Welcome to Rabbit's world - 2014 edition!

Follow my journey through the twists and turns of 2014 - training my horses, training my dog, attempting new things, attempting to improve on some old things, and attempting to have bucketloads of FUN!

Click on any photo on the page to enlarge

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy happy New Year! Pretzel and I have a couple more days left in sunny, 84 degree Florida before heading back to the cold Ohio snowstorm that is approaching this weekend. It's time to set my new goals for 2014. I was pretty darn successful in my dog goals for 2013, but not very successful at all with my horse goals. This year I think I will group all my goals together into one goal list. So...here we go...

  • 1. Show Pretzel in an AKC agility trial
  • 2. Earn a QQ (double qualify) at an AKC trial with Pretzel
  • 3. Win a HUS class with Tango (against competition)
  • 4. Show Tango in more than 3 shows this year
  • 5. Win a showmanship class
  • 6. Get Corky back in the show ring

  • 1. Earn a Congress Top 5
  • 2. Breed another great HUS prospect for myself
  • 3. Earn an Agility title in AKC
  • 4. Earn a CPE Agility title
  • 5. Earn a group placement with Pretzel
  • 6. Compete at the WCA Nationals in agility with Pretzel
  • 7. Breed Corky
  • 8. Earn an AKC grand championship with Pretzel (in conformation)

Thursday, January 2, 2014

We leave tomorrow...boo! You HAVE to check out all of my pictures...this was the best vacation ever, I had so much fun taking my dog on vacation. Kinda like taking a child to Disney World LOL!

My Florida Pics

Saturday, January 4, 2014

I got home early in the evening and after I unloaded my truck I went into the garage attic and dug out my horse blankets. They are predicting a large snow storm tomorrow, and then Monday and Tuesday will have the coldest temperatures in 20 years - the highs are below zero!!! I found 4 blankets that weren't too badly torn and I headed out to the barn. I'd like to think Corky and Tango were happy to see me, but they were eating and really didn't act all that excited that I was there. I missed them, though!!! I piled on 2 blankets on both of them, hopefully they will be somewhat comfortable in these extreme temperatures. What a change from Florida weather. I am wondering why I live in Ohio.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Well, the 2014 work year started off with a bang...major snow storm yesterday dumped about a foot of snow on us, and today's crazy cold temperatures closed school today (and I predict probably tomorrow also). The picture to the left is our current temperature, at 3:00pm. I tried to go outside and shovel snow, but the snow kept blowing right back over the driveway, and Pretzel wanted in after about 3 minutes outside (can't blame him, it's horrible!!!).

So....I have an agility trial this weekend (another CPE trial). Crazy, scheduling it so close to my Florida trip, but my free weekends are few and far between so I have to grab them when I can. How does one practice for the trial when it is too bitter cold outside to practice, and even the barn is too cold for a dog to be out in? I suppose most of the other competitors have the same problem unless they train in a heated facility. I am scratching my head trying to figure out how we can practice in my small living room.

I head from the barn owner - horses are tucked in and fine. It's about 20 degrees in the barn, which is better than outside. If only it wasn't so darn cold...I desperately want to go ride. Oh well, there is no pressing reason for me to ride other than my own enjoyment (and the keeping of my sanity). Spring can't come soon enough!!!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Pretzel and I headed north last night to a CPE agility trial in Dexter, Michigan. Thank goodness we had a break in the weather - it was high 30's/low 40's and the snow was melting (the fog was horrendous this morning!!!). Pretzel has been cooped up inside all week due to the sub-zero temperatures. We did manage to get to the barn yesterday for about 30 minutes before we left so he could run around with the horses. 30 minutes was NOT enough, as we soon found out!

Leaping OVER the peak of the A-frame! Oops!

The morning started off with Jackpot. Pretzel was pretty wild - yeah, actually he was REALLY wild! He leaped onto the dog walk and actually fell off the side! It startled him a bit, and it took a couple tries to get him back on the walk and to the other side. This didn't deter him nor slow his speed, because he actually leaped over the peak of the A-frame, and landed on the contact. OK, at least he hit his contact, but he literally HIT it hard with his paws when he landed on it...yikes! Somehow, despite the craziness we managed to qualify in this class.

Things got a bit hairy after that. Our second class was Standard, which is the most important class to me as it requires you to complete all obstacles in order and clean. We had a few boo-boos on course where Pretzel ran past a jump and I had to call him back to take the jump, but the biggest boo-boo was him running out of the ring at the end of our run (and he skipped the final jump also!). Running out of the ring is an automatic DQ, so that run was toast. I was able to call him back and make him finish that last jump...too little too late!

