We went to the NW U-FLI qualifer in Victoria this past weekend and had so much fun! Our friend Sue, from our new team in Massachusetts came out with her borderjack Stingray. We ran as a regular U-FLI team with Stingray, Pax, Indigo, Goose, Ezri and Havoc from Total Anarchy on Saturday. This is the fastest lineup we've ever put together and it was amazing how well the dogs did passing eachother. We ran many times in the high 15s, two 15.6's and even a 15.4 with a dropped ball. A 15.6 or faster is required for Division 1 at the championships. I was not expecting to run this time and was sort of hoping to be in Division 2, but I guess we are faster than I thought!
Poor Paxy wasn't in any of the record breaking lineups and didn't get any amazing times in singles. He did run a 3.79 and lots of 3.8s in start, but I know he could do a lot more. His striding still sucks. I've been spending a lot of time watching striding into the box and on the return. Pax takes two strides in and two out usually. He will take 3 out if he has a wide box turn. The nicest box turns come from dogs that take 3 strides in and 3 out. With only two strides in the dog is not set up well to have great control and power during the box turn.
Last weekend I decided to try putting gutters at 5 feet and 11 feet from the box during warmup. He is stutter stepping at first, but you can see him getting used to it after a few and it even had some effect during his runs! HERE IS THE VIDEO. Right now his time from the line to the box is in the 1.6 range and from the box back to the line is in the 2.2 range. My goal is to get his "go out" time in the 1.5-1.6 range and his return around 2.0. The return includes the box, which is where he is losing a lot of time. You can see HERE when going head to head that Pax is ahead or even until the forth jump and then he gets behind on the box and up until the 5th jump and then he smokes Goose over the jumps on the way back. He should be beating Goose!
I'm going to try calling him earlier to help him set up for the way back. I still believe a lot of his problem is confidence. I have to find a balance between letting him get more miles of running flyball and allowing him to run with his striding the way it is! I'm going to continue full course snap offs and start box work with gutters to force 3 strides in and 3 out.
Indigo is an example of a dog that needed more confidence. She never ran faster than 3.9 for the first year of racing. She hit 3.8 after about a year and then shortly after that ran 3.7s. She ran her best time with a pass of 3.80 just this past weekend. She is now 5 years old. She takes 2 strides in and 3 out very consistently and probably would have been faster with 3 in. At this point in her career, it's impossible to fix her striding and it might be too late to fix Pax's, as it gets ingrained quickly.
For the next puppy I train, I'd like to teach striding from the beginning, so it's not a process of fixing it later, but training it and not moving on to the next step until it's right. I'll save the topic of teaching a puppy striding for my next post!