Saturday, December 3, 2016

Honing Our Long Jump Skills - Part 1

I joined Justine Davenport and Jessica Patterson's Shape Up or Ship Out group.  I was able to set up some of the courses from the first two lessons, but as winter settles in, I will have to content myself with just working some of the drills and skills when weather permits.  On the bright side, I'll have no shortage of courses to choose from come spring.

On the first course I set, Will had problems with the long jump.  The sequence was such that he ended up slicing it just a bit too much.  I decided to haul out my long jump today and work on some angled approaches and a right angle exit line.  Here's what I came up with:

We worked through the top set of sequences today.  (The bottom
set is simply the mirror image for us to work when weather permits.)

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Tackling A Championship Course

I set up Tamas Traj's FCI Agility World Championships 2016 Team Agility Large and gave it a go with Willie.  As part of the Bad Dog Agility VIP program, Sarah Fernandezlopez analyzed Susan Garrett's handling of this course, and I felt it was something we could take a stab at.  Click here to see Susan's run.

Notes on Our Attemps:

I tried to run this as Susan Garrett did.  I didn’t know if Willie could handle the long LO, but he had no problem with it.  However, my timing for the teeter was late every time.  The first time I was so late, Willie ended up in the #14 tunnel.  I re-watched Susan’s run and discovered that I needed to place my BC after the teeter not before.  That will allow me to take less of a LO and draw a better line to the teeter.

#7 requires support as I run by or Willie will just come with me and take #8.

I wasn’t really expecting the turn out of the weaves to the tunnel to be a big deal.  Unfortunately, I only said “tunnel” on our first attempt.  (I would have sworn I said “switch, tunnel,” but the video clearly shows I didn’t.)  A directional is needed here since the tunnel is not in Willie's line of sight.

I thought getting to the other side of the DW after #12 would be a real foot race, but it was actually not hard.  (Susan had to resort to a RC at the #14 tunnel, I was able to do a BC.  If my #13 had been a wall instead of a panel jump, I might well have had to hang back to ensure Will took the wall and then use a RC at the #14 tunnel.)

The second time through, I tried to push for a BC between 20/21 and failed big time.  Should have just used a RC like I did the first time.  (SG managed to do a FC!!!)

P.S.  We ran this again later in the day so I could try blind crossing the teeter exit.  Much to my surprise that proved to be a little slower for us.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Contact Practice and a Little More

Because contact equipment is so heavy, I absolutely hate setting up standard courses.  However, I did want to spend some training time this year on improving Willie's A frame and dog walk performances.  The other day, we ran a course that had two challenges we couldn't meet with my limited mobility.  The first challenge was AF to the tire, and the second was table to the weaves.  Here's a photo of the section of course in question.

The approach to the AF is from the left, and it is a fast approach from a chute.  I layered the jump and table and stopped between the table and the tire before releasing Will to the tire.  Despite out-stretched arm and foot, Will took the table.  The only way I could get him to take the tire was to actually take a step toward it as I released him, but I'd really like him to also be able to take it with a verbal and my static body cues.

The second problem was the weave poles after the table.  I wanted to layer the tire so I could get a head start on the DW which is off-screen to the right.  What I got was a lot of barking and spinning. I was really, really surprised by this, since I thought Willie's weave entrances were pretty much rock solid.  Apparently, this is a little varation we will have to work on.

I designed this course for working on these two issues, plus our contact performances.

I ended up adding a couple of jumps so that we could go from AF to DW.  The teeter is rather a dead end, but since its not really as big a problem for us as the DW and AF, I'm okay with that.  I suppose if the teeter were a bigger issue, I could put it where the AF is on this course.  Here's one sequence we ran this morning.

Note Taking

Over the years, I have taken reams of notes and analyzed hours of video often with either written comments or voice over.  The big problem is that I almost never go back and review my notes.  For a short time I even tried two different spreadsheets for tackling the problem.  One spreadsheet was for categorizing types of errors (contacts, failing to support an obstacle until Will was committed, late cues, etc.).  The other was an attempt to make comments on different types of exercises we tackled.  The second spreadsheet turned into way too big a project and was basically no better than taking notes and storing them in the computer.

I also took a stab at creating my own flashcards to serve as reminder notes.  For example:

The process of creating the flashcards was kind of tedious though, and I wasn't real good about keeping them up.

A couple of months ago, I came up with a solution that was somewhat similar to the flash cards, but seemed to be a little more useable for me.  I create a Word document that includes a course map and a few notes, and, often times, my handling path.  I then save it as a PDF file and make my annotations and comments using the comment and text capabilities of the free Adobe PDF Reader.  Here's an example:

  Once I made my notes, I save the file with the original title plus "annotated."  By adding the same word, "annotated," I can do a document search and review all the notes I've made or copy them to my Nexus so I can review them when I have a spare moment.

