Toast is still quite immature so although we’re competing – I think he’ll still be training those comps for another good year yet. It’s a lot of fun though!!
Last weekend we went to Red Run UKA which was a small show where he had 5 runs and we had a trade stand, and then on the Sunday we went to BATS which was MUCH bigger than I expected and he only had 3 runs.
I absolutely loved having a trade stand as it meant we could take Pogo’s princess pen and all three dogs got to snooze in the sunshine rather than being stuck in the car. However that was kind of a negative for Toast – as he doesn’t snooze as well as the girls!! And he didn’t really get any downtime. It’s important to me that all my dogs can chill in different environments, so he’s not a crazy stressy pacer or anything – but I think usually he sleeps in his crate in the car whereas on Saturday he didn’t want to sleep in case he missed anything.
He had 5 runs and it was hot so he was even more tired. He didn’t sequence as well as he has been at winter shows – however admittedly I’ve done barely any sequencing with him recently. I’ve been keeping him jump fit, but mostly focusing on contacts and weaves so that could we why. I also found that I was babying him so much to commit to a jump that I ended up not being in the right place for the next part of the course, or my handling was just awkward AF! So basically we are both babies in that department haha.
His jumping at BATS was a lot better because of the spacing, but my handling was still too awkward. He was so funny though – in the Olympia he jumped so long that he landed outside of the ring!! If I can somehow reign that in and use it I think it will be a huge advantage – but that involves me learning something – and that’s harder than him learning something!!
I rushed his weaves for the weekend so he pretty much didn’t weave at all – he only did a little bit in one agility class where he accidentally skipped the second pole and came out at the tenth. Since rushing is 100% my fault (he’s only done two upright sessions on my field and he doesn’t generalise well), I totally accepted this. If he learns to pop out then I will just have to shape it over time in the ring – I’d much rather keep his confidence up than worry I’m going to nag him every time we approach a line of poles!
His aframes were perfecto!!! So happy. In one class my blind was a tad bit too late before it, which made him stutter and put an extra stride in going up – he adjusted and went down perfectly. I know running aframes are supposed to be easy, but nothing is ever easy with little Toastles so this just feels amazing haha!
His waits… also beautiful. He learned his wait through my photography and I am so so so pleased with how I did it. He has only ever broken if he has simply just misunderstood me (or I haven’t been clear), and he has no issues with being put back. He just waits, totally chilled but focused on me – no pushiness whatsoever, but still launches full speed when released. I wasn’t actually sure how it would go this weekend because I purposely haven’t been using it much at all, but he was still perfect.
His startlines… want to explain this one. Anyone who has a dog that you need to “stay on top of” will understand this. I can have him totally focused on me in the queue with food or a ball. But in the short walk from the entrance of the ring to the actual startline – no way can I keep his focus. He will find something to smell and he won’t reorientate back to me unless I have something to offer. If I nag him to focus on me – this creates way too much pressure and it will make him stress sniff and go spaniel floppy “I can’t do anything you definitely secretly beat me up and starve me at home!”. Eventually I think he will jump up at me before we run like he does at home, but right now in new places with new pressures… no way.
Sooo we have a set routine: warm up in the queue, both physically and mentally. Then as the dog before us is coming towards the finish line I ask for a finish (down between my legs), I take his lead off and hand it over. Thanks to his wait training, (so far) when he’s in finish he just looks up at me. I wait for the OK then I leave him there while I get into position on the startline. I then release him and ask for another finish. Verbal praise and I then lead out. It works really well as he has a lot of value for his finish and a lot of value for his wait.
Anyway… that was long!!! He was a bit flat at Red Run – I think because of the heat and lack of naps. But at BATS he was soooo excited to queue next to Bertie that he returned to his normal crazy self.
I still have to finish his seesaw – he can technically do it but he doesn’t weight shift enough and I really don’t like how he lands. So I need to go back a few steps and encourage a safer landing. Then I need to go back a step with his weaves and start proofing them.
Woohooo I am so happy to be back in competition. This year is definitely just adjusting to shows and still training – I don’t want to say “I don’t want to win out of grade 3” because I don’t even know if we could!!! But this year is definitely not for trying to win classes.
A lovely lady also came up to me to specifically tell me he looks great. I looked totally blank at her (so sorry if you are reading!!) but stuff like that just makes my day. You know your dog is a baby, you know your handling is awkward but will improve, but it’s still a bit embarrassing when we can’t do two jumps in a row sometimes haha! So for someone to be able to spot the good parts and make the effort to come over that is soooo nice 🙂
Congratulations to Lucy and Bertie for winning their jumping 🙂