Monday, September 24, 2007

Malcolm's big day

Yesterday I trialled at the same place (Bydgoszcz) where the National Championships took place two weeks ago, so the trial I sadly didn't make because of the tragic and and unexpected events that took place that night.

I really wanted to go to this trial, although it's a 4-hour drive, and I made it. This time the weather was sunny and warm, very unusual for late September in Poland. We ran in T-shirts.

I took both Uma and Malcolm, even though I wasn't sure he was ready yet, because well... I didn't feel like leaving him at home for the entire day. I trialled Mal in Pecice, but before that the last time he had been entered was in... I think March. In an ASCA trial in Ohio, where he lept off contacts, nosedived off the teeter and acted like a total horror. So we had issues to overcome. In Pecice he was decent, hitting his contacts, but missing weave pole entrances and popping out. OK, and barking.

And yesterday... well, somebody switched dogs on me. He didn't put a foot down wrong. There were three runs (exams, standard and jumpers) and he took a third and two seconds to go FIRST in the combined standings (as in - HIGH in TRIAL!). So this is now officially Uma and Malcolm's blog, because it looks like he's back in business.
There was a large crowd of spectators, as the trial was organized at a regional fair and Malcolm was just enjoying himself immensely. When he finished a run, people would applaud and he would just smile at everyone and look pretty :-)

The courses were a horror. The judge is a new judge who has just branched out from Schutzhund and Obedience into judging agility. I call this "the new judge syndrome." He does not have a feel for the sport, yet he wants to prove that he KNOWS all the difficult challenges. So he stacks them up in one course. The result is a mess and a course that is not fluent but very, very cut up and nasty. Uma was doing her best, but in each and every one of our runs there was a little bit of a problem, where I was just a tad second late with my command. And with those tight courses, that means an off-course. Mal is slower than Uma, who is possibly the fastest Aussie I've seen and definitely the fastest I've had, by approx. 4-5 seconds on a Jumpers course and 6-8 seconds on a standard course. That gives me exactly the time I need to be in the right place and gives me a bigger margin for error.

So what these courses told me was that with Uma I really, really, really need to focus on her turns and my timing on turns, because that was were we messed up. And weave poles still. She really needs to learn to collect herself before entering weaves and I think I'll use Lesley Olden's method for teaching "easy" for that. And I'll get started on it THIS week. Now.

Lesley sets up an exercise where the dog first extends her stride and then has to suddenly collect it. She puts in "steady" (my "easy") just before the dog had to collect. I think I'll do that and then add the weave poles as the next obstacle after the collection over the jumps. Then I'll take out the jumps and leave the "easy" command. This would be the exact opposite of what I'm doing now (trying to increase speed into the weaves), but I think it may help.

I have read comment's from Greg Derrett's seminars about the dog shifting her weight back onto the rear as a necessity for good weave pole entries and I'm sorry I've never seen him explain this in person. Because I can do that with Uma on contacts, while doiing tricks etc... but I don't think she gets this when entering weaves. This may also be one of the reasons why she can even hurt her face when hitting the weaves at full speed.

Anyway, here's a course that Malcolm ran clean and Uma had an off-course after the weaves. I still don't see how I could have handled this any differently, it was just a nasty course and I'm glad this was the only off-course we had.


Flirt the Squirt said...

I have looked at that course 3 times, just to be sure I had the sequence correct. I've never seen anything like that in the states. I can't imagine getting a dog around it without heeling it most of the way. With a fast dog....wheeeeee!

Was anyone successful with fast dog?


Uma said...

Wheeee..... indeed. This is just an example of BAD course design. Of course, doesn't make me any less proud that Malcolm ran the damn thing, but you're right, there was no way to handle this with a fast dog.
Everything fast NQ'd. Most at the 9-10-11 sequence. And I'm never entering a trial again when this guy's judging.

Johann The Dog said...

Ha, kind of reminds me of some snooker stuff in that course, yikes!!!

Congrats to team M&J! That's great that Malcolm did so well. Can't wait to hear more.

Oddly enough, JoJo learned the 'easy' command from me in an unusual way. When I would walk him, (this was before we even knew about agility), he would pull like crazy and I would say 'easy'.

Then when we got into agility, and he started bailing contacts, and totally wouldn't accept 2o2o's I started saying 'easy'. Worked like a charm, he would recognize his stride, be more alert and focus more on what he was doing.

Wouldn't recommend teaching a dog 'easy' that way by any means - but we just took what we had and worked with it. We're still using it, and in many different situations.