a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: Class, Bleah

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Class, Bleah

SUMMARY: Not in our best form.
We had class tonight. A couple of the courses were pretty challenging for many of us. I spent probably more than my share of time with Boost's runs trying to get them right. Poor Tika got only 2 runs this time, and they were of course spotless so didn't burn a lot of energy, for either of us.

Of course, not super fast, either. Really, she must be slowing down. I don't think that even in comparison to Boost she used to feel that slow. I'll have to calculate some YPS on some of her courses again this year to see how it looks.

Boost? Knocking or ticking bars relentlessly. Not coming in over a jump on a sharp turn. Tried it several times. Just a long-standing issue that I'd thought we'd gotten over, but no. I messed up the first few times, but even after I got it right--nope. It was combined with a front cross move that didn't look bad when others did it but I just couldn't get it.

She also missed a fairly straightforward, but fast, weave entry several times, jeez.

And a couple of crosses that I just couldn't get right until the intructor walked me through exactly where I needed to be and when. Discouraging sometimes--after 16 years and I still can't get this stuff?

So much to work on. I just want it to be easy, I'll admit.

We've got one more week of class before the holidays, then two weeks off. Will I survive? Instructor was strongly encouraging us to identify specific things to work on over the next month. I'll have to think about it and then, well, actually do it. Radical idea.


  1. I have the same problem, seems like I should have this stuff down by now. So much stuff to learn and remember though, maybe if I'd started when I was a teenager...

  2. I sometime wonder how my life would've been different if dog agility had existed when I was a teenager, or whether I'd have been oblivious. (A) It was my sister who wanted to take our dog to obedience classes and teach her tricks, not me. (B) I knew about obedience trials and roughly what the dog had to do to become a champion, but it wasn't actually until I got my own first dog (I was 23 at the time) that I found out that it had to be purebred to get such a thing! I kind of missed a lot...

  3. You probably weren't thinking about handling in the same way and with the same intensity for all 16 years, AND you haven't been running BOOST for 16 years. Agility has evolved, and your handling today is probably very different from even a year or 2 ago. Avoid discouragement, change your perspective! In one month, your blog will say "I have improved a little from last month and plotted a graph that shows I will be the greatest agility handler in the universe in 2.8 years." Also, I walk the course relentlessly in practice--I find instructors give less time to walk and longtime students chit chat because exercises are shorter than courses, but now's your time to analyze a course not just so your dog runs clean, but for you as the handler to run a flawless course with perfect cues, position, and timing, without conscious effort. Handling is so technical now that a clean run with inconsistent handling can be less desirable (in the long run) than bar knocking with flawless handling. And bring a camcorder to class and have someone tape you so you can see what you and Boost are up to.

  4. Yoda: Thanks for the big laugh! You're so right about handling and training having changed immensely over time. The laugh comes on me actually setting up a plan and long-term goal.

    Camcorder's a great way to find issues but doesn't work well at night classes, unfortunately. I sometimes remember at trials to ask someone to tape but not always.

    Walking courses relentlessly: Interesting comment. I think I might blog about that. Thanks!

  5. hi ellen-I had a very hard time in class last night too, my goal has been to practice just like how I want to run in trials. I sure didn't meet that goal last night!

    I have the wheels falling off in various ways in both dogs. I just try to keep clear on what the things are I need to keep working on handling-wise (decel is my latest problem and fixing my bad rear cross habits) and also fixing the things (one of mine includes Otterpop who had great weave poles starting to miss a certain entrance for like a month now) that I've let slip on my dogs' skills.

    Plus overall just work on better handling. It sure doesn't help that it's dark and cold and wet a lot of the time right now, that makes it hard to get out to the practice field.

    I think having a very clear plan every time I practice helps me a lot, and setting up specific exercises where I remind myself of the things I want to work on. I have this written down in a notebook. I've been taping myself when I can by setting my camera on a bucket, this is VERY useful for seeing bad things!

    It sure is hard to be a good handler, I think it sure does takes a lot of hard work!


  6. Hard work! Yeah! That's the problem! Boost also missed a lot of weave entries last night. She's been doing very well at them for a while, and that's one thing that I don't mind practicing over and over, so I'm not sure what went awry, but I think I can set up the same situation here--after I've done with the couple of set-ups (one of which I already set up) to practice rear crosses and turns and avoiding knocking bars. My rear xes with Boost also suck. Apparently have been doing them wrong with Tika, who just deals with it, but also maybe why Tika slowed down some from some of her earliest years--trying to figure out WTF I was trying to tell her.

    Good luck; I'm going to try to remember that I want enough to be successful at trials that it would truly behoove me to have a plan and keep working at it. Sometimes I have the energy for that sort of thing for weeks on end, and then sometimes I don't, also for weeks on end. We'll see. I just fixed the curtain rod that I haven't wanted to deal with for 9 years, and have cleaned things that I swear I haven't cleaned in about as long, so maybe my energy is on an upswing.

    Good luck with your championness training! And with Ruby, too, of course.

  7. I also think that agility has gotten harder and more demanding with the years. It takes a lot of skill and a lot of practice to be good at it with a fast, athletic dog. If you look at the most successful handlers out there, you'll notice they spend a great deal of time, energy and money doing agility. Those of us who either can't or don't want to spend as much are going to find it hard to keep up.

  8. It occurs to me that I think I have all of the 2000 and 2001 grand prix finals on video. It would be interesting to see what they looked like. I need to figure out how to get them from vhs (i think I converted them from my camera's tapes) to the computer.