I am ready! Time for NEW goals for 2019. Some of my goals are recycled since I didn't quite meet them last year. I am still thinking on my long-term goals, and I may add a few to this list later on. I want to be realistic, but I also want to aim high. High realism is my goal! I should probably put "Obtain some patience" as a goal, but I know that's one goal that will always be out of reach. Patience is hard...it is hard to set your sights on something and then have to wait it out until the time is right or the circumstances change. I want it all and I want it now...yeah...don't we all? I have to be patient in waiting on Cadence to grow up and mature, I have to be a little more patient in waiting for Noodle to mature, I have to be patient in waiting for my longed-for Pretzel puppy to call my own...but these things will happen, I am sure of it. At least, I think I'm sure. Which then makes me not really sure. Ugh. Oh well...anyways, here we are - my 2019 Goals:
SHORT TERM GOALS
1. Earn an Excellent Q with Pretzel (in agility)
2. Finish Noodle's Open titles in Jumpers and Standard
3. Earn Noodle's Junior Hunter Advanced title
4. Earn Noodle's Grand Championship
5. Show Cadence in Longe Line at Congress
6. Achieve the 3,000 NOHS point mark with Pretzel
7. Obtain my own Pretzel puppy
8. Earn an Obedience or Rally Q with Noodle
LONG TERM GOALS
1. Earn another Top 10 at Congress
2. Break into the Top 20 in Weimaraner conformation
3. Earn Pretzel's C-ATCH in CPE
4. Earn Pretzel and Noodle's Dual Weimaraner Award
It is so strange, but I notice a drastic change in Noodle's body since her last heat cycle in December. It's like someone waved a magic wand and *poof* she filled out and grew up! Suddenly she looks less like a gangly junior puppy and more like amature adult. I stacked her and got some photos just to see for myself, and by golly she did mature! Just look at my little girl!!! I am thinking that maybe it is time to bring her out again as a special and try showing. I have her entered this coming Saturday at a show in South Carolina just for kicks, maybe this will help me decide.
Accepting my limitations is sometimes the hardest task I face. I don't like to believe something is impossible. This has driven me for years, but sometimes you have to step back and be realistic. Realism sucks! But in being real, one can re-focus on a new goal with a new purpose. So 2019 will be a year of re-focusing. Setting my sights on new things, accepting my changes in direction, and being happy for the joy of the moment. Sounds good, doesn't it? well...we shall see!
All good things must come to an end. Today we pulled the boat out of the water, and loaded up to leave Florida. Despair not, we will be back in late February! Mark is so in love with his new RV, he wants to travel a bunch in it, and who am I to say no? Yeah, I love it too.
We are stopping halfway home in South Carolina, to do a show. I like breaking up the trip with dogs shows whenever possible. I have Noodle entered on Saturday and Pretzel entered on Sunday. I am thinking this might be Pretzel's last official show. I was hoping to get him to 3,000 owner-handled points (he stands right now at 2920) but I think he is trying to tell me he is done. We'll see how he does Sunday, but after 6+ years of showing he really has nothing left to prove.
I love dogs shows, but it is really tough camping when it is cold and super muddy. It poured rain yesterday, and it is surprisingly cold for being so far south. And the mud, oh the mud!
Today was Noodle's show day. She has shown once in the past 6 months, but she didn't miss a beat today. She showed fantastic! I need to work on her gaiting, she wants to pull and lean a bit. She was pretty excited to be in the show ring again. She is such a blast to show. She ended up going Best of Opposite for another grand champion point. I was really happy with how she looked.
Today was Pretzel's turn at the show. I wondered how he would look, because compared to Noodle he seems so calm and quiet about showing. I have to remember that this is just his nature - he takes his job seriously! I think he looked great for an almost-7 year old. Unfortunately, he didn't get much of a look in breed and zero look in group, but it was still a great time to be in the ring with my best friend again!
Now we hit the road for the rest of the journey home. I think we are all ready to be back home sleeping in our own beds again. Although, I sure will miss this nice weather and the sunshine! Ohio rarely has much sunshine in January.
I couldn't wait to get out to the barn and see Cadence...it's been a long couple weeks away! I swear she grew, I am going to have to measure her tomorrow to see if this is true.
