lot of things, so she was tired, which might explain the knocked bar. I do wonder about running the opening with a Ketschker on the wrap, like I heard some people ran at the Invitational, but for LaMesa's size, I think the wrap was more efficient. I ran it with a wrap with Dally, too.

So what do you think:

I love how she likes to run these types of courses.

I'd love to try to get her qualified for the 2014 AKC Invitational--if we can get more consistent at the trials (nail all 12 weaves the first time, keep the bars up, and listen to me), we might have a chance. I won't be able to trial a whole bunch the first part of this year, which means the last half of Invitational qualifying, but we'll give it a good college try.

Happy Stump Kids, glad to be back to agility!! (That's Dally wearing
her Back on Track blanket, I'll post on that in the next few days.)

Monday, December 16, 2013

Where Are the Stump Kids?

The Stump Kids have been a little MIA lately because they've been packing…OK, well actually they've been supervising me as I've been packing and moving.

You see, we're in the process of moving to a new house, which means I've been off the radar for a lot of things--no agility, no massive pup walks, etc., so that means not much to blog about lately.
Hopefully we'll be back up and running in no time--I think our vacation from agility is about over because I'm itchin' to work the girls on some things.

Meanwhile, here are some photos from the girls' hard work from the move:
Dally & LaMesa supervising the trailer loads. 

So tired that we can't help mom make the bed.  

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The Mental Aspect of Agility: Get Outside of Your Mind

Today's post is brought to you by the Dog Agility Blog Action Day group. Every once in a while, a group of dog agility bloggers all write on a particular subject/theme and then share the other blog links with you so you can learn more about that subject.

This month's topic is on the mental aspect of agility. This can be taken just about any way possible--your mental game, your dog's…ring stress, focus, "the zone," etc.

I've always been a very mental person--some times my mind is running on overdrive and I get way too much in my head. I've been known to be a very intense person, in and out of the ring. When I showed horses, it was a running joke that perhaps I needed a little liquid refreshment before I showed or ran barrels because I was so intense. That carried on to competing in agility when I first started six years ago.

Training-wise, I soaked in everything I could and enjoyed my time training Dally. But when it got to actual trials, I'd get so nervous prior to my class. I'd obsessively walk the course over and over until the whistle blew. I'd obsessively stare at the course maps up until it was our turn. I'd put so much pressure on myself to run the course perfectly and will Dally to run fast, it did just the opposite--I'd mess up on a cross, Dally would feel the pressure I had and move slow… I'd have to cheerlead Dally through the course, praying and hoping to come in under standard course time. It wasn't much fun.

I tried the "liquid refreshment" at a couple of trials. I couldn't tell you if it helped or not, but I did have a little more fun (I think). I chomped on peppermints left and right, in hopes of masking my nerves around Dally. None of it seemed to help much.

I couldn't tell you when exactly everything clicked. It might have been after I moved Dally down to Preferred 4". We had to start back in Novice, which meant easier and more laid-back courses. When we got back in Excellent B (now Masters), we were still having fun, but not being consistent enough to QQ….

Or maybe it was bringing LaMesa along and training her--I had to focus my energy on her, and I knew I could rely on Dally to be my steady eddy...

Or maybe it was when we earned our first QQ…Finally, that one thing that had eluded us for so long, and it finally happened. After that, we finally got the ball rolling with QQs...

I couldn't tell you what made a change, but finally Dally and I started running together like a team who enjoyed being out there. Now I walk the courses a few times (maybe obsess a little, but when you're walking for two different dogs, you tend to do that), I barely look at the course maps, and I just go out there planning to enjoy the run with Dally. Yes, I do get a little intense and nervous before I run LaMesa, but it's so much better than when I first started agility.

A friend has ben having troubles running her dog--she's so intense! She asked me what made me change my running style and I told her it was basically because I wanted to enjoy every run with Dally. She's 8 years old now and has done everything I've ever asked her (well, except for herding, but that's another story). No one ever thought she'd be an agility champion. No one ever thought she'd qualify for the AKC National Agility Championships…

But guess what… She is an agility champion--she earned her PACH last November and is so close to earning her PACH2 in the next few months. Plus, Dally's qualified for the AKC NAC not once, not twice, but three years in a row! The AKC continually tries to make qualification harder, and she still comes through.

She's relaxed so much because I have. Because I know that I'm lucky to get to run one of the prettiest Corgis you'll see. I know that she has my back and loves me, no matter what. So why not enjoy those runs? I know there will come a time when we have to hang up her hot pink zebra print agility collar, but for right now I want to relish each and every run. If I'm stressed myself and start to stress her out, it's not going to be a fun, worthwhile run.

Yes, agility is a mental sport. But you can't be too mental because you'll forget all about the fun and the whole purpose of running agility--running with your best friend, your heart, your soul.

Read more great blog posts on the official site of the Dog Agility Blog Action Day.