Sunday, May 25, 2014

So close, but yet...

We had a great time at the show today.  Ribbon worked really well, but no Q's.  In the first trial we started with go-outs.  She had never been in this ring before (at the match she was in the other ring).  So I was curious to see how she would do.  When I set her up for the first go out, she marked her location immediately.  The judge was getting in position and was just telling me the order of the exercises and Ribbon took off to do her go out.  I took that to be a good sign!! Her go outs were beautiful.  She glanced away once she was in her sit, so I had to hesitate before giving her the signal for the bar jump.  The second part of the exercise was really good.  I must be standing with my weight forward because her fronts are further away than normal.  Moving stand, articles and seek back all were quite nice.  The further into the routine we got the more she focused on the job at hand. She seemed quite interested in the judge and all the stewards coming and going in the ring.  The final exercise was signals, she heeled beautifully, dropped like a stone, sat up like a shot and then ... no response to the recall signal. I think in fairness to Ribbon,  I did the signal too fast because she was looking right at me. Overall I was quite pleased.
When I came out of the ring I did another set of signals and rewarded her for doing the recall.  I also did the same thing just before going into the ring for trial #2.

For the next trial (which was about 25 mins later) We had routine #5, which begins with the moving stand.  Ribbon heeled great, but during the exam the judge was really leaning over her almost to the point of resting her chest on Ribbon's back, this was too much pressure for Ribbon, so she took one step to the side.  I had the same issue with my fronts in this trial with her sitting too far away and slightly to my left.  The rest of the exercises went really well.  Directed Jumping was awesome, she looked so confident and just flew over the jumps.  She did jump the jump on the seek back but made her way back on line to get her front.  The last exercise was scent discrimination. The first article was at 12 o'clock.  The judge was standing quite close to the pile and I think because of what happened on the moving stand, Ribbon didn't want to go close to her.  Instead of starting to scent at 12 o'clock which is her standard pattern, she came in through the middle, searched and grabbed a metal article (it should have been wood) and brought it back to me.  Game over.  The last article she nailed with no problem at all.

So overall I am really, really pleased with our weekend.  Our next set of trials are in the same building in a few weeks.  Very fun for me to back in the utility ring.  Can't wait to do it again.

Happy Training!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Update on Jilly

Our new girl is fitting in nicely in our home.  She gets along with everyone and is starting to settle into the routine.  She spent the first few weeks tethered to me so that she didn't have any accidents in the house.  But now she hangs around and is comfortable with waiting until the other dogs go out and when her walks are going to be.  She has discovered the fun of a tennis ball and other toys, but the ball is her favourite. She is very sweet.  I am really enjoying her.

Herding is going well.  I still need to work on my whistles and Viki has given me some skills to work on to improve our driving skills.

We have entered our first trial.  It will be in Indiana at the end of June.  I am not expecting much but my goal is to build our teamwork and get some experience under our belt.  She is very talented and incredibly willing. I am looking forward to a long career with this girl.

Match at Swansea

Ribbon did a fantastic job tonight at the match.  I had a plan in my head for each exercise and we managed to pull it all off.  She was relaxed, interested and animated.  ALL good things.  I did use food and the first go out I used a target and did it half of the distance.  Although from her reaction I don't really think she needed the help.  Her signals were BEAUTIFUL!! It felt really good to heel with her around the ring.  I think I did a nice job of handling her.  I remembered to keep my knees together and stand up tall during all of the heeling.  It felt smooth and Ribbon and I felt very much in sync.
I am so excited for Sunday.  Swansea is one of my favourite trials of the year.  The club works very hard to make the trial fun.  They always have a good judging panel and the ring stewards are fantastic!  They have lots of things like a spot prize. They use a card that you find on your kennel or your chair that says you have won a prize.  When you go to the prize table they ask you to put the card on someone else's kennel.  I usually try to pick someone in Novice A.  They also have poop raffle and the "woulda, shoulda" award.  If you NQ in a trial, you get a ticket and there is a draw from all the other people that have suffered the same fate.  Takes some of the sting out of it!

