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Monday, 14 November 2011

Understanding the mechanics,

As most people who read my  blog will know, I rode horses from a young age, and competed at local shows, and 3 day events until about 10 years ago. During my years as a rider I spent a lot of time schooling my horses, doing basic ground work everyday to keep them balanced, ensuring I worked equally on both reins doing circles & figure of eights to keep the horse supple and well rounded. Its strange that so many people don't think about this and practice similar rules when working an agility dog. 
Sunday, Georgie and I travelled to Bowerlands to have our first full day workshop in jump skills. I was nervous as hell, as I always am in groups, and I really wasn't sure what the day would involve, and just how Georgie would cope with the day. New venue, new dogs and new exercises on different equipment, it was exciting but I was unsure. 
Welcomed with Coffee, tea, biscuits and then an hour in the "classroom" studying dogs jumping, looking at weight balance, power and lots of discussion about what we want out of our dogs and then out to the school to start work. It was a fascinating day, really interesting and most of all Georgie was a total joy to work!! His jump action is actually very good, very natural and he is beautifully balanced. We need to work on short striding grids a bit, to get his compression right, but other than that he was fab. He uses his back end for power, is very neat in front with a lovely low head over the jumps, and very flexible on the turns. He is a young dog, a blank canvass and so far I haven't messed any of it up.

All the power coming from his hind quarters

Beautiful straight jumping and forward focus.

Love the flexibility.
 If I can keep him balanced, and do all the basics we will have a lot of fun and a healthy, fit, athletic dog who will go far. Naarah took hundreds of photos all day and we looked at them after lunch and discussed how each of our dogs had worked, and it was so good to be able to see their action over a jump in a freeze frame, because I had no idea how he jumped. All the circle work I do with George, (which i used to find boring with the others) now makes so much sense, and it showed in his jump work. Basic schooling!!!
Great day, loads to think about and I am once again so thrilled that the little white fluff ball "insisted" on being mine. :-) Fate is a weird and wonderful thing.
On the "mechanics" theme, Fern & I took all the dogs up to the training field on Friday, and we had our new set of weaves, (thanks to Rog), at the new spacing. Interesting how much easier the dogs found them. Cove is a long boy, and had struggled to get a nice stride through narrow weaves, but his action instantly changed and he looked so much more flowing through the new ones! Lily was not quite so good the first time, but soon adjusted and got into her stride, but the most surprising was Dave! I guess I thought that a short arsed terrier would not really notice the difference or particularly benefit from it, but he certainly did! We decided to time them all through the weaves for a bit of fun. The results were surprising. Cove & Dave were almost identical speed, at around 2.8 - 2.9 seconds, Lily was 2.5 - 2.6 seconds and then Twiggy........... swam through like the gorgeous girl she is at 2.3 seconds!!!

 Every time the same, she is stunning in the weaves and has the most natural action of them all. For a fairly square dog with upright shoulders she is incredible. 
I have changed my routine with her and we now have a lot of 1 to 1 time and she is changing. We have a wait, fast contacts and the best weaves, and she is now focusing on me even when the other dogs are working. Soooooo looking forward to next season and getting Twiggy to Olympia.
Its our last show this Sunday, and then every dog apart from George will be off agility until January. George has a few more training sessions booked then in to be castrated before he gets a break. Its the seasoned agility guys that really need to unwind now and we are looking forward to lots of relaxed walks over the next 2 months. 
Meanwhile we are garden clearing, shed emptying, going to the tip and decorating our bedroom at long last!! Spending time with some good friends and getting ready for Christmas. I totally love Christmas!!!! Its Georgies first one too! :-)


nellie-bean's blog said...

Have you thought about not getting George castrated yet...he still has some power to develop and taking away the testosterone too soon might reduce it. Just a thought. H

Dani said...

Mmmm I had Helen, but we live on a farm with 5 entire spaniel bitches, belonging to our landlord. They are free range a lot of the time too. Georgie is already very mature and knows exactly what it is all about, and also his 2nd plum only descended at 7 months (which is pretty rare to be that late) so he is a bit of an odd one. Its just one of those decisions :-)

nellie-bean's blog said...

.. that makes it very hard...Unless you can stop him free ranging of course....he won't be fully grown yet. I applied the same logic to Arch (done when fully grown) and Pop who I refused to have spayed until she'd had one season (even though the RSPCA did try to convince me otherwise) Good luck!