Noodle started off the morning with a bang - earning a Q in open FAST and thus completing her Open FAST title!. Of course, this was done with a visit to the judge after the teeter. The plusses - she got a nice 2\stop at the end of the teeter, nailed her send bonus, and didn't knock any bars. The minuses - she did NOT stop on the A-frame, and went and visited the judge after the teeter.
Jumpers was a bit of a mess - she got enamored of the smell and stopped for a while to smell the dirt. She ran by the judge but didn't stop - that is better. She missed a bunch of jumps, took an off-course tunnel, but she ended up finishing strong and with me so that was a tiny bit of progress, I guess.
Pretzel got in both of his runs after conformation. They were decent, but a lot of mistakes. once again he was taking extra obstacles and not really focusing on me, but he was fast and happy, and in the end that's what I really want! His jumpers run was pretty fast, and he slipped on the dry, dusty dirt twice and fell HARD on his shoulder. No more agility for him this weekend.
Conformation was a MESS. Was it a full moon or something? Maizey wouldn't stand still, and was pulling on the leash on her gaiting. Pretzel was a flipping wild man who acted like he had never shown in conformation before! OK, so it was like 3 months since his last show, but geeze! He wouldn't stay stacked, he messed up on his down and back, and he gaited like he was running an agility course.
The BEST part of the day was getting the message that Marshall (Pretzel's puppy from the Mouse litter - the black collar puppy mini-me that lived here for a while) and his owner got their very first MAJOR win today down in Perry, Georgia. Winners Dog, Best of Winners, AND staying in his daddy's footsteps by winning Best of Breed Owner-Handled! I literally screamed when I found out...so flipping excited!
Tomorrow is another day. I held on to the good things that happened and went out to eat to "celebrate" them. I am trying to stay optimistic!
Noodle started off in Jumpers today - and right from the start it was a wreck. At the start line when I released her, she looked down, spotted a small rock, grabbed it and ate it! Say what? Crazy girl! She ended up getting walked off this course about halfway through, another walk of shame. The good points? She had gorgeous weaves, and she didn't visit the judge! The bad points? well, she was out of control, and she did visit the ring crew.
The topper of the day was Maizey, who showed like a little rock star and went on to win Winners Bitch for a MAJOR! She has the most gorgeous gait, it is so big and natural that i have to do nothing other than keep her straight and go along with it. It was such a great feeling being pulled out first from that lineup, and doing so with a Pretzel puppy is a dream come true. It makes me really ache for my own Pretzel puppy. I am trying to be patient...
Pretzel showed much better today. He didn't get a placement, but he was more like his old self again, and that is a relief. Luckily I don't see any signs of soreness from his hard fall in agility yesterday, but I am not taking any chances so I pulled him from his run today.
To top off this great day, I heard that Marshall earned yet another Winners Dog, Best of Winners, and Owner Handled Best of Breed for another major!!! So fun to have two different Pretzel puppies from two different litters earn majors across the country from each other on the same day. Life is good.
On the way home when we stopped to potty the dogs, I noticed a little blood from Noodle. Guess what? She is finally in season again! It's been 9 months since her last season...that's a long time between cycles. I am so thankful she didn't come in when we were heading to Florida last month. This might make Christmas a bit crazier, but I'll take it!
Redirect! That might end up being my theme for 2018. Don't give up - Redirect instead! I am a goal-oriented person. Yeah, that's putting it mildly. A more accurate description would be that I am obsessive about setting goals and working towards them. Sometimes, though, ya gotta face reality and re-purpose your drive into a new or different venture. Easier said than done? Well, just watch me!
Giving Cadence the weekend off to think about things seemed to work out. She stood quietly tied, let me pick up all 4 feet without a problem, and we made some significant progress in walking in a circle on the longe line.
When I first took her out into the indoor on the longe line, she walked quietly for a few steps and then decided to try and change directions. It was hard to control her, and she figured out that she could easily pick her own direction and pill me off balance on the line. I had to take the step in putting the chain over her nose for control. it worked like a charm. She tried working against me, couldn't turn herself around, and gave up and walked quietly in a circle. I took the longe line off and gave her a break for a while, then put her back on the line and went the other direction (with the chain) - she walked several perfect circles quietly with no pulling or bucking. Big progress!
When I got home, I made her nomination payments for the NSBA SIF and BCF. Time to start dreaming big!
