Goals and (Collected) Strides

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My handsome beast…

My last post sure was… rant-y. Eeesh. I was all off-kilter with the thought of Phin being injured I guess. Fortunately it passed quickly and we were able to proceed on to that weekends trial without any physical issues.

We had a few moments of beauty, mainly on Saturday, but overall the trial was a bit of a rough one. But, it was rough for the reason mostly that I was holding to my criteria. I am taking Daisy Peel’s online Clear Mind course, and one of the things we discuss is that you have to prioritize your trials and treat many of them as “training” in order to get to those bigger picture goals. Which is so right, but pulling your dog from a class you paid $$$ for is never easy. I did it twice on Sunday and while I know it was the right thing to do, it was not something I enjoyed in the slightest. It did help our third run, but by the fourth and fifth runs I was toast for the weekend and had other things (mainly my client’s Malinois) on my mind.

To focus on the good though, we had a great Steeplechase run on Saturday and got our first Tournament Q. We also had a great time in Master’s Challenge Jumpers. I made a poor handling decision on one section that got us an off-course, but for the most part I was happy with that run, especially considering the “challenge” of it. I also started practicing my new mental routines, and while I still need a LOT more practice, mostly I felt a lot more confident and focused as we were going into the ring. That didn’t help the fact that Phin wanted to do 2 hit A-frames, but I was much more focused up until that point–hah.

The online class has also helped me drill down, focus and follow thorugh on things I know we need to work on. I have been diligently re-working on our A-frame performance over the past few weeks. We’ve gone back to the grid on the ground and when possible, an A-frame at the lowest height with the box. I’ve really come to realize that in order for Phin have a successful A-frame performance that he has to run it in true collection. He easily, and willingly, will often do a 2 hit A-frame, which has been our recent problem in the ring. In order for him to hit the yellow, he MUST collect over the apex and again to stride into the contact zone. This is not something he naturally likes to do, so we have been running the grid on the ground for at least a few minutes everyday to try to get that striding ingrained in his little brain. I wish there was another magic solution, but as far as I know, that’s it. I am curious about other trainer’s successful running A-frame strategies. I never did hear wind of how Susan Garrett trains hers… And I know Linda Mecklenberg has something online as well. How many ways can you skin a cat? I know at least one sorta-successful way, so I guess I’ll just keep slogging along at it.

We are changing our training venue yet again. I have been invited to head out to a new place for a sorta-experimental forming group. We’ll see how it goes, but I do already know I will get more feedback than I have been getting for quite some time now. My handling needs more consistent help than what I can get over one or two days of seminars every few months. We saw Karen Holik last month and when she asked who I trained with and I said “Right now, no one,” her response was “I can tell.” Yeouch. She was being funny, but, still was a little tough to hear! So, fingers crossed this new option works out. Definitely will be a trek, but I think it should be worth it.

We have a lot of agility coming up, which I am looking forward to (and am trying not to dwell on the A-frame issue!). We have one day of AKC this Friday up in OC at one of my favorite venues. Then we head out to our new class next Wednesday, get to see Daisy that Friday, have USDAA in OC on Saturday, then down to SD for AKC on Sunday. Then 2 days of AKC for the following 4th of July weekend. After I’ll that I’ll have plenty to chew on and evaluate ala my new goals assessments and strategies skills! 🙂 It will be fun regardless and that’s the most important bit after all.

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