Sunday, March 4, 2012

I'm Still Here

I have been remiss in updating my blog. Mainly because I've not really been on my laptop at home very much with agility trials on the weekends and teaching or going to classes in the evenings. Both Schema and Score have a little over a month off from trialing and Score is going to have some time off so he can work different muscles and rest those repetitive jumping muscles.

The last time I posted an entry here was back in September. So many things have happened since there - in and away from trialing and training. Schema has been trialing (AKC) and training with jumps up to 24" since the end of August. In USDAA, she is jumping her height at 22". I never practiced her at 20" and I was not happy with how she was starting to tick the 22" USDAA tire (which is smaller) as well as a few other issues because of the differences between AKC & USDAA. Since moving her to 24" in AKC, I'm really happy with the way she is handling herself over the jumps as she is so athletic. 

The tire height in AKC is set to 20", which is just a 2" difference instead of a 6" differenc. Also, putting her in the 24" AKC height class, puts the table height the same in both USDAA and AKC. I plan on eventually jumping her at 26" in both organizations when I feel comfortable with how she is handling herself. I might also wait until she has all her QQ's for AKC Nationals before I move her up to 26". She is a very powerful and long striding jumper and I have done some training at 26" and it seems to be an easy transition for her. I'm going to see how this all plays out and just adjust it as we go. I realize I will have to make a choice for AKC Nationals jumping her either 20" or 26" eventually. I am pretty sure we will do 26" instead of going down.

How low can you go!!!
This year, I also want to get Schema in the obedience ring and get her CD. I love her heeling style and she knows her job of holding onto position, once she is at my side. I've actually taught her to heel nicely on both sides (right and left) and I will continue to work her on both sides since It keeps her balanced and it's easy enough for me to do, since I don't pattern train heeling anymore. She knows that once she is in position, no matter what I do, she must remain there until I release her. The only thing that needs to be taught is a more precise front. Actually she needs lots of training and reinforcement for front position as this is something I just have not worked on and she has had much more value for being at my side.

Also, more herding for Schema as she is very talented and keen on stock and I've just now figured out how to incorporate what she knows from agility (in terms of working with me and handling pressure) into herding. It has made a huge difference in our relationship and work on stock and now we need to keep moving towards more advanced work.
Schema watching the sheep

My goals with Score this year is to get him healthy enough and strong enough to finish his MACH2 and his ADCH as well as his HC (herding championship). We have had very little work the last 2 years in herding because of health issues (Lyme disease and Cryptosporidiosis) which has held him back physically with various endurance skeletal/muscular issues. I feel good about his current state as he is getting stronger and more balanced each day and my primary goal with him is to continue that trend as spring approaches.

Score driving after the turn at the post on the AKC A course

Go Score....Go!!
Reason is healthy and happy and enjoying his retirement. I periodically bring him to the trials that are close by so he can visit and do a few practice jumps. He is an amazingly resilient dog and I am just so thankful that he's still as vibrant and full of life now as he was one year ago when he was still trialing in agility at full height. Things changed quickly and I am forever thankful to have him still here. He rocks my world and always will.
Reason - sitting in the kitchen watching me

For some of you, it might be a surprise to hear that I am training and will be eventually running a Papillon in agility. Brink is owned by one of my long time obedience students, Dorie Madsen, who had some physical challenges in Brink's early life that prevented her from training him in obedience. So, I started working him with the foundation training (which is the same for both obedience and agility early on) and gave Dorie homework to do. Brink had been trained and completley understands Crate Games and It's Yer Choice games and so it was easy to give Dorie some homework to do as Brink could be left or sent to his kennel easily so Dorie could move to various places. I continued to work Brink over the past few years and now Dorie has taken over the obedience part and I am doing the agility training. He is such a sweet boy and I'm having lots of fun learning how to handle a small dog with different issues than I am used to in handling and training my Border Collies.

For me, I am doing many more private lessons and really enjoying working with people and dogs that want to use more reward based training. It removes the frustration from the handler and hence the stress from the dog and makes training just so much more fun. I'm also teaching more classes in both obedience and agility and really enjoying that as well. The most fun I have had as an instructor is doing a recent class, called Advanced Impulse Control, which were about 6 very experienced trainers/instructors with young dogs that took my popular Impulse Control class. It was a blast to see these young dogs start to learn how their choices would lead them to reinforcement if they would respond appropriately and if not, they were not rewarded and/or removed in a way that made sense to the dogs. Very fun to see the lights go on and to see how working impulse control in various places could actually be fun for the trainers. 

For me, training dogs has been an evolving growing experience of learning how to find foundation training issues and pick them out and work on them separately from the big picture. I truly love working on details and setting up games to help the trainer (which might be me) address a particular issue with the dog and also to help the dog understand their role in a simplified game. Then the fun is added to try and see if we can get the dog to make mistakes to further clarify their understanding. It is WAY more fun training this way.

That's it for now! I'll update more regularly now.


  1. Good to hear from you again! I always love your posts!

  2. Enjoyed the family update. Give a hug to all the kids from Auntie Y.

  3. Oh Nancy, I really enjoyed reading this and it was so fun and a bit of a surprise to see your comments about You and Brink...Brink is crazy about you and I love watching the two of you run agility. It's been so much fun and I am really learning a lot about agility training ...for me it really started with the 2x2's. Thank you so much for all you are doing for Brink & me.

    Dorie madsen

    1. Brink's a fun little guy. I think we make a good team - both learning from each other. Brink has THE BEST weaves because of his 2x2 training. You've done a wonderful job with him.

  4. I'm excited to work with you Nancy. I won your gift certificate in the ASCA raffle and will go to your website to set up a time. I don't know how much of your wisdom I can absorb in an hour, but I'm sure it will be invaluable.