Training TANGO and CORKY ~ Training PRETZEL

Sunday, September 1, 2013

I spent the entire day up in Toledo watching an AKC agility trial. It was amazing! I am SO determined to really focus on getting Pretzel ready to try this. This will be my number one goal for 2014, for sure!

Most people never run far enough on their first wind to find out they've got a second. Give your dreams all you've got and you'll be amazed at the energy that comes out of you. - William James

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

It was a gorgeous evening - 70 and sunny. I rode Tango outside. The sun was low and waaay too bright, so every time we were headed west we were both blinded. They need to make horse sunglasses for this problem! It was overly quiet outside, which meant every tiny noise was more noticeable. For some reason, Tango was kind of spooky tonight - he kept jumping at sounds and other unseen things. It started getting a bit frustrating, because I couldn't keep him focused. That and the blinding sun every time we headed west was a bit much to deal with tonight. I tried to remain calm and relaxed every time he jumped so I wouldn't feed into his adrenaline rush. In a way, it reminded me a lot of Taylor. The biggest difference between Tango and Taylor is that Tango got over his spook quickly each time and we were able to get right back to business, whereas Taylor often would stay rattled for quite a while. I can handle an occasional spook if he gets out of it quickly each time. Of course, I would prefer NO spook at all!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

I was fired up for agility class after watching the dog show all day on Sunday. I practiced the weave poles this week with Pretzel, working on getting him to weave them without any assistance from me. He is doing better, though tonight he was so hyped up he kept skipping a pole in his rush to finish. His need for speed is going to be a problem I will always deal with, I bet. Other than that, I felt class went well. I still have problems identifying where I should be on the course while signalling him. It's tricky - very much a thinking person's game (which I love!).

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Today's ride was great! I am loving the outdoor rides. Too soon I will be stuck indoors with the winter coming, and I dread it. I wish I could get in one more show this fall, but it seems I do not have a free weekend in September, and the shows pretty much stop around here after Sept.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

I downloaded some exercises from and set one of them up in the backyard to try. It was one that had a fairly simple setup - only 5 jumps - but the paths around them were tricky. Pretzel did great with me - we had a total blast trying out the different patterns and exercises. This is so much fun!!! We worked more on the weave poles. Once I get Pretzel entered on the correct side, he has been weaving them on his own. I am able to run out in front of him and encourage him to speed up. We are making progress!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

I rode in the morning, it was cloudy and warm so there weren't any problems with the sun in our eyes. Unfortunately there was an issue with a little kid at the house adjoining the pasture - the child was screaming and squeaking a toy nonstop, and Tango flipped out! I longed him for quite a while but I never could get him to settle - every time he heard that child scream or squeak the toy he would leap sideways. I ended up bringing him inside and riding indoors. He started off a bit tense, but relaxed and gave me a great ride indoors. I used this opportunity to work on leg yielding around the corners, asking him to round around the corners and go deep rather than cutting the corners shallow (which is easier and therefore his preferred option). By the end of the ride he was rounding deep into the corners without me having to ask with my leg.

I finally had time to upload some video clips from our show last weekend. He looked pretty good for only his 4th show, I think!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Agility class with Pretzel went well tonight. I stayed after and worked on the weave poles a few times - the last time we did them he actually did it with some speed and without me guiding him through it, AND without skipping a pole. Yay!!! Our biggest challenge I think is the teeter - he wants to leap onto it and launch himself off of it from the top. I wish I had one at home to practice making him hit the contact at the bottom. His enthusiasm gets the best of us sometimes.

I am excited - I found a CPE Agility clinic near Columbus on the 28th of this month and we signed up to do it. I hope Pretzel doesn't embarrass me! I am excited to try out our skills at a clinic and learn something about CPE agility.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Yep, tonight was definitely a . We rode outside, the temps had cooled off and it was a gorgeous evening. I wish I could bottle up this weather and take it out in February. Tango rode so well, I was really happy with his transitions and his canters overall. I feel we have turned a corner in this past month and are starting to show real improvement.