Noodle is nesting HARD - burrowing herself in Pretzel's crate, under my desk, and behind the lazy boy chair. This heat cycle will be very revealing to me, as the last one she was in crate rest for her injured foot so i never got to see these odd behaviors.
I took her to training tonight, but that really was a waste of time. She was a lot like she was this weekend - really unfocused, not really listening to me. I am going to assume this is because of her heat cycle. We did a little work on the "here" command for tunnel entrances, and when she actually paid attention she really got it. the problem is half the time she just went and did whatever without checking in. I cut the practice a bit short...no sense in fighting mother nature and hormones tonight.
I went out in the morning to work with Cadence. She was wonderful! There was someone riding in the indoor, so I walked her around and let her watch (she was fascinated by seeing a person on top of a horse!). I then walked her both directions on the longe line (with chain). She was great! A few times she would stop, but I just tapped her hip annoyingly with the end of the longe whip until she started moving forward again. I think she got the hang of it, and we were able to do several nice circles both directions about a whip's length away from me. baby steps...one by one they are making real progress!
She is already on the last hole of her purple halter. Time to order a yearling halter for her. It's hard to believe, but she is growing, growing, growing.
Today was a semi-successful day in agility training. Noodle and I shared a private lesson with a couple other people, and we ended up going 90 minutes because we were getting so much accomplished. Throughout the lesson we did various things to be distractions - dogs, people, treat bags on the ground, etc. Noodle did better than I had expected, though her energy level was pretty low key (at least for her!). I am sure it will all come back once she is out of season (and that day can't come soon enough...poor Pretzel!).
I got the bad news that Noodle's "bad dog" class (Focus and Attention class) on Monday evenings is going to be cancelled. That leaves her without a class. Without regular training with other dogs and people, we will make ZERO progress. It's like the agility universe is constantly working against me. At what point do I throw in the towel? I will tell you this much - trialing Noodle is extremely stressful and I have lost the fun out of it because of her unpredictability and tendency to cause trouble. I am always a nervous wreck when i have to run her. My solution - I am NOT entering her in a trial until I am more confident. I will do run-throughs and such, but no more trials for a long time. This leaves me with pretty much nothing to do this winter, which is disappointing. Maybe I just need to concentrate on Cadence and her training, and just refocus? I don't know.
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Saturday, December 8, 2018
Baby steps to Congress
Cadence was pretty energetic today. I didn't get a chance to turn her out and let her burn off some steam first before working, but she actually did pretty good. She tested me a couple times with stopping when I was asking her to walk a circle, but it didn't take much encouragement to get her to walk on forward.
I measured her today, she is exactly the same as when I measured her last month - 14'1" at the withers and 14'3" at the hip.
Cadence was outside with her draft horse pal when I came to the barn today. Instead of working her, I gave her some love and watched her run around. I just love her natural movement. She was feeling pretty sassy today. I like that she is bold, and am hoping she uses that boldness for good instead of evil ;-)
Back at the home front, I am struggling with Noodle and Pretzel. Pretzel is out of his mind with Noodle in season. Keeping them apart is a full time job, and I have a headache from listening to Pretzel whine and cry nonstop. Noodle acts as if she isn't feeling well either. It's just a big mess at our house, and we have several more weeks of this to go. I just try to remind myself that we have another 6-9 months before we have to deal with this again, so we just need to soldier through.
Do you believe in reincarnation? I've had this little thought in the back of my mind for a long time now. Cadence shows so many similarities to Taylor. I know it seems weird - they are distantly related - but so many of her mannerisms and just her whole aura has me feeling Taylor's presence. Maybe it was time for me, my healing is complete and now her spirit is back? I don't know...but I will love the ride.
Photo to the right - Taylor is on the left, Cadence on the right.
"Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible."
I've been feeling kind of bad lately. Actually, for the past few months I have been feeling like I am just drifting. A lot of people don't mind that drifting feeling, but for me it is a fate worse than death. Having no goals and no purpose is a horrible feeling for me. It makes it hard to get up in the morning and hard to face other people sometimes.
All it took to lift that dark cloud today was some quality barn time with Cadence. She was wonderful about her feet, and i spent a lot of time working her at the walk on the longe line and she is going great! Here are a few things that I have noticed:
• She is much better walking to the right than the left, which is odd.
• She likes to stop a lot (i.e. balk) when going to the left.
