We're here! Goodland, Florida - my home away from home (one of many LOL!). We had three glorious days on the beach when we arrived. The first thing we did was go scope out the spot we had chosen back in February for our wedding. Just as expected, .*poof!* it was gone. There was still a beach, but the really neat peninsula of sand was gone, probably washed away by a storm
We spent the week visiting our other favorite islands, and when we stood on shell island, we both agreed that this was the place! It was one of the first places Mark took me the first time I came here 5+ years ago. It had meaning to us, and you just can't deny it's beauty! So there it is, our spot!
We decided kind of at the last minute to have a friend with a bigger boat chauffeur us, the dogs, the officiant, and the photographer out to the island. Since we had more room, Mark's dad was able to go. At the last second I called my good friend Cindy, and she hopped on a plane and headed to our little corner of the world (from Texas) to be a part of our special day. Now all we had to do was pray for perfect weather! I want blue skies and sunshine, and anything less would be such a disappointment.
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!
I couldn't have designed this day more perfectly. God listened to my hopes and created the most beautiful, glorious day for us to get married. 86 degrees, sunny with barely a cloud to be seen. We traveled by boat to the island and became a family under the greatest church that God ever created - the blue sky.
I hired a photographer, but won't get the pictures until next week so you will have to wait to see them. Here are a few pictures of our day, and a video. The sound is hard to hear because of the waves and the wind, so I added subtitles to the video because the words mean a LOT to us, and we chose them specifically because this is how we feel.
After two arduous days of driving, we made it home last night and it was back to work today. the first thing I did was head on over to the barn to see Corky and Cadence. Cadence looked like she grew a ton since I saw her last. She has a lot of body to her. I measured her, she is 13'3" at the withers and 14'2" at the hip - typical growthy baby. She is 6 1/2 months old. Our plan is to wean her next Friday. I am excited, and dread it all at the same time. I always hate the sadness when you separate a mare and foal. However, I am totally excited to get to work in training her once she is weaned. Today I tied her up in the stall and she actually stood like an angel for me to pick out all 4 feet. Sometimes her hind feet can be dicey, but she was awesome today, which is incredible since I have been gone for 2 weeks. She also stood patiently, although she has a bad habit of chewing the lead rope. Time to invest in some chew stop, I think!
It was ugly and raining outside so I wasn't able to get them out. I am not sure how Corky is moving - it is really hard to tell in her stall. On a good note, I didn't see anything glaringly obvious, so that is a good sign. I am just hoping this abscess is not going to become one of those chronic things that we treat forever.
I was able to get Corky and Cadence out to the indoor arena and let them run around a bit. Corky is definitely lame - it seems mostly on her right front foot. I couldn't find any obvious signs of an abscess. I have no idea what to think, but I am getting very discouraged.
We are weaning Cadence tomorrow! I am kind of excited. I hope it goes smoothly...I never really know what to expect when I wean. Every pair responds differently.
It all went pretty smoothly. I walked Cadence out of the stall (while Corky was eating) and walked her across the driveway to the other barn and put her in her new stall in the indoor arena. I like this stall - she will be in the midst of all the activity and ge to see people riding. I always harbor a little hope that having an arena stall means that my foal will absorb some training just by watching good riders and good horses. Yeah, probably meaningless but it makes me feel better!
I then went back and walked Corky over an aisle to her new stall where she had a neighbor right next to her. Poor guy, she was one mighty upset horse all morning...whinnying and kicking the walls (made me cringe, but I had to just let her deal with the separation as she sees fit). Just as predicted, Cadence took it MUCH better than Corky did.
I stuck around for a few hours to make sure everyone was handling it OK. All was well, so I headed home for a while.
Funny thing - the canine Chronicle statistics came out today for 2018 conformation through October. I have only shown Pretzel a handful of times, and yet there he is, sitting #25 in All-Breed standings for the year (in Weimaraners). Crazy!
Today was Noodle's first day back to her "focused agility" class after having 2 weeks off to run around Florida. I figured she would be an out-of-control wild woman...I was pleasantly surprised...she was awesome! She was super fast and drive-y, but she was very very obedient and focused! Another dog even left his handler twice and came over and was all up in her butt, and she just continued to calmly take treats from my hand and ignore him. I hesitate to say it, but I think we might be making progress. Say what???
