2012 training goals

MAY 2012

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I've been keeping up for the most part with some dog training. Sprigs and Kayak have both had at least three sessions of dumbbell work over the last three days. Kayak has been working some more on his 2X2 weave pole understanding. I even got the four poles in a straight line with regulation distance between poles today. He's only about 50% on them that way so it'll be that way for a bit. Both of them got to go to the agility class I am teaching on Tuesday nights too. Sprigs ran a whole Excellent Standard course in fine fashion and then practiced her weaves a couple of times. She was spectacular. Kayak ran parts of the same course, even getting in a 270 degree turn off a jump to another one. I was proud of how he did at his age. I have NOT gotten Xanadu's gloves or articles out or even practiced go-outs of jumping. I need to be doing that too. I also need to get back to Spirit's jump chute. It's been on hold most of the week because Windy's been mowing my agility field for me so all the small equipment is up in a corner. 
Speaking of Windy we went out for a ride today. It took around 10 - 15 minutes to get the bridle on! She was being a naughty girl. Head ducking, head bobbing, nose touching ground. ARGH!! Guess I have to go back to working on/off, on/off, on/off at least once a day again. She even tried to side step the saddle this time. That's a first. I did grab her lead rope a snatch her head down so my two eyes were about 2 inches from her eye and I gave her a stare and a talking to. She high stepped and bounced a few times when I lunged her with the tack on. She thought about taking a step while I was trying to mount too. I stopped that one cold though. We had to do a couple of laps in the pasture to be sure she was settled some and listening to me. We wandered down a rode I've never been down (it dead ends) and then down one I knew was a dead end. Apparently the horse eating monsters of the day were gnarled tree trunks. She stopped cold (from a walk) so fast I almost came off then she was bouncing backwards, did a tight swirl to the left and quickly walked the opposite way. It took me just a few feet to get her with me again and I turned her around to see what had set her off. It seems to have been a huge, old palm tree stump. It took about three or four times approaching it and letting her turn away before we got past it. Then she was just looking for other tree trunks to eat her. 


The obedience show here in town went off well. I came home with mixed results. 
Kamikaze was first up at 8:30 am. The blonde child showed up this time. UGH! The drop signal was an invitation to creep across the ring. The glove retrieve was a 'toss in the air over your head and then run back without it' kind of day. The go-outs were run to the corner where the glove was. One article was OK, but the second one was gonna kill her. She got distracted watching people warm up (with treats) outside the ring and forgot what she was doing. She did pass the stand. It was a most depressing performance. Xanadu did very well in Graduate Open. I was proud and pleased. She did wonderful heeling and signals. No hesitation on her article. We hit a bump in our glove retrieve. She spun behind me and took the jump and then was confused. I did get her aimed to the corner after all that and she brought the glove in. She didn't freeze on her stand until I turned around and gave a second command and 'the stare'. She did a perfect half ring go-out, but then was confused when I started to walk into her and broke her sit to flunk. Amazingly the agility dog didn't take the jump on directed jumping. Sparkle flunked heeling. She got nervous on the last part when she was on the ring side with an audience and she froze. She did a perfect drop though. Two commands for the retrieve on flat. A good retrieve over high and passing broad jump. Passed the stays too. The worst part with Sparkle is between the exercises. She melts down. I can't get her to sit next to me. She wants to wilt into a down. The worst time is the broad jump when all the people are behind her (and it's the last exercise) . Kayak's first time in an obedience ring wasn't until after lunch. He did Rally Novice and although he had to check out signs and gates and mats he stayed in position with me. He took first place in Rally Novice B!

I fixed Kamikaze for the most part for today. She was much more present in the moment. Her only flunk was go-outs. She decided that she needed to take a jump on the way out. She hasn't done that in like 3 years. I thought I had killed that problem for good. Guess not! Xanadu was wonderful again. She was a bit less present on heeling and she missed her sit signal. She was great on the article. We had another glove confusion, but it was soooo cute. She was so proud of herself when she found the glove out there! She passed her stand today. Then she was confused on the go-out and wanted to go to the corner where the glove was. She missed her jump again on directed jumping. I can clearly see now what she needs to work on. Sparkle passed heeling.  She even did a whole figure 8 AFTER we had a false start where the judge had it set up such that the handler and dog stepped on an electrical cover under the mats that makes a noise. The noise sent Sparkle trotting off towards the other side of the ring. The judge let us reset for the exercise with the posts moved away from the cover. Unfortunately the evil monster under the mats might have eaten her if she did her drop out there by herself. She did do her retrieve on flat in the same space, but then walked around the jump in both directions for the retrieve over the jump. I couldn't even get her to sit facing away from the ring gate for the broad jump without finally grabbing her collar and making her turn and sit. During her long sit stay she was next to some locked doors and someone tried to come through them. She was so leaving the ring! I don't know that she will do a line of stays again knowing how spooky she is. *sigh* Kayak was an even better dog in Rally today as he was accustomed to the ring gates, mats and signs. He took another first place!


