Luna at 6 months


I've struggled a bit with practicing our stuff for the show ring. In Andorra, there's very (very) little flat land, which you need to practice stacking. If you're on even a slight hill, the dog's weight will be in the wrong place. I've done a bit at home, but I don't have the space there to practice gaiting. So, coming to Spain has been really helpful, because we have a LOT more space.

As it turns out, though, still not enough flat! I tried, and failed, to practice gaiting on our land, but the ground is just too uneven to expect her to have a good flow. So, yesterday, we took a little drive into our town, where there's a big flat tarmac area that they have markets and fairs on, and we used that. It's the first time we've been there, so Squidge was a bit distracted and without her usual sparkle, but it highlighted some things to me that we have to work on.

Here's some video we took. Some points:

1. She's trotting! Yay! It's important the dog trots (the two legs on one side coming together as the two legs on the opposite side move apart) rather than paces. It's hard to see this at full speed, so I slowed the video down. It's also hard for me to tell as I'm handling her; I'm sure the experienced people manage just fine, but it's a bit beyond me right now! This video below shows the difference between a walk, amble, page and trot if anyone is interested. This isn't just important for the show ring; apparently, pacing is far harder on the joints than trotting or walking, so if your dog tends to pace when walking on lead, you might want to address it.

2. I need to have her a bit farther away from me. This isn't a walk to heel, she should be slightly ahead and out from my side, so it looks like she's leading the way. Just more practice needed for that. I'm pleased she's on a loose lead the whole time.

3. Corners. We've not practiced corners yet and it shows! The idea is that the ring should be considered a circle with straight sides. So, the corners are more of an arc than an angle. It means adjusting my pace so that she manages to stay in a trot.

4. In the stack, I'm working on two things; her back feet being square, with the pastern being perpendicular to the floor; and her body being straight. You can't really see that bit well in the video, but when I break her out of the stack without a reward, it's because she's standing crooked. At this stage, I'm not really interested in the front feet - although I need to get on with that soon!
I'm also getting a bit more distance between me and her in the stack, too. This means that she's not looking up at me so much, which puts a kink in her top line - you want that line to be as flat as possible, so craning her neck spoils it.

5. Handling. I've had a few people stroke her and run their hands dow her legs etc when she's been stacked. She used to sit down as soon as someone did this! I've also done lots of work to get her so she doesn't flinch away from someone touching her head; with the vet trips for eye drops and ear checks as a young puppy, she became very head shy. In the ring, the judge will check her teeth for a proper scissor bite, which they do by holding the lower law and lifting the lips. Luna isn't quite ready for that, so I just have J lift her upper lips.

Anyway, enough waffle. Here's the video!

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