What I really like about the comment markers is that you can place them at the key points on the course, but you don't obscure the course with the written word.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

A New Challenge

Eight days ago, my right knee flared up so badly that I had to use a walker in order to get around the house.  Thankfully, 24 hours later I was able to hobble around without the walker.  Then three days later I was awakened by a burning sensation in my left buttock.  The initial diagnosis was that my piriformis muscle was spasming and affecting my sciatic nerve.  However, two days ago a rash appeared and I realized I probably had shingles.  My self-diagnosis was confirmed, and I started on an anti-viral yesterday.  I also started physical therapy for my knee yesterday.  Let's just say that I'm not a particularly happy camper at the moment.

Last Sunday, I had a break from both my knee pain and the shingles attack, and I was able to take Willie to a NADAC trial.  My only goal for the day was to finish the day and still be able to drive home.  That goal was met, plus we managed a 5-pt Q in Elite Regular and our second Novice Tunnelers Q.  However, I really felt our non-qualifying Elite Jumpers run was our best run of the day, so that's the one I posted to YouTube.  (Watch closely and you will see that the bar comes down when I turn my head to look at the final two jumps.)

My YouTube user name is Whitewaterwoman, a name I chose many years ago when I was a whitewater canoeist.

Nantahala Falls, North Carolina

Wildcat Rapids on the Vermilion River, Illinois

These photos are about 20 years old, and I was about 65 pounds lighter and in considerably better physical shape than I am today.  I can't do anything about my age, but I decided that I certainly can do something about the pounds I have accumulated over the years.  Hopefully, physical therapy will enable me to resume walking and hiking so that I can also work on improving my level of physical fitness.

Last week, I promised myself I would start eating better.  It's been five days, and so far I'm doing good.  The biggest problem with my diet was that it was way heavy on refined carbs, including three or four cans of Cherry Coke a day--I've cut that to one or none.  The other problem was that it was way too light on healthy foods.  I've begun collecting and preparing recipes that are much healthier than what we were eating.  Here's one I prepared the other day.

Wish me luck with my new challenge.  And if you have any favorite recipes, feel free to post a link in the comment section.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016


For me, the most difficult thing about bonus line work at this point is figuring out what verbal cues I need to give.  I think I'm doing a fairly good job of drawing the line, but when your dog is heading  away from you, verbals become essential for alerting your dog to what you want.  Today, we tackled the Open version of yesterday's Jumpers course.

Today, the biggest problem I encountered with both Belle and Willie was getting from 5 to 6.  I tried "go," get out," and "switch," all to no avail.  This was really weird since the opening on the yesterday's Novice course was exactly the same as today's Open course, and 5 to 6 was definitely not a major issue yesterday!  The solution to my problem was to use a "come" command as the dogs were closing in on 5.  It worked like a charm, but why it was necessary today and not yesterday was a mystery to me. 


The only other consistent issue I had today was at 3 with Belle.  If I said "switch" as she was crossing 3, she switched right then and there.  I had to delay my switch cues until she was within a stride of 4.  Since it was absolutely necessary to do this with Belle, I decided to also do it with Willie.  When I compared clips from yesterday and today in Coach's Eye, I discovered that the delayed switch cues were responsible for Willie and Belle defaulting to the tunnel if I did not say "come" as they crossed 5.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Switch vs. Go Back

The weather has finally turned nice here in the Midwest, so I thought I'd set up a jumpers course and do some bonus line training.  Here's the course we tackled today:

 In our morning session, I made several mistakes.
  • Trying to work the course from behind the red line.
  • Using a moving start with Willie.
  • Using a switch command at #9.
Without a doubt, our biggest problem was #9 where Willie gave me all sorts of unexpected responses to my "switch" command.  When I sat down and watched the video, I could see Willie's point.  I wanted him to turn away from me and take #10.  However, from Willie's point of view there is really no change of direction involved.  Moving from #3 all the way to #10 involves moving along one big counterclockwise circle!  When I said "switch," Willie did his best to switch off the circle he was on.  He tried several different options, almost all of which involved turning to his right.

The "turn" from #9 to #10 is actually a spot where "go back" is the appropriate command.  Luckily, we have worked on that a little bit, so it wasn't totally foreign to Willie when I tried using it on this course.

In the morning session we used a running start, and Willie failed to heed my "turn" command for the right turn at #2 several times.  I decided he probably didn't need quite so much momentum approaching that first turn, so for the afternoon session, I had him start from a sit stay.

The morning session got pretty messy and ugly, so I decided to take the whole experience down a notch and use the green line for our bonus practice.  It allowed me to handle the course much more calmly and confidently.  I'm really looking forward to tackling the Open course tomorrow.