Sunday, March 22, 2015

Training Troop - March St. Paddy's Day Trial

It has been a LONG, LONG time since I've done a Training Troop Trial. Over 2 years I think!

Last weekend the boys and I did their March Trial. So happy with the dogs. Less happy with my own mental game and connection with the dogs. As always, things to work on. But then, when aren't there?!?

Trialing is exhausting ...
Baxter ran full time, 8 runs for the 2 days. I completely forgot that I intended to drop him into Veterans starting this year, so he ran Specials. I'm also questioning dropping him and then questioning my questioning of it.

I just need to send the papers in and stop thinking too much. Really it isn't making that much of a difference, it'll just improve his Q rate. If it dropped him a jump height it would be a no brainer, but since it just buys us some extra time I'm not sure of how much of a point it is?

Spencer ran 7 out of 8 runs, so in everything but Challenge. Which almost doesn't make sense. He LIKES international stuff that involve a lot of handling, but sometimes the environment shuts him down, so I don't want to drag him around the course.

Baxter was running pretty good, but 2x 12 weaves put us overtime by a couple seconds on Sunday Steeplechase. He made a few funny little mistakes on runs. Took a couple front sides of jumps blatantly blind crossing me when handling clearly indicated backside/throwback threadle. So not sure with BC's and the Fluff, some proofing to do. I might have disconnected a bit? Assuming that my dog, who has this behavior cold would do it, so naturally he does not. Coulda, woulda, shoulda. Next time!

We ended up Q'ing 3/8, which is about our usual ratio. Timed out in Snooker, Overtime in Steeplechase which would have both been Q's if we were Vets instead of Specials. He did get 2 mini's in Gamblers but the main was a teeter directly away from the handler not even parallel, so I was pretty sure that one wasn't going to happen (and it sure didn't.)

We did get 2x Standard though, which is exciting, since he just needs the Standard's for his Silver Merit now and we're getting closer! We also picked up another Jumpers. He loves his Jumpers =)

Baxter's EXJ Silver Title Ribbon from Dec

What I need though, is more "presence" on course. I tend to run quietly, but in practice I notice I talk more to the dogs. At the trail I don't think I did, and that might have been why Baxter did strange things. More energy. So I think I'm bringing a iPod next time and during walk throughs I need to tune everything out, concentrate on my dogs, their courses and what I am saying/cueing when. Memorize, visualize and then execute. Because we've TRAINED this. We KNOW this. We CAN SO DO this!

I was so super proud of my baby Black Dog! He was so BRAVE. All weekend. Moments of worry. More moments of irritating residual reactive behaviors from the issues with the prospective new dog that didn't work out. But SO MUCH brave. Enough so that I had a dog to run for all 4 runs on Sunday.

We had teeters! We had a DW breakthough!! Where he was worried it was the teeter one run and paused on the up ramp and the next he JUST DID IT. Even though we had done the teeter first. I was slowing down to support him on it and he just blew past me and nailed his contact. SUCH a brave little black dog! We had so much awesome!!

I did this trail with him waiting/hiding in his kennel at the start line until the last second before we went into the ring. We played crate game, nose touching, even got some barking at me before the run (while hiding in his crate, but still!) He needs to feel safe to be happy and with all the environmental sensitivities and crowding at the gate he just doesn't. The crate helps so much! So we'll see.

Spencer Q'd in everything that Baxter did, picking up 2 Standard and a Jumpers to finish his Expert Bronze Jumpers title.

EXJ Bronze

I lost him on a jumpers course on the easy part, where of course he did the part Baxter did wrong flawlessly. If it's not a straight away, Spencer can't drive a line at a trial because I am not handling "enough" in his mind.

Pinwheels are his worst enemy (Baxter's too now that I think about it.) Spencer worries that he is wrong and will pull off a jump somewhere, or just creep around the pinwheel at a walk. Now that I think about it, this bit us in the butt big time at Nationals in 2013 when it knocked us out of the ribbons due to some silly refusals on a pinwheel in Standard 2.

So. We're working this pattern at home and when I can at classes, but I'm also adjusting my handling for the little black dog. He needs more "me," I can do that! Not the most orthodox handling, and not necessarily what I would suggest for another team, but Spencer is special and sometimes you need special handling for that!

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