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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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Friday, January 1, 2016

Happy New Year!

Can you believe this is the 12th year of my training diary? Amazing! I actually started in November of 2004, when I weaned Corky. What a journey! If you are new here, you can check out all my years at my Training Diaries Main Page. It's pretty much all horses until 2012...then came Pretzel and life as I knew it changed forever (and I LOVE it!).

Well, it's finally here, 2016. My 2015 was so epic in many ways. So many massive life changes, so many ups and downs and ups! I hinted at the start of 2015 that I was about to perform a complete renovation on my life, and by golly I did just that! Yesterday I evaluated my 2015 goals (if you missed that post, you can go here to read it), so today's task is to set my goals for 2016. Many of my long-term goals carried over from last year, but I added a few. Funny how my list of goals keeps getting longer and longer each year. Am I getting more ambitious, or more obsessive? You be the judge...

2016 Short Term Goals
  1. Earn a Q in Open agility
  2. Earn an open agility title
  3. Get to level 4 in all CPE agility categories
  4. Earn a top 10 spot in NOHS Weimaraner placings
  5. Earn a Q in Novice Obedience
  6. Breed Corky successfully and finish out 2016 with her STILL being pregnant
2016 Long Term Goals
  1. Earn a Congress Top 5
  2. Have a healthy foal out of Corky
  3. Compete at the Excellent level in agility
  4. Break into the top 20 in AKC conformation (Weimaraners)
  5. Earn a C-ATCH in CPE Agility
  6. Finish #1 in something
  7. Earn a best in show or reserve best in show
  8. Put an open ROM on Corky's future foal

Wow, that's a lot of goals. Heck, and that's not even counting all my personal-ish goals I have, that I don't usually post in my training diary! Funny, so many of my goals are centered around Pretzel. I hate to admit it (because I hate admitting any time I am afraid), but I am a bit too scared to post too many horse goals this year. After losing Corky's baby last summer, and finding about Tango's career-ending bone disease last spring, I feel like I just cannot get too many hopes or dreams going for the horses. I am not sure why so many equine-related disasters fall into my lap, but they do...no matter how much money, time, effort, prayer, research I put into them. That's not to say I don't have those dreams anymore, I do!!! I plan on re-breeding Corky this winter, and try try again for my next hunter under saddle prospect.

So, enough of this drivel...I am going to do my usual New Year's Day tradition (a tradition I've always kept when I wasn't travelling on this day!) and go RIDE!!!

Friday, January 1, 2016 ...a little later... Corky

I started the new year right - spending the afternoon with Corky and Tango at the barn.

Tango gave me a completely trouble-free ride. How weird is that? He is probably trying to lull me into complacency for the new year. Whatever the reason, I really enjoyed it. After my ride, I got Corky out. I decided to put her on the longe line and see how she looks. At first, she was FULL of energy, was trotting like a million bucks. She made it about 6-7 circles and then she started looking sore. It wasn't a specific leg, but all-over body sore, looking to center mostly on her back end. I asked her to canter, and she was doing this weird hoppy thing with her hind end and she was swapping leads every couple strides in the back. I changed directions, and she was also doing it the other direction. I know her hocks are sore, but this looks really excessive. The last vet I had out couldn't figure anything out at all, it cost me a lot of money to have him just placate me with some DMSO and wraps. that's not what she needed! Time to start researching more vets in the area to find a good leg vet if this gets worse.

I do have a vet coming out on Thursday of next week to do a culture and ultrasound Corky to see if she is cycling yet. Fingers crossed!

I should mention that after two really good agility practices (with no contact obstacles), Pretzel has remained 100% sound! I am cautiously optimistic that his shoulder strain has healed. I am trying to rein in my excitement. I have missed agility so much!

