I'm having lots of fun with my new horse. We decided to call him Zed, so he could have a somewhat Canadian connection.
Since he is an "off the track" thoroughbred, he doesn't have very good brakes or steering. Even though he is a hunter/jumper prospect we are riding him in a western saddle right now as part of his re-training process.
He is a really, really sweet horse and wants to be a team player.
Darbi has slept pretty much straight through since coming home from her surgical insemination yesterday. She seems only slightly uncomfortable and isn't fussing at all with the stitches on her belly.
She ate some breakfast this morning and is now sleeping on the couch.
The vet told me that she had "the uterus of a 3 year old dog". I told Darbi this, but she wasn't impressed nor flattered.
Interestingly, a dog's uterus is damaged after each heat cycle, whether a dog is bred or not. The uterus is actually MORE damaged with each cycle that she is not bred. So, the more cycles, the more wear and tear. Since Darbi only cycles about once a year (as opposed to twice a year in some females), her uterus looks like a dog half her age. The vet was excited about this. This is why we opted to do a surgical A.I. and not a transcervical (pipette through her hoo-ha). A surgical allows the vet to physically examine the uterus and deal with any cysts he may run across.
We've done everything right. The timing was dead on, the semen was of a very good quality and Darbi did her part by ovulating and having a very pretty uterus.
Darbi is on about a week to ten days of bed rest now, and then she can ease back into training. It is a proven fact that bitches in good condition have an easier time whelping puppies than bitches left idle and overweight. The puppies also do better with stimulation while in mom's womb and are more easily whelped when not overweight themselves. So, Darbi will be trained right up to when she tells us she can't. This is usually about 2 weeks before whelping. Then, she will go on daily long walks for exercise until her whelping day. I have done this with every litter and so far so good...4 litters and 4 very, very easy whelpings. (Knock on wood of course, as anything can happen even if everything is done "right")
There is also a genetic factor that I have no control over. Luckily, Darbi's mom and grandmom were easy whelpers, so I have the genetics on my side as well.
It looks like Darbi ovulated yesterday according to her progesterones.
We're taking her in for one last progesterone test today to be sure.
If she did ovulate yesterday, then she will be bred on Thursday. It takes two days for the eggs to move down and then an additional 24 hours for them to mature after ovulation. Since frozen semen lives only about 12 hours after implantation, it is important that we get our timing right.
I'm sure poor Darbi feels like a pin cushion right now.
Back home from Mississippi. The National was in Vicksburg, which is steeped in Civil War history. I am a history buff. Last year's National was held near Gettysburg and of course the "girls" visited that battlefield as well if you blog followers remember.
Here they are, as "Civil War Era" as I could make them on the Vicksburg Battlefield.
Kenny and Arson made it to the sixth series. It was a great effort, although we had hoped we would do better. The sixth series quad looked look a civil war battlefield after it was done. Many dogs went up in flames on a very difficult retired flier. It was a great test and a great bird.
Darbi apparently does not share the same reverence for battlefields that I do.
The first part of the week I was in Giddings, Texas and then we picked up and moved to Vicksburg, Mississippi a couple days ago.
Pre-National training is for dogs qualified for the US National and it is an intense week. It is an atypical week as this is the only time of the year where the "pros" train together. It is fascinating to see the different nuances in their training style and also fun to see some of the top dogs in the country up close and personal.
There were two (and one day FOUR!) previous National winners in our group this year and some other top dogs from across the country.
For some reason that escapes me, the majority of pros that I know have "truck dogs". These are little dogs that travel the country with them. I think the pros have these little guys because they generally don't own any personal field trial dogs of their own (conflict of interest).
This is the newest "truck dog" on the circuit. His name in Mario and he is a 9 week Italian Greyhound. He was cute as a button!!
Kenny is running "Arson" (FC FTCH LKY's Controlled Burn) at the National this week. He had a good week training, so now we keep our fingers crossed he gets lots of good luck.
