Jan Hare ~ 2017

Welcome to my brain...my world! If you've been reading my training diaries for the past 11 years (yes, I was "blogging" before blogging was cool!), then you know to expect the unexpected. What does 2017 have in store for me? I am excited to find out! Hang with me as we go through all sorts of crazy happenings - expecting a foal in February, Noodle's official show debut, Pretzel's return to agility, and who knows what else I have up my sleeve (heck, I don't even know!). I predict fun and frustration, successes and failures, but above all...keep on keepin' on.

By the way, Click on any image on this page to enlarge it.


Sunday, January 1, 2017

Happy New year! Today starts a new journey of hopes, dreams, and goals. I hope I never get too old to be excited about new ventures and new goal-setting. Every day I wake up and am amazed at the twists and turns my life has taken. And here I am...in a place I never dreamed I could be - 100% completely happy! Crazy!

"Cherish your visions and your dreams as they are the children of your soul, the blueprints of your ultimate achievements." - Napoleon Hill

So now it is time to set goals for 2017. *Deep breath*... here we go!

2017 Short Term Goals
  1. Earn a Q in Open Agility
  2. Earn an open Agility title
  3. Get to level 4 in all CPE categories
  4. Earn a Q in Obedience (nov or beg nov)
  5. Achiever Noodle's conformation championship
  6. Earn Pretzel's Silver Grand Championship
  7. Have a healthy foal and healthy Corky
  8. Stay #1 in lifetime NOHS Weimaraner points
  9. Compete in obedience and rally at WCA Nationals

2017 Long Term Goals
  1. Earn a Congress top 5
  2. Compete at the Excellent level in agility
  3. Break into the top 20 in AKC Weimaraner conformation
  4. Earn a C-ATCH in CPE agility
  5. Put a ROM on Corky's future foal

Sunday, January 1, 2017 - later

I continued my New Year's Day tradition of spending the afternoon in the saddle. I think I have ridden nearly every New Year's Day since 1988, minus just a couple.

I have not ridden Tango in a while. OK, let's be honest...it's been a LONG while. I've been so busy with the dogs, traveling, and quite honestly just haven't had the burning desire to ride him. I know I am not going to show him, not even sure what I am going to end up doing with him, so the motivation just isn't there.

I will say - he is so fat and out of shape, he almost looks more pregnant than Corky! My girth barely fit him. However, he really ode great. He was a little heavy moving at first, but gradually got loosened up and back into his normal sweeping big trot.

However, when i asked him to canter (to the left, first), man did he balk! I tried not to make it a massive battle, but I did get him through it and into the canter and once he got moving he was surprisingly good! He didn't balk at all when I asked him to canter to the right, but when we turned back around to go to the left, he balked again. only balking when I asked him to canter from a walk (cantering out of a trot was OK). I think a lot of it is that he has never been quite as comfortable cantering to the left - it is harder for him - so he just plain didn't feel like working. That's my Tango LOL!

Overall, it was a very good ride, and it reminded me how much I truly love to ride whatever the reason. I am definitely going to have to ride more often, just to keep my sanity. I left with such a good feeling...

On the Corky front - she is HUUUUUUUUGE! She feels good, though! I brought her inside to groom her (which she loved) and then turned her back outside and she took off cantering and jumping...looked so funny with her big pregnant belly. We have about 5 weeks to go, I am guessing. So excited!!!

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Welcome to winter! I guess it officially arrived today. Noodle became obsessed with eating the snow...I think she ate her body weight in snow and ice, and frozen mud. I suppose that is better for her than eating huge mouthfuls of mud, which is what she has been doing the past few weeks. Her pica-tendencies are a challenge to deal with. I hope and prays she grows out of this!

Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.
- Helen Keller

Can you say "legs"? Looking at this photo makes me realize how much she has grown in the past month! Holy cow! I have made her entry in her first official conformation show - Harriman, Tennessee in a little over 2 weeks. This show works out perfectly with her age. On that Saturday (Jan. 21) she will still be too young for official classes, but they have a 4-6mo puppy class on that day. On Sunday of that weekend, she turns 6 months old and will show in the 6-9 month puppy class. I am hoping there will be other entries, but this is a pretty small show so we might not get any points. That's OK...it's a good venue for a young puppy with little experience. This is so exciting! So much to look forward to...