Saturday, January 2, 2016

I spent the day loading stuff in the car and hauling it from Lima to Columbus. Yeah, I thought I would be DONE moving after today, I was so wrong. I have enough stuff (er...junk) to move that I had to rent yet another U-Haul tomorrow. That should be IT, no more! I swear, I will nevernevernevernevernever move again!

NOHS Finals 2015

On a happy note, I finally received my photo from the NOHS Finals in Orlando! No luck in getting the judge to get in the photo (and I wasn't going to wait 12 hours until the end of the show which is when he said he would do photos), so I again opted to stand alone. That's cool, less clutter, I guess! I think the picture turned out pretty good, although I have that insanity-ridden crazy look in my eyes in the picture (every now and then I have a picture with my eyes looking like that, I think it's my internal madness brimming over). I think Pretzel looks spiffy, and that's what really matters. Notice the white outfit - spotless, baby! Told ya!

So, I end today with a really good quote. 2015 was my "first wind" of dreams. I made it through, and my second wind of dreams is happening NOW. Every thing I do today hopefully takes me a step forward in achieving my goals. Every thing I do tomorrow keeps progressing me forward. I can't WAIT to see what happens in 2016!!!

"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

Monday, January 4, 2016

So, since I haven't shared many pictures or videos of Tango lately, here's a shorty from last week. This was our first ride after having over a month off. Yeah, he's out of shape. Those huge wedge shoes and pads sure don't do him any favors in the front end, but he was so willing and easy (which was very unexpected after he's done nothing but play in the field since before thanksgiving!).

I've spent the past few days moving more crap from Lima to Columbus. Pretzel, of course, was along for the ride...what a good boy he is. So patient while he waits in my truck while I load and unload, driving 2 hours one way, etc. Way more patient than I am, because this whole experience is making me crazy!

Next week starts a fun jaunt - 3 dog shows the next 3 weekends, including a little bit of agility. I am SO looking forward to this.

"Bite off more than you can chew, then chew it." - Ella Williams

Good advice. People are always telling me I "do" too much, I am too busy. Or, that I am too obsessive about my goals and passions (that's a good one - what one person calls obsession is another person's passion!). What I see too often is a person who sets a big goal, and then sits back and wonders why other people can reach theirs. Sitting back just ain't my thang, ya know? Have a Plan A, a Plan B, and a Plan W. ;-)

Tuesday, January 5, 2016 trial Entry

Well, I received confirmation that my entry in the Novi, Michigan agility trial was accepted...so in 2 weeks Pretzel and I will be doing conformation and Jumpers at the AKC show up north.

He has not been to a trial since last June. We have not taken classes since the beginning of October (due to his injury), and we are starting off now at the Open level (no more Novice for us!). I have been practicing, but it's not the same. So I have every right to be pessimistic, and expect the worst - we are going in to this trial with many many strikes against us. Yet I feel VERY hopeful. I have this tiny spark of optimism inside of me that is saying maybe, just maybe he has grown up a lot since last year and he will behave better, listen better, and focus on me. Maybe. just maybe we will start off with some success. My training sessions with him have been fantastic. Call me a fool, but I am going to go into this trial thinking the best, expecting greatness. I may be disappointed, but I also may be surprised! we shall see...

Wednesday, January 6, 2016 Obedience class #1

Pretzel and I had our first competition obedience class this morning (8am...ugh! Rush Hour in Columbus...double ugh!). I am going to really like this class, I think. As usual, the 4 other people in the class are all experienced in obedience and/or dog training. They all have young dogs (3 of them are 8 month old puppies). Pretzel is actually the old man of the class, being 3+ years old! I guess we are getting a late start (better late than never, right?).

As I expected, our biggest issue was keeping Pretzel's brain occupied with ME and not the puppies that surrounded us. He was kind of a doofus while we were just sitting around, but when we had a chance to get out there and work, he actually did pretty good. We are working on simple things to start, and I have homework!