Our Colors run was really good - the course was a straight show and although he got pretty far in front of me, he took the obstacles in order...until the LAST jump he knocked a bar, which is an NQ in Colors. I wasn't too unhappy with that run, because other than the dropped bar he did pretty well. He has a tendency to take off from way too far away when he is really motoring, and ends up hitting the jumps.

In Snooker, we had a great plan for our course, and the first 6 obstacles were perfect...until he blew the first obstacle of the closing sequence giving us another "NQ". The best laid plans often go awry when dealing with animals - dogs or horses!

Our last run of the day was Jumpers, and although he missed a couple jumps and I had to call him back around...AND he dropped a bar...I felt the run was pretty good. I was able to get his focus on me and he made the corrections I asked for. This run was a "Q"...it felt good to end the day with some success!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Day TWO of the CPE trial...We started off the morning with a second round of jumpers. It was a little wild. Pretzel had tons of energy and was ready to run!!! We knocked the very first bar, I think possibly I set him up to start a little too close to the first jump. He missed a couple jumps and had to go back - our usual price to pay for his extreme enthusiasm. However, it was good enough for another "Q", which means we now move up to Level 3 in jumpers. Wow!

Next was Colors, I had a good plan and it was executing well until the end. once again he bypassed the final jump and ran out of the ring. This is a very very very bad habit that is forming and I need to take care of this immediately. From this point on I will ask that they close the gate so he cannot run out of the chute. Plus I think I need to plan to be a lot more ahead of him when approaching the final obstacles. This will be tricky. I am glad I am finding this stuff out before we attempt our first AKC trial next month.

Next was Standard. I think our run was pretty good. We had one off course where he missed a jump, and one bar down, but our biggest accomplishment was on the contact obstacles. Taking the advice from a new friend I made at the trial, I stood upright and walked when he got on the dogwalk, and amazingly he slowed down and was able to target the bottom. The A-Frame wasn't as pretty but it also was a lot slower and more correct than yesterday. Progress!!! We got a "Q" and achieved my goal of finally moving up to level 2 in Standard. I was feeling pretty good....

....and then came Wildcard. Emphasis on the "Wild". For some reason, Pretzel took off during this class and completely ignored me - ran around taking his own obstacles, investigating smells in the corner, etc. We forgot to have the exit gate closed and he ran out to visit another dog. Ugh...it was hard to keep my patience but I did,. rewarding him when he did come back into the ring when I called. My mind was stewing over all these problems, and I suddenly felt like I have made ZERO progress.

Last of the day was Full House. I had a specific plan. My plan was to make him slow down between obstacles even if I had to call him back and make him stand still...and since the weave poles were an option in this class I was going to do them even if I spent the entire time attempting them. Well, my plan actually worked...I got him to slow down and come back to me, we got the weaves successfully, and other than one dropped bar and a random tunnel Pretzel couldn't resist we stuck to our plan and got a "Q". It's always good to end the day on a positive note!

Our two rounds of Jumpers - Day 1 and Day 2

Our Standard run...not perfect but getting a lot more under control!

"Full House" - our last run of the weekend. I worked hard to get him to back off and pay attention to me, and it felt a lot better.

Monday, January 13, 2014

We had a slight break in the temperatures, it actually reached 40 degrees today! I rushed out to the barn in between work and a meeting. I was determined to ride, regardless of what I had to do to make it happen. I haven't ridden Tango in 3 weeks!!! The amazing thing is that he rode as if I had just ridden him yesterday. I even rode with another horse in the arena, and he was really good and focused. I guess he is officially a 4yo now, even though his actual birthday isn't until April. Gosh...4 sounds so mature...and we have so little show experience. By this age Corky had already earned 2 Congress top 10's and her ROM. Ok, this is where I mentally yell "STOP!!!" to myself - Stop comparing Corky and Tango! For that matter, I need to stop comparing Tango to his mother Taylor. Every horse is different, they all mature at different rates, learn at different speeds, and will accomplish different things for me. I know Tango is different, and my expectations of him need to change as we progress. Oh man, but that is so hard to do after you've experienced such big highs like I did with Corky, and even Taylor! My highs with Tango will have to be a different type of accomplishment...what that might be I have no idea.