I enrolled Noodle in a conformation handling class. I think it will be a good thing for both of us. I want to keep learning and improving, and although I've had a ton of success this year, I don't want to get stagnant. We start on Wednesday.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Well, I went north to run Pretzel in some agility run-throughs. No, I haven't given up quite yet. I always feel when I trial goes badly (which they ALL have been the past few years) that I should give up...then I go home, sleep on it, regroup, and decide to try and come up with a plan of action.

Here is the interesting thing. I did three runs. the first run was pretty bad - Pretzel kept stressing, disconnecting from me and putting his nose on the ground to sniff. This was JUST like what he does at trials! By the second run, I think he actually figured out that this wasn't a trial, because although he made a TON of mistakes (like being drawn to his favorite contact obstacles off course), he never once disconnected with me, never once put his nose to the ground to sniff. the second run was markedly different - he was obviously happy, tail wagging, and very excited. It was like he was a different dog than just 30 minutes earlier!

For some reason, if he thinks he is at a trial, he shuts down, stresses, and will not pay any attention to me. If he thinks this is just class, practice, or whatever, he is fine.

I know what you are going to say, but no, I do NOT get nervous or hyped up at trials. I am a musician, used to performing onstage, and have shown horses for 30 years. I really don't get nervous. I have been to enough trials that it really isn't that big of a deal to me. I honestly don't think anything I am doing is causing the stress (I certainly wasn't stressed at his first run at the run-throughs this morning). I really believe it is all in Pretzel's head. How the heck do I fix that????

I send the videos to a more experienced and skilled agility friend to get her opinion. We have a trial next weekend. I'd love to have a plan of action going into that trial. you know me...I need a plan!

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Tonight was Pretzel's first agility class in almost a month. He was the same way he has been for the past 5-6 months - very lackadaisical, slow, and accurate. He is just so bored with classes in the same training building week after week. He doesn't really do anything wrong, he nails his contacts, stays on target, but just does everything slow and unmotivated. I think I am going to try to get him in a class someplace new later this winter, or try something different. It's pointless to practice when he is like this...this is not the same dog I have at trials!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

I spent the afternoon grooming Corky. She was covered in mud, so she appreciated the attention. Her udders are super-swollen, but in a weird way. they don't look like any of my other pregnant mare udders. I don't know if I should be worried, or if it is just my usual pregnant mare paranoia coming out.

I did feel the baby move around, it was awesome! Her stomach was rolling around a little as I groomed her. After I was done, I turned her out in the indoor, and she trotted around with this big, massive, gorgeous trot...just like she moved when she was in her prime. It was an absolute joy to see, and I felt like I could cry tears of joy. I LOVE seeing her like this!!!

This evening I took Noodle to her very first conformation training class. I signed up for classes being taught by a well-respected handler. It was one of the best classes I have ever had. he worked us all the entire class, loads of good information, and he gave me a few hints to improve her free stack. She tends to want to stop with her back feet staggered (like a German Shepherd)...same problem I have with Pretzel. He had me slow down and stop her early, then use the leash to move her front end a little to the right and left to throw her hind end off balance a bit so she would bring her trailing foot forward for balance. I like having a specific tool to practice with. Going to practice HARD the next few weeks...her first show is in a week and a half!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Today I had a private obedience lesson with both Pretzel and Noodle. My instructor Pauline is awesome! She came up with a list of exercises to work with Noodle:

  1. Toy Play (teaching her to chase a toy and interact with it, to eventually use toy play as an alternative reward to food)
  2. Scoot Sit (taking tiny steps forward, having her scoot forward and keep going back into a sit)
  3. Kick Back Stand (from a sit, having her go back into a stand by lifting her butt up and kicking her back legs backwards into a stand)
  4. Spinx Down (Going from a stand to a down by sinking backwards)
  5. Twirl/Spin (Spinning a circle both directions on cue)
  6. Back (Backing up on cue)
  7. Disc Work (shaping her to put her front paws on a disc or plate)
  8. Chair Attention (Sitting in a chair with her sitting in the "chute" made with my legs, rewarding her every time she looks up at my face)

She did really well with her one-on-one lesson. She is pretty focused...when there aren't any other dogs or people around! Sounds familiar...haha!

