Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Rigby and the Memorial Day Tracking Challenge

In an effort to keep moving forward in our tracking progress, I decided to lay a track for Rigby to start off the Memorial Day holiday.  I had taken her for a walk at the fairgrounds on Sunday, the day before, and it was then that I decided what her track would be the next day.

On Saturday about half of the fairground fields were mowed, leaving areas of short and long grass that could be used.  I thought this would be a good time to give Rigby a lesson in changes of ground cover, as well as giving her a chance to track on freshly mowed grass.

I started her track going downhill on the mowed grass for about 100 yards and then straight ahead into the long grass for about 30 yards.  Then there was a right turn in the long grass, 30 yards of long grass and then into a lane of mowed grass that was about 20 yards wide and back into long grass again.

The second leg was a total of 110 yards and turned right, uphill, for 70 yards, to a left-hand slightly open turn across the grain of the hill.  That third leg was 80 yards, with a right turn that continued the track uphill for 70 yards to the glove.

Map of Rigby's track.
Started at the start flags (in blue on the right) and finished
 at the top of the page on the left side.
The blue-striped area denotes the high grass and the white area is the mowed grass.

Rigby started from the first flag at 8:15 a.m. with a very nice start.  She tracked the entire mowed portion of the first leg with no problem, only stopping a couple times to find a slice of hot dog.  She also showed no hesitation when she reached the long grass, heading in right in.  She showed loss of scent at the end of the leg, circled to the left and then picked up the right turn.  

She came to the mowed path and crossed it quickly. At the tall grass she did a bit of searching both below the track and above before choosing to head into the long grass on the track.  She tracked quickly to the second turn and again circled left before taking the turn to the right and back up the hill.  After another quick leg she found the left turn with little searching and made the open turn.  She continued to the fourth turn and made the turn to the right, again uphill.  She was moving a bit too quickly on this leg and tracked right over the glove until I called her back to find the end of the track. In hindsight, I should have thought to put some hot dog slices in the glove to aid her in finding it in the high grass.

I started to play with Rigby following her track, and then remembered to check my watch.  It was 8:21, only 6 minutes since we started the track, which means she did the track in about 5 minutes!

What I thought would be a challenging track, with several changes of cover, ended up being nothing new to Rigby and she proved again her love of tracking and her wonderful scenting abilities.

She ended the track soaked in dew from working in the tall grass.  We ended our tracking time playing with the glove before walking out to pick up the start flags and putting away the equipment.

Rigby in the tall grass.

Pretty girl.

And happy girl!

Friday, May 2, 2014

Obedience Training Update

I haven't written any posts for a couple months so I'll try to catch up with a quick summary of Rigby's progress in her training.

Currently Rigby is training in three areas, tracking, obedience and agility.  Her tracking continues to improve, as she is doing TD length tracks with up to four turns.  Lately her obedience training has seemed to start coming together and she is making strides.  She just started her second series of agility foundation classes and it is no surprise that she seems to love jumping and learning all the obstacles.

This week at her obedience class Rigby's heeling, including her figure 8, showed much more consistency in attention and smoothness.  She did a stand for exam for the first time, having done a sit for exam in all her previous classes.  Besides working the novice level exercises she did a recall on the flat AND over the high jump and also performed the broad jump exercise.

Rigby's level of maturity is displayed by her ability to relax more at class and during training.  She is settling in more quickly when she arrives at a training site and it's easier for her to focus her attention on her training rather than all the other exciting things around her.

Friday evening I got some video of Rigby heeling, doing some figure 8 work and doing a recall.  The heeling shown here is not the best she can do (this video was taken after we had been training for quite some time that evening), but it gives an idea of where she is and shows her happiness in her work.

Thanks to Karen Schroeder for taping Rigby and I at our practice session.