If you watched the video from our show a few weeks ago, you will notice that I cut out a lot, including the transitions. My faithful training diary readers deserve to see the good, bad, and ugly, so just for you, here are the video clips of our transitions - some good, some bad, and some ugly!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Well, here we are at another dog show - in Lancaster, Ohio. The bad news is the judge didn't even look at us. The good news is that a very good friend of mine won best of breed so I am happy for her! Pretzel was wound up! He snapped his braided leather collar before we even got in the class (good thing it broke outside the ring and not while showing!). This was only the 2nd time I used this collar, so that is rather disappointing. Here are a few pics from today:

Sunday, September 15, 2013

It was another fun day at the dog show. It was another losing day for us, but it was fun nonetheless.

Monday, September 15, 2013

Happy National Play-Doh Day! I hope you played with your doh today ;-) I waited until after the lessons to ride tonight. Tango was full of energy, he hadn't been worked since last Thursday, plus it was past dinner time. We had LOTS of forward motion tonight! I kind of enjoyed it. We rode inside, so it wasn't like he could run off with me. He did try to let his feet leave the ground a few times but I controlled that by making him do stuff he hates - bending and counterbending circles and such. Once we did that, he was more than willing to trot nicely on the rail. Of course, since we had such great forward motion, the canter transitions were no problem tonight.

It looks like with my crazy football-season schedule, our horse show season is over for the year. Pretty darn disappointing, only showing at 4 shows his 3yo year, but it can't be helped I guess! Too many irons in the fire. This winter we will work on getting stronger, better canter transitions, and maybe some ground pole work in preparation for fence work in another one to two years. I think I also need to start getting Corky back in better shape. That's my plan, anyways! Hopefully once Congress and the world show are over, I can haul to Darla for a few more lessons to see where we are in regards to movement.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Pretzel and I are making tiny improvements in agility. Unfortunately, our improvements have been in little details and NOT in the overall obedience/paying attention realm. Our weave poles are really looking good - he is really starting to use some speed and is hopping through them. The hardest thing for us is getting him started. Usually when we are in the middle of a course, when I guide him into the pole entrance he is so revved up he blows right past and keeps running. this happens a lot - his speed and enthusiasm work against me every time. I love that he loves his job, this is something I never want to change. I just need him to focus more on me and less on his adrenaline.

This coming Saturday we are going to Columbus to a CPE agility workshop. I reserved a working dog spot for Pretzel...time to see what will happen when in a strange place around strange dogs. I am more than a little worried - Friday he will be alone all day and all evening due to work, so hill have no time to burn off his excess energy. this could be very bad for his concentration on Saturday! Oh well, we shall see...either way it will be fun. We always have fun together.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Happy birthday to me!

As a special birthday gift to me, the weather cooperated and heavy fog descended on the area, causing us to have a fog cancellation for school. This meant I got to head out to the barn in the afternoon once the fog lifted and ride outside. Joy!

I haven't updated in a while, but I was just thinking as I rode how lately I have been seeing steady, if slow, improvement in Tango's transitions. As I cantered today I realized that our transitions weren't this dramatic deal any more. Sure, some days are better than others, but for the most part he is learning to round up and push off from his back end for the canter, and also to take it within a few strides of me asking (rather than halfway around the arena like he was a month or two ago). Once this realization hit me, I suddenly felt a LOT better about myself as an amateur horse trainer. Not quite the failure after all when it comes to Tango...slowly but surely we are getting it. I think next year he will be looking great under saddle. I am definitely going to hit more shows!

Last week I started working more on leg yielding at the trot. At first Tango was very resistant - more because he just wasn't sure what I was asking. He was breaking into the canter a lot with my leg pressure. Today was a lot better, I think he is getting the hang of it. Lifting his shoulders has never been his strong point (and is a big reason for our canter troubles), so this exercise is hard for him, but valuable!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Today Pretzel and I participated in a CPE Agility workshop near Columbus. It was awesome!!! I was shocked and amazed at how wonderful Pretzel behaved. I thought he would be completely wild in a new place around strange dogs, but he actually stayed somewhat focused on me throughout the day. We did 6 or 7 different runs - tried out each one of the CPE agility "games" that they offer. Talk about having to THINK your way through a was complicated but fun - right up my alley! Now I am excited, and a bit more addicted.

Here is a video from a bunch of our different runs. You will see plenty of handler mistakes, but I am learning as I go.

On to October...