I was bemoaning my weave problems to a good friend of mine earlier in the week, and she suggested that my way of walking next to the weaves was putting too much pressure on them. This is absolutely true and I know it. What about running? I have tried running and they do pop out. My weave handling makes me abysmally miserable. I try so hard to not put pressure on my dogs, I have retrained my muscle memory. I have studied videos. Yet even when a Q is not even possible, the weaves are still a sore area. Nothing leaves me feeling more devastated and helpless than the amount of work I put into training weave poles as well as training myself to try to handle the obstacle properly. And we never seem to get anywhere. I hate to be that cliche handler that says, "They do it at home so well!" But...that's us! At home, at the park, in training...but not trials. My inexperience and helplessness is so painful for me in this area.
My friend suggested, then, not to run...but to slow-run. To fake-run. It would take that spatial pressure of my body moving slowly next to them away, yet it wouldn't trigger them into popping since I would be ahead but not ZOOM! exciting! ahead. I liked this idea because it gave me something to "do" (it's a lot easier to jog casually than to: Look Ahead! Shoulders straight! Don't Stare at the Dog! Dont' look away though!) I will try anything. And I did.
Molly got to play Standard first and I lost her after the second obstacle to some "don't wanna collect!" zoomies. Maybe if I had my back to the second jump she might have turned into me but...that tunnel first thing was pretty exciting! I'm really happy with this run though! I am getting more comfortable with my reverse spins and that handling move is an absolute game changer for Molly - she reads it so well and it is eliminating so many moments where we struggle with collection! The weave entry she does miss but then I ask her to do it again and I get fake-running and what do you know...nice weaves! We are onto something.
Perri was next in Open Standard. I was happy she didn't zoom in the dirt! I do lose her on a 180 to judge greeting/sniffing and my front cross was probably late. Perri really struggles to collect on 180s and serpentines. It is not often that my timing needs to be more precise than it is with Molly, but Perri really needs me to get off the prior jump and show her the next one much sooner than I do. I had considered a reverse spin on her take off to the tire, as I did with Molly, but while Perri reads the RS very nicely...I had never tried it on the tire. When I saw her drive and commitment to the tire during the run, I knew I should have done it. But it was too late. Anyway! Thankfully Perri did not cross the plane of the jump and earn a refusal for her schmoozing! She misses the weave entry and I am curious if I had done a "spin" after the jump-before-the-weaves if it would have collected her more and turned her tighter for a good weave entry. In any case, I get her in and fake-run and get some nice weaves...even picking up speed at the end!
Jumpers with Weaves is usually my stronger class, but maybe I went too far with my pro-Standard thoughts! The course walked nicely and did not seem too much of a challenge but....
Perri had one of her moody attitude switches. She didn't want her favorite salmon treats ringside, she put in 30% effort with her tricks. It was getting hot I should have hosed her. I did not like the beginning of the course that it was the double spread jump straight into the weaves, I did not think that was fair to the dogs. It actually threw quite a few good weaving large dogs off. So it is no surprise that both of my dogs weaves were ... not good. The whole course I struggled to get it together with Perri. We get a wrong course, she runs around a jump. I ignore it and continue on best as I could. It felt like I was begging her the whole time but when I watch the video I do see that she was being a good sport.
Molly and I don't fare much better. The weaves are funny. In fact, her "take off" is funny, just how she spasms when I release her! She enters the weaves...exits....I just asked her to get back in, whatever. Keep the stress off. Oh look, I remember to fake run! Then she pops the last pole but I see the exact moment she pops is when I turn to look at her and turn my shoulders into her. Pressure. That was good to see. I need to not do that! A crystal clear reminder. Videos don't lie!
She does at least refrain from the wrong course jump and notice that front cross thing I was failing to do - what a good girl. I think I just went in too far, babying the prior jump for just half a second too long and therefore late starting my front cross. If I would just trust my dog's commitment...
Anyway, it was all around a million percent better day than I anticipated. I am very excited about the fake running experiment with the weaves, getting the pressure off of my girls so they can do their jobs in the weaves, and hopefully moving forward with confidence.
And my sweet Perri, earning her OA title. What a bumpy road that was, full of detours. The injury, the chute phobia. So many almost-Qs. So many set backs. And while this run wasn't perfect, that's okay. It still showed our rough spots. The judge visiting, our struggles with 180 jump layouts, the continued work on our weaves, a slow chute but a brave chute. We overcame a lot to get a Q next to our names on the results sheet. We worked hard. It might not be a run that some high level competitors would be proud of, but we accomplished something that has been very difficult for us. We are moving forward and my girl is strong again. Excellent, here we come.