• She wants to stop if I walk with her on the longe line
Walking to the right, she walked many complete circles. To the left she started off OK but then every now and then (usually in the same place in the circle every time) she would stop and just stand there. the longer I walked her, the more "encouragement" I needed to get her going again. It never took much, all I did was annoy her nonstop with the whip until she gave up and decided to walk on.
New today is that she is getting the hang of "whoa". Several times when I said whoa while she was walking on the longe line, she stopped nicely and just stood still. We have been working on this a lot when i am just leading her around by my side, so I think the concept is finally transferring over to the longe line. Having brakes is a wonderful, wonderful thing.
I got Corky our and walked her around the cement barn aisle, and she was walking 100% sound. Sound the trumpets!
I know that the drifting feeling will be back, if not tonight, then tomorrow. I am still struggling with it, and a bit angry at myself for not being satisfied with the status quo. But for now, I will enjoy a bit of sunshine.
I got a message from the barn owner that Cadence's left hind leg was swollen this morning. I went out there, and it was a bit puffy. I noticed a very small scrape on her ankle, but it was dry and there was no heat or sensitivity in her leg. When i walked her around, she wasn't the least bit sore, and the puffiness started going down. I concluded that it was a bit of swelling from that scrape, and no biggie. What a relief! For once, it was not a disaster. I love that the barn owner pays attention to details like this, and keeps me informed.
I went ahead and turned her out outside with her draft horse buddy. It was interesting to watch the dynamics between them - the draft horse really takes charge and does not let her invade his space. This is great - he is teaching her lessons that only another horse can. She will be respectful of space because of this, and that is SO important...especially when she is around 1200 pounds and strong!
Today instead of a private lesson, I worked Noodle with a friend and her dog this afternoon. It was fun - Noodle actually paid zero attention to the other dog or to other people. I have a feeling that this is mainly because of her heat cycle occupying her mind...she still acts kind of out of it for the most part. If she keeps up the good behavior when it is all said and done, well then I will start to feel optimistic. I am bummed that her "bad dog" class has been cancelled. She really needs to be in a class setting in order to improve her focus. Kind of hard to train focus when we are completely alone and there isn't anything else to distract her!
I stopped out at the barn today to work Cadence on the longe line for a few minutes. She is doing a great job of walking her big circles. Whoa still needs work, and reversing direction from the right to the left is very sticky. She likes walking to the right, but not so much to the left, so it takes a bit of work to get her turned. I noticed that she seems a little fearful of the far side of the indoor arena, so my plans are to work her down there next week.
On the home front, it is chaotic. Noodle is heavy in season and Pretzel is a basket case - pacing, whining, crying all day long. Today is day 11. I took Pretzel to my mom's for an overnight visit just to get him away from all of the hormone-induced chaos. Now we cross our fingers and hope Noodle is out of season by the time we want to leave for Florida on Christmas night. She should be...but you never know. Noodle has a habit of doing things differently than every other dog.
One can pick up some true pearls of wisdom by eavesdropping on phone conversations! I heard this phrase, and it really resonated with me today. I get frustrated with my lack of progress with Noodle when I see so many other people progressing much faster. I have to realize that I am headed in the right direction, even if it is not at the rate of speed as everyone else. As long as I maintain forward direction, isn't that all that really matters?
Yeah...but...*sigh*...tell that to my overly-ambitious self!
Cadence had a very interesting lesson on the longe line today. I decided to go to the far end of the arena to practice our walking in a circle. She was full of it today, and immediately took off running and bucking. It was interesting watching how her mind was working. I just stood calmly in the center holding the longe line and let her throw her temper tantrum. After about 6-7 minutes, she settled down and did a gorgeous trot and canter on the line (even though I wasn't asking!). After a round or two of that she then broke to a walk, and we got some very nice calm walking circles both directions, which is all I had wanted to do in the first place!
Cadence learned today that temper tantrums do not get you out of work, and they don't really faze me. She learned that cooperating is much easier than not. Hopefully this lesson stick with her! All in all we only worked on the line for about 9-10 minutes, but it was a quick lesson learned.
I id notice while watching the full video that Cadence has a major tendency to always take the left lead. This is something to take note of, because horses always seem to have one lead or direction better than the other. She definitely prefers traveling in a circle to the right, but prefers her left lead. Odd...
Rarely do I have a day like today - where everything just seems to go right. All my animals cooperated today. say WHAT??? Yup, it's true. Possibly a sign of armageddon, or an infestation of aliens, but hey, I'll take it!
