I took Ribbon yesterday to her first utility match away from home. She had so much, I laughed almost the whole time! We are nowhere near ready to go, but all of the pieces are there. Her signals were great, quick and snappy- but I was only 10 feet away. She also crept forward a little bit on the drop (about 3 inches I would guess)
Thing to work on #1: continue to build distance on signals and drop in place.
Her articles were a little messy, and I had to help her find the article pile. She seems to think that "find it" means go and look around for something, instead of going to the obvious pile in the middle of the floor, she looks around at the walls to see if something is hidden there. I think that is just carry over from some of the games we play at the training hall and in the house. Also once I placed the first article on the chair then she wanted to go back to the chair to get the same article. Once in the pile she worked for different lengths of time to retrieve the correct article. She did pick up and put down the wrong article a couple of times, but she never left the pile with it. Once she had brought me the article I sometimes threw it for her to chase or I just played with her. Her attitude was fantastic! I may need to consider doing the turn and sit before sending to the pile
Thing to work on #2: More formal set up for articles with a chair and the jumps out.
Her moving stand was great, I just need to remember to keep my signal up really high, or she will read it as moving down (from rally). I have also gone back to my original command of "Wait". She is stopping really quickly and has no problem with the judges examining her. I loved how she pushed off from the standing position to do her recall.
Thing to work on #3: Keep her happy on this exercise, get other people to pet her, play games.
In the past Ribbon has hesitated after the heeling to get her glove. It is as though she isn't sure she can break eye contact. Yesterday that was much reduced and she flew out there grabbed her glove, shook it and cantered back to me. I was happy to see her start to put this exercise together. I have also been incorporating my cue word for the exercise when I ask her to nose bridge. For the seek back, when I set up for heeling portion I lower my two fingers for her to touch and I say, " Gonna get your glovie". I am hoping this will help her realize that this is heeling drill with a retrieve at the end. I have also been doing the same thing for signal, but as she is touching my fingers I say, "Gonna do your signals." My other thought is that I want to keep her heeling strong I don't want her first thought to be wrapped around the end of the heeling, but I don't want to cause her stress at the end of lovely heeling pattern because I leave her or ask her to retrieve. So far it seems to be working.
Thing to work on #4: Clean up pick up and carry of the glove
For directed jumping I put out her target, it was leaning against the white wall (the target is black). This is the first time Ribbon has done her go-outs away from home, so I wanted it to go well for her so I made the target obvious. She was fabulous!! She marked (looked out to the target) on command, the first time when Mary was giving the "judges spiel" she looked at Mary but then refocussed on her mark. When I sent her out she went without any hesitation, I ran out to feed her the first time and I think I also followed her so that I was only half the ring away when I gave the sit command. She sat in place looking like she had been doing this her whole life. The directed jumping was awesome, the jumps where further apart than she has seen in a while, but she had no problem. On the other go out, I stayed in place and sat her (beautiful turn and sit in place), praised her and then sent her to the other jump. I also did some other go outs with the target flat on the ground so that she couldn't see it. That didn't faze her a bit. All in all I am extremely pleased with how she is doing this exercise. Being in a new place didn't throw her at all. LOVE MY GIRLIE!!
Thing to work on #5: New places, longer distances on go outs, maintain all the pieces of the go out (marking, touch target, sit and sit touch target)
Other things to work on: fronts and finishes - ALWAYS! and keep up her heeling with games. I need to practice my handling so that I feel smooth.