Since all horses turn another year older on january 1st regardless of their actual birthdate, Cadence is officially a yearling now. Since she was on the last hole of her weanling halter, I ordered her a new special halter for Christmas, and it arrived while I was in Florida. it's a nice leather adjustable halter with her name engraved on a brass cheelk plate. So classy! I feel safer letting her get turned out in a leather halter - if she should get it caught, it will break (unlike most nylon halters).
I expected her to take a few steps back in training since I haven't worked with her since before Christmas, but I was amazed at how much she retained. She picked all 4 feet up nicely. I love that now when i run my hand down her leg, she is cocking that foot in anticipation of me picking it up...that shows her agreeable nature (I've had more bullheaded horses actually lean their weight on that foot not wanting you to pick it up). On the longe line, we did a lot of walking and whoa-ing (the whoa still needs a lot of work). Today I officially started asking her to trot a little on the line, walking with her so she uses the entire indoor arena and doesn't have to make any sharp turns. All this girl wants to do is lope lope lope. She was trotting rather short in anticipation of gathering herself up to lope off, so it took a while to convince her to only trot. By the end, I was getting some nice sweepy trot steps. Not too shabby for our first "official trot day!
Today's training session with Cadence was awesome. I worked her more on the trot, and she started settling in and giving me some really nice strides. We got to work while another horse was being longed in the indoor, and that was great to have a distraction to train through. I also got two nice stops on whoa...out of about 15. Baby steps!
I also got Corky out and longed her. She looked like a million bucks! Huge, beautiful stride, it so reminds me of when she was in her prime and was breathtaking when she moved. I was thrilled to see her sound again.
I measured Cadence today, she is 14'2 1/2" at the withers and 15' at the hip. Growing, slowly but surely! She is officially over "pony height" now.
Noodle shared a private agility lesson today with her buddy Raphe, first lesson since before Christmas. I am thrilled with how she looked and acted. We are upping the difficulty level - adding distractions while working on tough concepts like the "here" command (bypassing tunnel entrances and jumps) and backsides. I should squash this feeling of positivity because this is usually when things go haywire, but I can't help it - she is doing so well!
We had our first "real" snow of the winter season yesterday - got about 4 inches. Although it was bitter cold and I am deathly ill with the flu, I HAD to take my good camera outside and take some shots (working with all of this white snow was a good learning experience in getting my manual settings correct!). Noodle spent most of her time running with her mouth open, grazing the show and eating it. Weird girl! Pretzel was like a little puppy, running and running and running, sliding and playing, it was so fun to watch.
Since it is the year for firsts for Cadence, I had to take a picture today of her first day turned out in the snow. She doesn't really seem to think much about it. She managed to push the snow aside to get at the grass, and wander through the snow like it was no big deal. I love how the cold weather makes her body hair puff out so she looks like she is made of thick velvet. My girl ain't no hothouse flower!
Pretzel had an appointment with the reproductive specialist. Something is going on with him, and we are all worried. After a load of tests, they decided to do a biopsy on him for further diagnostics. Results in 2 weeks. That's way too long to wait. Poor Pretzel is in a lot of pain from the biopsy, and I am heartsick. I have decided the only way i can cope with waiting is to put it out of my brain and not let myself even think about it for a millisecond. He is my heart and soul, and it would literally kill me if anything happened to him. That is all I am going to say...for 2 weeks...
Today was another first for Cadence...she started learning the crossties.
I brought her in from the snowy field to groom her a bit. I also tried on her new yearling-sized sports medicine boots. Let me say she was very suspicious of me putting those wraps on her front legs. Once I got them on, she just went on eating her hay in her haynet and forgot about them. Crosstie lesson was also a success. She was a bit puzzled about not being able to turn her head sideways, but didn't worry too much about it. After a couple minutes of her standing there quietly looking at me, I unsnapped the ties and put her back in her stall. Baby steps...stepping to success!
I went back out to the barn later in the day with mark in tow to video my training session with Cadence so i could analyze it later. First off, I have to show you this photo comparison of Corky - last January vs. today. I am not imagining things, I definitely see considerable improvement in her facial paralysis. While her ear is still only twitching and not actually moving with the other one, her face is most definitely less twisted than it was a year ago. Less twist means she is getting feeling back in the left side of her face and is starting to be able to use the muscles in her mouth. It's amazing! the vet had told me that IF she was going to recover, it would take 6-12 months. Well, in true Corky style she did it on her own timeline and it's now 18 months. I don't care, I am just so happy to see it coming back!
