Training TANGO and CORKY ~ Training PRETZEL

Friday, March 1, 2013

I had a hot Friday night date with two men - Pretzel and Tango! I went to the barn tonight and rode. It was a very good ride. It was peaceful at the barn on a Friday night, I had the radio blasting some 80's music, and moved around enough to stay somewhat warm despite it being in the low 20's.

I measured Tango tonight, he is 16' 1/2" at the withers and 16'1" at the hip. that is the most level he has ever been since the day he was born! Hopefully he will gain another inch or two, since he isn't quite 3 years old yet.

With slight efforts, how can we obtain great results? It is foolish even to desire it. - Euripide

Sunday, March 3, 2013

I took Pretzel to Findlay for an agility workshop. If he "passes", I plan on starting training with this new trainer. We did all sorts of things - tunnel, A-frame, teeter (he flew over the teeter!), and even did weave poles with the guide wires attached. Pretzel was confused about the guide wires. I wonder if this is something I should invest in? The trainer was very impressed with Pretzel's enthusiasm and athleticism. I really like the positive attitude she has with the dogs (and the owners). We will start classes on Wednesday night, can't wait!

Monday, March 4, 2013

I managed to squeeze in a quick ride between work and lessons. It is getting rather tiring to constantly have to get after Tango about his lack of forward motion. Luckily there is a dressage whip that always sits at the edge of the arena within easy reach from the saddle. It seems every day I end up riding over to that corner and grabbing it to "encourage" Tango to move when I ask him. Even getting into the trot is sticky. Granted, I enjoy not having to worry about him going too fast or running off, but I also realize that because he doesn't move forward very willingly we are missing a vital parrt of our training - the cue to slow down. I can't teach him how to slow down when asked if he is already way too slow...and this missing piece will come back to bite us in the butt in the future. Some day, at a show (I am sure!), he will decide to surge and take off and I have no real tools to slow him down without bringing him to a halt. However, I am not really sure how to go about training this cue if he never ever does it at home. I can't very well get after him and force him to go forward and then ask him to back off. That wouldn't make sense to him.

I guess time will tell when we hit the show pen whether this is a big deal or not. It might be a case of having to train in the show pen, which is awkward and expensive.

Other than that, the ride was good. Canter transitions are still the same - sticky and rather ugly. I left the barn once again feeling like I am spinning my wheels aimlessly. I need help!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

No spinning wheels was a rough ride! I was a little stronger and more firm in my asking today, and Tango decided to try working against me. I could tell from the start he was in a bit of a cranky mood today, even in his stall. At the canter when I was asking him to lower his head and round up his frame, he decide to fling his head up and slam on his brakes. This is something he used to do many months ago. We worked through it, but it took some time and I had to really get after him. We did end on a positive note, which is good. These days will happen, luckily they are few and far between with him.

Looking at my schedule and the show schedules, I think our first "real" show to aim for might be the AQHA show in Columbus on May 11-12. That should give us plenty of time. I hope to maybe haul him to an open show or two before that, and definitely get him out to some places to ride before May. I am not setting this in stone, because I really can't predict where his training will be at that point in time. A real trainer would be able to schedule that far in advance with confidence, but since it is just me muddling along, I am not sure what sort of progress I will make by then.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Tonight was Pretzel's first agility class in Findlay. Oh wow, it was a BLAST!!! I was actually able to do some simple courses off-leash! Pretzel paid attention and followed my signals. We only did the tunnel, A-frame, and a bunch of jumps, but mainly this was a chance to get him watching me and going in the direction I was asking. I learned a ton - I can tell that agility is a lot like analyzing hunter courses. You have to walk your path, and figure out where you need to be in relation to the dog so that you can cue him correctly (and stay out of the way, and be on track to cue the next obstacle). My head was spinning with everything I learned, but I can tell that this is definitely something tailor-made for Pretzel and I. I can't wait to go back!

Thursday, March 7, 2013


Friday, March 8, 2013

Terrible day! I came to the barn already in a bad mood (NEVER a good thing!), and Tango decided today he would be a total brat about going forward. It was ugly. Yes, by the end of the ride we accomplished some forwardness, but it wasn't pretty and I left with a bad taste in my mouth - not only about him, but about ME. I hate when I have those days where my patience is gone. It ruined my whole night. I hate that.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

We headed to a dog show in Auburn, Indiana bright and early this morning. Weimaraners showed at 8am, as usual. Auburn is a little over an hour away from me, I only entered today so I could get in a quick practice before the big show in Louisville next weekend.