Yesterday I took Windy out for the first time in seven days. A week with no riding made for an interesting beginning to the ride. After I got her tacked up I moved her some. She was dancing and bucking and such for a little while. After she settled I mounted her in the pasture and rode her shortly inside the fenced area. I wasn't about to take her out on a road acting so high. If I'm gonna see the ground coming fast I'd just assume I were guaranteed to hit grass and not concrete. It took several trips around the pasture to get her listening to me no matter if we were headed away from the exit gate or towards it. She wanted to GO GO GO once I got her out of the pasture. She settled well after about 15 or 20 minutes. It was hot so we didn't stay out but about an hour. On the way back to the house I met a lady on her porch that asked a favor of us. She had an autistic son that she was contemplating horse back riding therapy for but was hesitant to put out the money because he doesn't usually like animals. She asked if her son could come out and meet Windy. Well, of course! We stood and let her run in and get her son. She held him while she petted the horse and he vocalized many happy sounds and smiled. He even said 'bye bye horsey' when she took him inside. She was thrilled with his interaction with her. I hope she can do the horse therapy with him. Windy's also spent some time with limited access to my agility field for mowing purposes. I have all the small stuff in dirt areas and around the dogwalk ramps. She's not bothering equipment other than smelling it and she's thrilled with the new food source.

Xanadu has been working hard on her go-outs and articles. I expect one of them may break when we get in a ring situation. Kamikaze has NOT been practicing the last few days. She knows her stuff and too much work before the show may be a bad idea. Kayak hasn't been doing much heeling as he is ready as well, but he has done some more 2X2 weave poles. We're up to 4 poles now with a large gap between 2 and 3. 


Today was one of those terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days. It started with a call around 6:45am that Rich's office alarm was going off. Since he's out of town all week the responsibility for that kind of thing falls to me. I yanked on some clothes and ran out the door. As I grabbed my purse on the dash by the strap broke and sent the purse flying across the kitchen. I snatched it up and got in the car. Not 200 yards down the road I got the warning light that tells me one of my tires is low. Well, this is going well. It just has to get me to the office like 4 miles away. I skid into the office parking lot and no one is there. I expected a cop car. Now I'm nervous that this is some prank. I slip my car door open and I can hear the alarm screaming. So, it's not a prank, but where are the cops? I unlocked the front doors and shut off that awful noise. I went to the back door, the one that I was informed was the offender. Interestingly enough it's one of those push bar doors. Opens from inside with push on the bar, but then latches when closed and isn't openable from the outside without a key. The latch part has been locked in the open position somehow. I had to use my key to put the latch back in place for it to function like a push bar door again. I checked all the inside doors that are locked and they were fine. As I get back around to the front doors I see a cop pull up. Well, where has he been? I opened the door and chatted a second with him. He says he waited around about 15 minutes and then left. Was already at Lockhart and turned around to come back. How'd he know when to come back?? Whatever! While I'm there I decided to make out a deposit. I'd been there about 15 minutes or so when the alarm started wailing again. WHAT THE HECK? I have it turned O F F. I get to the panel and turn the noise off. It was the fire alarm part...??? Then I had to tell the alarm company that called that everything was fine other than a possessed alarm. I left the girls a note and the door and headed to Zumba. I mean I'm already more than half way there. I get there just on time and tell the teacher about my day. Then she can't get the music to play. REALLY?? She tells me I need to go home and not rub my day off on her. LOL! I went home and continued my actual work day. Around lunch I decided to lunge Windy some. She's been ignoring me recently when I try to get her to move. She decided to play can't catch me. UGH! Am I cursed? It only took 10 minutes or so to remind her what happens when she acts the fool. Then I worked her a little while. Back inside to feed the dogs and I managed to dump a bowl of food out on the floor. Good thing my dogs don't care if they eat out of a bowl or not. Sprigs cleaned up her food of the floor. In the meantime I've had Gorilla Glue setting on the purse strap (hoping I can nurse it along). I get back to checking on it only to find I've glued a clothes pin to my purse. This is getting a bit funny now, but I'm tired of this day already. I fell on to the couch to see if I could nap the curse away. Naturally just as I lay down the cell phone rings. Why would I think it wouldn't? I did get my nap in and it did seem to stop the string of uglies. I skipped the obedience club meeting and made tacos for dinner. I was showered and in bed by 8pm!


