Stepping it up in agility

So, Miki and I started agility again last night after about a 4 month break. We didn’t get into the next session, and then I would have been out of town for 3/6 classes for the session after that so it just didn’t work out. I was a little nervous going in as some of you may remember that the last 2 classes we did, Miki decided that sprinting across the arena in the middle of an exercise was more exciting than jumping & running through tunnels. Not only was I mortified, but also exhausted (I’m talking about running straight across a huge equestrian arena – at least twice per class).

This may have also been part of my reluctance to jump right back into another class. I had to re-establish my relationship with Miki and get her attention – something had to change before we went back. And, it has! Miki did awesome yesterday – she listened, she did the equipment properly, she was very engaged in what I was doing and not distracted at all by the other dogs or people. I was thrilled (and gave her a proportionate amount of both treats and praise).

Anyhow, this time I’m determined to really make some progress with Miki. Now, the dog – she’s a superstar. She can do all the equipment, she’s fearless and very willing to do whatever I ask her to. Me, on the other hand, I need some work. I’ve described agility as trying to learn dance moves all the while giving instructions to a dog on how to move. It’s hard enough that I’m not an especially coordinated human being, but adding Miki’s exuberance to that equation just bungles it all up.

Now, I’m not all THAT terrible and sometimes we do a perfect run on the first try… but I’m not consistent. And I think it’ll benefit both Miki and I for us to practice at least once, preferrably twice, per week, IN ADDITION TO our weekly class.

So… I started taking pictures of all the routines we did, and the plan is to set these up and practice at the arena at least once a week. The great thing about the arena is that they open it for practice whenever there isn’t another group in there for anyone who’s taking classes – the bad news is that it’s very popular (there are only a few places around Calgary that have facilities like this) and it’s hard to find free times. Naturally, I forgot to check the schedule on Monday but I’m planning on heading out Saturday anyhow. We’ll see.

I had thought about posting the routines on my blog but I’m not sure whether the trainer would have issues with that (giving away tips/training for free, etc, etc.) so I’ll ask next Monday and just leave you with a picture of Miki instead (can you tell the lighting is awesome for photography with an iPhone?) and the three things I want to work on this week.

  • Make sure I am indicating direction with the arm closest to Miki – if using that arm doesn’t make sense, chances are I screwed up a turn somewhere
  • Ensure Miki has committed to the side of me that I want her on – sometimes I assume she understands and then she’s bouncing all over the place because she’s confused
  • Not to get ahead of myself – at times I’m thinking ahead to the next piece of equipment and I’ll start turning in a direction before Miki’s committed to a jump, thereby confusing her

Until next week!

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