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Welcome to my world - 2016! Come along on this crazy ride I call "life". Follow my horse and dog training and showing escapades, and my newly renovated life (because all lives need a little remodeling every now and then!).


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Monday, February 1, 2016

I forgot to mention last week that my ghetto house officially SOLD! Signed the papers, got the check (meager that it was) and I am outta Lima forever. Bye bye old life, welcome new life in Pickerington, Ohio. OK, I have to admit I was a little melancholy about leaving Lima. Just feeling a little weird about starting my life completely over at my age. Just goes to show - NOTHING is ever set in stone. Life is ever-changing, and you either embrace it and go with it, or get mowed down by it.

Today I went to Dogwood Agility for a private lesson with Sally to discuss a training plan for Pretzel. Interestingly - she had a completely different viewpoint about why he is running off in trials and being so wild. I thought he was just having fun, but she actually thinks it is stress - he gets ahead of me, doesn't know where to go, and just takes off running (mainly because it feels good). My training plan for the next few weeks is to get him to trial-like settings and just go in and do 2-3 obstacles at a time...do a couple obstacles and then call him to me and praise the heck out of him. This way he gets used to checking in with me, and he gets more confident by doing short sequences rather than long ones. We entered a UKI trial on Friday that is right near my house. UKI offers the opportunity to declare "NFC" (Not For Competition), and you can train in the ring. This will be a good opportunity to be at a trial, but be able to train. the following weekend we have a chance to go to agility run-throughs at the same place. More training! I will lick this problem yet, or die trying.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Today I went to the UKI Trial at a training facility nearby. I entered three runs (two jumpers and one standard) "Not For Competition". The first couple runs Pretzel was his usual scattered self, I tried just doing a couple obstacles and then calling him to me and praising him. we did little bits of the course in small pieces. It was good for us, I was able to proof his start line stay several times. By the third run (standard), I felt he was doing a lot better in coming back to me and not expecting to do an entire course. Plus he NAILED his two on, two off contacts! Yay! While progress was very very very slim, I felt like there was progress, so I will take it.

Next on the agility agenda is an evening of run-throughs at this same facility next Friday, where I will do more of the same.

Saturday-Sunday, February 6-7, 2016

This weekend I met up with a couple of my dog show friends at a UKC (United Kennel Club) conformation show in Michigan. UKC is much more relaxed than AKC, people are more casual, there aren't any professional handlers, and they let you enter the day of the show. Plus they have two shows per day. Saturday was pretty successful for us - as usual (as it is in UKC) there were no other Weimaraners so we got to move right into group. And as usual, there were a ton of dogs (16) in the "Gun Dog group" (similar to AKC's Sporting group only they also include standard poodles and Portuguese Water Dogs, among others). Saturday we received a Group Two and a Group Three. Sunday, we made the cut in both groups but did not get a placement. Pretzel was thoroughly bored with the whole thing, as you can see by the photo. We worked a lot on our free stack, and I did get a few good ones out of him. This is one area we have worked on a LOT and VERY slowly I am seeing slight improvement. I think I must be a really stinky dog trainer, because everyone else seems to get these awesome free stacks, and half the time Pretzel stacks like, well, a pretzel.

This is our last conformation show for a while, until mid-March. Time to practice!

Monday, February 8, 2016

Sometimes I am so frustrated with my brain (or lack of). I went all the ay out to the barn to ride, it was a semi-warm day (40 degrees) and the last decent day before the frigid cold and snow moves in tomorrow. I go to tack Tango up, and realize that I left my saddle at home because I took it home to clean and oil. Stupid!!! Instead, I longed him. Corky looked better today, mainly because of the warmer weather. When I got her out of her stall last week she could barely walk, she was so tight and crippled up with arthritis. Makes me sad to see such a big gorgeous horse move like an old woman. That's the price you pay for having a BIG athletic huntseater...sometimes they just don't hold up. I am hoping when spring comes I can get her legged up and feeling better.

I am putting off scheduling the breeding farm as we are expecting some winter weather in the next couple weeks. Nope, I do NOT haul the horse trailer in snow. I am too old and paranoid for that anymore.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

I am really loving my competition obedience class. Whuda think it? I seriously doubt if Pretzel will ever be able to compete, but the training exercises are a blast and they are giving me a lot of new insight into how he learns. Today we worked on front sits, pocket hands, and standing on a disk (rewarding for hind leg movement). We also did some heeling work (which is the one thing I think will hold us back from ever competing - Pretzel stinks at heeling). I was really proud of his sit stays and down stays - we did 3 minute stays of each and he was nearly perfect. I even left the room for a few seconds during his sit stay and he never moved a muscle. That's definitely a positive.

So yesterday, I was pretty excited because we finally moved up to first place in the NOHS rankings...

And within ONE day, the rankings got updated and again I got bumped down to second...