The first lesson was the On/Off Switch. Basically, this is just a way to let your dog know when it is time for free play, and when it is time to focus on ME. Pretzel is about 50% there. I think he understands when I am asking him to 'work', but he doesn't always agree that work is the best option at the time. Something to work on, for sure.

The next lesson was Get it, find heel. Basically, I toss a treat on the ground so that Pretzel chases it, and I turn around and encourage him to come back to me and sit at "heel". This will help him learn the correct heel position. I am supposed to make sure he sits on my left side and sits facing straight ahead, and then I reward him.

Next is Leave in sit, find heel. So Pretzel is sitting in the heel position, I walk ahead a couple steps and then call him to come back to my side and sit at heel.

Number 4 is Scoot sits. I am not really sure about this one, not sure what I am exactly supposed to be asking. I am supposed to hold his collar with my left hand, and have him sit, then encourage him to get halfway up and scoot forward a bit and sit back down. Yeah, we aren't too good at this one.

Puppy recall is an easy one for us...it is the one thing we can actually do - come when called. In class, the instructor held our dogs for us as we went to the end of the room and called them. Pretzel is actually really good at staying in position when I tell him, and I can leave or come back and he will hold position until I call him. Believe me, I have worked HARD on this for the past 8 months to reinforce his start line stay in agility. I need that head start on him when we are running!!!

The last item is Cookie stays. Put Pretzel in a sit/stay, and place a treat on the ground in front of him, place another treat on the ground and pick up the first one and give it to him, and keep doing this (moving the treats around) teaching him to see the treats but do not touch. I do this with him already, so we are pretty good at this.

I thought I would be overfaced, but I feel pretty comfortable now. Granted, we haven't gotten to the really difficult stuff yet, but if he keep going at this pace and with these building blocks, I think we might actually be able to do this!!!

Tomorrow morning, cross your fingers. the vet is coming out to culture Corky and to ultrasound her to see if she is cycling. I hope I hope I hope!

Thursday, January 7, 2016

I scheduled a vet appointment for Corky this morning. On the agenda was an ultrasound to see if she has started cycling, and a culture to make sure she is free from infection. The vet ultrasounded her first, and found that she is indeed cycling. In fact, she had a size 20 follicle already being produced, which means she will probably ovulate in a week or so. Good news - my lighting program has worked! From the ultrasound, he thought that her uterus and everything looked really good. He took a culture sample, and also went ahead and did a uterine biopsy, since she had lost a foal in August. This will give us a little more information. So...the results from those tests will be back in 7-10 days, and I will know if she is ready for breeding or if we need to do some further vet work. Keep your fingers crossed!!!! This was a good appointment today, and as hard as I am trying to stay noncommittal, I can't help but getting a little flush of optimism and hope!

Saturday, January 9, 2015 Ponying!

Today was a decently warm day, almost 50 degrees! Pretty nice for January, and I took advantage of the weather to spend the day at the barn. Tango rode wonderful, I sincerely feel he has really matured over the past 6 months. He gets down to work and does his job now, even though at times he struggles with what I ask, he doesn't give me too much fuss about it. He still struggles the most with sidepassing. Lifting his shoulders up to cross his front leg is hard for him, but he has been steadily improving. That's all I can ask for!

Corky looked pretty good today (they had been turned out in the indoor all morning), so I took some time to pony her off of Tango. We haven't done this in over a year. As usual, she wasn't thrilled to have to travel that close to Tango, but she did. I LOVE Tango's attitude. He just drops his head and goes forward without worrying about the other horse bumping on him. He is going to make a great pony horse for my future baby (or should I say Corky's future baby...don't want to start any weird rumores!).

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Back to January reality! It snowed, sleeted, wind blew, it was a regular story winter morning. Of course, I didn't stay home...Mark and I took Pretzel and his dog Brennen to some agility run-throughs north of town. It was Brennen's first time trying agility away from his regular training place, and he did pretty good for a total beginner. Pretzel had some rambunctious moments, but he was REALLY focused on me, although we occasionally missed an obstacle, he always came RIGHT back to me and went on. This is new for him, because last year when he would go off on a tangent, I had a really hard time getting him back to me and focused.

