Training TANGO and CORKY ~ Training PRETZEL

Monday, July 1, 2013

Today Pretzel came with me to percussion practice. Funny, he wasn't the least bit bothered by 19 drummers wailing away but he was a bit nervous around the crowd of teenagers. He must be able to sense that drummer teens are a different breed than your average human LOL!

I love all the little things Pretzel does that either makes life convenient for me, makes me laugh, or just strikes me as pretty cool:

  • I love how he waits patiently until I open the truck door, then leaps into his seat (and KNOWS that the passenger seat is his)
  • I love how he rings the bell on the door when he needs to go out and potty. I also think it is funny how he will ring it to go outside when he is bored inside.
  • The minute I open the crate door, no matter where we are, he walks right in without asking.
  • He never ever ever ever begs for food while I am eating dinner, or snacking in the truck.
  • He sticks to my side like glue no matter where we are, he never goes too far from me.
  • When I come out of the bathroom he greets me like a long-lost relative who hasn't seen me in years!

The list is endless...he makes me smile every day. He has brought me a whole new ring of friends and a whole new realm of experiences. I am blessed.

I think we are drawn to dogs because they are the uninhibited creatures we might be if we weren't certain we knew better. They fight for honor at the first challenge, make love with no moral restraint, and they do not for all their marvelous instincts appear to know about death. Being such wonderfully uncomplicated beings, they need us to do their worrying. - George Bird Evans

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Pretzel and I had a fantastic agility class today. I have some video!!! Check out the second set of weave poles we did at the end of the video - he is starting to pick up some speed now. I am so excited about our future!!!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Sadly, the horse show I was planning to go to was cancelled today due to rain. I did get some good rides in on Tango this week. We seemed to have one battle each time, and then he gave in and was good. It's weird how his canter comes and goes. Some days it is round and pretty, others it is string out and it is all I can do to hold him together. It looks like I will aim for another show next weekend.

Tonight Pretzel and I leave for the AKC show in Monroe, Michigan. There are 4 shows, and all 4 are majors for Weimaraners. We have 4 shots at winning a major and completing our AKC championship. I am not the most optimistic, but I will go for it with guns blazing! No holding back!!!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Monroe, Michigan AKC Show

It sprinkled rain off and on all morning, so I opted to save my new lucky purple dress for tomorrow when it is supposed to be sunny. Today I had two shows, both Weimaraner specialties. The first show was around 9am, we went in to our 12-18 month dog class, got 3rd out of 3. WHAM! Here's a dose of reality! I knew winning another major was going to be difficult here, but I had held out a tiny grain of hope that I might get it...but the competition is tough!

The second show started around 11:30...went in the 12-18 month dog class against the same competition, this time I got 2nd out of 3. No advancement, and no major today. Major disappointment! We have two more shots - Saturday and Sunday. I WILL do better! I had a friend video my classes today and saw my mistakes. In the first class I had him stretched way too far out in his stack. In the second class, i tried to correct that and instead had him stacked way too far underneath himself. What a doofus I am sometimes. I went back and practiced a bit in the afternoon, worked on fixing my perception of how straight Pretzel's legs are. it's sometimes hard to tell when you are standing up and looking downward at your dog.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Monroe, Michigan AKC Show

We showed bright and early this morning. I practiced stacking and gaiting until I felt Pretzel and I were in tune and ready to go!We went in to the 12-18 month dog class as usual, and this time the judge pulled us out for first place! I came out of the ring very excited...this was the first step in the major. We needed to stay focused and ready for Winners Dog (going up against the winners of the other age group dog classes). We still had to win that to win the major.

We went in for Winners Dog and I concentrated on not being intimidated by my competition (easier said than done for a newbie like me!). Pretzel showed great for me - stacked and stood perfectly and gaited wonderfully forward and pretty. Even though I felt great about how we showed, you still could have knocked me over with a feather when that judge called me out in front and then pronounced me winners dog! I came forward, got my purple ribbon, and then cried. I actually did it - took my crazy, silly, fun-loving puppy all the way to an AKC championship all by myself (with some help and advice from some GREAT friends who I will cherish forever). It was a surreal moment. I honestly thought this would NOT happen for us this weekend.

Back in the ring we went again for Best of Breed. Anything I earned after this would be icing on the cake, but that didn't mean I was going to let up! We had to do a lot of gaiting on the wet grass (thank goodness for those cleats!), Pretzel was still very forward and happy in his gait. I was thrilled again when the judge chose us as Best of winners. This morning just kept getting better and better.

