03/07/20

Hello again; it’s only been what, five maybe six months since I was meant to start this properly, but we’ll call it an acceptable delay given the circumstances. The three dog blog is making a comeback, or I guess a restart from scratch, and will now track the collie’s progress throughout this period of lockdown training. Before we begin, a couple of points to share; firstly, if you follow us on instagram you should find a complementary vlog that will show the physical demonstrations of what I’ve been working on, secondly, sadly the three dog blog is currently down a dog. Kona has an injury on one of her rear legs and is away from agility at present, but we are hopeful that she will recover soon enough and be back in training before the end of the year. In the meantime, I may steal Tengu to occasionally fill in as the third dog.
So, where did we leave off? Obviously, Crufts has long since passed and was a huge success, with Tengu and Lexi both doing us proud. We then managed to sneak in one local competition at the new heights with a jumping win for me before everything went to hell.
While clearly things have been extremely hard for everyone, now that things have started to ease and we are back to 121s and groups, I cannot help but be grateful for this extra time. Like everyone else I had big plans for what I wanted to gain from this season; Champ, Olympia, and Crufts, but the lockdown has presented the opportunity to really go back to basics and develop all of my existing skills, as well as training new techniques to make the dogs into the best versions of their sporting selves, ready for whenever the season starts up again.

Let’s talk about Lexia. Post Crufts, I gave Lex a couple of weeks to rest, just to recover from the intensity of running on the carpet and jumping at 60cm, but then the rest extended far beyond what I ever intended. She had a lovely first six weeks of quarantine, acting as a demonstration dog, filming the short instructional clips for the Facebook group, going on lovely five-mile walks, before returning to her training in May. Currently, I have her jumping medium and will remain at this height for another couple of months. Part of the reasoning behind this is her own health and well being, I didn’t want her jumping full height after so much time away from agility, secondly, it allows me to retrain her foundations more effectively. As a dog, she doesn’t wrap very naturally, so currently I am working on ways to build up her flexibility and understanding of core strength, as well as the actual motion of collecting herself before a jump and landing whilst wrapping. To cover this, we’ve done our three core jumping manoeuvres (rounds, wing wraps, and ketchkers) as well as one jump rear cross wraps, threddle wraps, scooped weave entries at various angles and anything else that requires that same full-body action. Away from agility, I have been working on her overall awareness and conditioning. Lex has always been a bit funny about her feet and various surfaces underneath them, so work has been focused on building up her confidence and rear end awareness. This means a lot of stepping back onto either the FitBone, or the pawpods, building up to having all four feet on a surface in a controlled fashion, ideally in a standing stack. She is improving every day and it’s amazing to see her gaining strength and confidence after years of being somewhat unsure of herself.

Meg is the project that I am enjoying most at the moment. This time has allowed me to approach her training in a new way, namely that I can train her to respond to the kind of handling that I’m used to doing with Lexi and Kona. The plan that I have established with Lesley in her 121s, is that we are essentially working her at a Grade 5 or above level, practicing the harder techniques in her private sessions and maintaining her existing skills in the groups. Meg has been hugely responsive to this method and is starting to show a real understanding of all the various techniques, no matter what the difficulty. On occasion, she still reverts to her mad merley ways and makes a couple of management decisions, but 90% of the time, she is fully engaged and almost foot perfect. Her biggest achievement thus far, is her progression in the weaves. She was really struggling with keeping her head down and looking for the next pole, trying to bounce between them with an excess of enthusiasm. Normally in that particular circumstance, I would try and slow the dog down and take them back to basics, going through the weaves with precision but no speed. Meg, of course, said no to this, and decided to be an opposite dog. By accelerating her into the weaves, her technique is actually far better and she can now sequence six poles at a success rate of probably ⅘ times, and I am hoping to extend this to a full set in the next couple of weeks. Hopefully, by the time she can make her KC debut, she will be a fierce competitor.

Remember to head over to our Instagram and Facebook to check out the accompanying vlog. My plan is to update this every Friday, so please come back and check-in. In the meantime, feel free to message me with any questions you may have that I can answer about either agility or training at home. If all goes to plan, we should hopefully have some exciting updates coming to you in the future.

Thank you so much for reading.
Sophie