Icon and I rented PP this weekend to do some coursework before tryouts. Kay came with us to help out and she got to run Apollo a few times since I have him entered in a USDAA trial next weekend. Kay will run him one day and Debbie the next. I really enjoyed watching him work with Kay. I always forget what a stunning dog Apollo is, I guess when he's right beside me I just don't notice. I also have a hard time believing he'll be 7 years old in less than 2 months. He still looks (and often acts) like a 2 year old! :)
We just did jumpers courses because I didn't want to bother moving contacts with just two of us there. And luckily Nancy already had a course set up so we just needed to set one by ourselves. The courses we did were fairly easy, which was nice because it gave me a much more comfortable feeling going into next weekend.
Kay took video of our practice for me, which I really appreciate. It's not all that exciting to watch (but you get an idea of the gorgeous view they have at PP). In the first run he turned the wrong way on the jump after the weaves, I was going for a wrap but he read it as a rear cross. On the 2nd course I had a hard time getting him into the the first tunnel. I need to make sure I support him until he's totally committed.
Icon's practice from Agility Dogs on Vimeo.
For a more fun video (in my opinion) we did the opening (1-4) of the first course a couple of ways.
The first time I did it, I didn't bring him through the center as the path is drawn, instead I double front crossed and sent him around the outside of 3. This is how I would do it in competition to take away the risk of the tunnel draw (which could result in an off-course, but more likely just add time to the turn). I timed the sequence based on video from when he took the first jump to when his nose entered the tunnel. The first time around he was 4.03 seconds.
After that I tried the opening 2 other different ways, a pull with a front cross (that was actually a mistake on my part, the course wasn't set up so you'd want to handle that way) and then a full pull through the center. I thought he turned quite nicely on both of these. The time for both was 4.12 second.
When I was calculating times at that point I was surprised that the first way, which appears longer on paper, was actually the fastest. Luckily I had done it the first way once more and after calculating the time on that... it was 4.12 seconds! So it is not necessarily the faster way to go, but I think the most important fact here is that it's also not the SLOWEST way to go. You have to run to your strengths and front crosses are definitely stronger for us. Icon will jump longer on pulls and not accelerate out of them as well. Anyway, it was an interesting exercise.
Which way is faster? from Agility Dogs on Vimeo.
I had a heart attack at the end of practice, when Icon started limping a bit on his front left leg. We had just finished our practice and were walking to the other end of the field when he went through a tunnel and was limping when he came out. I checked his foot in case he got something stuck in his pad, and I moved all his joints but I couldn't see anything wrong. After that he seemed fine. When we got home he ran around the back yard on his own and we went to the park this morning and he showed no signs of discomfort. Kay said that the tunnel holder chain was in front of the opening so he might have just smacked his foot on it and it stung for a bit. Very scary though.
I've decided that I'm not doing anything else with him until I get to MN. I packed up all of my agility equipment in the back yard so I wouldn't be tempted (ok, I left the teeter out, but a little bit of contact work won't hurt).