How many pros does it take to set up a training test?
A lot, I learned.
This is one dog we trained with. His name is "Buster" and he is 2010 NAFC FC Fourleaf's Ice Breaker. What a handsome guy.
I also took a couple pics of our good friend Scott Dewey with the three dogs he has qualified. Good luck to "Louie", "Colonel" and "Inca"!
He lives in Indiana and I bought him a few days ago. Now I'm trying to figure out logistics to get him to Colorado.
He is a thoroughbred and was retired as a race horse after having a short, lacklustre career.
Everyone who knows me knows horses are my first love. I haven't ridden much since selling my last show horse about 10 years ago. I've slowly been getting back into it by taking lessons at a hunter/jumper barn.
Hopefully this guy is as talented as he is gorgeous.
His registered name is Val's Reward and I'm going to give him a new nickname. I can't wait to meet him!!
We ran another trial in Missouri this week-end and it's all over but the crying for me. (Not real, actual crying of course).
The first series of the open was very difficult as the long retired gun was directly over top of, and 200 yards deep of, the short retired. Dogs had to really be looking to see both birds thrown with the tempting flyer station off to the side.
Miikka pinned the flyer and the short retired. She ran the perfect line to the long retired and I thought we had it in the bag. About 15 yards from the bird, she popped. She couldn't take it anymore I guess. She is training and running like a new dog, but the skeletons are still in her closet. There are many times she is the best dog on the truck on a certain test in training and other days I wonder if she'll ever come around fully.
Darbi did a very nice job on the first series. She pinned the long retired, which made me very proud. Then the second series was a land blind with several tight keyholes (places the dog had to run through) and a poison bird only 10-15 feet off line. Only 12 dogs of the 36 that ran did the blind in any reasonable fashion and most dogs picked up the poison bird. Unfortunately Darbi was one of those who "pinned" the poison bird. I think it's the first poison bird she's ever picked up in her life, and it goes to show how difficult the test was as she usually avoids poison birds with a passion.
I'm pretty thrilled with Darbi's 2010 season overall. She won Opens in both the US and Canada and made it 7 series in our first National. Now it's time for her to be a momma one last time. I'm very excited to be keeping a puppy from this upcoming breeding. Darbi will be bred to NFC AFC Maxx's Surprise via artificial insemination and my waiting list is already full for this exciting litter.
Miikka's season was a wash to me. Full of heartbreak and moments of frustration. She is coming back into her own and getting better each and every day though. I've had thoughts of retiring her as she will eternally suffer from many years of bad training when I never knew any better, but we'll keep plugging along for now.
Libby shows her mother's pin point marking ability and looks to be a very, very exciting dog. She is stylish, smart and a team player. I can't wait until she breaks out in the Derby next year. She is currently doing pattern blinds with gusto and she will finish her Basics with the swim-by once we get down to the warmer waters of Texas.
I'll probably be slow to blog until Darbi comes in season, which is hopefully soon.
"Girls" went to a field trial in Kansas this week-end without me. I know neither of them finished the Open, but they both tried. I don't know all the details, but I'm sure I'll hear all about it when I get back.
Me? I've been in San Francisco. Hanging out. Watched the 49'ers play the Eagles at Candlestick Park, toured Fisherman's Wharf, saw the Blue Angels in action and roamed the University of San Francisco where my brother is a professor.
I do admit, I miss my pooches and can't wait to see them.
The land blind was 475 yards!! I was a little freaked out because Miikka has always had stopping issues. No way, no how, does she do this blind I thought.
She did it! AND...stopped.on.every.whistle.
She was called back to the water blind along with 17 other dogs of the original 50+ that started the trial. It was a very hard, very long blind in a stiff cross-wind. A number of dogs picked up. Miikka was doing great until the last piece of land and she decided she was going to play it safe by staying in the water and not get out on the point. She sliced past the point, and I knew it wouldn't be good enough to play. Only 7 dogs ended up doing the blind and being called to the last series.
