Friday, June 29, 2012

2012 ANKC Nationals

It’s hard to believe that the first half of this year is gone.  Our Europe trip, WAO and the ANKC Nationals all done.  Next on the list is Cassie just days away from her first birthday! Goodness time flies.

I really enjoyed the Nationals this year although I kind of knew I would.  At almost five years old Sonic has the experience under his belt and for the last eight or nine months he has been giving me pretty solid performances at a local level.  Plus we know each other now which makes a massive difference when you’re on course with each other.  My biggest frustration was his lack of fitness and I had ongoing soreness issues with him leading up to it.  Unfortunately that was a risk I took with going to Europe just prior.

The venue of the Sydney International Equestrian Centre for the Nationals was fantastic.  I really loved running in the indoor arena although the surface was pretty hard.  Sonic handled the surface reasonably well but I noticed when I watched the videos back that he was taking more strides between jumps. Not sure if that was because of the different surface or if he was feeling sore.  One of the things top of my list to do with him now that we’re back home is to significantly improve both his and my own fitness!  As far as the Nationals go we faired pretty well, making it into both the Masters Agility and Open Jumping finals.  I had really wanted to make the Masters Jumping final too but on the more difficult courses where we had the best opportunity to be up there on time either myself or Sonic made mistakes.  But all in all I was thrilled with my boy.

Now that I’m back home chaos has once again resumed.  I have to say that I do not recommend to anyone having two dogs less than 12 months of age at home at once.  It is exhausting!  If Cassie isn’t pestering Fizz to play, Fizz is using Cassie’s tail as a tug toy or they are leaping all over the furniture.  I don’t know what I’d do without the puppy pen.  It’s the only reason I’m still sane…  In saying that I’m very thankful for the hard yards I’ve already put into Cassie as it has certainly helped me to keep control of her with such a big distraction around.  The pair of them really do enjoy each other.  No doubt they’ll be best of friends throughout their lives which is pretty sweet.

Double trouble!
Cassie’s training continues in earnest.  I’m definitely putting more work into her right now than the puppy.  I still spend most of my time working on recalls with her and now the weather has cooled and the snake threat is on hold again until spring we get to practice loads of them when I take all the dogs for a run.  I’ve put most jump work on hold other than specific one jump exercises.  She drives hard after me when she’s gone over a jump but I haven’t been happy with her drive to a jump so I've been focusing on building value for going to a jump without me belting along beside her.  I've started her running contacts work but that will be pretty slow going.  At the moment it’s all foundation work.  I've decided to wait until Cassie is about fourteen months before I start her 2x2 training.  With the running contact work just beginning I don’t want to have two big things on the go at once.  Plus it won’t hurt for her to be a little older and more physically aware.  I’m really looking forward to teaching a non-border collie 2x2’s to see how she picks it up in comparison to how Riot, Sonic and Lexi did.

It’s actually been quite fascinating for me having a papillon and a border collie puppy at the same time.  The differences in them are substantial.  Cassie is no less clever than Fizz and has taken to all her shaping training like a duck to water.  Once she understood the concept she picks up everything I teach her very quickly.  It’s more about the difference in attitude.  I’ve not even made it to crate games with Fizz as yet but she practically forces her way through crate doors in order to get in there and get the treat she’s certain I’m going to give her.  That desire took about one week of her being with us to develop.  Cassie at almost twelve months of age after having been with us for eight months and having much more reinforcement for being in a crate still does a runner if she thinks there is even a remote chance I’m thinking of putting her in either the bed time crate or the puppy pen.  She loves doing crate games though.  She was about ten months old by the time she would offer to go into the puppy pen to eat her dinner even though she was fed in there twice a day for the six months prior.  With recalls, you call Fizz and she just blindly charges over to you when at least 50% of the time Cassie will look at you as if to say “why" or "sorry, I'm busy”.  But to be honest I wouldn’t have her any other way.  I adore every last piece of fur on her body and she has taught me so much.  She is such a character and I know she is going to make a fabulous agility dog.  

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