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!"

Friday, July 22, 2011

We're On Our Own!

Jelly and I have now completed 4 agility classes and have earned the right to train on our own at the trainer's facility! For me, this was the ultimate gift because we can go to the field and practice, using our clicker and breaking down each obstacle into small steps. During the class we usually have at least 5 other dogs and handlers in our group and naturally the trainers would like to keep things moving. They offer a lot of help and always give positive encouragement and suggestions but in the end, we must move along quickly. Those of you who understand clicker training can imagine how that makes us feel. But I know what the trainers are up against and they're doing an excellent job! The last words Glen said to all of us Wednesday night were, "You're doing fantastic, all of ya! Great job, everybody!"
Jelly is still reluctant to approach the obstacles at any pace other than a walk and she will often stop just before the obstacle, or mid-way over/thru/under, and stand there THINKING about whether or not she wants to continue. If we were on our own, this would be perfectly acceptable and I would simply let her figure things out. It's harder when you have 5 other teams waiting their turn behind you.
So yesterday morning - before it got too hot - we went to the field to practice our agility.
I began by C/T Jelly for approaching the first little jump with a happy attitude. Then I stood on the other side of it and called her name. I held the line and just waited. Jelly looked at the jump, "thunk" for a second, and then hopped neatly over it! Yay! C/T. We did this with every single jump. The next time, I C/T every 2 jumps and in the end, she was trotting and jumping beautifully over all 8 jumps - with no hesitation and a happy expression on her face. We then practiced the "catwalk" which is 2 steep ramps with a "catwalk" in between. The catwalk is pretty high and can be intimidating for small dogs.
Jelly did some hesitating when she got on the catwalk but again, I simply waited while she looked around and considered her options. I made sure my hand was ready to grab her harness if she should decide to jump down (not a good idea!) but other than that, I just talked to her and encouraged her. Finally, she simply trotted the rest of the way along the walk, down the ramp to the bottom. She immediately sat for her treat, grinning as only Jellybean Beagle can do!!!
Thank goodness for the power of the click! Here's a quote from my grandfather's favorite author. I think it rings true for many of us:

“Change your thoughts and you change your world” ~ Norman Vincent Peale

Have a great weekend, everyone and stay cool!! Oh - and look for new photos here soon because I just bought a CAMERA! Yay! Click and treat for me! Get it? Camera? CLICK? Oh.....never mind! :0)

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