But I was SOOO happy to see her running like the dog she was last year and she was all smiles too.
Lost Darbs in the seventh series today. It was a bummer as she was running so good. After I got over my initial disappointment, I reflected on how good she was doing up until that point and the fact it was our first National.
Way to go Darb, ya done good. It was an honor to stand beside you.
Had fun at the first day of the National today. It was a tough, tough test. Short, tight and tricky.
Here's a little video of the test as test dog ran...probably hard to see I'm sure.
Darbi did a great job! We figure that 40% or more of the dogs handled on the first test and she was clean.
After the marks, the dog had to run a little land blind, so it was a combined 1st and 2nd series. She two whistled the blind, but no dogs really had problems on this part of the test.
I'm glad to get that first series over with. Now on to test #3 tomorrow!
I'm in Merritt, BC to run the Canadian National Retriever Championship.
A LONG drive to get here from Colorado, but well worth it. Amazing scenery.
We have only been here to train for two days before the National starts tomorrow. I am running Darbi myself, which was a tough decision. I thought about asking Kenny to run her as she runs so well for him and he is obviously much better then me...but I really wanted to experience a National myself as a handler and chose to give Darbi a "handicap" by running her myself. I sure hope I don't mess it up. She is running well and training great.
Kenny is running 5 dogs; Arson, Ollie, Rosie, Sinner and Tea.
Here is a pic of where we trained two days ago.
And another pic of Saturday's training grounds. If you click on the picture to enlarge it, you can see the two white coats we used as part of the test.
Me and Momma D (one of Darbi's many nicknames) running a land blind.
Below is a picture of the grounds from today's training. You can see the holding blind we were using for the poison bird gunner.
And we were looking down upon Merritt from where we trained today. Gorgeous.
Finally a pic of the line. We had a good sized group today and had lots of fun.
Fun part of my day is that I got to meet "Eider". Eider is Elmingo's Pacific Eider and I have not seen him since I put him on a plane at 8 weeks old. He is from the 2007 Shaq x Miikka litter and he is here all week as one of the "set up" dogs for the judges. Eider completed his Master Hunter last week-end and he looks just like mom. Was so fun to see him.
The Open finished at the Cheyenne, Wyoming field trial yesterday, so it will be a nice day off.
Darbi finished with a JAM in the Open. She ran a great trial! It was actually a 5 series field trial more or less as the judges decided to run a second water blind before moving on to the water marks. Darbi's water blinds were incredible, but she had a hunt on the last bird of the last test to finish out of the placements. She sure is running good!
Miikka ran a very respectable first/second series. It was a double and a blind. After picking up the flyer, one had to run the blind and then go out and get the long retired. She had a long hunt on the flyer, ran a great land blind and then went about 50 yards deep of the long retired before coming back and picking it up. The two hunts weren't good enough to move on to the next series, but I was thrilled! Miikka is training like a new dog and it's beginning to show at trials!
Leaving in a few days for the Canadian National. It will be my first National and I am both excited and nervous.
Miss Libby is currently on the "T" in her yard work. According to Kenny, she is "flying" through her Basics! She still thinks it is all very funny.
And CONGRATS to Darbi's son Turq for getting a Derby third this week-end in Cheyenne!!
Had a good week-end with the dogs at a trial in Red Deer.
Darbi got a Reserve Certificate of Merit in the first open (5th place). I thought she ran a great trial. Her land blind was a little rough (it's our weakness right now), but she did great on the water blind and last series. She also had a great set of opening marks on a HUGE test. She was one placement away from a title...but we'll get there someday. Entries were over 50 dogs, which is very large for an Alberta trial.
I scratched Miikka from the Opens as she is running weird. But, I did run her as test dog on the water blind and water marks. She had a very good blind (better than Darbi and Ollie I thought) and tried very hard on the marks! She popped on the "go" bird (which is her thing now), but pinned the two retired marks!
