So far this week I have showed you each girl’s Steeplechase runs, Encore’s Gambler’s and errrh  ummm “jumper’s” run. So to redeem myself I will post Feature’s two Jumpers runs from the Canadian Nationals.  Day one she had the fastest time during this first run of the day. Many dogs, with far more experience, took  the “off course” tire on the pass by it. I was so pleased that Feature didn’t even consider it as an option.  Unfortuantly she dropped a bar while trying to bounce the opening line which required a turn and a bounce at the same time. She didn’t quite make it, but it was a pretty run nonetheless.

Removing a stride to bounce a jump is a pretty grown up move and I am impressed Feature even tried. However her failure may be why she didn’t attempt other easier bounces over the weekend (which she should have been able to do with ease).  I think that is pretty common for young dogs. They will gain and lose their confidence they mature. It is up to us as handlers to recognize our young dog’s small struggles and help them in the days following the trial to re-gain the balance & confidence so the dogs don’t lose some of these skills permanently.

It is one thing in general I have noticed, about North American agility dogs.  Many will come out adding bounce strides all over the place as novice dogs but lose that skill and rarely if ever, try again throughout their career. In England for example, the minimum distance between jumps is much closer (9′ I think compared to our 15′) and so dogs grow in agility up bouncing all over novice their courses. This gives them confidence as they mature, to evaluate when they can remove a stride between jumps and bounce their way to a faster time. 

Recognizing this I have worked in the last 2 years to have Encore put those bounce strides back into her performance.  This paid off last weekend where she attempted 3 bounce strides on her courses (one in the rain was not successful, the other two were lovely).  Watch and see Feature’s baby dog attempt at her opening line twist and bounce.  Next watch how, in the pouring rain, this barely two year old dog followed my body (without me giving verbal commands), collecting and extending her stride when my body cues indicated on her way to her third of four wins at the Canadian Nationals. Yes I am a proud mama!

Tomorrow I will post the girl’s standard runs from last weekend’s Nationals.  This weekend we are at the USDAA Regionals in Chicago so send us the same good vibes you sent out last weekend as we start our runs first thing Friday morning!

Tonight I am grateful for the uneventful 9 hour ride Lynda and I driving into Chicago today.  Hope to see some of you here and if I do, best of luck on all of your runs!