Sunday, April 2, 2017

Riding High

It was pretty exciting for me late last year when for the first time in a long time I had two sound, happy dogs out in the agility ring.  Cassie was only running Not for Competition and I was still rebuilding skills and strength with Veto but when you have been unable to compete to the level you wanted for so long it was still a thrill to be back out there.  Imagine then how totally blown away I was when last weekend Cassie won both Masters Agility and Masters Jumping and Veto won Novice Agility and was extremely unlucky to not win Novice Jumping, just clipping the very edge of the broad jump in an otherwise flawless round.

Proud pappy :)

I had become somewhat of an agility pessimist given that not a lot has gone right for me in a while with my dogs.  When Veto went clear in Novice Agility for our first run of the night and then Cassie went clear in Masters Jumping I actually felt greedy.  Like I didn't deserve to have both dogs go clear.  For Cassie to then go clear in Masters Agility was crazy.  To win all three classes, insanity.  I'm sure lots of people think that I'm being over dramatic but I've worked so long and so hard and I thought that maybe I was just never going to get back there.  It's only early days and so much more work to do.  Cassie went the wrong way on 9 out of 10 wraps, I lost her behind me on both courses and was just fortunate that she didn't go off course.  One of the funniest things is listening to the commentary outside the ring as people gasps and shriek watching Cassie and I all over the place!  She was also very hesitant to come off the line.  I don't believe she was stressed.  The normal signs of her being stressed weren't there but it looks like I need to make sure I keep that balance at training where by we do as much skill work as we do jackpots for doing a couple of jumps.  It was a good reminder for me not to let the small things go.

Veto was pretty much paw-perfect on both of his runs.  He was powerful, graceful, focused and 100% with me.  Watching him finally starting to drive out of this turns was a relief.  I know how powerful he is but you never really know if you will be able to draw it out of them on an agility course.  So much improvement yet to go but it's there and I can see it.  I can't wait to continue watching him grow and mature into the dog I know he will be.  The only glitch is his 'dislike' of a few dogs at agility.  Border collies who are quite "starey" and on the intimidating side are not on his list of happy things.  If they stare and growl at him he will not think twice about going back at them.  I do my best to avoid these dogs at trials and I know which dogs they are but as is they way, no matter where I go I always seem to get caught by one of them appearing when I least expect it.  To be on the safe side I am using his halti again when we are at trials.  I need to be able to have better control of his head should we have an encounter so I can create distance pronto.  I am going to have to do some specific work with him learning to be less reactive and feel less threatened by those dogs.  That will be a major priority at the next few trials until I can get him to relax and realise that he doesn't need to protect himself from them.

Next on our path is the State Agility Trial which is only about three weeks away.  I would dearly love for Cassie to do well.  Other than the first State Trial she ever did they all have been a disaster.  She's had a couple of wins in the qualifying trials but for the most part has been times when she hasn't wanted to run and it's been a frustrating and depressing weekend of feeling like a total failure.  She's in a good place though now and I'm hoping I can keep her there.  Having Veto there as well this year in Novice will be so much fun and I guess anything that Cassie does will be a bonus.

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