Of course, although these were run-throughs, there weren't any other dogs ringside, and no commotion to distract him, so it wasn't like an actual trial. However, what he showed me really makes me feel optimistic. Just maybe we will be improved from last June. We will find out when we do jumpers at Novi in a couple weeks.

Now I do my usual scrutiny of Pretzel's gait all evening and tomorrow to check for any soreness. I kept him off the A-Frame completely, but we did do the dogwalk and teeter, focusing on slowing down and approaching the bottom with less speed and impact.

Video from today - please ignore my weird twitching and jumping. I am trying to proof his start line stay (he was a rock star at his stay today!). Do you see what happens when I am late with my cue and my body is too far forward? He jumps the tunnel instead of going into it! Oops ;-) I am really happy with his weave entry (we've been working on that a lot in our backyard).

Monday, January 11, 2016 Dog Show Journal Article

Pretty cool, my "story" will be published in the "Dog Show Journal" this month. Click here for a sampling of the article.

I have been working on my obedience class exercises with Pretzel all week. I have most of them down other than the "scoot sits" (I am a little confused by them, so I am not pushing it until I really understand what to do). I have also been working on a shaping exercise - getting Pretzel to put his front paws on a plate and rotate his back end around the plate while keeping his front paws on the plate. We started by rewarding every time he interacted with the plate on the floor. Then I upped the requirements and only rewarded when he placed a paw on the plate. Once he had that exercise down, I upped the criteria by requiring him to place both front paws on the plate. Then I upped it again by only rewarding him when he put both front paws on the plate and then kept them there. Now I am at the point that I am asking for movement of his back end, while keeping his front end on the plate. This is all done without any commands or instructions. I basically just stand there with his absolute favorite treat (cheese) and let him try to figure out what actions will earn his reward. It's a really cool way to train, but it requires a boatload of patience. I have very little patience with people, but I have gobs of it for horses and dogs. I wonder why that is?

My fumbling attempts at "shaping". We've been working on this for about 5 days. I think he is getting it! I love his expression...you can tell how hard his brain is working to try and figure out what he needs to do to get his reward.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

AKC Conformation Show - Hamburg, New York (Day One)
NOHS Sporting Group

Call me crazy, but I was pretty excited to travel to Buffalo in January for a dog show! Today's show was a success...we got Select Dog and Owner-Handled BOB in the Weimaraner ring, and we ended up with a Group Three in the Owner-Handled sporting group! What a great day!

Katie, Pretzel, and I

This is our first show of 2016, so it was pretty cool to start the year off with a group placement. Pretzel showed really well in group - he was a little fired up...and that is for a show dog - fired up enough to be on his toes and be alert and happy, but not so fired up that he jumped around a lot. I hope he holds this attitude for the rest of the show - it's a long 4-day show for us.

Friday, January 15, 2016

AKC Conformation Show - Hamburg, New York (Day Two)
Weimaraner breed ring

We started off the day as a carbon copy of yesterday - Select Dog and best of breed Owner-Handled. I had a long wait until group. The dog show was in a building connected to a casino, which was pretty cool! I put $5 in the slot machine, and ended up leaving with $7.50. A profit at a dog show, how amazing is that?

NOHS Sporting Group One

Pretzel showed awesome in the sporting group. I was SO proud of him. Right in front of me was a woman with a retriever bitch that was in blazing heat - I mean she was dripping blood all over the mats (gross, I know!). Of course, Pretzel was just a vibrating, quivering mass of boydog - he could barely contain himself with his nose right at her butt. The obvious polite, considerate thing to do would have the handler of that bitch let us all know ahead of time that her bitch was in heat so we could arrange ourselves to not have a male behind her, but some people aren't blessed with the considerate genes I guess. I quickly switched with my friend behind me who had a female. Pretzel was still quivering and vibrating in his stack, but I talked to him the whole time and he held it perfectly. I was SO proud of him, I know that scent was driving him crazy but he listened to me and still tried to obey me. What a good boy!

