Yep, Gracie and I got to go to practice today. And I have a trial this weekend. Finally Mum got her priorities straight!
Mum and Gracie started practice with another team for the first hour - which is great, because it gives Mum more time to breath between runs, when the teams alternate. And this was going to be a tell-tale time to see how Gracie would do with distractions.
I could see that Mum was a little nervous to test out the Grace-ster on their first run in a while with distractions. But she told herself to remain calm, cool and collected - keep it upbeat at all times. And she did it.
She also decided to run with the treat bag the first time to give Gracie just a bit of extra incentive for success. She ran off before the first jump, but after two calls came right back to Mum. Not too bad.
Then Gracie ran the jumpers course, and was bullet fast. Mum had to run her butt off. Gracie missed an obstacle or two because Mum was late, but stayed focused and alert. Mum was pretty darn proud.
Then they went into the other ring for a nice standard sets of obstacles. Gracie did amazingly well, on this run, and all the rest of her runs today. She was focused, attentive, ran off once to visit, but came right back the first time Mum called her. She was so fast, Mum had absolutely no way to keep up with her, and she made her weave entrance one out of two times perfectly even going at those speeds. Gracie was so fast on a set of straight jumps that she started spinning looking to Mum for direction instead of just running off - now Mum couldn't have asked for more from her today. What an amazing improvement.
There is a lot I could say here, but after two years of training, Gracie is finally showing some maturity, amazing drive, great focus and real happiness for agility. But she and Mum are not going to rest on their laurels. They are going to continue with the plan to keep working in training, with some intermittent times of practice with distractions. And not trial until Mum feels really comfy that Gracie can handle a trial.
And they need to work on stuff because of Gracie's new fifth gear, contacts in particular, and distance work. Gracie and Mum tried out some stride regulators today on the frame, but Mum needs to decide what to do with Gracie's contacts. All the time before this she had pretty good running contacts, but in a trial we can all see that she's going to be loads faster. So decisions need to be made.
Finally after their hours was up, I got in a couple of runs. Mum didn't want me doing too much before the trial this weekend, but did want me to get in some exercise. So I did the full jumpers course (Gracie's was shorter). Mum made a couple of handling mistakes - but, I too, was blazing fast today. Wow, was that ever fun and really great for Mum to see. She looked at our trainer and said 'guess, he really is well.' Yep, I am!
I did some of a standard course after the jumpers and did really well on that too - speed was good, contacts good, Mum's timing was rank. Mum has some reminders that she's jotted down to remember before our runs this weekend:
- Drive, drive, drive to the next obstacle.
- Keep the arm flowing. (No jerking it in and out; she gets a little hyper like that).
- Cue the next obstacle earlier; as early as possible.
- Don't talk so much, keep it calm and confident and use the low voice :)
- Watch her line on the front crosses (Drive them to the second obstacle to make it a clearer read for me).
Be sure and check my previous posts on the IFCS World Agility Championships - the results are coming in, and Guy Blancke has some vids up on his site. The links are all there.