We had to go back in the ring a fourth time for Amateur Owner-Handler competition. Pretzel was getting a little squirrelly after all this showing, but did well enough to give us the win for best of Breed Owner-Handler. That means we get to come back later in the afternoon to compete in the Owner-Handler sporting group. Fun!!!

Video of our show experience this morning!

I had to wake Pretzel up from his afternoon nap to go show in the O/H group. By this time it started seriously raining. Pretzel was extremely impatient. Add to the mix an Irish Setter bitch in full heat, and we had one very badly-behaved Pretzel man. He would NOT stand still for the stack and was very distracted on the gaiting. needless to say we didn't place, but it was still fun to go out there and show in group. By the time we were done, it was after 5pm. Our show day started at 8am, so we were both ready to call it a day and relax...and CELEBRATE!!!!

Introducing AKC's newest champion: CH Poet N Arokats Pretzels For Breakfast CGC

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Monroe, Michigan AKC Show

Here is my dilemma. Now that we earned our major and are champions, we needed to "bump up" to the best of breed class fr the show today. Basically this means we get to skip the age group and winners dog and go directly to B.O.B. with all the other champions. However, if we DO bump up today, we break the major, meaning since one less class dog will be showing, the show suddenly becomes a single point show rather than a major. We don't HAVE to bump up yet since the championship isn't "official"...we cold stay in our class and hold the major, but then if we end up winning the major again, people would get very upset. They would also get very upset if we bumped up and broke the major. This is one of those weird things about dog shows that I do not like - people want you to lay down and roll over for them so they can earn their points rather than beating fair and square. It was suggested to me that I show in my class again, but purposely show badly so I won't win. Are you crazy??? That is NOT me!!! NEVER will I purposely show badly to hand someone else an easier win. I agonized over this decision, but with the good advice from a mentor I went ahead and bumped up...breaking the major but allowing someone else to earn the points that needed them.

Hah, it was a moot point anyways. Pretzel showed SO badly, we didn't have a chance in any class. He would not hold his stack, would not stand still, and while waiting for his turn to be judged he jumped around and acted like a moron. I think the championship went to his head! So our first time out as a "special" (champion dog) was a bust, but it was fun and I was still flying high from yesterday so I didn't care.

Monday, July 8, 2013

I rode Tango last night and today. Surprisingly, his transitions were halfway decent. I gave him a good ride today. It was very humid, and it was raining off and on. I longed him with side reins before riding, I haven't done that in a while. I think that helps remind him of where he needs to be for his transitions. Today his canter was really labored, especially circling to the left. I had to push him a LOT.

My plan is to hit an open show this coming Sunday, and then in 2 weeks go to Indiana to a Paint show and show in the solid bred HUS. I hope there are some other solids that show up so I don't waste my time and money. I would love to see how he does against other solid paints. Once his transitions get better, we will hit an AQHA show and see where he stacks up there.

I am so sad, my work saddle is splitting on the seat, It got bad enough that I had to duct tape it today. This is a Dover Circuit Event saddle and I love it. I think I got it around 2002 or so, and I have ridden the snot out of it every day on all my horses. It is a great saddle for breaking and training. Looks like I am going to have to find a replacement :-[

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Well, my rides on Tango were rather hit-and-miss this week in regards to success. His transitions were pretty junky, but I just drank from my jug of patience and kept plugging away. Today we headed to an open show in Kenton. It was extremely hot and humid today. The big debate I had was about how hard to work Tango before our classes. I know if he is too tired, there will be NO canter transitions to speak of.

When I arrived in the morning, Tango was pretty wound up so I longed him for a bit. It took about 5 minutes and he immediately settled down and I had to push him to keep him moving. I quit longeing, and let him finish his breakfast in the trailer.

My classes were immediately after the lunch break, so I got him out during break to ride him. He rode well, but was very distracted and was elevating a lot. I was very worried about making him too tired, so I got off him after about 10-15 minutes and let him relax before my class. that was probably a mistake, because he was still very distracted in my classes. He wasn't spooky at all, just interested in things and was really ignoring me. Transitions were especially bad because he was not paying attention. I was not happy with how he kept constantly elevating. I did two classes back to back and they were pretty frustrating.