Cadence's longe session went...ok. She just doesn't want to settle in well at the trot. Mostly she trotted around the circle somewhat collected, springing into a beautiful slow-legged canter over and over again. Pretty, but I need her to do that big sweeping trot I know she has. She is one of those babies 9a LOT like her mom Corky) that is just more comfortable doing a easy lope than a trot. So we will continue to work on getting her more comfortable and able to stretch out and really trot. I am doing my usual method of walking with her so she can use almost the entire arena - less stress on her legs and it encourages bigger strides. My theme for this year should be baby steps since I am saying that to myself all the time lately!
Since Pretzel is still recovering from his biopsy, I got permission to bring Noodle to class instead. She was fantastic! Focus was great, behavior was great, I couldn't ask for a better dog. I could have laid down and cried with joy...SO much work has gone into getting her to this point. The best news is, she was invited to stay in class and take Pretzel's spot. We're back! Almost exactly a year (it will be a year on Sunday) since she was kicked out of class for being obnoxious. Well, let's be honest, she is still obnoxious. I just have a little better handle on it now. I am definitely a much wiser dog trainer now...I have learned SO much this past year. So many ups and down, so much heartache with training pitfalls. I never gave up. Not gonna give up until I am dead!
Good news or bad news first? Good news - Maizey (My "rental puppy" from October - Pretzel x Paris) and one of her owners are showing in Novi, Michigan, and won a puppy sporting group one! I am so proud of them. I love seeing Pretzel's puppies keep up with the tradition of success.
Now the bad news. OK, not really bad, just frustrating. And to be quite honest, I am not totally frustrated because I know that this is all a normal part of training any young animal - horse or dog - and we will keep plugging on. Anyways, Cadence was a complete brat today. She just refused to cooperate on the longe line - kicking and bucking, changing direction, you name it. We were working while another horse was being ridden in the indoor, and she was fascinated when he started cantering and she couldn't take her eyes off of him. But that's really not an excuse, because she walked into that arena with an attitude of non-compliance, and I knew I had my work cut out for me.
I think I won the battle. We worked a lot, I stayed calm, and eventually got some decent trotting with her. All she wants to do is canter, and she gets mad when I try to back her down off the canter into the trot. One plus is that she had pretty decent stops with the word "whoa" (unless she was in the middle of running and bucking, which is to be expected).
I got Corky out and longed her, she looked really good (yay!). I also practiced showmanship with her. I forgot how much I love that class. Hopefully Cadence will show some talent in that area. I might start working her a little bit with showmanship this winter...
I was sitting in the parking lot of my podiatrist (waiting to get a cortisone injection in my heel spur) when i got the call from the vet about Pretzel's test results. The best part of the news is that he does have cancer. There are other issues that he and I will have to deal with...and no issue is ever great, but at least these issues are not life-threatening. That's what really matters. That's what I keep reminding myself. Over and over again. Pretzel will be fine. Thank God.
I headed out to the barn after my appointment. After 3-4 days of below zero temperatures, it finally got above freezing, so I went to work Cadence on the longe line. I fully expected to see the bratty Cadence again. I was prepared - I brought out my new equine sports medicine boots for her to wear to protect her legs in case she got overly crazy. She wasn't in love with me putting them on her, but forgot about them pretty much immediately.
We had a major breakthrough in our training today! Today, Cadence figured out how to actually trot (without bouncing up and down trying to break into the canter), and wow did she ever! Her trot is BEAUTIFUL!!! Now I am not saying she didn't buck and fart a few times, but overall she figured out what I was asking, and relaxed down into a beautiful big, flat trot. Man, I could watch that all day!
I also trotted her a bit in hand and it seems she is really getting the hang of that also. Her whoas on the longe line were great when stopping while going to the left, a little more iffy when going to the right. Progress!
I got Corky out for a little longeing. It didn't take long for her to look ever so slightly ouchy in the front. Barey a limp, but i could tell it was slightly uncomfortable. I think I may just have to face the fact that this is going to be her new reality and she probably will never be consistently 100% again.