After class I headed back to the barn. Oh the blessed silence! Corky was quiet (she did her usual greeting nicker to me...back to normal!). Cadence was perfectly calm, so I let her out in the indoor arena to stretch her legs. She was moving so beautifully, I had to shoot a little video. It just makes my heart so happy to see this. I totally got my horse mojo back, I think! I am excited for the future, making plans and dreams, and it feels GOOD.
I headed out to the barn today, and it was blessedly quiet - no whinnying! Corky and Cadence have both settled down and seemed to accept their new reality. Man, can't believe it was that easy!
Cadence was really full of herself today, she didn't want her feet picked up no how no way. I didn't push the issue since it was barely 24 hours since weaning. We will give it a few days before making an issue of that. I turned her out in the indoor for a while, and her movement took my breath away...I just had to get some more video!
I did my usual Tuesday late night training session with Noodle at the agility building. My friend came along to train with us. We both worked our dogs simultaneously on either sides of the ring. Noodle kept glancing over at them as she was running, but she stayed focused and made the ,red>right decision every time! Only once towards the end of the hour did she give in to temptation and run over to visit. Huge progress!
Overall, I've had a couple of really awesome days, despite having a head cold that is knocking me for a loop. I like this positive feeling...
I should know better. Really, I should. Why allow these positive, optimistic feelings to happen? It just tempts fate to smack you down again hard.
So today I had entered noodle in 4 runs at a UKI trial. The benefit of UKI is that you can go in the ring "NFC" (not for competition) and basically use the course time to train however you want (no treats). My goal was to see how Noodle's focus was doing since we have been working so hard on that in class. Interestingly, her focus was never broken by another dog. However, the judge in the ring and the ring crew blew her mind. In 3 out of the 4 runs, she ran to the judge and barked at him. Why on earth? At one point she had even run over to my private instructor who was setting bars. I mean, it's not like she doesn't know her - we have been taking weekly private lessons with her for many months. This behavior baffles me. It didn't help that the judge started overreacting to Noodle running over to him, and by the 4th run he was very angry and yelled aggressively at her (which only fires her up!).
Other than those instances, I was thrilled with how she ran her courses. We had to re-do our contacts in the last run (it was the only run that had contact obstacles) because she wasn't doing her 2 on, 2 off. By the end of that run I got her to do a solid 2 on 2 off on all 3 contact obstacles, so that was a win for us, I guess.
I am just once again at a loss as to what I can do with this latest problem. It started in June when she decided to bark at the judge, and then it happened again in Murfreesboro TN in August. I just don't know what to think. I don't want to give up, but a little part of me feels like maybe it's time to seriously consider that. I am low low low right now. So lost...
If you are interested, here is a linkto the video of one of our runs (I believe it was our first run of the day). I welcome your thoughts...
I have a very good friend with an outstanding bitch that is going to breed her to Pretzel. THIS will be one of my next puppies, God willing. we have planned this for many months now, and we have a lot of hopes for this cross. Well, she came in to season this week, so today I made the arrangements to ship 2 straws of frozen semen to her for breeding. I pray this works out. Pretzel isn't getting any younger, and time is running short for us to get a puppy. I am supposed to wait until after our house addition is done, and hopefully in March when this puppy is ready to come home, it will be. So many factors to worry about - timing, conception, all of that craziness that is somewhat new to me. Part of me is very much afraid to dream, but there is another part of me that can't stop dreaming no matter how hard I try. It's a constant war inside of me.
It's so funny, when I come to work with Cadence on the middle of the afternoon, she is always laying down for her afternoon nap. She never wants to get up. A lot of times I just sit on the ground next to her and share the quiet time. It's so peaceful here.
Cadence's education is continuing. Today was longe line lesson #1. My goal today was to let her out on about 5-6 feet of line and ask her to walk a circle around me. I tried using the long whip to tap her hind legs to get her to move, but it didn't phase her. I dropped the whip and used the end of the rope to swing up under her belly and annoy her until she moved forward. This method worked! She walked a couple steps and then stopped. I swung the rope again and got her to walk a complete circle to the left. I got about a half circle to the right before stopping the lesson. I don't want to overface her.
Next lesson was trotting in hand next to me. Yeah, that one needs work. She got a little wild, but we did get a few decent steps.
Man, I love this part of training! It's a blank slate!
