Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Keep it simple...

The last few days have reminded me why I love to train my dogs, and even do some trialling...which is not my first love. My Dad always said that as a writer... "keep it simple stupid" meaning, sometimes there is no need for flowery, complicated or over-doing. I took that thought with me this weekend, as I had entered a few trials. I like to have fun and enjoy what I am doing as hobbies...not feel miserable. 

It has been months since I competed in agility. Seriously started to wonder if I was losing my love of it...completely. Was looking forward to it, but at the same time had a mental goal, that if I didn't accomplish certain things...that might be it. Maybe forever, or at least a longer break. With C'ura still not ready to go back, from her dogwalk injury, I have missed being able to train her, feel guilty leaving her at home, so we stayed home.  

The weekend started with agility, with my girl  Ggrail. We entered four classes, first class was Masters Gamblers with a near impossible flick away to layered set of weaves. At least, not a skill we have worked on at such a Distance. So we tanked, after some pretty nice opening points. :) Next up were Masters Pairs, Standard and Snooker. I know some love Snooker. To a dyslexic, a red coming down and having a backup plan is not strategy, it is mental torture...at least for me. I have no trouble saying I hate Snooker! But, with my keep it simple plan, we tackled it head on...for a First place Super Q! Why yes we did...maybe I like Snooker. Standard and Pairs also score, with Q and 3rd place. Maybe the universe is telling me to keep at agility? 

My plan was to do as simple of handling as I knew would make sense to my girl, and it did. I think as courses get more complicated, and we all feel the pressure to keep up with the next fancy move, let alone trying to remember what it is called-that for me at least, I was losing sight of just having fun and plain running my dog with LOVE, on the best path-no bells and whistles. I am not the best handler, but I try my best. My dogs are more gifted than I. Simple, Clear info is what they deserve. Baby Genius pup along for the day, amazing in the trial environment, tugging, playing, sweet, social, unfazed. The Vibe at this trial was up and happy, people were NICE to each other. That reminded me of why I love to train and test my skills, to trial. I'm tired of being around whiny, mean or miserable people-it is supposed to be fun, yes??!!! :) 

Sunday we rest. And visiting Vet here...yay for four more dogs negative for tick borne diseases! We have been lucky there, knock on wood...not a+Lyme/Erlichia/Anaplasmosis in years. My Vet said their diet is what is helping, I think yes it helps build strong immune systems, but also not over vaccinating and just letting be dogs-eat dirt and stuff in the woods & RUN!!! I also look for strong immune systems as a trait in my dogs (will not breed weak).

Monday started early, up at 4:30 AM to head to an AHBA herding trial, 2 trials in one day. What the hell was I thinking? Two dogs never trialled before, Kestrel is still a baby dog, sleep deprivation and stock! Craziness. Kestrel, Speck and I had a plan...to keep it simple, me to see what we have in our training so far. I gave them a pep talk on the long drive down, actually wasn't nervous, go figure. Kestrel was up first, on goats. We did pretty well. I was happy with our teamwork. 

It was also nice to be around people, who seemed to be happy when others did well too!!!!! Refreshing! One person snarked at my new to the venue question, but she was angry at her dogs and life...she was insignificant in a great day. I felt bad for her dogs, they tried hard.

Speck was in bigger field, on light sheep that were not used to the farm. Oh boy! It was not all pretty, but we got around the course-which is more similar to real work or a farm trial, than just a lift, panels, pen of Novice course. I think a big field sheepdog trial would actually be easier for him, but his down has not been steady-baggage in his training that I am working on. Push, push, push....It  was an arena trial, about 125 x 250'. Pressure for such a 
wide outrunner. 

There was a freestanding obstacle to one side of the field-no fence-line to help as funnel, that was a "pen". In this case a horse trailer where we were supposed to load recalcitrant, slippery butterfly sheep. Not happening! :) but, we had enough points from the other course elements. Both dogs qualified in Trial 1, (which I didn't know until the end of the day). The exhaust pen gate latch, was also broken by a dog who ran before us, which I didn't know. Popped open several times while we were on course-which is like crack to sheep who want to get away from the "Wolf".  That was an added challenge!!! 

Trial 2: Kestrel again amazed me, some not perfect, but for her first ever...very proud of her. Center panels were a thing of beauty and she was patient, as repen was the final element. She earned her Junior Herding dog title, JHD. We had 10 minutes to complete and were done in 3:31. One judge commented on our "great teamwork"...that's what it is all about!

Speck's second run, it was definitely getting hotter and he had really worked his heart out, for the first run. He is a speedy thing! Too speedy in this case, "dog needs to slow down" was one of the judges suggestions, in addition to him dealing with pressure. All part of my simple plan to help him be more flexible, get back some feel and not burn his brain cells, while working. Pattern training, is not thinking...so much work to do. 

But....we had a pretty decent run. Again no at the trailer, but the level 2 & 3 dogs were having trouble too. Very few got that pen. Some in level 2 & 3 didn't even make it around the whole course. So, miracles of miracles....Speck earned his Herding Trial Arena Dog title.  HTAD1, not too shabby. 

TeG also got to try barn hunt, oh boy does she have instinct! She was  very polite to the rat,  but very very interested and started digging back in excitement. I loved that the barn hunt person gave her rats extra treats after each try-always do that with my sheep, after working them. They are a gift. It was a bunch of really nice people, all simply there to test their skills and their training...like me. One of the best weekends, I feel my love and Mojo of training coming back and testing what we have by trialing, was icing on the cake...keeping it simple and FuN!!!!! Looking forward to the next time...