I needed another class to work through the issues, so I entered the 2/3yo snaffle bit class that was later in the day. This time before the class I got him out and worked a bit on bending, longed him for a bit in side reins, and just got him working underneath himself. He was a LOT better in this class, so I feel I was on the right track this time.

I didn't notice any issues with horses cantering by him, but the classes were small enough that we were able to avoid traffic the whole time. I had a lot to think about on the way home, and lots to analyze. Kind of interesting that he started off fantastic at his first show, started having issues at the second show, and then today at his third show I came across definite training problems. As fun as he is to ride, he is a complete challenge to train. I sometimes have doubts that I am really up to it.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

After being gone a week at band camp, I expected Tango to be bad. He came out of the stall rather gritty, and I knew it would be a good ride. It was! He rode wonderful. Transitions were icky at first but got better. He rode really nicely in frame on a semi-loose rein, which I loved. I see a pattern - he tends to be a lot better behaved after a break of a few days. Interesting!

I am opting out of the paint show next weekend. It doesn't look like there will be any other solids there, so no point in spending all that money to be the only one in my classes. Instead I will hit a local show and try to apply what I learned last weekend - do plenty of bending and warm-up before showing.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Finally! Our win picture from Monroe came in the mail! Look how happy I am...what a great memory of that day. Even the judge looks happy!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Pretzel's points are now official on the AKC website! Pretty exciting! I am eager to show again, am aiming for a show near my old hometown Lorain in a few weeks. This will be Pretzel's first official time out as a "special". We will see how he stacks up against the other champions. I think his small size and youth will probably hurt him right now.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Well, I had planned on taking Tango to another open show tomorrow, but the steady rain today caused them to cancel the show. Frustrating! I wanted to see if my pre-show preparations would change the outcome of our ride. Now I will have to wait yet another week.

My work/training English saddle is splitting badly on the seat. I have it duct-taped right now, but it's only a matter of time before the leather splits completely. I have been shopping around, and of course the saddle I like the best is one of the more expensive saddles out there. I braided for several days this week at the Ohio State fair, so between that money, my braiding money from May, and some art money, I am only about $400 short. Hopefully I will find some more money-making opportunities to raise that last amount.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

My rides the past few days have been pretty good, but as usual it takes a LOT to get Tango into the canter. It usually requires me getting angry before he complies, and then he is generally pretty good from that point on. Weird.

It was a gorgeous morning, so we went outside to ride. Once we got through the usual squirrelyness, Tango's canters on the long straight rail were really really good, especially his canter to the left - normally his bad one! I notice that the more I use my body in helping him lift into each canter stride, the better he gets with his legs and his frame. It's just a lotta work for me, but I have to remind myself that he requires constant riding, not passengering. Ride every stride, that's my motto when riding Tango.

Another thing I am learning is not to mistake laziness for preparedness. In other words - just because Tango acts lethargic and "exhausted" on the longe line, that does NOT mean he is actually tired or mentally ready to work. He fools me a lot - and this has become a problem at the shows. I think he is soooo tired and dull that I quit working him early, only to find a horse way too full of working-against-me energy in the class. Today I kept that in mind, and ended up with a good ride with some decent work accomplished. Someone please remind me of this when I am at the show this weekend and start feeling sorry for his poor "tired" butt.

My plans are to hit another open show on Sunday. We will get things figured out this weekend, I guarantee it! I am painting fences this week in an attempt to earn the last money needed for my new saddle (pictured to the left) - tentatively I have settled on a Bates Elevation DS. I sat in one last week and loved it...of course it was way more expensive than what I had earned braiding this summer. Between braiding and fence-painting, this will be one hard-labored-for saddle. I wonder what it would be like to just decide I needed a new saddle and go out and buy one without all the agonizing over money? I will never know, but I can't imagine anyone would value this saddle more than I will after working so hard for it!

I forgot to mention that I rode Corky briefly on Sunday - I had a friend out riding her and I jumped on for a spin since I haven't ridden her in so long. You know what? Her canter is freakishly smooth now. I remember when I was showing her, her canter was SO So SO hard to ride and hard to sit to, and everyone who rode her mentioned that. Now it is smooth as glass. Watching her canter, she still looks great and I don't notice any major differences in her movement, so why is she suddenly so smooth? I would have assumed it is just me and my better seat, but another friend rode her last week and mentioned how incredibly smooth her canter is. Very strange....

On to AUGUST, 2013