Pretzel was good. Our biggest struggle is heeling. he is heeling OK, but with near zero enthusiasm and not a lot of focus. Our goal is to get his focus up and his attitude excited. We did a lot of work with stationary heel attention - basically sitting at heel position and quietly enticing him to focus upwards towards my face with a treat. I have to remember to always start walking (when heeling) with my left foot...shouldn't be too hard since this calls in to play an old marching band skill :-) Pretzel also needs work on his scoot sits and his backing.

My goal is to have him ready to show in novice Obedience and Novice Rally at WCA nationals in June. A big goal....I think I will add that to my 2017 goals!

Friday, January 13, 2017

Well what are the odds that I will have a conflict yet again with the 4-6 month puppy class and the Weimaraner breed ring? Yup...next weekend at Harriman, Tennessee. If Noodle wins her sporting group, I will end up having a conflict. UGH!!!

On other conformation show news...they released the numbers for the Grayslake, Illinois show that we entered for the following weekend. Majors in bitches all 4 days! Oh boy...talk about jumping right into the fire with a baby puppy! Wow...

Corky gets her last pregnancy vaccinations on Monday. Either Tuesday or Wednesday I will haul her to the foaling farm. It's almost go time!

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Agility trial today! Thankfully, it is right here in Columbus, so no traveling required. After my bad day at the Zanesville trial a few weeks ago, I wasn't exactly brimming with optimism.

Here is the weird thing...Pretzel never once sniffed the ground. What he did do is completely leave me many times in each class and run over to the fence near the doorway where people and dogs were entering and exiting. It was a very close trial site, and the incoming dogs were right next to the ring fence. I could not get him back to me to work...in fact in my third run (jumpers) I went ahead and just grabbed him by the collar and led him out, because he refused to come to me.

At dinner tonight, Mark and I discussed this whole agility thing, and Pretzel's agility career. We both decided that since there has been zero improvement, if this continues maybe we should go ahead and give up this sport. No sense in beating our heads against the wall (and spending gobs of money on wasted entry fees). This is so incredibly depressing. I SO wanted to succeed at this sport, but maybe I have to accept reality and deal with it, change the dream.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Well, of course because I came to that hard decision last night...things changed today! We started off the morning with open Jumpers, and Pretzel was much improved. He missed one jump near the beginning - he jumped pretty wide and I wasn't able to correct him - but I did get him to circle right back around and go on. We had some slow, deliberate weaves (I think he was afraid of making a mistake), and then someone walked in the door with their dog and he ran over to the fence. However, I was able to get him right back on course and we finished out great. Big improvement!!!

Next was Open Standard. We had a few more mistakes in this class, but every single time Pretzel came back to me and continued working. I don't think his stress was completely gone, but he was OK with making mistakes and didn't completely check out after each one.

So now, what is next? Good question. I guess I continue training. We are entered one day of a trial in late February. I came home and sent in my entries for a CPE trial at the end of March. We will give it a few more tries to see if things improve.

I sure wish I could just read Pretzel's mind. What is he thinking about the whole agility thing? Does he love it? Hate it? Is he having fun? Is the stress lessening? I wish I had taught him English....but then again he is a German breed ;-)

Monday, January 16, 2017

The time is approaching....BABY TIME! Corky had her last vet appointment today for her pre-foaling vaccinations. We are taking her to the foaling farm on Wednesday. then we wait....and wait....and wait....and pray.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

"Optimism is an expectation of the future, but hope is a way of experiencing the present. Optimism argues with the predictions of cynicism and bitterness, and is often proved wrong. Hope rejects cynicism and bitterness as unhelpful, and is perennially proved right."

- Doug Muder

We will call this month the season of hope. Today I hauled Corky to the foaling farm. She is due approximately around Feb. 6, though I really feel she will go longer. I feel very optimistic about this pregnancy and foal. I really do! This is so odd, especially after what has happened the last 3 times I bred. February is usually such a dreary, uninspired month. However...this February will be different. I just need to convince Corky not to foal while I am gone to Indianapolis the 8th through 12th. Of course, if she does decide to foal, I will burn rubber to come back for the birth, regardless of what is going on. Exciting!

