Tuesday, August 27, 2013

sometimes you just gotta cry

I am not a crier. Certainly not in public. Not even in my house. Occasionally in my car but that's it unless they are tears of rage.

This week I keep tearing up. Sad tears.

I have a very very happy low stress life at the moment so the tears are aggravating me even as they make sense.

It might just be a week of endings .... and I can't wrap my head around either potential one.

Spot On is holding it's last agility trial on Saturday and my heart is breaking just a little bit .... nah, a whole lot. Many happy memories, much learning, and lots of fun on the hill for me. All the dogs love the hill too, Taking great sadness and turning it to tragedy is the fact that Sally can't walk at the moment - so running agility in four days seems entirely unlikely. To not be participating is heart breaking. To see Sally so sore I am carrying her outside is killing me.

Just a blip on the map but a pretty sad blip right now no doubt.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

The back door ...

There are many ways to tackle an issue
A straightforward, head on approach is my normal mode when dealing with people but I have come to realize more and more that with animals sometimes using the back door is much more effective.

By that I mean working on training problems indirectly can lead to faster better results than pounding away at an issue.

Let's take Thea as an example

Thea was occasionally afraid of most agility equipment - I was encouraged to lure her over and through way too much. (oh the price our early dogs pay for our errors). Until I found her back door I pretty much resigned myself to doing jumpers only - she might be afraid of a chute or a tunnel or a dog walk at seemingly random times. Then I found her back door - do things she is successful at, rev her to the moon, do the things she is good interspersed with the things that might make her leery ...   we got our teeter back, dog walk no issue, tunnels are never anything but fun now ....  if she even looks sideways at something in training - quick quick where's an aframe? then scary thing ... zooooooooooooom ... she's forgotten to be afraid ... we no longer do teeters in public as she's had too many flyoffs for me to think they are safe for her but otherwise apart from the odd dark chute the world is her oyster

Yen is, umm, a little excitable. She is loud and proud and full of life. If ever I thought there was a small dog that would never be loose around horses it was her. Last night we walked out to a field at the barn I'm teaching at and she came with us - puttered in the field while I taught. She had a great time - so did miss pony pants and so did I. We got there not by forcing her to be quiet and still around the horses but by letting her run far enough away that the horses paid her no mind. Horses were never exciting to her. She also had plenty of opportunities to practice her truly rocket recall with horses quite far away so when they were closer it didn't occur to her to not come.  She was truly perfect yesterday.

This is Harri (aka DUDE). When Harri arrived at the barn he couldn't be cross-tied. He couldn't be held for the blacksmith and he was quite hysterical. Rather than fighting with 1200 + pounds of horse I simply brought him into the barn every day, stood him in the spot I wanted to cross-tie him in momentarily and put him in a stall (also a source of stress). I'd putter away with a horse who enjoyed being cross tied and love on them occasionally walking over to pat Harri. I groomed him loose in the stall and was amazed at how quickly he started to settle and not walk away. Within two weeks he was quite content to cross-tie while I fussed away with him. The blacksmith is stunned by how calm he is every time he sees him (he had seen him prior to being at our barn). The other day I untacked Harri and left him in the cross tie spot forgetting to put a halter on him while I went in and out of various tack rooms. He had no reason to stand except habit and wanting more TLC. He stood like a super trooper.

Back door solutions sometimes just happen, sometimes they require a plan but they are always worth considering in a problem solving approach. (On reflection I probably use this approach with people too)

Sunday, August 11, 2013

being responsible sucks sometimes....

I was SO excited last week.

I was going to have REAL agility to blog about tonight.

We were going to a trial -the girls and me - cruising down the road to our favourite venue and having a ball. Sally had 5 classes to play in - standards and jumpers and steeplechase. It was going to be fun. SO. MUCH. FUN. We've been working on our agility skills. Jumping, aframes, weaving- not everything we needed but enough that we were feeling fine. Yen was going to make an FEO debut and buzz around the ring making everybody chuckle. I was going to take pictures.

Yesterday was a very long day. I had kids at a horse show, lessons then my own riding. I snuck home mid day and took the dogs for a lovely not too long run at the farm. They ran and swam and had a great time. No big jumps, sudden yips or refusals to load into car. Everybody seemed happy. Left them to nap their run away and got back in time for another quick run. Sally got up stiff and WALKED out the door. Sally really doesn't walk anywhere unless on leash. Hmmm perhaps she was stiff. She sort of, kind of, walked out of it but then her right hind leg started taking little dotty steps - she wasn't LAME but she was far from right.

Could I have run her?  I'm going to say yes. I am quite sure that the adrenal rush of being in one of her favourite places doing her favourite thing would have had her looking sound as a bell. She still isn't sound tonight (we won't discuss what she thinks of being on leash at the farm). She isn't any worse but she is still slightly quicker across that hind leg and not even in her stride.

Did I likely make the right call for the long term? Of course. Would Sally have made the same call? I doubt it. No, there is no doubt - she would have run her heart out and her legs off.  So sad to be the adult today.