I got in some obedience work today while Windy mowed Cedar and Jedi's yard!

Xanadu worked go-outs. She's about to get it. She struggles if we go right out and do a go-out. I don't know if it's a focus issue or she's just not sure of the command yet. The articles and go-out are my main concern for this weekend. I think we've got the other things ready for real time. Kayak and I worked 2X2's a little. He's working now on 4 poles with a big gap between them. He seems to have just 2 poles down well. I worked some dumbbell holding with Sprigs while I was at it.


Cheryl and I drove (a nice long drive) to Decatur, AL this weekend for agility. It's wasn't my best showing ever, but it wasn't bad. Lego got a bad call in JWW on Sat, then we messed up Standard anyway. He had a fabulous Standard run Sunday in which he ran by the triple on the last quarter of the course then we finally got it all together for a Q in JWW. Xanadu didn't ever really RUN this weekend, but she trotted parts of courses at a decent speed. She did come home with another MX leg. Kamikaze Q'd in both JWW runs, but not in Standard. One day she hit a bar (no like her at all) and one day I didn't handle a part too well and screwed her up. Sprigs debuted in Exc Standard this weekend and she held her own although we never got the weaves on the first try. She did finish her OAJ title to move on up to Exc in JWW as well! 

All my work with Spirit's jumping paid off this weekend, though not in the form of a Q. She didn't hit any bars all weekend and she didn't balk at any of the spreads. She was stretching out forward more and bouncing straight up less. There is still work to do, but I see improvement and so does Cheryl. She also got her weaves all weekend.


We had Jedi's kidney values re-checked yesterday. They are back in normal range. So we'll keep him on the one medicine and keep feeding him dehydrated raw diet.

Windy's first experience on the highway right of way was a success in that she never intentionally tried to pitch me. Don't know why I thought she'd be OK  20 feet off highway traffic just because she doesn't flinch when a single car, dump truck, or bus pass by us at 10 feet away (going maybe 30mph). Apparently 18 wheelers doing 45-55mph on a four lane road is very unsettling! She wasn't to comfortable with just regular 4 lane traffic at those speeds, but the first 18 wheeler had her shimmying and backing and such so much I almost bit the dust. Neither of us enjoyed our 15 minutes of highway right of way time, but it was good for her and we'll do it again.


I  had an interesting start to a ride on Windy yesterday morning. It's the first time she bucked and danced and generally acted wild under saddle. Thankfully I wasn't IN the saddle. She started right after the first cinch up of the saddle. It only lasted less than a minute, but it was a bit unnerving. When she settled I took the saddle and pad off completely and started from scratch just in case I'd trapped anything under there that was pinching her or something. She was fine after the second saddle up. Then I found out I had a great training opportunity. There was a construction crew on the windy road leading to my road not 100 yards from my road. There was a concrete saw, a front end loader, a dump truck and a low boy trailer (to tow front end loader). We rode up as close as I could with Windy still fairly settled and then we'd back off and ride back again. After a couple of ups and backs she would stand next to the (diesel engine running) low boy hauler. No way I could've bought that kind of training time.

Today I worked the dogs in obedience and such. Kayak even did a little Rally. After Rally moves he got to try go-outs again. He's had one training session on them. After several tries I actually got a half length go-out out of him! Then I took him to agility class (the one I'm teaching) tonight and I pulled him out for the last couple of exercises and he did fabulous. He did about 10 jumps in a row without getting distracted by people or other dogs. We'd have flunked the 180 degree jump set up in real life, but he did a wrap. I am very pleased with him.


I spent a couple of hours this afternoon shoveling manure. WOW! Windy makes plenty of manure. We're using these two cart loads for fill dirt back in the woods in one of the very low areas that holds water days after a rain. Hoping we can make it so the water drains from there fairly quickly. We'll probably need another couple of cart loads to finish out that fill in job. It won't take her long to produce that! Windy and I went out Thursday for our longest ride, about 90 minutes. Bridle on first try with no head shaking. We went all the way to the front of Bend Rd and moseyed down a side street near the front that dead ends. I forgot how long it meandered back before it ended though!