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Well...I bit the bullet so to speak and I entered Pretzel in two beginner novice obedience trials in Indianapolis in February. We are going there for conformation, and I think it is time to try him out in some obedience. We've been taking classes for over a year now. I am thinking I will have really no idea where we are at in our training until we attempt to do this in public. Oh boy...stay tuned...

Saturday, January 21, 2017 - AKC Conformation - Harriman, Tennessee

This weekend's show is in Harriman, Tennessee. A small show, perfect for Noodle's debut into the "real" classes. Today is one day short of her 6 month birthday, so we did the 4-6 month beginner puppy event one last time. Noodle finished her beginner puppy career with a bang, getting another puppy sporting group one, and then going on to win best Beginner Puppy in Show!!! She showed like a rock star...both judges commented on her good behavior and training (yay!!!). I am so terribly proud of her!

Pretzel, of course, was not to be outdone. he was the only weim entered today, so of course we got best of breed....but we also picked up an Owner-Handled Sporting group ONE! Oh, and we picked up a regular sporting group THREE also....imagine that! Today was a pretty incredible day showing both of my dogs. I came very close to missing my owner-handled sporting group. I was standing in line waiting to get the win photo with noodle for her best puppy win, and I heard then call the sporting group into the ring. in a complete and total panic, I had to run all the way into the other building, grab Pretzel, and run back. I entered the ring late, flustered, heart beating, and ended up taking a group one. Big love to my boy who although he knew I was a scattered mental mess, he showed completely solid.

Sunday, January 22, 2017 - AKC Conformation - Harriman, Tennessee

Happy 6 month birthday, Noodle!!! Today Noodle joins the "big dogs" and enters the 6-9 month puppy class. Now is our chance to start earning points towards her championship. Unfortunately, there wasn't a chance today as she was the ONLY class Weimaraner entered. in fact, the only other Weim entered was Pretzel, in best of breed. I showed Noodle in her class, and then Mark took her over for best of breed. Poor Mark...Pretzel and I had to be in front and she tried really hard to chase us in the ring. Oops...that is something we are going to have to work on, I guess. Pretzel won best of breed, of course. No owner-handled classes today, and the judge in the sporting group never even really looked at us, so no placement today.

Overall, it was a great weekend. We had some GREAT successes and some GREAT learning experiences that gave us things to work on. next week - Grayslake, IL and majors ALL FOUR DAYS. Oh boy....

Monday, January 23, 2017

I checked on Corky at the foaling farm today. The manager told me he thinks she could go as early as this weekend! Noooooooooo!!! I will be north of Chicago from Wednesday until Sunday. Please oh please oh please Corky, hold off until at least Sunday night. She looked pretty cranky today. The time is near, but I honestly think she has at least another week or two to go. Just my instinct talking, we will see how correct that is.

Thursday, January 26, 2017 - AKC Conformation - Grayslake, Illinois

Wow, Grayslake, Illinois is a loooong drive from here! Driving through Chicago was a bit of a bear. BUT, Noodle started off the show by making the long drive totally worth it - as the youngest Weimaraner bitch entered she ended up taking Winners Bitch for the major!

I was so proud of Noodle, she showed like a champ. We still need to work on our gaiting, because she does want to forge ahead and pull on the lead (which makes her go a little crooked). I especially love how she handled the show site. It was a big show and pretty crowded, but she was not fazed by the crowds.

Pretzel showed great also - he ended up getting best opposite. A great day for all of us (and you know what that means - celebration at Olive Garden!!!)

Friday-Sunday, January 27-29, 2017 - AKC Conformation - Grayslake, Il

The next three days were pretty successful. All three days Noodle was seriously considered for winners bitch, and ended up reserve winners bitch. Several of the judges had some big compliments for her, and I was especially proud to hear the good remarks coming from other die-hard Weimaraner people that were at the show watching us. Pretzel was awarded best opposite two more days, and select dog on Sunday. Both dogs were awesome all 4 nights in the hotel room (way better behaved than most of the other dogs in the hotel!). The people at this show were extremely friendly. Overall, it was a show WELL worth the long drive (and the insanity of going north of Chicago in January haha!).

Monday, January 30, 2017

Good girl, Corky! She held out over the weekend. Today she was pretty cranky and looked very uncomfortable. Maybe the foal will arrive tonight? I hope so!!!!!

ON to February, 2017...