Tuesday, June 2, 2009
The weather didn't cooperate, it was cold, windy and rainy all weekend; it seemed more like March than the end of May. But luckily we did have some dry spells and most of our runs coincided with the somewhat nicer weather.
Tucker again was quite consistent. He got the first Gamble and was clear on both of his Jumpers runs but he was very slow in both of his Standard runs. In the second Standard, he was 16 seconds over time. In his second Gamble event, he only got 14 points in the opening. I certainly couldn't use the excuse that it was too hot for him this weekend. Maybe I'll have to up the value of his treats again. Overall, he didn't do as well as he has in the past, he was 6th in his height class but there were only eight dogs. Last year, he also placed 6th overall but there were 15 dogs. Anyway, he qualified for Nationals with 415 points.
The real excitement this weekend came from my little Ceilidh. We finished the day Saturday with only 155 points so while it was still mathematically possible to qualify I thought that it was very unlikely. My goal for Ceilidh going into Regionals was to score better than we had done the previous year and I tried to keep focused on that. Our first event on Sunday was the second Standard. The run went beautifully, it moved mainly to the right and I could do off side weaves which Ceilidh prefers. We approached the last contact obstacle, the teeter, and I held my breathe as I told Ceilidh to "spot"; she got it and then all that was left was just three jumps. A clear round and under time, the first Masters Standard run that Ceilidh has ever run clean in a trial. With that she racked up 103 points and we now had a fair chance of qualifying. The next run was Jumpers run which we completed getting only five faults and accumulated another 70 points. That left us needing only 22 points to qualify going into the last event, a Gamble. I planned a nice safe course for Ceilidh and she continued to get her contacts for me and accumulated 23 points in the opening. The video is of the second Jumper's run, again it was made for Ceilidh, wide open and moving mainly to the right. Thanks to Lisa Routhier for videoing a number of my runs, it is fun to actually see them from a different perspective.
Ceilidh qualified for Nationals with 351.37 points, the score needed is 350. But the best part of the weekend was that she performed so well. She got all of her contacts and stayed in weaves in her Standards even getting the very difficult entry from the teeter to the weaves in the first Standard. And although her first clean Master Standard did not earn her a "Q", she did come home with a 7th place ribbon in that event for 10" Specials.
The weekend was very memorable and to paraphrase the Regionals motto, I really "enjoyed the ride". Now we have some training to do to get ready for Nationals.
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Sunday, April 12, 2009
Saturday, March 21, 2009
Then last weekend we had out first trial, I was nervous and, of course, Ceilidh picked up on that and got quite wild over the weekend. She did make all of her contacts but weaves were another story, she popped twice at the tenth pole and once she popped halfway through the weaves. She also refused the teeter once. She did have a good Masters Jumpers but I didn't give her a very good entry to the tunnel and she went by the tunnel mouth for an off-course. Tucker, however had a spectacular weekend, five runs and five qualifying scores. The hiatus over the winter was just what he needed. We even got a qualifying score in Snooker, which is usually hard for us to achieve with only 55 seconds.
We had another practice on Wednesday evening and Tucker's little streak continued. He did the Standard course twice without a fault and got all of the mini gambles and even the main gamble we practiced with only a little help from me. Even Ceilidh had a clear round on a Masters course, a first for her. She is so sensitive to my body position and timing that there is always something that throws her off course.
We have another trial tomorrow. I still have as my goal for Ceilidh to get a Masters Q in any event other than Jumpers and now with the practice we had on Wednesday I know that is achievable. A Masters Jumpers would be nice too as that would be her Expert Bronze Jumpers title. My goal for Tucker has changed somewhat, we now are working toward his Bronze Lifetime award, we need two Standard qualifying scores and two Games qualifying scores. I hope that I don't get my expectations too high after Tucker's performance at Morning Star and a good practice by both of them.
Monday, March 2, 2009
Below is an excerpt from the article on Linda Mecklenburg's web site, there is also a short video clip on the web site of a border collie displaying the hesitation or stuttering just before the jump.
Early Takeoff Syndrome
"Early takeoff syndrome describes a jumping problem seen in some agility dogs where they do just that: they take off too early for the jumps. The syndrome ranges from a subtle hitch on the dog’s final stride to severe stuttering. The dog typically inappropriately chooses to shorten its last stride before takeoff. This results in the highest point of the dog’s jumping arc peaking before the bar and the dog is on the descent phase of the arc by the time it actually clears the hurdle. This should not be confused with simply a long takeoff distance which, if balanced with an equally long landing distance, simply means the dog is jumping with a flat jumping trajectory.
Early presentation of this problem can be very subtle and takes close observation. The faster the dog is, the more likely it is to be apparent because the shortening of the last stride results in a more noticeable change in the dog’s speed. Obstacles with components that extend forward of the jumping element, such as the tire and triple, may cause more problems. Many affected dogs will also shorten their last stride on the approach to the A-frame and/or table. For some dogs, the problem will increase with changes in the lighting on the course.
If a dog begins to show changes in his jumping habits, the very first step is to rule out any physical problems that might account for it. With ETS, the dogs are physically sound. There seem to be certain breeds of dog and certain lines within those breeds that may be affected. This includes some of the breeds that are known for jumping problems but Shelties and Border Collies can also be affected. I do not know the cause of this problem. I do not believe it is a training issue although as I said a lack of confidence makes the problem worse. It appears to be a problem with vision and/or the dog’s perception of where the bar is in space. Many dogs with this problem have had normal cerf exams and some have even been tested for near and farsightedness (with variable results). To my knowledge, there is no test for depth perception in dogs at this time. I’m hoping with increased awareness and demand from agility competitors perhaps that will change, so that a definitive cause for this syndrome can be identified and perhaps steps taken toward treatment and prevention. "
Sunday, March 1, 2009
I bought a new camera last year and it takes pretty good videos. I had some friends video a few of my runs at Morning Star in November. I also learned how to make videos with Windows Movie Maker adding music and credits to the video, thanks to Lisa. Here is one of Tucker's runs to the music of the Beach Boys, I Get Around. Very appropriate for Tucker as he is one laid back little dude.
Friday, February 20, 2009
Well, we begin trialling next month and I have a few goals for the upcoming year. The number one goal is, of course, to just enjoy doing agility with Ceilidh and Tucker. But we do have a few objectives that we would like to attain this year if all goes well. For Tucker, I'd like to get his Expert Bronze in Jumpers, Gamblers, Standard for his Bronze Versatility title. I'd also like to qualify for and place in Nationals in his height class. All of these goals are attainable for him since he is such a consistent dog. I hope the agility vacation we have taken over the winter will give him a little burst of energy.
For Ceilidh, my goals would be to get a Masters Q in any other event but Jumpers. I have the feeling once we get one the flood gates will open; I hope I am right about this. I would like to get one more Masters Jumpers Q as well which would give her the Expert Bronze title. I hope that this year she will also qualify for Nationals. It would be nice to compete at Nationals with her before she is a Veteran dog, although she is not showing any signs of slowing down yet so I may just leave her in Specials even after she turns seven.
But I guess we'll see soon how the season goes. Our first trial is at Morning Star in Kingston, Ontario, the weekend of 14/15 March. Hope we see you there!