As I need a quick weekend break after class before I dive into homework, I thought I'd update the blog. First off, Jonah and I have been enjoying our new playground, although we're frustrated at how early it is getting dark. Often by the time I get home we can't see the obstacles outside. Nonetheless, Jonah's making progress.
He's loving the dog walk, and he keeps going up it without even being asked. He especially loves going up there and trying to pounce on Molly when she's out there with him. She's not so sure about the dog walk, so he's safe up there. I've been having him get up on the flat top and then I gently shake the board while praising him, petting him and giving him treats. He definitely gets a little concerned when it's moving but he hasn't been trying to get off or anything, so I think he'll slowly get more accustomed to it.
As for the contact performance, he's doing well but I'd still like to see some improvement. He generally stops at the bottom with four feet on and then I have to give another command before he steps his front two paws onto the ground. He's not missing the contact, but stopping and then slowly repositioning is not a very fast process. I need to keep working on it. I think I'm going to try baiting the targets so he's really driving to the food. The problem in the past has been that, when there's food already there, he will blow the contact and turn around to get the treat, so I'll have to be careful. Anyway, it's great to have the dog walk to practice with and I can already see he's getting better.
He has also been good with the weave poles. Now he rarely pops out of the 9 poles, which is an improvement from when I set them up last weekend. When we just had 6 poles, he had his footwork down so he could fly through them quickly, but somehow he hasn't figured out that he can still do that footwork when there are 9 poles. He's jogging through but he almost trips on his feet and it's clearly inefficient. I'm hoping that soon he'll get his rhythm back and start cruising through all nine.
I follow an equestrian blog that lists clear goals each month, and I thought it would be a good idea for me to jump on. I'll set out a few of the things I'd like to achieve this month and then moving forward this season:
October goals (eek, only 2 weeks left!)
-Consistent, fast contacts on the dog walk. By this I mean not stopping and then repositioning, but running down the ramp immediately into the contact position.
-Consistent 9 weave poles without popping out and reasonable speed.
-Immediate down on the table
-Figure eight over a jump. We started this in class last week, and Jonah does it but slowly. I'd like it to be a faster, more fluid motion.
Before we have to move the equipment inside for winter:
-Consistent, fast contacts when I can be at a distance, not right at the foot of the dog walk.
-Performance of the chute, once we get it
-12 weave poles, with no popping out and reasonable speed (i.e. not walking and making an effort to drive through)
-Basic front and rear crosses.
I'm sure I'll think of more goals, but that's what I've got for now. I hope these are pretty achievable if we put some work in.
And now, back to work!