17 May 2007

Practice makes perfect.

Last night after work, I stopped over at Dee's to practice by myself. This is a rare luxury for the space challeneged agility handler like me. I guess back in the day I would go to the park, dragging all my stuff out there and practicing with a few agility colleagues, but I didn't really work well with the others there, and it was a hard environment for my dogs-next to a large soccer game on one side, and bbq pit with ribs and chicken bones on the other. A lot of work for once a week, and not much fun for various reasons.

Having my own field to use is so huge. I was there for less than an hour, took a few minutes to set up a box and a nice rear cross staggered line. Made up one easy out/distance exersize that I could repeat and repeat until they had this long distance out going. Made up a fun little box pattern that could be done with rear crosses then front crosses, and sometimes calling off one obstacle-the tire to the table I used in the distance pattern, and sometimes using it. Then I made one other exersize with the poles and a-frame with a turning away jump sequence at the end, working on Ruby's speed in the poles, and Pop's distance from me on the entries and thru the poles. Just to be able to decided what I want to work on, and get to repeat it at the dogs' own paces is so good. To think some people can do this every day in their yards! Every time I screwed up, it was readily apparent to me exactly why, since I had planned the pattern and knew where I was supposed to be in it. And the dogs got nice and tired-this is why they are in such bad shape, they just don't practice to this level to where running a 19 obstacle course is a breeze.

I had the responsibility of all the livestock out there-making sure they stayed away from the goats, and the freaky sheep things. And the fact that I was a guest at someone else's field, at someone else's house that just my prescence likely irritated. Now that Dee's field is so close to the new barn, I hope I can go there a lot if it works out for the owner.

Having so much fun with the dogs makes me wonder why I think of them so differently than the horses. The horses are work. The dogs are family. I love horses, but they are animals to manage and control and put up with. The dogs are pure joy and fun to be around. I love training them. A lot of the time it's a chore to get on and school a client horse. I like working on the ground more. Maybe if I had less of a working relationship with them, and did fun activities with them. But it's kind of like work colleagues vs. family. You don't see me dying to get up at 4:30 every weekend to take kids out to a show or want to go back to resale horses and showing them. I think horses are what I love to help others with, and dogs are for me. Could I get rid of the horses? I don't think so. That's never worked. By wanting them at my house, I think I am trying to develop that dog like relationship with them. But there's always a different boundary there with them that I don't have with dogs.

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