Tuesday, December 20, 2016

End of Year Wrap Up

The last five or six weeks have been really busy with weekends filled up by competitions, shopping, physio visits and Christmas functions. I am hanging out to have a Saturday night at home! We had a really exciting and positive end to our trialling year with both Cassie and Veto doing really well at the last few trials so I am going to really look forward to getting back out there in 2017. But I am also looking forward to a break from pretty much everything for the next few weeks once we get through Christmas. 

Pappy on a mission
Flying pappy butt

We all had an awesome weekend away in Albany. Cassie has travelled so many times now that she handles it like a pro. Veto was just a little overwhelmed by his new surroundings and every time I did a lap with him at the competition grounds on the first day he’d have a heap of foam on his chin from salivating his way around the oval. He was very distracted in most of his runs and for the first time left the weavers to sniff the ground in one of his agility runs. He was still hyper-vigilant on the second day but because it was jumping classes much easier to keep his mind on the job and even managed a Q in his second Novice Jumping run. His wow moment on the weekend was when he lost a leg off the edge of the dog walk at full speed but managed to stay on and still get the contact. I was thanking my lucky stars for all the core strength training that we do. Cassie was pretty good for the most part. Day one was the best which wasn’t a surprise. I entered her in Masters so the courses were much harder than she has been doing. She tore her way around both agility runs but had off courses in both.

Three on one off...
The second day she didn’t want to run in the first jumping class but was happy enough to run in the second event. So no quallies for her but I was impressed with how she managed. The best part of Albany though was heading down to the beaches with the dogs. It is just such a beautiful place and I love spending time down there. We only had another two trials in Perth after Albany. Cassie was back to not for competition runs in Novice along with Ve who was doing them for real. Cassie was pretty amazing at both trials and in one Novice Jumping run was only about a second slower than Veto. Pretty impressive when he is over twice her size! I was watching some of her runs from earlier in the year and while there were some good ones there she was often hesitant at the first jump and took a little while to “wind up”. These last couple of months there has definitely been a new sense of confidence in her around both her warm up before going in the ring, the actual run itself and then the jackpot at the end. It feels good to have no gap between what she experiences at training and what she experiences at a trial. For her now it is a seamless concept and that I believe is what has made all the difference. I will have to be careful not to overdo it with her as I think there is the potential for her to get sick of it if we do too much so next year I will plan her trials with that in mind. The Western Classic in March and the State Agility Trial in April will certainly be my priorities with her in the New Year. 

 Veto finished the year with four Novice Jumping passes which exceeded my expectations. I would have been happy with just a couple. Lots to work on, but he was improving with each run as he grows in confidence. He came second every time to Erika’s lovely little Bee who incidentally is Veto’s half-sister with Munn’s Jock being their sire. I am really happy with his times so far especially when he is not even close to full speed on course with his average course time about 17 seconds. His agility runs have been progressively getting better. He lost a heap of confidence on the dog walk after his three feet on effort in Albany and then we have been training on some very dodgy overly bouncy dog walks that haven’t helped. At his last agility run for the year he had a fantastic run but I got a bit overzealous in trying to make sure he had a good weaver entry and instead ended up pushing him to the wrong side of the first pole. Very dumb on my behalf but it was a lovely run. His body is very much all over the place and there is a lot of work to do in strengthening his back end. He is losing all his speed going into and out of turns and doesn’t use his rear end well at all, in fact at the last trial his back end bottomed out completely on a tight turn. He has this terrible habit of sticking his back feet out when he sits (picture Donald Duck) so we’ve been working on creating better habits and holding that form when he’s doing strengthening work to make sure right muscles are developing. We are also about to start a plyometric program that has been developed by Veto’s physio that is designed to get muscles to exert maximum force in short intervals of time with the goal of increasing power and speed. So I’m really looking forward to seeing the outcome of that training on his overall agility performance.