Monday, February 20, 2012

Apache's Angles and Dots

I am auditing Helen King's structure class through Daisy Peel's on-line classroom.  I am really enjoying this class and have a lot to learn.  I am working my way through each assignment to help build my understanding.

The following picture is of Apache.  He just turned 11 years old.  He is recovering from partially torn cruciate ligaments on both knees.  He had stem cell therapy 2 weeks ago.  Please excuse his massive winter coat!  He last had a hair cut in early November but was left long for winter.  His feet and face were tidied for Christmas and then after his knee problem and then procedure his coat has just kept growing and growing.

I have repeated the entire process now that Apache has had his spring haircut.  In the wooly photo his right front foot is a hair forward and in the naked photo the same leg is a hair too far back.  Not bad for working all by myself though:)


Apache has a docked tail with about half of its original length.  His tail is set fairly low and his pelvis is fairly sloping.  Apache's ischium extends well past his tail set creating a fairly extensive "shelf".   His femur and his tibia are fairly equal with moderate angles connecting them.

Apache's front legs are a little bit too far forward.  His neck appears a little short but I think that is partly the way his head is being held.  Apache has ewe neck.  His shoulder appears to be longer than his upper arm and the shoulder seems to be very straight.

Apache is a speed demon.  He is very fast with a ton of power behind him.  He does not turn well either in agility or just chasing his sisters.  He can be an efficient jumper, however, it was not uncommon for bars to come down when he jumped 26".  At 22" bars rarely fall.  He tucks his paws up under his chin when he jumps and is evenly split whether he pulls his rear feet up under his belly or tucks them back behind him.  Apache lowers his head to jump, but he is extremely upright when he is weaving - fast and powerful but his head is very high.  Apache is a wonderful swimmer and would spend all day swimming and retrieving if given the choice.

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So, now it appears obvious that Apache has a very flat and short pelvis.  His femur is long as is his tibia.  It looks like his tibia is longer than the femur by a bit.  His stifle seems to be a bit high.  It would be nice to see it a little lower more in line with his elbow.  Apache does seem to to have nice angulation in the rear.  He seems to have quite a wide thigh but that is perhaps exaggerated in a heavy winter coat.  Now that he is all shaved I can see the loss of muscle definition following almost 3 months of leash walking and crate rest.  He is usually much more muscular in his hind end.

Apache's front is very straight.  He has a very long and straight shoulder.  His forearm is almost as long as his shoulder and steeply angled.  His elbow is directly beneath his withers.  Apache has a ewe neck and easily lowers his head when jumping.  Comparing the two photos makes it really clear, how important a "perfect" photo is for analysis.  I think if you kinda split the difference between the two photos you probably have a good idea of the actual front assembly.  His neck appears longer without it being held and his front legs are not as far forward as I thought earlier.

Can you say, LONG BACK!  He appears to have a long loin and with his short, flat pelvis and straight shoulder, most of the length of this dog is in his back.  This makes sense because Apache has been plagued with back problems his whole career.  He does seem to have a rise over his loin.  The old photo made it look like Apache had a nice top line.  The naked version shows a dip between front legs and back although the rise over the loin is still noticeable.

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Hmmm.... well I would say that Apache is the opposite of well balanced.  He is heavily on his front end.  I wonder if this explains his turning problems.  If he has a ton of power coming from behind and yet his balance is on his front end, where does he manage to get the turn from.  Apache in full speed running reminds me of the greyhounds running on the hunt.  He does tend to wipe out when turning at full speed.  I have seen him tumbling across the lawn many, many times.

Here an example of a greyhound.

What’s Your Angle? | Forum | Mary Basu and Gus | Online Classroom

I definitely see the resemblance in the front end.  Very straight.  The greyhound has a much longer and more sloping pelvis.  I see the greyhound also has a longer tibia than femur.

Maya's Angles and Dots

I am auditing Helen King's structure class through Daisy Peel's on-line classroom.  I am really enjoying this class and have a lot to learn.  I am working my way through each assignment to help build my understanding.