Wish me luck
Happy Training

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Jill the Sheepdog

We have a new addition to our house.  Her name is Jill she is a 2 year old Border Collie.  She came to live with us on April 23rd and she is fitting in really well.  She has been very nicely trained and is clearly a very talented dog.
She has never lived in a house before and this is interesting and challenging at the same time.  It is difficult to stay in house training mode, when visually you see an adult dog.  She is currently laying at my feet with a leash and collar on, so that I don't let her slip out of my sight.  It was quite funny to watch her navigate stairs and be fascinated with the t.v.  She is getting along well with all the other dogs and much to Gali's delight, played with him this morning.
I have worked with her 6 or 7 times now and things are going along nicely.  She is very biddable and doesn't take the stop command as a punishment.  I had two days of lessons with Calvin Jones, he explained what to do with her for the next 3 or weeks, so that we can start to build a relationship without putting Jill in a situation she is not use to.
I have entered her in a trial in Indiana at the end of June, we also have a trial at Shepherd's Crook in July and a shedding clinic with Michael Gallagher.  So we will be quite busy.
This should be fun learning experience.
I must go and practice my whistles!

Counting Down

Ribbon and I are entered in Utility in a few weeks.  The plan is to go to the match on Friday night and then do both trials on Sunday.  This will be our second attempt.  We were entered in the trial held at the training hall on April 15th, but we didn't have any Q's.  She did some really nice things, heeled beautifully, worked her fronts and finished.  She struggled with someone standing behind her for signals and anticipated one half of directed jumping.  I have her in a class, hoping to work more around other distractions and have someone to place articles and call commands for me.
She worked well today, had some issues working on different go-out locations.  She always wanted to  return to the last place she had been rewarded.  Which makes perfect sense, she just needs more experience.  There is only one way to get it!!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

First Utility match

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.

Happy Training!

Friday, November 29, 2013

This year is almost over

I haven't been doing very well writing on this blog.  There always seems to be something else that MUST be done and then the day is over.  I know it is only November, well tomorrow will be December, so I guess I am not too much ahead of schedule saying that the year is almost over.
Ribbon and I had a lot of fun trialling in Open this year.  I learned a lot about how to warm up at trials with her.  She certainly is enjoying her time in the ring.  The sit stay has plagued me a little bit.  But to be perfectly honest I haven't had much time to work in a group of dogs or get to many different locations.  We have been working on utility and having a blast!! We have done two matches and although Ribbon is not completely sure what she is being asked to do (as in the order), her little eyes light up and she runs out and does it.  My plan is Utility trials in April.  There is a club that is hosting a trial at the school, so it seems silly not to have her ready for that.  I also have entered Gali in it.  Closer to the trial I will work him and if I feel confident about his vision I will try for that last leg. If not I will pull before closing. Otherwise Gali is his normal happy bouncy self!

I got to do quite a bit of herding with Maddie, it was such a great learning experience.  I am so lucky to have her.  We haven't done anything in a couple of weeks and she is getting pretty bored.  I have two lessons booked in December and maybe I can get out on my own over the Christmas holidays.  Viki is currently looking for a nursery dog for me ( Nursery is a class for dogs under 36 months).  It would be great to have him/her over the winter to build our teamwork (and learn to whistle) and then be ready for the trials in the spring. Maddie will be 11 in January and while she is very healthy, I am not comfortable asking her to do those big outruns, what if she steps in a hole and blows a cruicate? My gut is telling me to stop so I am going to. She can still do lessons and barn chores and maybe some setting out at trials, she doesn't care as long as she gets to work.

I finally finished all my criteria for obedience judging!!! It took almost 5 years!! I have done my first assignment and I think it went well.  Once I was judging I felt confident.  I was glad to have utility first, so that I could take my time and get my ring set up, measured and not feel rushed at all.  The trial filled (in fact overfilled so Ted Leslie had to judge some dogs for me) so I didn't want to feel under the gun about going over the 7 hours of judging, which I didn't.  A few days after the assignment was over I was feeling an adrenaline let down.  After all the hype of getting ready to do my first assignment, now I have to wait for the next one in February.   I guess it will get here soon enough.  The final step is that I still need to judge 7 Novice dogs and then once I hear from the CKC that I have judged all the numbers (10 Novice, 8 Open and 7 Utility) then I can accept other assignments.

Happy Training!