Monday, November 26, 2007

Speed and Bars

SUMMARY: #7 and now REALLY probably final of several posts related to this weekend. Dogs' speed. Bar knocking.


Note: I'll be scanning in some course maps and posting in the previous posts probably sometime today. Check back later.

Tika's bars: In twelve runs this weekend (jumping 24"), Tika did not knock a single bar. Not one. Holy Toledo. Yet another argument for training her at 28" all the time because maybe it would fix the bar-knocking at 26" in USDAA. I'd just have to fix all the jumps in the universe to have 28". Or I could use 30"--lots of dogs (including Remington) did that for years before USDAA reduced the height. Several of the Power Paws jumps still have the 30" setting.

Boost's bars: She knocked fewer than she often does in practice, both at class and at home, but it's still an issue. I jumped her at 24", whereas she's at 22" in USDAA. I train her at 24" at home but 22" in class because all the other dogs are 22" and I just don't want to hassle with the height change, but they'd do it if I asked. Out of twelve classes: One double in Full House on a wrap; one bar in Standard, two bars in colors (where NONE are allowed), two singles in the next Full House.

Tika's speed. I don't THINK she's slowing down, but in the nonstrategy classes, she just wasn't #1 in speed even on her nicest, smoothest runs--of which we had several, with which I was very happy. The ones where you come off the course glowing with the sense of connectedness with your dog, no handling bobbles to kick yourself about, the dog moving fast and with excitement through the whole course. But even on these short courses (on half-size fields), several dogs beat her by a notable margin.

It's not like she's slow--e.g., in Saturday's challenging Jumpers course that everyone was moaning about while walking, we ran first and everyone was watching because of the challenging course, and we did it beautifully. I don't know how many people asked me (joking) right afterwards if I'd run *their* dogs on that course, and Art (the judge) yelled to the crowd, "See? It's EASY!" It felt good. And she WAS 4th fastest of 113 dogs who ran that course, all heights, levels 3/4/5/C. But Jag the aussie beat her time by a full second, and Suzy the wonderful little Danish Swedish Farm Dog beat her by over two seconds.

That means that, in a USDAA trial, there's have been many dogs faster than Tika. Of course, I know that already. I just wish I knew how to get that extra second out of her--I can tell by the way she chases squirrels that that overdrive button is in there somewhere.

Boost's speed: We had too many bobbles on all of our courses to be able to compare apples to apples. She was 3rd fastest in Saturday's colors of 105 3/4/5/C dogs, but she skipped a weave pole and knocked 2 bars. CPE's generous fault limits and generous Standard Course Times make for some funny placements: In Friday's Standard, Boost knocked a bar, so she took 2nd--but her time was HALF the time of the 1st place dog, who ran clean. In the opposite direction, in Saturday's Jumpers, Boost ran past the same serpentine jump twice AND she ran past a jump in the opening sequence, so I sat her behind the jump and led out mid-course--so I wasted a lot of time; but she still was fast enough to qualify...barely... showing that the score sheet doesn't show everything: She had no course faults but was 4.21 seconds over time (which Qs at that level in CPE). My fast little Border Collie, over time!

Challenging Jumpers Course

Here's the 3/4/5/C Jumpers course that everyone moaned about. It started with a very fast sweep around the outside of the course; it helped tremendously if you could lead out 3 jumps and let your dog handle his way around the jumps so that you could get into position for the serpentine. The second time through those same jumps to the tunnel, you had to do a threadle, and the third time, you did just a 180 in the opposite direction. I think that CPE people don't see challenges like this all that often. I had to drill into my head a mantra for remembering where I was in that triple loop; some people got through the serp and threadle OK but then forgot where to go after that.

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