The following picture is of Maya.  She is 12 1/2 years old now and quite frail - don't tell her that.  She found the stacked position to be very uncomfortable but did her best.

I still don't really understand what I am looking at, but am trying my hand at analysis.

Look at Maya's poor butchered tail!  She still wags it like a maniac or if she is really excited it vibrates.
Maya has some slope on her pelvis but not a whole lot.  Her pelvis also appears to be quite short.  Her femur seems to be shorter than her tibia without any extreme angles.  Maya has a very small croup with perhaps a small rise over the loin.  Her tail set is high but not extremely so.

Maya's front legs are a little bit forward of the withers but not by much.  She has a nice length of neck and is not ewe necked.  Her shoulder and forearm appear equal in length but quite straight.

In her youth, Maya was an extremely fast running dog.  In flat running and playing in a park few dogs could consistently stay in front of her.  She loved to make spectacular leaps into the air to catch her beloved frisbee, however, she often landed heavily on her rear legs which was bad for her hip displasia and she stopped playing frisbee long ago.  In agility, Maya WAY over jumped everything.  If she was jumping 22" then she went at least high enough for 26" jumps.  Maya was a very inefficient jumper and not terribly good at judging where to jump from.  She also kept her head high when jumping.

At the age of 8, Maya had a stroke and was very unstable and needed help walking.  After much therapy, she relearned how to walk and run and play again.  Maya has had two bouts of cancer, both of which were surgically removed and is 2 years cancer free.  Last spring Maya had several terrible bouts of pancreatitis and thankfully has recovered since.  Every day with Maya is a gift!

So now, I am almost finished my course and think I am putting things together.

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Maya has a short pelvis but it is not as flat as I originally believed.  There is a pretty good slope there even if it is not nearly long enough.  Her femur and tibia are close to the same length with a moderate angulation.  Her croup is quite small.  Maya no longer has tons of muscle in her rear end like she did as a young dog who ran around like a crazy thing for hours.

Maya's shoulder is pretty straight.  It would be much nicer to have it laid back more.  Her upper arm is shorter than her shoulder but has a nice angle to it.  Her elbow is almost directly beneath her withers.  Maya's front legs seem to be a bit too far forward, however she has a fairly long neck.  Her neck is not a ewe neck and Maya always holds her head high.  Her back is pretty long and she does not seem to have a rise over her loin.  Although I think that as a young dog in her prime, she probably did have one.

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Maya is not balanced.  She is heavy on her front end.  If her shoulder were laid back more, she would be much better balanced.

If you are wondering what is going on with her ears... they are tied together with a scrunchy to keep them from hiding her neck and shoulder.  Her ears are fabulous and very thick and fluffy which hide lots!

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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Third Theresa Rector Seminar

March 15

Apache and I are off to Royacker's again for the third part of the Theresa Rector Running Contacts seminar.

With all the snow PILED up this winter and no real indoor location available for practise, we haven't made much progress since the last session. I was, however, very excited to get the next set of directions. Today we learned how to fade the props, transition to the competition ring and maintain the running contacts.

The people who have had access to renting a facility have made a HUGE improvement. It is really exciting to see just how far they have come. I can't wait to have a chance to work on it more.

I also saw just how important the verbal left and right directions are and have been inspired to get my butt in gear to train them a whole lot better than they are now.

Maya Retires!

March 13

Our class this week took a break from the Kathy Keats program to practise contact equipment for the trial most people will be at this weekend.

Apache is not ready to go back on contact equipment, so I left him home and brought Maya.

Maya has hip displasia, however, she has been completely asympamatic until last fall. I decided to give her a long rest over the winter. Boy, oh boy, was she ever excited to see everyone and visit with her doggy friends.

I set the jumps at 12" for her and at 21" tall that shouldn't be too taxing for her. She ran like stink for the first 10 obstacles and then came up limping. I let her rest and then we tried 8". She was very hesitant and reluctant to jump.