Ollie got third in the Open the first day! His water blind and water marks were not as good as Darbi's, but his first two series were amazing! He was in great shape after the land blind in the second Open, but because of the big entries, the Open was being carried into today...so I scratched him. I'm hitting the road back to Colorado this afternoon and decided I didn't want to spend another day at a trial.
I'm a little trialed out.
We're running another trial this week-end in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Kenny will be taking over Darbi the rest of the year in hopes of qualifying her for the US National. She needs two more points to qualify now that she has the win. And Ollie needs one more point to qualify as well. It will be extremely difficult, but here's hoping!
I just got word that "Shadow" (Elmingo's Cedar's Shadow - Tiger x Darbi 2006) WON the qualifying in Manitoba this past week-end!
Shadow has not run in a field trial until this year and she is entirely Amateur trained and handled. She has a few passes towards her Master Hunter title as well, running in only one or two tests a year.
Congrats to her and owner Alan!!
This comes on the heels of Matti's second and Meg's third in the qualifying.
Here is a picture of Meg and owner Jill running the Qual in Ontario.
I'm back in Canada for a little while and enjoying seeing friends and family.
On the way up I spent a few days training in the "middle of nowhere" (AKA Wyoming).
Miss Libby is still a star, at least in my eyes. She is going through Basics with tail wagging and a great attitude. She thinks everything is funny and for her benefit, just like her mother.
While in Wyoming I took a few pictures with my zoom lens of Libby marking a bird I threw. I run her 99% of the time, but once in a while it is nice to get out in the field and watch my dogs from a different vantage point.
This past week-end I ran a field trial in Alberta. I had three dogs entered; Darbi, Miikka and Ollie. Ollie is FC Mr. Oliver D. Place and I brought him up with me in the hopes of qualifying him for the Canadian National in September. Ollie and I got SECOND place in the Open, which qualified him!! Nice to get that out of the way early.
We ran two opens on the week-end. Darbi was having a great trial up until the last bird of the last series in the first open...that's how trials go sometimes. And she had two hunts in the first series of the second Open, which was not good enough to play. She sure is fun right now and I'm having a great time running and training her.
Miikka went out in the first series both days. Still not herself of course, but I did see a big improvement...I think we're on the right path.
And a BIG congrats to "Matti" (Elmingo's With One Twist - Shaq x Miikka 2007) who was second in the qualifying this past week-end!!
I had two goals when I came up here to run the trials. One was to qualify Ollie, which I did. The other is to finish Darbi's titles. We have three more Opens to run in the coming week, so I still have time.
Darbi WON the Open at the trial in Colorado this week-end!!!! Her first US Open placement is a win and I'm over the moon.
Darbi and I have had a lot of bad luck this year and I asked Kenny run her hoping to change her luck.
Big thanks to Kenny as usual. He is behind all our successes in the past couple years. When he got Darbi he told me "she's a nice dog, just not very well trained". A blow to my ego, yes, as I had done most her training myself, but it opened my eyes.
And Pedro was THIRD in another stakes race this week-end. He ran hard, but was battling on the front end in fractions that were too fast for him and he tired at the end.
Three goals for Darbi this year now:
Qualify for US National
Finish her Canadian titles
Have a good showing at the Canadian National
I have a full waiting list for Darbi's fall litter, but it looks like the litter will have to wait until we see if Darbi qualifies for the US National or not.
I got to run Turq in the Derby this week-end in Colorado and we had a blast. He was such a good boy.
We received a 4th place and I am very proud of his efforts. There was more than one occasion that he reminded me of running his mother in Derbies many moons ago.
I ran Darbi FIRST of 80-plus dogs in the Open and we didn't do the test. She was a bit wild with me on line and that is a first for her. It did make me giggle, but it also showed me that she needs to be nailed down. Kenny is going to run her all week and in the trial next week-end. That will burst her bubble a bit I think.