NOHS Sporting Group One

I kept Pretzel on his toes and showing the entire class. I could see that the judge was constantly looking at the dogs in the line as she was going over each dog individually. My days of showing horse showmanship served me well - I never stopped showing. We were rewarded with a Group ONE!!! How fantastic, and I think Pretzel REALLY earned it! I was thrilled. 2016 is starting off with a major BANG!

NOHS Best In Show

I was so excited to go in the Best in Show ring. I knew that the judge for this ring was not a great one for us, and I was right. I felt he barely looked at Pretzel. But that's OK - getting there was HUGE and that's what really counted. What a great awesome fantastic stupendous super day!!!

Saturday, January 16-17, 2016

AKC Conformation Show - Hamburg, New York (Day Three & Four)
Weimaraner breed ring

Saturday and Sunday's breed rings were again a carbon copy of the first two days - Select dog and owner handled best of Breed. We didn't have much luck in groups either day, which is usually what happens to me after I have a big win (I tend to come crashing down in a hurry). It was fun to see my friend get a group two the next day, so if I can't have success I at least want my friends to get some :-)

of course, when we packed up to leave on Sunday evening we had to leave in a blizzard. Lake-effect snow started burying Buffalo early Sunday, so by the time we left it was a white-out on the highway. We ended up having to take an alternate route home to try to avoid going along Lake Erie, but it still took us a LOT longer to get home. Thankfully, we arrived home safely.

Next on my agenda - we are only home a few days and then we head to Novi, Michigan for a HUGE conformation show, and we will also be doing Jumpers With weaves at the adjoining agility trial. This will be our first time competing in agility since June, and we will be doing the open level. I am excited and VERY hopeful. I worked SO hard at retraining Pretzel, I hope and pray it was worthwhile and he is more focused and obedient. If not, it will be so discouraging to me because I will be at a loss as to what to do differently.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

AKC Conformation and Agility - Novi, Michigan day #1

Well here we go, our re-debut in agility! The open jumpers course was not too difficult. Unfortunately it had several straight line passages right at the start. So...I lost Pretzel at around jump #2. He got ahead of me, and took off running, grabbing random jumps as he went. Several times I had to call him back to me. In all we racked up 50 time faults, 4 off coyrse jumps, 3 or 4 refusals, it was downright ugly. However, one bright spot was his weaves - he nailed the entrance kn the first try and zipped smoothly through all 12 poles. One good moment in a sea of insanity. Oh well, there is always tomorrow.

Conformation was later that afternoon. It was tough tough tough competiton! We didn't get looked at in the best of breed ring, and the judge really didn't want to give me best owner handled but she did. The OH sporting group was late in the afternoon, and Pretzel was really tired. Bad boy, he tried to pace both directions in the down and back. I corrected him immediately both times, but that was a big factor in keeping us out of the placings. Oh well, as in agility, there's always tomorrow, right?

Friday, January 22, 2016

AKC Conformation and Agility - Novi, Michigan day #2

Today started with conformation. Another TOUGH day of competiton, we didn't get anything in best of breed, and there was a showdown between me and another owner-handler for the ribbon...like I said - tough competition and the judge took a long time in deciding. I was pumped when she picked us...yes!!!

We showed in the sporting group before our jumpers run. Pretzel showed really well for me, I was really happy with him. We didn't get anything, but that's ok - he showed so much better than yesterday!