The successful day started off with Cadence. Yesterday she might have been testing her boundaries, but today she was a complete angel. She walked beautifully on the longe line with no pulling, no bucking, nothing. We worked a bunch on "whoa" and starting to reverse direction. Yeah, that needs work, but she is slowly getting it. Our big breakthrough was trotting next to me on lead. I took the chain off and just hooked the lead to the halter, and she actually trotted right next to me nicely several times! That is a huge step forward for us. And like she has done the past few weeks, she was perfect for picking her feet up. I love that feeling when you leave the barn with a warm glow even though it is only about 30 degrees. Temperature means nothing when I have hope inside of me!
Tuesday nights are my late-night agility training nights at the building. Since I knew I would be training alone tonight, I brought both dogs with me. It was a genius move - both were really jealous when I was working the other. This meant that when it was each dog's turn, they were on fire! - Awesome speed and focus, it was so much fun! Pretzel ran like he was 4 years younger, but with today's training...just how I always wanted him to be. Oh to think what we could have accomplished if I had gotten his training better as a youngster, and he didn't get hurt and crush his agility career. That injury in 2015 still lingers...unfortunately he and I have learned to make allowances and live with it. But he is still amazing in his own right!
Noodle, even while still in season, was way more focused than the last 2 weeks. I think she is starting to go out now, thank goodness. Pretzel is starting to get his brains back. She was really great in agility tonight - her tight turns are fun to work with because it gives you so many more handling options. All in all a very fun day!
Today was farrier day for Corky and Cadence. Corky's feet are looking more and more normal since her surgery in June to remove the soles. You can see in the photo that the sides of the foot are looking normal, just the very center is still cut out and has more growing to do. The most important thing is she has been 100% sound (man I hate saying that and tempting the foot gods!). I even got her out before her appointment and longed her today. Wow...she was wild. She looked great. I am thinking she might need to go back to work a little bit, if for no other reason than to keep her civilized. I think I will put her on a longeing program, and maybe throw a saddle on her once she looks in better shape.
Cadence was absolutely perfect for the farrier. I am proud to say she stood without moving a muscle for all 4 feet, and never resisted or tried to put her foot down even once! I have to say it makes me a little puffy proud to know I bred her and trained her to be this willing and easy. Of course, talk to me in another day when she has a bratty moment and I might recant.
Here's the most amazing news for today: I am actually seeing progress (the good kind!) in Corky's facial paralysis! I was testing her out while she was in the crossties by waving my hand in front of her left eye. I do that on a regular basis just to make sure she is still blinking. I noticed the tiniest of twitches in her left ear. Then...I noticed that every time I waved my hand by her eye, she twitched and wrinkled her left nostril a little bit! Absolutely amazing. The vet told me that if she was going to recover it would take 6-12 months. well, it has been 18 months now, but maybe she is just taking her time with healing. I am excited to see progress after such a long time. I posted a photo to compare - her face in 2017 a few months after the paralysis, and today. I might be imagining things, but I think I see a tiny bit of improvement in the twisting of her muzzle (which happens when a horse is paralyzed on one side and cannot hold those muscles tight). What do you think?
Cadence's training session went well today. I didn't do much with her, just a little walking and halting on the longe line. She really doesn't seem to be grasping the concept of "whoa" on the line. When I am leading her, she will stop on "whoa" with a loose lead, but I am thinking she is reading mostly my body language rather than my spoken word. Just need to keep repeating, repeating, repeating until she makes the connection.
I got Corky out, deciding it is time to get her back in shape so I have something to ride just for fun. She looks really good weight-wise, she is finally gaining back everything she lost after the birth and foot surgery. However, today she is back to being a little footsore on the front. I should have known - duh - she just had her feet trimmed yesterday and now her exposed soles are closer to the ground. Just got to be patient and wait it out I guess.
This afternoon I took Noodle over to some agility run-throughs where we train. I couldn't believe the crowd, there were about as many people there as there are for regular trials! Perfect trial-like setting to train in.
We did two runs. Our first run started well...she was on fire with speed! She ot ahead of me on the dogwalk as usual, and came right down and off without stopping and ran to the ring gate where people and dogs were standing. I called her back, and then repeated the dog walk (slower this time) and she did a nice 2 on 2 off. Coming around the corner, she held her contact on the teeter, and then afterwards did a "drive by" running by the pretend judge in the ring (but no barking, just ran past). The rest went well after I called her back.