There were only 8 Weimaraners entered. It was our first time showing in a non-puppy class, and we were the only ones entered in the 12-18 month dogs. After I got my blue ribbon, the judge told me I needed to slow down. Yep, I knew that! Pretzel was energized so I ran waaay too fast with him. Other than that, he was excellent - kept his head up and no pacing!!!!

We went back in for winners dog, ended up getting reserve. that was cool - no points, but at least I wasn't on the bottom. Not bad considering it is the first time I have been to a dog show without any of my dog show mentors like Kayleen, Damon, Mark, and Shelby.

This show was actually held in a big car museum! It was so strange. You had to wind your way through Indy cars, monster trucks, and Model T Fords to get to your show ring. It was certainly a unique experience. I'll say this about dog shows - they have more interesting venues than horse shows. Plus every dog show has a ton of vendors set up. I am proud to say I skipped shopping at any of the vendors today. I am saving myself for Louisville next weekend LOL!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

What a difference a day makes. Today I had all the patience in the world. I put my Ipod on the dock in the arena and let it play random songs, and I threw out 4 poles on the ground to go over just to change things up a bit. Tango was really good! He started off in a better mood, and I did also, and together we got a lot accomplished. I know that rounding up at the canter is really hard for him (especially to the left), but I could tell he was really trying today. He would hold himself, and occasionally fall out of frame due to weakness. But every time I asked him to round back up, he did so. Happy happy day! I see some of Taylor's work ethic coming out in him. No, believe me I am not bipolar, it's just sometimes training takes major ups and downs within the course of 24 hours, and you just have to accept it.

Being a decently warm day (40 degrees, woo-hoo!), I also rode Corky! Yikes did she start off stiff. She was so stiff I almost thought she was crippled. I forced her forward, and as she loosened up she got a LOT better. She holds herself up way better than Tango, but Tango is so much lighter in the mouth and the sides than she is. It's weird, I can cue her to canter with just a touch of a leg (while Tango needs constant kicking with the spur), yet she doesn't yield off of leg pressure nearly as well as Tango. Strange. Corky, of course, got angry - angry at the world, angry at Pretzel running around her, and she showed it. Since I am not "riding for a purpose", it didn't really bother me. She does need a job, though. She needs to either give some kids lessons and be a hack horse, or she needs to have a baby. I would love love love the latter choice, but unfortunately since I changed barns this will not be an opinion for me anymore. Sad, sad, sad.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Louisville, Kentucky Dog Show

I left after my jazz concert last night and headed to Louisville, Kentucky. The middle-of-the-night Kentucky travels brought back memories of driving to Stacey's to ride Taylor, and then Corky. Good times! Of course Weimaraners showed bright and early in the morning. This was a huge show, lots of Weim entries. After much debate all week, I decided to be brave and actually wear a skirt suit. Yes, the heavens collided - I actually wore a skirt! Wearing tall boots helped make me feel a little less 'bare'.

Oddly enough we were the only 12-18 month dog to show up for the class, so we got our blue ribbon. We went back in for winners dog, got nothing. Tough, tough competition, I felt I was a little distracted in my skirt - it was hard to concentrate on what I was doing and remain ladylike in my skirt while I was doing it.

Pretzel had a GREAT time playing all day with his best Weim friend Brennen. I loved watching them play - they had so much fun you could just see the joy on their faces. They played so hard all day that they slept very well when they finally settled down - a nice bonus!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Louisville, Kentucky Dog Show

Yesterday the weather was gorgeous - 60 degrees and sunny. Today we woke up to heavy sleet and freezing temperatures. No skirt today! Our show day went pretty much the same as yesterday - won our class by default but got nothing in winners. I learned a few things between yesterday and today, here they are:

  • When stacking on the mat, stack close to the edge (towards the center) so your dog doesn't get covered up.
  • Run SLOW!
  • When setting the front legs, tilt his head away from the leg you are setting so that the toe doesn't point outward.
  • After the down and back, pull the dog to the right so that his profile is shown to the judge for the free-stack

I drove home in a blinding snow storm. Doesn't that just figure - Mother Nature gives you a taste of spring and them whomps you with winter again. Pretzel, of course, slept through the entire thing. I know he had a great time this weekend, and so did I. It was a great weekend with friends!