So, Happy Retirement, Maya! Now you just get to visit with people which is the real reason she wanted to go to agility anyway.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Week 7

March 8, 2008

More serpentines! Hmmm... not as easy this week. In fact, this week's work made us look like we had never seen them before!

Now that the equipment is not in classic positioning, everything becomes much harder. I find that I am moving backwards now, which I know I shouldn't. Apache seems to take the first bar down over and over again. I must be turning as he is in the air.

We had an interesting discussion regarding layering. In the course we were working with there was a jump that was perpendicular to the line of jumps we were doing. One of our classmates, had trained with Greg Derrick and reminded us that we shouldn't layer in that system. I do use layering with Apache. Not often, and if I can avoid layering I will.

In Apache's case, I know that he needs a lot of personal "space". If I go into his space, it pushes him away from me. If I were to run on the inside of this jump (rather than layering) I may very well push Apache right off the jump. Even if I didn't push him off it completely, it certainly pushes him to the far side of the jump rather than down the middle as you would expect from a straight line of jumps.

I was disappointed that we ran out of time to work on the last sequence. I had analysed it as required and found:
2,3,4 serpentine
8,9,10 pinwheel
11, 12 threadle
12, 13,14 serpentine
15, 16, 17 pinwheel
I did not identify any 270's.

Week 6

March 1, 2008

Serpentines, yippeee!

After last weeks difficulty with threadles, serpentines are a welcome relief. Something we can do! Maybe not well, but at least do.

I have to be aware of Apache's committment point. If I turn away too early, then he happily continues off without coming in to take the jump. If I linger too long, then I end up blocking his way and bars fly.

I need much more practise with this skill set, to really have a strong understanding of his committment point and when exactly, I can turn away with him still taking that jump.

In the beginning, I faded too early and Apache came with me. In the past I would have held my arm out doing this but we have been working on not using our arms as much. Save them for gambles. The next time, I stayed running straight for longer. Notice that I am still rewarding Apache with some food when doing a threadle. Everyone cheered because it is so rare for us to leave all the bars up. Linda threw the toy for Apache because we are trying an experiment. I carry a toy with me but only reward with it a little less than half the time. The rest of the time, someone else tosses a toy for him. We are thinking maybe he is bringing the bars down anticipating his reward.

I forgot to recharge my battery, so there isn't much video today.

Week 5

February 23

I am really enjoying this distance education program put together by Kathy Keats.

We have spent quite a long time working on our front and rear crosses. Apache is my speed demon and yet, I am more comfortable doing front crosses with him. Both of us seem to better understand the information being shared in a front cross. I still get spinning when I try to rear cross. Apache is showing more understanding than in the past.

The first drill had us working all in front crosses. I am certainly most comfortable using this cross and yet running a fast dog, I can end up falling behind him. I had to make an effort to wait with him at the #8 jump so that I could drive hard to #10 so that he would have the speed to take him out and around the 270. If you are wondering why I'm stomping my feet, it is because I tripped. Normally, I do try to run quietly! Do you hear Apache hitting the bars? It is unusual to get through a drill without taking down bars.

We then redid the same drill using all rear crosses. I have a hard time mentally letting him go ahead of me. Obviously, you can't do a rear cross ahead of dog so I have to get over that problem. I think that I am going into the pocket to support the rear cross and then I review the run and it shows that I didn't go hardly at all! Grrr! An old problem resurfaced in that on the straight line across the box, Apache started veering into me to snap at me. Not sure why - thought we had moved away from that behaviour. Still get a spin at the end of the drill, no matter how many times we tried it.

We next worked on practising our front crosses in a line. I tried really hard to stay in the middle of the jumps to minimize "flinging" Apache way out over the jumps. Watching the video shows just how far out he tends to go. Apache loves to "jump big".

We then moved on to threadles. Yuck! We have a VERY, VERY long way to go. Apache is absolutely sure that he should go out and around to the next jump instead of in between the jumps. I started by checking my feet and body position, but I think it is as simple as Apache not having a clue what I want. I finally just switched to wrapping him around a jump standard to try to build understanding.

Always fun working with my wild child, Apache.