The jumpers course was perfect for us - twisty and turny with a fun 5 jump circle in the middle. Unfortunately, Pretzel took off after jump #1 and I never got him back. He took a bunch of random jumps, ran around like a crazy dog, and I ended up having to grab him and remove him from the ring. It was horrible. Seriously the WORST run I have ever had with him. Just horrible. He paid ZERO attention to me. All that work, retraining, practicing, all for naught. I don't think I have ever been so upset after a run. I am seriously considering quitting agility. It seems pointless to continue. I CANNOT get him to focus at trials and follow me. In practice, in class, at run-throughs he is PERFECT. At trials, he gets a huge grin on his face and just takes off. I am not the nervous type, I am a musician...I never get nervous when it is crunch time. He isn't getting this craziness from me, I tend to get ultra-focused when it is time to perform. I just don't understand why he can be so I credible everywhere but at the trials. I am so discouraged. So down...

Saturday-Sunday, January 23-24, 2016

AKC Conformation and Agility - Novi, Michigan day #3 & 4
Weimaraner breed ring

Well, Saturday was more of the same in agility. Pretzel did a few more jumps than he did yesterday, but still ran wild, and I ended up pulling him off the course about 2/3 of the way through. Conformation both Saturday and Sunday were real bummers - I was a big loser...nothing in the breed ring and got beaten for owner-handled Weims. Ouch! It was tough being a complete loser the entire weekend. I swear I was the invisible woman in conformation. Looking at the photo, you can see that although Pretzel is within the breed standard height for Weimaraners, he is a lot shorter than the other Weims in the ring. this really hurts us when the competition is tough. Many judges are like the horse judges - bigger is better. When you go up against really good competition, this is the one factor that drops us down, and it really makes me sad. It isn't supposed to matter - he is within the standard height limits and is very correct, but when all else is equal (or not) it still does.

I have mixed feelings about the past 4 days. I had a little bit of success (owner-handler on Thursday and Friday) but the rest of the weekend was a bust. I am most concerned about agility, I don't have a plan, and I am not sure this is fixable. It will break my heart if we have to give up the sport because he can't control himself. I wish I had an answer...

Saturday, January 30, 2016

AKC Conformation Show - Erie, Pennsylvania Weimaraner breed ring

Erie, Pennsylvania is one cooooold city in January! The show was at a convention center right on Lake Erie. It was similar to the show at Novi, Michigan in that there were hordes of spectators. I like that - it made the show more fun for us (Pretzel loves when people fawn over him). Our first day in the breed ring was only mildly successful. We did end up with best opposite, and the BOB Owner-Handled ribbon (which is what we came for). The Owner-Handled Sporting Group went fairly well, but I could tell the judge was not interested in us in the way he skimmed over the exam and didn't really watch us. Sure enough, no placement in group. On to tomorrow...

Sunday, January 31, 2016

AKC Conformation Show - Erie, Pennsylvania Weimaraner breed ring

Sunday started off with a bang! Pretzel was a bit naughty in the breed ring, did not want to stand for his stack and it took me forever to get him straightened out. the judge kind of laughed and said "Wow, you had to work really hard for that!". I thought this would hurt us, but the judge must have liked what he saw because he awarded us best of breed (along with BOB Owner-Handled)!!! This was a nice win for me after coming off such a losing show in Novi last weekend.

You can see me laughing in this picture - this is when the judge commented about how hard I had to work to get him to stack!

The judge points to Pretzel as his Best of Breed!!!

OH Sporting Group ring

I showed in both the regular sporting group and the owner-handled sporting group. My judge for both groups was the same judge I had for breed. I was not sure how to look at that - it could work for us or against us. In the regular sporting group, we got nothing, which was pretty much expected. In the owner-handled group, we ended up getting a group Two behind our friend Taylor and her German Wirehaired Pointer! I love it when my friends and I all place in group.

OH Sporting Group ring

Taylor and I attempted to get a dual win picture together with both of our dogs. It was difficult because Pretzel decided he was in love with Callie (her GWP), so getting them both to sit together on the podium was a chore. I can't wait to see the picture!

On to February 2016!

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