How quickly we hit the top and fall LOL! I really doubt if I could reach #1 and stay there, I just don't think we are good enough or experienced enough. I should just be happy with staying in the top 10 and qualifying for Eukanuba again, but you know me....I want to rise higher! There is a lot left in the year, but already we have as many points now as we did in mid-August last year. This just show how much tougher this year is going to be.

Friday, February 12, 2016

And *poof*! Just like that, we popped back in to first place. This will be short-lived, as we won't be showing for more than a month. The price I pay for living in the snowy north, I guess!

I received my win pictures from the Erie, Pennsylvania show today. What fun! Love the picture my friend and I took with our dogs together - Group 1 and Group 2 in the NOHS sporting group. I love it when my friends and I can share in the success.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Both horses had a farrier appointment today. Both horses have serious thrush going on in their feet - Corky's is so bad she actually has a hole eaten away in one of her soles. The farrier had to put a hospital plate on that foot (right front), and pack it with an iodine packing. Now I have to re-pack this foot every day until it heals. Always something, I am afraid...but thank goodness we got this taken care of before she heads to the breeding farm on Friday!

Friday, February 19, 2016

I managed to get my trailer out of the snow and get Corky to...YES!...the breeding farm! I hauled her to a farm about 45 minutes away, she will stay there for her ultrasounds, breeding, and pregnancy check. This farm was nice nice nice! She may never want to come home. Let's hope that she gets pregnant as easily as last year, with a better outcome! Cross your fingers please, and don't uncross them for the next year or so, cool?

Saturday-Sunday, February 20-21, 2016

CPE Agility trial - Wadsworth, OH

Well, this weekend I was hoping to see how my training has paid off. OK, first let me outline the good things. we managed to squeak out two Q's - in Snooker (level 3) and Standard (Level 3). Out of 10 runs the entire weekend, Pretzel never dropped a single bar. He was pretty solid on his start line stays. OK, that about sums up the good stuff. Now the bad and the ugly.

I had a HUGE problem with pretzel disconnecting with me and going off on sniff-abouts. As my agility instructor had told me, this is a sure sign of stress from him. Upon looking back at the videos and analyzing each run, I did find a pattern. Every time I had to slightly correct Pretzel - as in circle him back if he missed a jump - he immediately dropped his head and wandered off sniffing, tuning me out. If I could get him back on track, we started having some success again, until the next time he made a mistake, or thought he made a mistake. By the last two runs on Sunday, he was actually bypassing the very first jump to go off sniffing when we started the run. I feel we went backwards a LOT instead of making progress. I am lost as to what to do - I tried to make it as fun as possible, did NOT correct him in a way to make him feel like he was wrong, celebrated every little thing he did right, but he still stressed more and more each run.

I am so lost, my training has been a failure, and I feel like a total failure. What happened to my happy, confident dog? I don't get it...

Monday, February 22, 2016

It was a warm day today! I went to go ride Tango, saddled him up and took him out to longe him, and BOOM I noticed he was slightly off in the front end. He just had a farrier appointment last week, and the farrier has switched him to flat shoes for some reason. I think it is his old foot problem flaring back up, so I am trying to get a hold of the farrier to have him come out and put his wedge shoes back on. Dang. Just dang.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

I had a private agility lesson today. My instructor thinks that I need to get better with my handling so that Pretzel understands CLEARLY everything I want him to do, so he can become more confident. So, back to training we go...both he and I.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016
"Creativity comes from trust. Trust your instincts. And never hope more than you work." - Rita Mae Brown

I am really enjoying my competition obedience class with Pretzel. I highly doubt we will ever be able to actually compete (he SUCKS at heeling, seriously bad!), but the exercises we do are a blast and they build a good connection between us. I am having to really think through my training....it's hard work but so rewarding!

Sunday, February 28, 2016

It warmed up a bunch today, and I went out to check on Tango. he was sound and looked pretty good, so I saddled up to ride. This horse always seems to surprise me with how great he rides after a LONG time off. he rode wonderful. He still is very out of shape, but was so willing and really easy under saddle. I like having battle-free rides!

I have been going out to the breeding farm periodically to check on Corky and treat her foot that has the bad case of thrush. She seems to be happy, gets turned out with another gentle mare and has a very big stall with TONS of clean bedding. She is in heaven!

Monday, February 29, 2016

I had an agility lesson at Sally's this evening. Pretzel was SO much better than he was last week at her place. he still wasn't perfect - the first moment where I had to bring him back around to a jump he missed, he shut down and went off sniffing. the good thing is that I got him back quickly and he continued on very well.

Sally worked a lot with me on my body position, and using my shoulders and upper body to signal the change of direction before it was happening. It was amazing how well that worked, how well pretzel followed my turning of the shoulders and other arm cues. She said that part of the reason why he is shutting down is that he has lost confidence in me and my handling, because he isn't quite sure where he is supposed to go and doesn't get the information in enough time to change the direction he is moving. Once I can get myself signaling and cuing better, his response will be better. As usual, the biggest issues come down on me, always my fault. pretzel deserves a better handler, but unfortunately he is stuck with me!

On to March, 2016