I have been working with Tango on his 360 pivots on the ground, and he is actually doing well with them. I am toying with the idea of really pushing the showmanship training with him this winter. I will play around for a while and see what happens. He is such a big cement block that it makes training hard. I am used to my space-sensitive mares that respect my space and move away from pressure easily.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

I took advantage of another decent day to rush out to the barn and ride. Tango rode pretty well. I can tell that as soon as he gets even a little out of shape, his canter goes to pot. It wasn't completely bad, but I had to work a lot harder at holding his shoulder up and keeping him on a pure 3-beat stride. Overall it was a good ride - I mainly just went through the paces and made him do everything correctly.

I still had time and energy so I actually got Corky out to ride! I forgot what a complete joy she is to ride...how wonderful it is to ride a fully trained horse. She was as smooth as butter...canter was wonderful. Her trot was a bit stiff and stilted. I worked her out of it and it got better, and then she got a bit wound up with the work and her stride started getting choppy again. I also forgot about that part of her...how she gets really tense with work and things tend to go downhill fast. What a shame. I think I will make it my mission to get her back into shape and a work frame of mind this winter. She needs to go back to the show pen, even if it is just for some little stuff.

Corky's showmanship is still spot on. I really have the urge to do some showmanship this year!!! My mind is whirling with all the plans I am making...dreams I am dreaming. I need a second life just to do all that I want to do!!!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Long time no post, I know...I am slowly recovering from the flu. Luckily (or unluckily, depending on how you look at it) I got sick last Saturday, was sick for 4 days but we had Monday off for MLK day and then Tuesday ended up being a snow day. So....while I didn't actually miss any work, I also missed 4 days off doing nothing but laying on the couch feeling miserable. Now I am feeling healthy, and we hit some below-zero days and snow again.

Today ended up being the one day where it was zero degrees, I had to work, and so did Kevin. I really hesitated putting Pretzel in the crate for 7+ hours while I was at work. He gets so frantic when he is crated in the daytime, plus that is a long time to be cramped up in a cage. I decided today I would let Pretzel stay alone loose in the house for the first time - all by himself like a big boy! I went through the house in the morning and tried to dog-proof everything. I removed everything foodlike off the counters, closed all the doors to the bedrooms, basement, and bathrooms. Then I headed to work and stewed all day, worrying about Pretzel. Not really worrying about the house, but worrying he might get into something that could hurt him.

I rushed home after work, and found I couldn't open the door! the deadlock had been bolted, and I never do that from the outside because the key is very hard to work in the deadbolt. I guess Pretzel had jumped up on the door at some point and flipped the lever to the deadbolt! I did manage to get my key to work, and I entered the house with much trepidation.

The house was pristine! Not a thing out of place. I looked around, and everything was as I left it. Then I noticed two brand new dog toys on the couch. It seems Pretzel went upstairs and pushed the bedroom door open, found the bag where there were two new dog toys my sister bought him for Christmas (I had put them away to save for a later date) and carefully took the two dog toys (ignoring the other stuff in that bag) downstairs to play with. How funny! I love that dog.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

This morning Pretzel and I went to Springfield to watch an AKC agility trial. I figured it would be a good idea to watch a bit since my first AKC trial is in 2 weeks. I met a Facebook friend Angela there. She has a wonderful champion agility dog named Storm. Storm is a Poet Weim, bred by the same breeder that bred Pretzel. In fact, after looking at their bloodlines we figured out that Storm is kind of Pretzel's aunt! Hopefully some day he can follow in her awesome footsteps and also become an agility champion. It was awesome watching her and several other top-notch Weims in the upper level agility classes. Of course, this whole experience made me WAY excited to get cracking on our agility career. Study, study, study, and learn!

Pretzel and Auntie Storm!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

I finally made it out to the barn - still a bit too frigid to ride but at least I got the horses out and let them run and play for a while. Tango actually followed me around the arena. I think he missed me!

I got some great advice from a dog show pal that shows Boxers (he used to do a lot of agility in the past). Here are some words of wisdom to myself to remember:

The Laws of Dogs in Motion
1) The dog turns when the handler turns.
2) The dog tends to work in a path parallel to the handler's path.
3) A dog ahead of the handler tends to curl back to the handler's position.
4) The dog gets his speed cue from the handler's speed
5) The dog gets his direction cue from the handler's toes, hips, shoulders and movement.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

I scheduled a private session with my agility instructor to work on Pretzel's contacts, trying to get him to stop at the bottom of each contact. We spent about 45 minutes working on the teeter and A-frame. Pretzel is really reading my body language. When I race him to the bottom and turn towards him, he does know to stop. Unfortunately this means I have to get ahead of him, which is not always (in fact, rarely) possible. I wish the weather was better so I could practice this at home. unfortunately, temperatures in the teens and 5" of snow make it difficult to get any good training done.

On to February...