Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Post Trialling 2013 - Christmas Time

Our trialling year is now officially over for 2013 with our last trial on the weekend. They have tacked on an extra ANKC agility trial on 28th December but Cassie is having an agility holiday and Colin is taking me to Cavalia that night.

Santa's Little Helper
 We had an interesting last two trials with some papillon challenges thrown my way by a certain little pappy pants. She is not one for letting me rest and think that all this agility training is easy! I entered her in an ADAA trial a fortnight ago as I thought she was pretty much ready to try her first ADAA agility class and give the full size see-saw a go. Her first run for the evening was Intermediate Jumping. She was a bit fidgety on the start line so I went back to settle her but next thing I know she takes off over the first jump. I took her back and restarted for a super faultless run however the restart meant a DQ. The next run was the Jumping without Weaves class and it was almost dark with the lights now on. She was running OK but definitely slower than her first run. After missing a jump I took her back and a couple of jumps on she took off badly and hit a jump quite hard bringing her up very short. She seemed OK and we did continue but her jumping was all over the place (one jump she jumped high enough to clear a 400 height jump) and she ran past the last jump. I gave her a cuddle afterwards as always and waited for our next run which was Intermediate Agility. I had decided to do it as NFC as I wanted to help her with the see-saw for the first time. We actually didn't get that far. She did not want to run at all and when I released her at the start line she took off back to Colin. I brought her back and she did about five obstacles before taking off again out of the ring. I was really unsure about what was going on for her so I put her away for a break and got her back out for her next run Open Jumping. Again I took her up to the start line and when released she took off hiding under the scoring table. I tried once more but she didn't want to know about it. So that was it for us for the night. I can only assume that knocking the bar really upset her. She wasn't showing any of the standard stress behaviours, so no licking lips or scratching and she was happily tugging and doing tricks while we waited although in agility she was sniffing the ground at one point. Cassie has always been her own little lady and if she doesn't want to do something she won't. Before we left I did pop her over a spare jump and rewarded her a few times. However I can safely say that I won't be going back to those grounds if it's a night trial as I'm pretty sure that she struggled with the lighting and I'm not putting her through that again.

I decided the following week that I was only going to have one training session with her and not overdo it. I needed to make sure she was still feeling happy about her agility and fortunately where I train is where the weekends trial was going to be. As I suspected she was perfectly fine at training and was being her normal wacky self. I didn't do anything fancy, just lots of rewarding and fun, fun, fun. The day of last weekends trial was crazy hot, something like 39 degrees during the day. I wasn't overly worried about Cassie after the jumping incident but I was wondering what would happen when I put her on the start line.  Plus even though it was evening it was still very warm and not really optimum trialling conditions.

As it happened the first run was great and we got a Q to give us her third pass in Excellent Jumping from the last four trials. She is certainly handling like a dream. Next up was Excellent Agility. She looked to all the world that she was focused on the start line but just before I released her she looked back behind us (Aunty Kriszty had just arrived to watch) and then when I released she ran straight back to the crowd. Mmmmmmm..... I got her back and we took off as soon as she was in position but her brain wasn't quite in the game and she ran past the third jump. Such a shame as she nailed the rest of the course like a pro and was absolutely flying on the second half. Our last event was Open Jumping and I knew that the distance challenge would be too hard. As it happened it was rather a mess and included a pappy zoomie but she was with me and did some super fast weavers that I was very happy with. At the end of the day I really just wanted to make sure she was having fun with no pressure. 

Papillons are such strange little creatures. Cassie is just a mass of contradictions. She is a total mummy's girl but can be fiercely independent and will never do anything that she doesn't want to. Once I figured out what made her tick (generally food) I have found that the majority of training issues I've encountered can be over come with piece of roast chicken.   But sometimes she gets a bee in her bonnet about something and I can forget it. My plan has always been to give her a break from agility over the summer with her first trial back on 31st Jan next year. But I need to sort out her start line confidence so I will do a little bit of work building drive off the start line to one of her favourite things in the world, the Manners Minder. Nothing speaks to her better than a remote food dispensing machine!  The other thing I will try when we return to trialling is not waiting on the start line.  I want to be able to put her on the start line and just go.  I wonder if I'm leaving her for too long.  It is interesting that when I watch some of the top paps in the world compete the handlers never wait with them.  The pretty much drop and go.  We can't do that as such because we must have our hands off the dog before the judge will ask if we are ready.  So I will have to think about how I'm going to manage that.  Ahhhhhh, love my pappy challenges! 

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