Today's longe line lesson went pretty good! Today's successes: walking a circle to the right and left, picking up all 4 feet. Less that successful: Trotting in hand. Yup, that is going to need some work. I didn't want to push it since she was doing so well with everything else today.
I showed my very first longe line class and futurity in 1996. Longe line as a class started in 1995. Kind of incredible that I have been involved in this somewhat new discipline since it's inception! I have a very very very slow and methodical way of training, so be prepared to be bored out of your skull with training updates and videos over the next few months. I will do nothing but walk Cadence in a circle on the line for the next 2-3 months - working on walking a circle, stopping on command, and eventually changing direction. I'm not the speediest trainer, but I like having the basics super solid before adding any other gaits.
I had a pretty good training session with Cadence today. She walked several complete circles both directions on the line. Slowly but surely! We are still working on "whoa", that hasn't clicked with her yet. Neither has trotting in hand. I am not pushing the trotting in hand part until she is actually old enough to start trotting on the longe line, which won't be for many months yet.
I am sitting here stressing about next weekend and Noodle at the agility trial. I entered her based on how great she was doing in her bad dog class, and my instructor felt she was ready. After that fiasco last weekend, I totally regret entering her and now I am completely stressed about it. I wonder if I will ever be able to enter her and not feel a big ball of stress in the pit of my stomach? Is it even worth it anymore? I mean. I LOVE agility, and man oh man she is SO much fun to do agility with because she has such talent and drive. But I think it is giving me an ulcer...I can never feel confident and excited about an upcoming trial because I am always battling some new issue that has the potential to become a disaster. At what point should I just throw in the towel and give up? 6 months ago I would not have even considered it, but it's been almost a year with very little progress - we've had progress in some areas but new issues have cropped up. I am truly at a loss. My heart is breaking, but maybe I need to be realistic?
To top off my bad news week, my future puppy will have to once again be put on hold, as we missed the breeding window for my friend's bitch. It caught us by surprise, but I suppose this was God's way of smacking me down again once I started getting my dreams back in gear. So, nothing. Nada. Zilch. I just tread water for a while. It's a very weird feeling to not have anything in the near future that is getting me sparked, but so be it. Maybe it is time for me to just exist for a while.
Today in Noodle's bad dog class we worked a bunch on retaining her focus with people moving around the agility ring. I felt we made a tiny bit of progress...like inches. But, it is progress and that's better than stagnation, right? I am still worried about this weekend, but am trying the ostrich approach of not really thinking about it.
Today Cadence was good, and bad. Typical day of horse training! She was perfect in her stall - stood tied and let me pick up all 4 feet with ZERO issue, which was awesome. Then we went out in the arena to try to do a little walking on the longe line and she decided to resist at every turn. First she wanted to stop at the same spot (towards the gate and the other horses in the stalls) very time, and then when I wouldn't let her, she would take off running and kicking out at me. I had to backtrack to square one of leading and getting her to walk forward on command. By the end of the session, I did get her back to walking in a circle around me. I decided to quit while I was ahead. No real progress today, but definitely a lesson learned for her.
Corky was turned out in the outdoor arena with her paint friend, and I watched her trot up and down the fence line and she looked nearly 100% sound. What a relief!
AKC Conformation show and Agility trial - East Lansing, MI
Day #1 of the show - started off pretty good. Noodle's first class was Open FAST. the send bonus was pretty simple for her, and she nailed it. She was kind of wild - ran over to check the judge out once but came back and got back on track. This trial was in a dirt horse arena and it smelled strongly of cows. Noodle came out of the first tunnel and stood there smelling the ground for what seemed like forever! We ended up finishing strong with enough points to Qualify and get third place!
Her jumpers run was pretty wild (are you sensing the theme here?), she visited the judge twice, and when I realized she was really doing her own thing I decided to end the fun and walk her out...the walk of shame.
Pretzel was able to do his jumpers run (he missed his standard because I was showing conformation). His run was so unlike him. He was pretty motivated and ran well, but it was like seeing the old Pretzel from 4 years ago when he would just run and grab whatever obstacle he wanted and did not give me any regard. He had a lot of fun, so that was good to see.
I got reunited with Maizey this weekend! I was so happy to see she hadn't forgotten much of what I taught her when she lived with me last month, and really showed well for me. It was a weimaraner specialty, and she ended up taking Reserve Winner's Bitch! Pretty nice for a 7 month old puppy to get that at such a big show. I can't wait to see how the rest of the weekend goes!