Baxter started trialing and got his first Q last year on 31-Aug.
I am SO happy with how far he has come and how we've grown as a team. I'm pretty happy with me for sticking with the sport as well and growing as a person/trainer. Granted, Baxter isn't as difficult a starter dog as some people have had, but it's easy to start out with something and then decide that it really isn't for you.
|I love it when there are photographers at the trials! I got one of each of the boys @ Medicine Hat! Photographers Album|
Aside from guarding the hotel room, he was fantastic at the Flashing Canines trial last weekend. We came home with 2 Q's; his first master standard and his first master snooker. But, he tried in all his runs AND he hit all his weave pole entries and didn't pop out. I also got fast weave poles (we can get single stride weaves at home and are working on transferring that to other venues) in his qualifying master standard run. The things we've been working on are improving!
We had a couple little bobbles here and there, what I'll refer to as "baby dog" (and possibly baby handler) mistakes. I front crossed on the flat to push him onto the dogwalk and instead of going up the dogwalk plank he went beside it in a standard run. He missed a jump because I drifted a little bit laterally away from it in one jumpers. Then we both buggered up a backside of a jump in the other jumpers. But we're getting there. I have a happy dog who wants to work for me in a trial. THAT is what I care about, the rest will come with polishing. I didn't get lost on course either, which I am happy about!
Notice I don't mention either of our gamblers runs though. Those were just sad. First run I tried the mini's on, and he wasn't terribly successful. Not only did he not want to work away for the mini, we also didn't get the super awesome main gamble either. 3 jumps, 2 tunnels, 4 multi directional obstacles. It was like a gift!
So. I changed my plan after some advice. Stop worrying about the mini's. Plan a nice speedy path to wind him up instead of struggling in the first 40 sec which is going to pretty much guarantee me a melt down in the final gamble. Ok. Makes sense. I think we did better in the second gamblers run - except for Mr Excitement jumping a dogwalk contact >< That final gamble was hard though, out to 6 weaves, twice and some jumps, only a handful of dogs even got to the weaves, only one did the gamble correct but over time. We weren't any of those dogs!
So I need to break down distance work to not such a distance I think, and get it solid there. In our distance class we took I usually had to step over the line to get Baxter to read the handling right. If that's what it takes in a trial, that's what it takes. I'd rather step over the line and help him get it right than for my handling to be unclear and teach him not to trust it. That's the plan for now anyway. Gamblers is going to be the hardest thing for us to master, but I knew that right from the beginning when it took forever to even get our first gamblers Q's.
Even though he is doing good in agility, I'm thinking about dropping him into veterans once he turns 5 in January. It still feels like a little bit of a cop-out right now, but if he needs a couple extra seconds to qualify when he's trying I don't think I'm going to stay in specials until he's 7 just to make the a point of doing it "the hard way." I guess I'll see in Jan. We're in Steeplechase this Wed and I'm curious to see if he will make time or if he'll still be over.