I have been doing pretty good keeping up with obedience practice/ training this past week. Sparkle has done a retrieve, a drop and some heeling and stays. She was really good. I know from experience with her the worst thing you can do with her is practice too much. We'll probably do stays one or two more times before the show and I'll pull out the broad and high jump once too. Xanadu has lost her articles, again. UGH! She's back to snatching just any one, or even better, she won't go to the pile when I tell her to. We have our work cut out for us in that area before the end of the month. On a good note she is sooo much better on her directed jumping and a bit better on go-outs. Kamikaze has done a couple of utility run thrus and looks great in practice. Even with Windy watching her. Kayak has only practiced Rally moves once, but he's ready!

Spirit has gotten in her jump chutes several times a week. She looks really good in the jump chute now. I hope it carries over to a show. She's also been great on her weaves. Kayak and Sprigs went out with me to teach agility class too. Sprigs was great on her weaves this time out! Hope it sticks.  Kayak is still distracted out there some, but I'm getting a couple of jumps in a row out there. I have started back his 2X2 training. He did great Thursday with two poles entering correctly from around the clock. OH, and Saturday I saw where he'd re-gifted Kamikaze's eaten collar. It was in a couple of pieces. Glad to know it passed OK.



Yesterday morning after the Siberians had been out about an hour I went to move them somewhere else so the beagles could go out and play. I noticed Kamikaze was missing her collar. OK, no big deal, Kayak is always gnawing on her neck. I went looking for where her collar fell off. This is ALL I FOUND!

Apparently after it came off Kayak ate if for breakfast. ARGH!! I spent all day yesterday and today monitoring him. He's been eating, drinking and passing things just fine, so I guess he's no worse the wear for having a collar snack. Luckily I have extra collars at the house, so Kamikaze already has a new one on.

I've had Spirit out to the agility field for the last couple of days working her jump chutes and weaves. I think the jump chute is helping her jumping, but who knows what will happen when we go to the next show. Today I had a little break through with Kayak in agility. He took three jumps in a row at a run without turning in to me or loosing focus. AH HA! We're making progress. The only time he's taken that many jumps in a row before it's been at a trot or walk. He's even learning to work with Windy (horse) hanging her head into the agility field to watch.

Xanadu has been working her go-outs and articles. I am seeing more confidence and some real improvement with her. Feeling better about her chances in Graduate Open here in a couple of weeks.

I found out today that Windy likes her ears rubbed (not scratched) on the inside. You can tell a little in this picture how she's even lip moving in appreciation.


I finally decided I should get down to business on the obedience front. I have four dogs entered in a show the end of the month. Kamikaze was great in her Utility run through. Xanadu needs work on article confidence and go-outs before the show so she has a chance at a Q in Graduate Open. Sparkle did very well on the basic Open exercises, although I need to pull out the broad jump for her. She even did her stays the first try. I didn't actually work with Kayak today on Rally, but I've been pretty consistent with him and he is ready for Rally. From now until the end of the month Xanadu needs to see articles three times a week and go-outs four or more. If I had more drive I'd work real hard this week to see if it's possible to have Sprigs ready for Novice. She needs stay work and stand work. Guess she'll wait for shows later this year.

Windy and I are still having a good relationship. She's even started walking TOWARDS me some when I go out there.


Rich's parents were here for his birthday this weekend, so not much training got done. I still made sure there was no free food for Windy. She still had to be lead rope captured and haltered on and off while eating. We haven't had any more incidents of trying to trot off when I come for her with the rope. So, this afternoon I tried tacking her up for a ride again. She was a bit ornery about the bridle, not bad. I actually got it on her fine the first time and then realized I'd let the reins and headstall fall through the nose hole so they ended up under her chin. When I took it off and re-tried to put it on, she moved her head and shook a bit. I just reached under her chin and held the top of her nose down and said some stern things to her and slid the bridle back on. I was successful cinching the saddle down the first try and I was able to mount from the left with a good shove off my right foot. I even remembered my helmet. Windy was hot to trot when I first got her out. We did many circles before she let me be in charge. I know I'd prefer a horse that wants to go than one you have to beg to move. I only stayed out about 45 minutes. It was H O T, mid 90s and most of the ride was in the sun. We did go see the horse on Bend Rd. I see the upside to having a green broke horse that needs to be ridden a little every week is I will have a nice farmer's tan on my arms.

Rich and I went to see Avengers Friday when it came out. It was great. First movie I can recall that I wanted to pay to go see again. So, Saturday, with his parents, we did.


