Wednesday, 13 February 2008

Training & Stuff

I have ramped up my training with Niamh and am booked on a course this coming weekend. I try to do a few dog walks each day and she is definitely getting the idea. Niamh doesn't take agility seriously like Poppy; it's all a game but the important thing is that she really loves to learn and to do things with me. I get a huge amount of satisfaction from training with her, she is such fun and very honest.

Last night at training club we put up a course that I saw in Clean Run magazine. It proved to be challenging but very enjoyable. There are a further two ways round the course and we're going to use it again in March and April and work on each of these patterns.

We broke the course into three sections and worked on the handling points before running it as a complete sequence. We ran 1-6; 6-13 and 13-20. The first and last segments were relatively easy, the middle section was the most testing. We all found that it worked best with front crosses between 6 and 7 and again between 8 and 9. We spent a bit of time on obstacle discrimination with varying degrees of success for different partnerships.

This was the first time that I put Niamh's new contacts to the test and I wasn't disappointed. She was brilliant. We had our percentage of failures (i.e. final position right off the contact) but I'm learning to live with those and it's not too painful! It's so much better than seeing her creep to her position. That is what I keep telling myself and it seems to be working. I'm using food randomly and at one point last night she did a stunning contact and totally ignored the food and wanted to get on with the job; that's a first with Niamh!

Leah had a challenging evening with Murphy on this course but they did some really good work. The hardest thing was the combination 12 to 13 (jump to dog walk); Murphy loves tunnels and it was very difficult to get him to focus on the dog walk. I think he managed it about twice out of ten or so attempts.

Training was fun last night; all in all it was a good job, excellent!

Here is the course we used in case anyone would like to try it - I really do recommend it as a good training course. We made a couple of tweaks from the original pattern but it is about 98% true to the original course design.

Sadly Kizzy couldn't train last night as she has come into season. Needless to say she was unimpressed by this turn of events. Andy and I did a training session in the garden on Sunday so she hasn't missed out too much. Kizzy also went to a training session with some other shelties on Saturday at Lesley Olden's so she hasn't done too badly this week.

Poppy Update

I took Poppy to training last night and borrowed Kizzy's space in the puppy class. I have been working on her jumping in an effort to get her back to fitness. I am still undecided whether she'll compete again. Last night was good and she is (touch wood) totally sound this morning. I have been doing various jumping exercises with her at home and have the jumps set just below maximum large height. Last night we did some warm up exercises and finished our little session with a couple of sequences at full height. I intend to continue this week with her fitness program and see how things go. Last week I was almost at the point of making my decision to retire her but I've decided to wait a little longer and see how things progress. Alongside simple jumping exercises at variable heights, I'm doing some rear leg muscle strengthening using her wobble cushion, ladder work and tight grid work (over low jumps) to help regain her muscle tone. Watch this space!

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