Our second run was nearly perfect!!! Instead of hanging out by the tunnel before the dog walk, I ran ahead so I was equal to her by the time she reached the center, instead of lagging behind. It made a difference, because she made a HUGE attempt to get her 2 on 2 off on the dog walk, but she was turning to look at me and slipped off the bottom. I praised her effort because I know she was trying to stop, and we went on. The "pretend judge" raised her hands while we were on the teeter and Noodle never gave her a look! The rest of the run was perfect perfect perfect. It was such a rush running her like that.
So now I sit back and analyze the run. Was it perfect because of our training and work on focus, or was it because she knew I had treats in my pockets (we are allowed treats during run-throughs)? I am not sure. Time will tell, I guess.
Cadence decided to test me again in our training session today. It wasn't nearly as bad as it was the first time she tried to test me. I asked for a bit of forward motion, and she did buck and run a bit, but did settle down fairly quickly and I actually got a couple nice stops at "whoa". At one point she got herself really worked up, so I just stopped her and gathered up the line and petted her and let her just quiet down. After a few minutes of this, she walked on the line beautifully.
I like that she is keeping a good attitude through all of the training - ears up, and even when she is misbehaving, she doesn't seem 'angry". That is so important. When she was cantering and trotting on the line (on her own) I saw some absolutely beautiful movement from her. I cannot describe how excited I am for our future!
I got some nice trotting next to me on the lead today. When I get back from Florida (leaving Tuesday!!!) I am going to start teaching her to set up for halter. New goal!
We left the ugliest November/December in Ohio (a thousand days of rain and grey skies) to sunny 80-degree Florida! We made it here later than planned after we were stuck on the highway south of Atlanta for 4 1/2 hours without moving due to a semi truck fire. Thank goodness we had a motorhome with food and a bathroom. Amazingly, the dogs slept through all of it. Amazing, yeah...thank goodness!
Our first full day was very windy, but that didn't stop us from taking the boat out and finding a new hidden beach area to explore with the dogs. Here are some fun photos from today. Yes, I got brave and actually took my good camera out to the beach, and it was well worth it once I saw the awesome photos I managed to capture!
I will never get tired of seeing the joy on these dogs' faces when they run on the beach. It is truly a reflection of our own joy to be in such a beautiful, peaceful place.
December 31st already. Today I look back on 2018 What an up-and-down year it was. Definitely not my best year, but not my worst either. On a scale of one to ten, it was probably a 4.5.
I started off the year caring for 4 energetic puppies. Pretzel sired a second outstanding litter later in the year. I had some crushing disappointments with Noodle, and also some surprising successes. Pretzel, although he is "retired", went to a handful of shows and still managed to end up 3rd in 2018 NOHS points. Both dogs got their junior hunter titles, and Pretzel went on to get his Junior Hunter Advanced title. The highlight of my year was definitely the safe and successful birth of Cadence. We spent the summer and fall with the house addition under construction, which meant limited fun outside for me and my dogs. It was a tough year for that, and it's still not close to being finished.
Now, the big moment of looking back at the goals I set on January 1st. How did I do this year? My first thought was that I didn't have a very successful year, but let's see...
SHORT TERM GOALS
1. Earn an Excellent Q with Pretzel (in agility) ~ No, not yer
2. Finish Pretzel's Open titles in Jumpers and FAST ~ YES!!!
3. Pretzel - get to level 4 in CPE agility ~ YES, and actually we are in Level 5 now!
4. Earn Noodle's Grand Championship ~ Not yet
5. Have a healthy foal out of a healthy Corky ~ YES!!!
6. Earn a novice agility Q with Noodle ~ YES, in fact Noodle got ALL of her Novice Q's and is now in Open and Excellent in everything
7. Earn Junior Hunter titles with Pretzel and Noodle ~ YES!
8. Earn an Obedience or Rally Q with Noodle ~ no
LONG TERM GOALS
1. Earn another Top 10 at Congress ~ No, still in progress
2. Break into the Top 20 in Weimaraner conformation ~ Not yet
3. Earn Pretzel's C-ATCH in CPE ~ No
4. Earn Pretzel and Noodle's Dual Championship ~ No
Looking back, it actually was a successful year. It just didn't feel like it for most of the year...so many little setbacks overshadowed the big moments. That's why I like December 31st - it's good to look back, re-evaluate, and realize 2018 wasn't such a piece of crap after all.
Stay tuned for tomorrow, starting on my new 2019 training diary. I will list my new and improved goals!