Last night the new agility session started at the barn. Considering it was in the low 20's (20°F = -6.6° C) I expected to be freezing, but it wasn't bad at all. In fact at one point I had to take my jacket off!
Due to Carmen's eyes I am officially running her as a veteran. She is going to be 7 in April. This means she will jump 8" in all venues.
Last night was the first time I have run her at 8" in class since January 08. She was GREAT!! At first I thought it was mostly because I was concentrating SO hard on being consistent in my speed and handling, but Katrin said she was jumping better and she was moving much faster. She said it's like she doesn't have to think anymore about jumping. Hooray! I think she missed class! There were multiple moments on course where I saw her really hunker down and dig in.
In addition I think I figured something out (!!!). Katrin had a discrimination issue set up – the tunnel and the dogwalk. Considering Carmie is in alignment I knew this would be hard for us – she loves those contacts.
In the second portion of the course, coming off a jump the dog was headed right to the tunnel, but you wanted them to take the dogwalk (after they had already been through the tunnel via a pinwheel). The first time I really pulled my shoulders but kept moving (and Carmie dug in and went SPEEDING through the tunnel).
Katrin pointed out that I kept moving and said "you need to stop your forward motion." Perhaps because I was focusing so much on maintaining a consistent speed, so I wasn't racing, this made sense to me and was actually possible. AND IT WORKED. Multiple times Carmen started for the tunnel and stopped and CHOOSE the dogwalk. My instructions/cues got through!! Amazing.
Carmen also had SUPER teeter performances. I really need to stop babysitting the teeter so much. I am nervous because it took her so long to get over the fly-off at Erin's. Last night she was racing up and sitting on the ride down!! I have not even intentionally taught that behavior (although it is what Katrin recommends, I have just used a wait in whatever position the dog prefers).
The second run-through I could tell Carmen was a bit tired, but she still worked very well for me. I am so pleased with her performance. I guess a month off was a well needed break. I do need to find time to do more conditioning with her – since she doesn't actually live with me she misses out on some of what the boys do.