I decided after yesterday's antics that Windy will no longer get 'free' food for awhile. I went out to get her with the lead rope in hand. She saw it and trotted off. UGH! not again! Well, at least I dressed for chasing today. I only had to run her about 20 minutes today before she gave in. I was a bit smarter than yesterday and made her stay out in the open sun and I kept more to the shady woods :) When I got the lead rope on her neck  I walked  her to where I usually tack up and what should be there but a food bucket! She gave me a look like "Why didn't you just TELL me there was food!" HA HA! The point is I get to catch you when I want, not just when you want. She ate a bit tied to the fence. Then I moved the bucket and tried to get the halter on her. (I decided that would be easier than bridle right now as there are no attachments) I tried the food in palm and she had to stick her nose in the halter hole to get to it. She was not happy about that, but was hungry enough to try it out. After two or three tries like that I tried to put in all the way on. She wouldn't have anything to do with that idea. Shook her head and turned away and stomped. Another couple of tries with food. She was getting more relaxed about it. I held her head by wrapping my arm under her chin to the other side, and swoop,  halter on. WOOT! I let her eat for awhile with halter and lead rope on. Then we tried again. Halter off, eat a bit, halter on, eat a bit. ON, OFF, ON ,OFF. When the feed in the bucket got low I lead her around where her water is (and her food bowl) and dumped the rest of the feed in her bowl and walked off. I felt a bit better about my chances at working through things with the horse now at least.


I spent a little time with hedge trimmers clearing a path out behind the house to cross the tiny ditch and head down the ATV trail back there. I was looking forward to Windy and I exploring it. She was a jerk about putting on the bridle though. She was throwing her head about and dancing. With all that stupid stuff I then didn't get the saddle tight enough and it slid sideways when I tried to mount. It got stuck on her side. (so it was cinched a good bit, not enough). Thankfully she didn't spook. That could've been bad. So now here I am trying to get the saddle back up in her back. It was too tight for that. So I was trying to loosen it, but it had was cinched tight where it was. ARGH! Took me a minute or two to realize I could just disconnect the cinch from the saddle on the other side. I took a deep breath and tried again. I apparently got it right the next time as I was able to mount without any sliding. As a side note, I am having to mount right side as the left knee isn't strong enough to extend and pull my whole body weight up when it's that high in the air. I headed to the path. I could NOT get her to walk through the last little trees (and past the PVC property marker) to step across the ditch. UGH! Ended up turning around and leaving. I took her down Bend Rd to see the other horse down there. The other horse talked to her and she looked intently at it, but didn't talk back. We got a few houses past the horse when I realized I'd forgotten to put on my riding helmet in all the chaos of tacking up. OK, so I turned around and went back. It was a short ride. When I got back I sent a message to the trainer to ask about how to get her on that back trail and what to do about the bridle head whipping. The trainer said she is testing me to see how far she can push me. Apparently completely normal for a green broke horse with a new person (or even any horse with a new person). She gave me instructions on what to do and told me other things she may try to pull and what to do about those too.

True to form, Windy pulled one of those this evening. I was going to go out and work on putting a bridle. She is currently running naked in the pasture (no halter). I walked up and put a lead rope around her neck and  walked her to the front and tied her where I could work on the bridle. Supposedly you make it the path of least resistance to do as you want and make other paths (ones they choose) ones that make them have to work. So, when she dodged the bridle twice. I lounged her. Then tried again. This went on for a good 15 minutes of more. Then she pulled the lead rope out of my hand as she took off across the pasture. Great! Now I spend an hour running her in the pasture until she decides that standing still and letting me catch her is preferable to being chased.  We are both soaked with sweat and it's now dusk.. So I just force her to walk back where I was in the first place and then I released her and went inside for ice cream and bed feeling defeated.


I got Windy tacked up for a solo ride this afternoon. I worked on some of the things she spooked about yesterday. We walked between the power pole and the support wire over and over until she would do it without stopping first and then without quick-stepping through there. We walked under tree branches and let them scratch the top of my riding helmet several times to. Then we explored at ATV trail just behind the houses on the other side of the street. It's a nice quiet little place to ride, but it unfortunately ends at the fairly sizeable ditch with no visible trail on the other side. Windy was NOT crossing that ditch anyway. She stopped 10 feet from it and turned sideways to it like, "NO, NO WAY!" We turned and headed back home. The neighbor kids were just getting in from school and have been eagerly awaiting the horse's arrival. So, after I rode I took all the tack off her and put a halter on and led her across the street to see the kids (playing out front). She was great. She let them rub her nose and took treats from them and stood politely while they showed me their minnows and their turtle.