Both the Poodles take a break from competition from late Spring though to early Autumn. Neither of them enjoy running in the Summer heat so we don’t push them to do something I know they don’t like – agility is meant to be fun for both of us after all.
Instead we use the cool early mornings to train new skills and improve on existing ones.
There is one exception to the no Summer competition rule and that is a local AKC trial hosted by the Chuckanut Dog Training club up in Lynden WA. This is a small trial held in a great facility, the competition starts at 5pm on Friday evening so I only need to take the morning off from work. The rings are huge, the dirt surface is good and the lighting is excellent and because its further North it does not get too hot.
Friday was the start of a new journey for Sky – for the last 6 years he’s been running at his full AKC jump height and for 4.5 years this has not been a problem for him at all. Then, in early 2015 he got injured, he recovered but after only 2 months he got injured again. Nothing major but I could tell he wasn’t running with his usual enthusiasm. He’s very stoic so he was probably hurting quite badly. This injury recovery cycle has gone on for 18 months but now I decided it was time to start running in the AKC Preferred class, he has been running in USDAA Performance since January 2016. So from now on Sky will be jumping 20″ in both venues that he competes in.
Sky’s first run on Friday was Standard Agility, the course was great and ideal for a large striding dog like Sky. Sky had a stunning run, he was clean in 38.00 seconds running at 4.92 yards per second. He was the second quickest dog of all jump heights, he beat the top 24″ dog by 4.5 seconds and only NAC Mynx beat him from the regular 20″ class. Sky scored 36 speed points on this run, his highest ever score. He still hasn’t fully adjusted his jumping style to the new height – he’s clearing the bars too high, so he’ll probably get even quicker at this height once he gets this figured out.
I made a timing error on Sky’s jumping run so we missed out on the double Q.
Next it was Icy’s turn. I’d only entered him in Jumping for this event, so he got to run after Sky had finished both his runs. Ice took off like a rocket from the start line and kept up the speed all the way through the course. In fact Ice was running so quickly I was hopelessly late performing a front cross before the second to last jump that I caused a refusal. Ice didn’t seem to care, after we finished the run he tugged on his leash all the way back to his crate to get his jackpot.
So overall I was very pleased with both dogs performance, my only regrets were not being able to record any of the runs and hurting my knee on Sky’s standard run which forced me to withdraw from the competition early.
Both Sky and Ice return to competition next weekend after a 2 month break. I’ve been running Ice in class each week as well as doing Dog Walk and Weave training with him. Sky on the other hand has not done much agility during his 8 week break, but he has been doing a lot of obedience and rally with Penelope.
In order to get him ready for next weekend I created a short jumping sequence specifically designed to challenge Sky’s weaknesses.
This looks simply enough but Sky had a really hard time completing this course clean. Sky’s main jumping weakness is he doesn’t perform the parallel to perpendicular jumping effort very well at speed and this course had several points that tested this skill.
Here’s another great (but slightly modified) course from AgilityFlow. I chose this course as it allowed me to train several skills in one small space with minimal equipment (I hate course building). Skills covered include:
- Extension to collection sequences – Ice approaches #3 in extension but needs to collect to get a nice turn for #4. The same pattern is repeated between #5 and #6.
- Blind cross and Pull A-Frame exits. I did a blind cross between #7 and #8 so that I could do a Jaakko turn from #8 to #9. I did a pull between #11 and #12 so that I could do a deceleration rear cross at #12.
- An (easy) tunnel A-Frame discrimination at #9 and #14.
Here is the course map, you need a space 18m by 11m (60 feet by 36 feet).
Icy ran the course twice this morning, both runs had nearly identical times although I liked the second run better than the first. I was particularly pleased with how well Icy handled the rear cross at jump #12 – we have not practiced this skill much.
Here’s a side by side of Sky and Ice – Icy was over a second quicker.
Here’s another great small space course from AgilityFlow – this time we are looking at Serpentines. I ran both Sky and Ice over this course, Sky ran first.
Here is the course map:
I ran Sky over the course first, here is a video of his runs.
Things to note with Sky’s runs:
- I need to stay very close to the wing on jump #2 to ensure a tight line to jump #3. Compare my path on the first run to all the other runs. The first run was 0.5s quicker than all the other runs.
- Performing a landing side front cross between #5 and #6 was the quickest way of performing the middle section of the course – although I only attempted this on the first run.
- On run #5 as Sky emerges from the #4 tunnel I raise my threadle arm too soon. Sky see’s it moves towards me even though jump #5 is right in front of him. Sky clearly understands the threadle arm much better than I thought he did – good boy Sky.
- Reverse spin on jump #9 yielded a much better turn than a straightforward shoulder pull.
Next it was Icy’s turn. He ran the course 3 times. He was clean on each run and all runs were quicker than Sky although not by that much.
Finally here’s the side by side comparison of Sky and Ice’s best runs.
Ice and Sky both ran another short jumping sequence today. I tried various options with both Dogs. Ice was quickest by almost a second!
Again Sky’s superior ground speed allows him to get ahead when the course has straight lines but Icy can accel/decel very quickly and turns very tightly, this allowed him to catch up and get ahead.
Here’s a fun jumping sequence designed to test some of my and Icy’s handling skills. I plan to run both Sky and Ice over this course – will be interesting to see which one is quickest.
The course is inspired by this post from Agility Flow.
Sky was quicker, but not by much and probably only because Sky has a rear cross skill that Icy doesn’t have yet.
Until recently Ice was always slower than Sky on pure jumping sequences. Ice’s lack of confidence and desire to keep the bar up under all circumstances often resulted in him adding small additional strides just prior to take off.
This weekend I built a small course that required some collection to tightly wrap a jump wing as well as lots of extension and for the first time Icy ran the sequence faster than Sky. We tried two different handling options, Sky did a good job, he did not have wide turns but Icy beat him by over a half a second on one option and a quarter second on the other.
Here is a video of the individual runs.
And here is a video of a side by side comparison.