Here is a video from today. Today's class was disappointing, because the judge went and did her inspection right at my initial stack. Normally you walk into the ring, stack quickly, and then gait around the ring before your individual inspection. I did not take the time to stack him perfectly when I first walked in since I thought we were going to have to gait right away. Instead, she came up and inspected, and as you can see both Pretzel and I found that a bit unexpected. Our free stack was pretty bad also - we need work on that.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

I received an e-mail from the owners of Moe - "Get Motivated", a 2000 gelding that I bred. Moe is out of Tory, who is also the dam of Taylor (Tango's dam). I love seeing my "babies" and how they have grown up. I have an old vhs tape of Moe as a 3 or 4 month old playing with a ball. It's fun to see he still plays hard. Since Moe is Tango's "uncle", it makes me wonder if ball-playing is a genetic trait? Here is a Link to the Video.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Today's ride was very good. While Tango's transitions weren't exactly fast, they did happen quicker than before and were the correct lead every time. He just looks ugly when doing them - he still giraffe's up and flings himself into it. Hopefully he will get stronger and be able to start pushing off of his back end. Once he gets going, his canters are staying more in frame and looking a lot better! At least, from up in the saddle they feel

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Once again Tango's transitions were ugly, but consistent. I call this ?progress! I will say he is about 30 days from being ready to hit the show pen...right on schedule. Today is supposed to be the first day of spring. Of course it is 30 degrees and spitting snow all day. Some spring!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Today we had an unexpected snow day...8 inches of snow at the end of March, go figure! I spent the day building agility jumps out of PVC pipe. Of course, the best part was decorating them with colored electrical tape. I sent one up and posed Pretzel in a "sit" behind the jump and moved back to take a picture...and just as I took the picture he decided to test out the new jump! Pretty good jump from a sitting position, I must say.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

I finally conned someone into holding the video camera to get some footage of Tango. I had ridden him yesterday and he was really really good! Today...BAD. I knew as soon as I got on him that the video would look like crap. He was really really sluggish today, kind of like riding a cement block. He hasn't been this bad in a long time, but of course he picks the day I have video rolling to look especially ugly.

I had about 7 minutes of video shot, and then went home to watch it. Talk about depressed, I watched that video and was appalled at how incredibly awful he looked. He was strung out, had zero stride, and just looked like he was dragging around the arena as slow as he could go. Suddenly I am worried. Have I been really barn blind this whole time? Is this the way he always looks, even when he feels good underneath? If this is so, then we really don't have much of a future at all. I managed to work myself into a deep state of depression...started feeling like everything I do just turns out mediocre. I am tired of being mediocre! Maybe I need to re-think all of myt plans for Tango this year...

Here are a few video clips from the video today. I will show you our crappy transitions (but hey, they ARE better than they were 2 months ago!). I wrestled with myself, but decided not to put any of the really bad footage of him going along the rail, other than a glimpse of his absolutely horrendous canter to the left. No one needs to see much of that!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Agility class was awesome tonight! The first time we did them, Pretzel about nailed the 6 weave poles with only a little guidance from me. I can't wait until the weather gets nicer so we can set them up outside and practice all 6 at home! Pretzel has a way of making me feel so much better. I left for class tonight feeling very low about everything - horse training, dog shows, my job, you name it. I left agility class remembering why I am doing all of this - it really isn't for the big win, but for the sheer enjoyment of the partnerships...and my partnerships with both pretzel and Tango are great! Smile, dammit!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Doesn't it just figure? No video camera in sight, and Tango rode awesome today! I just hopped on him without any free-longeing or exercise first. It was nice enough outside that I was able to open up one of the arena doors partway to let some sunshine in. Tango had much better forward motion, and his canter to the left felt a heck of a lot better underneath. His transitions weren't any better, but the movement felt better. If only I had a video to see if it actually looked better!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Another decent ride today, I feel better about things. Of course, I say that to myself as I am in the saddle, but as I drive home from the barn I start thinking that I really can't judge my ride from the saddle, not without watching a video and seeing what he truly looks like. So now, although I feel better about things, I am also filled with a lot of self-doubt about my judgment. I. Need. A Lesson. SOON.!

Friday, March 29, 2013

It was a decently warm and sunny day, so I took some of my homemade agility stuff outside and set up a little mini course with 6 weave poles and 3 jumps. Check out the air underneath Pretzel in the photo above! Pretty cool! I do notice that he is a lot more distracted in our backyard than he is in class. I set up the video camera on the fence post and shot some video of our practice session. As you can tell, I am far less skilled than my dog is...I have a lot of trouble figuring out what direction to turn, which hand to signal, and which side to be on. Practice makes perfect!

On to APRIL, 2013