I have had a week or so to think about Nationals. Specifically our performance there.
Things that were great.
Her Contacts- even when I quick released her she still waited for the release the next time.
Discrimination- she has always been decent at this, but I was pretty thrilled with her correct choices.
Turn- she is pretty solid on this, although I sometimes feel the need to follow up with an arm- which is bad...
Out- her distance work is still very good.
My Memory- our biggest issue sometimes is me. i have a crappy memory for real, and I really have to focus on remembering the course. If I have to think about where we are going on course we get lost. I need to know it before I run it. I felt confident, and knew it. It felt good. :o)
Things that sucked.
Weaves. Specifically soft sided, or open entries. We have lots of work to do.
Start Lines- this has been an ongoing battle for the past few months. We need to fix it asap.
Lead Out Pivots- if she won't stay, this is difficult. However, I need to work on my timing
Handling Bad Wicca- when Wicca starts blowing me off things go from bad to worse. I get ticked off, and then she gets worse. I need to take a deep breathe and refocus.
I tried a few different things on the weekend-
first, I tried to use my ipod (thanks sarah!) to stay focused while walking the course. It was weird, and actually distracted me a bit I think. I didn't use it at all on Sunday (except to drown out the yelling....) and I still felt focused and confident. I did like it in the breaks- and when I was trying to chill at the set up.
Warm ups- It was really hard to judge how much time there was before your dog, and how long it took you to get to the ring etc. So I found that I had Wicca out earlier than normal- we were at the gate sometimes 6-8 dogs before. Usually I go around 3-5. The extra few minutes didn't seem to bug her, although it was hard for me because I can't focus on the course when I have her out. But we managed.
Course Walking- the courses were hard, and the walk through crowded so I walked it more than I would normal. I didn't get lost all weekend (except for steeplechase finals) so it must have worked. I am going to try and walk my regular courses one more time aswell, and see if that will help my memory.
Imagine. After my walk through I stood outside the ring and pictured me and my dog running the course. I think that this too contributed to my good memory skills.
Now that Nationals is over for another year I am going to go back to basics for a bit with Wicca. Work on the foundations of Front Crosses, Rear Crosses, Lead Outs, and all that stuff. Also I plan to do lots and lots of weave entry work. Three poles will become the norm and I am going to keep very specific records of training. I need to see improvement, or I need to change something I am doing.
There are two trials coming up in September. I think that if we plug away at our weak spots, and keep reinforcing where we are good we should have some pretty great weekends. I am feeling very confident after Nationals it seems!!! We are only one Standard Q away from our MAD. And 2 Snookers, and 4 Jumpers away from an ATCH. Pretty Amazing Stuff.