The weather has been playing havoc with trying to get any decent training done for a lot of the last month. We had apparently the biggest heatwave ever recorded with like seven days over 40 degrees or something ridiculous. So doing anything with the dogs other than sit inside in the air conditioning was almost impossible. But that's a Perth summer for you. The ChillyBuddy coat (otherwise known as "The Spacesuit") I got for Veto has had a pretty good workout as the only time I could do anything with him was early in the morning before work when it was coolish but even then the sun was still blaring down on us. It's made a huge difference and we managed to make a good start his 2 x 2 weaver training. It is really starting to feel like he is becoming an agility dog :)
His running dog walk is actually going way better than I expected. I'm a bit worried about admitting that in case it all falls in a heap which still isn't out of the question. He rarely misses completely but does sometimes hit higher than I'd like. What I'm happiest about is watching him adjusting his stride over the dog walk to hit. That has been my biggest goal and I'm really pleased to see it happening. I had started to introduce a few handling challenges after the dog walk but I decided not to get too carried away with those until I've gone further with the H360 work. The time will come when he needs to have challenges after the dog walk but he needs to actually learn the handling first. So instead I'll work on proofing the running dog walk in other ways but keep the handling challenges easy. I've abandoned his 2o2o training for now as I'm not really happy with how it was going and I couldn't seem to make it any better. I will come back to it later and have another go.
Handling work has been interesting. He could do most things quite well at a steady pace but as soon as you put the tunnels at each end and build speed into it everything changes. I couldn't for the life of me get him to respond to my threadle arm after doing a tunnel and three jumps in a row to do an off entry tunnel. He just barreled past me into the straight tunnel entry without even a glance my way. So I ended up back chaining it from one jump. Then when I thought I had it and he was coming off really nicely to my arm and verbal I tried to do a straight line again and he almost took my legs out from under me trying to threadle...so it was back to the drawing board! I think we have it now though thank goodness. I'm quite fond of my knees and would like to keep them.
I have my A-Frame all resurfaced and ready to go and a new See-Saw base for the new 900 height. I probably need to get onto the AF first and at least kick off that new learning curve. Hopefully it will be less time consuming than the Dog Walk now that he understands the running contacts process but who knows. Even if I do end up with a 2o2o on the Dog Walk I don't plan on ever having a stop on the AF.
I'd like to say the Cassie journey is getting easier but that would be untrue. We've had good training sessions and bad training sessions but overall I think that she is quite comfortable with the rewarding out of the ring game. The trial scheduled for the end of January got cancelled due to bad weather (it rained ALL day) so our first trials ended up being on the same weekend at the end of February. The Saturday night was hot. Cassie was not happy all evening and I ended up scratching her for three out of the four runs she was entered in. I could not get her to engage for love nor favourite foods. There is obviously still stress in the trial environment for her as she is rarely like that at training. In the end I ran her in a Masters Jumping class which was a nice open course without loads of turns and while we had an off course tunnel it was a super run and she was flying. Sunday night we had the rescheduled trial for January and it all started off really well. She was high and happy. She started off slower than normal in agility but got going really nicely. But then I left her to do the new height see-saw and she flew off the end. Looking back I should have supported her more but she had shown no issue with it at training at all so I thought she'd be OK. Flying off gave her a really big fright and she totally shut down. I got her back with hand touches and she appeared physically unharmed, just rattled. So when she reconnected with me we ran the last few jumps home to her jackpot and she seemed happy. But later on when I went to do the Masters Jumping course with her she didn't want a bar of it and left the ring when I tried to release her off the start line. That is the first time she's done that since I've been doing the rewarding outside the ring. Two steps forward, three steps back but we shall persevere none the less. At least until after the Nationals anyway.