Today I entered Noodle in two runs at a UKI trial - UKI is nice because they allow you to declare NFC (not for competition) and train in the ring. My first run was standard, and I tried to run the course as written for practice. I was about 80% pleased with Noodle's performance. She nailed all 3 contacts with perfect 2 on-2 offs, that is a huge improvement! However, she did leave the course and do a drive-by of the judge. Basically ran by him, sniffed, and then came back. I'll take that over jumping on him or barking! The course was tricky, but other than an off-course tunnel she was pretty darn good. Her weaves were outstanding. Unfortunately, Mark forgot to video it so I have nothing to look back on for my own reference. Oops!
The second class was Snooker, so rather than trying to do an actual snooker game while training, I mapped out my own course. Since there were only jumps and tunnels, I decided to incorporate a few things in my made-up course that we have been working on in class the past few weeks. I did a "Here" command at the tunnel (to get her to bypass the tunnel entrance in front of her and seek out the other end), and I also did a backside with a blind cross. She nailed both of those!!!
She did leave the course after the 2nd jump, did an off-course tunnel, and went to investigate the ring crew sitting behind the tunnel...but came right back and continued on with my made-up course and finished the rest clean. I must say this is a big improvement over our last UKI trial in November. We are continuing with our baby steps, and while they may be the world's tiniest baby steps, they are steps in the right direction...so I will take it! Patience!
After days of frigid cold, we finally hit a day in the 40's. Cadence was a wild woman. I have to step back and remember that she has been cooped up and wanted to let loose a little bit, and boy she did!
I was watching her buck, and it was the first time I actually thought to myself that just maybe I might need to find someone else to break her out? I have never seen a horse buck so high, it was seriously athletic. I will have to see how the next year goes, but it is in the back of my mind.
Once she got the crazies out of her system, she settled down and did some gorgeous trotting. I am seeing more than glimpses of the beautiful mover she is turning out to be.
The funny thing is that although last week Cadence wore her sports medicine boots with no problem, today she was completely frightened of just he sight of them when i brought them into the stall to put on her. I am not sure if the velcro sound scared her or what, but she would not come near them. Strangely she had no issue with me putting them on (even with the velcro sound) because she couldn't see them when I was putting them on her front legs. Maybe it is the obnoxiously bright lime green color? Not sure, but it was really odd.
Temperatures are dangerously cold, so my dogs are trapped inside. Perfect time to work on some rally and Obedience training. With Pretzel I am currently working on Rally Intermediate signs. I love how happy he is to be working again. he needs to earn a 24th title haha!.
It's Tuesday, so that means late-night agility training for me. Tonight I took both Pretzel and Noodle to train. I feel like since Noodle has taken Pretzel's spot in class, he has been neglected in his agility training. Noodle, of course, was fast and pretty accurate (another case of being awesome when there are zero distractions). Pretzel was a fireball...I love it! However, something weird was happening with him tonight. When we were running various courses that involved the dog walk, he started running across it almost out of control, and he was running in this weird crouched-down position. When i tried to work the dogwalk a little bit and get him to slow down, it was like he was losing control of his hind end and couldn't stay on the dog walk and travel straight. At one point on the ascending side, he fell on to his belly and couldn't get his balance to get back up, so I actually had to pick him up and set him on the ground. He fell off on the ascending side several times. Amazingly, he got right back on the dogwalk each time (though with a bit of reluctance, as you can imagine). I finally got him to go over it a couple times at a less reckless pace, but he was a little crouched and it was obvious he was a bit unsure of his footing. I am at a loss as to why he is like this. he has never ever had problems with the dog walk or his balance. This concerns me.
Today was jam-packed with agility. Noodle had her class in the morning, and she was wonderful. She stayed focused and was pretty accurate on most of what we were doing. We came back in the afternoon to split a private lesson. We had someone that was hanging around come in to the ring and stand and act like a judge. Noodle left me a couple times to go investigate her. This is still a struggle, I wonder if we will ever get past this? On the plus side, she didn't do anything but run up and sniff her (no barking!). Still, she needs to be able to handle having random people in the ring while we are running a course.
regardless, I am feeling a bit more positive, so I sent entries in for one day of a CPE trial in Dayton in March. This will be a good test of our training - away from "home", but in a pretty low-stress environment.
Meanwhile, the snow came this evening and this is just a topper on the bitter single-digit temperatures we have been having for days. The dogs are stir crazy, I am stir crazy, and nothing is getting done with Cadence until the temps rise a bit. No worries, we have time...