This blog is dedicated to my friend, my mentor, and the best teacher I have ever had. Without him, I would not have embarked on this amazing journey. Split, this blog is for you!
Ponderosa Misty Icon, aka "Split," is a handsome gray Welsh pony who came to me via a phone call "out of the blue" (actually Peterborough, Ontario). Our first few months together were rocky to say the least, which made me question my ability as a horse owner, as a horsewoman, and as a rider. Forty years of horse ownership had not prepared me for this little gray pony!
But we muddled through and because of Split, I have begun a journey that is both spiritual and enlightening. I hope something here resonates with you and that you'll check back now and then.
We leave you with one of our favorite quotes: "The best whisper is a click!"

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A-Jell-ity Training

Jelly and I started agility training last week and what a hoot! There's nothing as humbling as a smart beagle, let me tell you! Our first task was to trot over some 10" high 'jumps.' Handlers were to trot and leap over the middle of each jump whilst cheerily squeaking, "Over, Fido!" to our canine companions. There were 6 of us in my group and every dog did exactly what they were asked to do, even if they approached the first jump warily. Jelly and I were last and we trotted off eagerly. I fully expected Jelly to do what every other dog had done so I leaped over the poles and chirped cheerily, "Over, Jelly!" I was caught up short and almost landed on my nose when Jelly slammed on the brakes. She hunkered down on her front paws, hiney in the air, little face scrunched up, and just stared at those poles. "No. No way. Uh-uh. Not doin' it!" she said. I started laughing and looked at the trainer and just shrugged my shoulders. To my relief, HE started laughing, too!
What could have been an embarrassing situation turned into a very pleasant evening. Glenn (of Crawmer's Dog Training) is a wonderful trainer who treated every handler and dog as individuals. He does not subscribe to a "one method fits all" philosophy, and throughout the evening explained every dog's personality to us.
He helped Jelly and me over and through every obstacle and gave us clear and concise instructions that fit our personalities perfectly and enabled us to be successful every single time! He pointed out how each of us approached new obstacles and what that said about the dog (and handler!). He reminded us to watch our dog's body language and to "feel" thru the leash.
There was the dog who was older, very balanced in body and mind, and who literally glided over and thru each obstacle like a gymnast. There was the pit bull who was more interested in a "meet 'n greet" with the other dogs than anything else. We had the terrier with ADHD who approached each obstacle with uber enthusiasm but 5 seconds later was in the, "Oh, look! A squirrel!" mind-set and would leap off or run around an obstacle with no warning, taking his teenage handler with him. At no time did Glenn become discouraged or demeaning. He simply smiled and offered advice. He heaped praise on all of us for a job well done and he approached every single dog as an individual! What a breath of fresh air!
At the end of class, Glenn told us how each of our dogs was likely to progress; that every dog can do agility but, like people, some are more competitive than others. Some will focus and take on every task like they're training for the Olympics. Some will start out enthusiastically but peter out as they progress and will do the task but they don't care about speed or endurance. And some need to think things over and scope out the territory before making a decision..........like Jelly! He told me that Jelly is definitely a "thinker" but that once she "gets it," she'll be a hard worker.
A thinker, eh? Well, I already knew that. She's a clever dog but never puts herself in a dangerous position. She literally thinks things out. The funniest obstacle we encountered during our first session was "the table." We were to trot briskly toward the table (very large square "table" with carpeting on the top, about 24" high) and as we approached it, we were to shout, "Table!" and the dog would leap up, stop on the table, and then with the word, "Ok!" leap down again. Again we went last. I trotted briskly and shouted, "Table!" I'm sure you know where this is going! Jelly again slammed on the brakes. She walked up to the table and slowly rose up on her hind legs. She placed her front paws on the table and looked it over. She sniffed it. She walked along the edge like a toddler checking it out.
By now no one could contain their laughter and we were all doubled over laughing!!! Yep, that Jelly is a thinker! I like to call our performance on the agility field, "a-JELL-ity!" But we're having fun!!!!

"If your dog is fat, you aren't getting enough exercise." -- Unknown

Jelly has lost 14 pounds since I got her!! Why is it so much easier for the dog?????
Keep 'yer tail waggin'!

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