Miikka is still acting weird. She is also nesting here at home and showing signs of false pregnancy from her heat cycle a couple months ago. I'm hoping she comes out of it soon and we're nursing her along as best as we can right now while her brain seems to be on vacation.
My training group had another great week-end! First, 3rd and Reserve JAM in the Open!
Arson (the dog I won with in Canada) WON and this titled him in the US.
Miss Libby continues to be a star and she's starting to run the Open marks as singles now and doing great! She still makes me laugh every single day and I love her personality.
Congrats to "Turq" (Backwater's Smokin Turq - Prime x Darbi 2008) who got a Derby fourth this past week-end! He is 3 for 4 in finishing US derbies so far!
It was a great week-end for my training group. Kenny and "Ollie" WON the Open and Joe and "Rosie" WON the Amateur. There were smiles all around on Sunday.
And my racehorse "Pedro" was fourth in his Stakes debut. He ran against stiff competition in the Graduation Stakes in Manitoba. Horses shipped in from the US and Canada to run the race. He was in the lead until the final few jumps and was only a length behind the winner at the wire! I really thought we had it...and he ran so well.
Pedro is being shipped to Alberta to run in the Alberta Sales Stakes for his next start August 14!
We're still getting in lots of good training though, gearing up for a stretch of trials starting this week-end.
But, it's not all work and no play for the girls. They seem to be enjoying the heat more then I am.
From left to right:
Libby, Miz (FC AFC Mizpah Miss), Miikka and Darbi.
Sadly, Miz was retired this spring due to a cruciate tear at 9 years old. Being the 3 time US National Finalist that she is, she deserves her days in the sun. Miz is also the "cranky" dog that bit Libby on the tongue...they get along famously now. I guess Libby is less of a pain, but if you asked me I'd say the jury is still out.
10 days on the road with 19 dogs can wear a gal out. Feed, air, water, train, rinse and repeat.
I'm having a jammie night tonight and will probably be in bed by 8.
Had a fun, but not very successful week-end with my girls. Darbi went out after a weak water blind on the first day and in the opening series the second day. Darbi has been getting looser on her water blinds each week, so it's time to address it.
Miikka went out in the first series the first day and after the land blind the second day. She still is not back to where she should be, so back to square one with her again. We have some ideas...we will see if they work.
Fun part of the week-end is that I ran a different dog on the second day. Kenny asked me to run his very nice dog Arson, as he was already qualified for the Canadian National. Kenny, in turn, ran my two girls on day two, as well as his other dogs.
Well, the "plan" to give Arson a handicap by having me run him back fired. Arson and I WON the Open on the second day. He was so much fun to run. The win titled Arson in Canada and he is now a Field Trial Champion.
Thanks for the ride Arson...it was an honor to stand beside you.
Ran the girls the first day and judged the Open the second day.
I thought I was having a decent day after the water blind with Darbi. Nothing spectacular, but decent. We got dropped. I never mind getting dropped (for the most part), I just hate not knowing why. Obviously the judges saw something they didn't like...I just wish I knew what it was.
Miikka, as usual, was the drama queen. I had to make my first "walk of shame" running her.
The birds were shot middle, right and then left. When the middle bird was shot, Miikka head swung over to the left hand bird and missed the right bird being thrown entirely.
After pinning the first two birds, she was a bit clueless on the long retired obviously. I sent her and she went out to never, never land and got lost. She ended up back in the middle bird. I tried to handle, but she didn't stop and then I tried to pick her up (bring her in) to no avail. So after much whistling and many "no heres" from line, I had to walk ALL the way out into the field to get her.
What a brat. It made me giggle a bit though, as only Miikka can do.
People who have yet to meet her ask if her previous leg fracture slows her down at all.
Let this picture be the answer.
Libby was mad that she was done after only 4 marks, so she ran around with her little lead in her mouth afterwards.
Kenny is the little dot to the left of his dog truck. This is where I was throwing the puppy marks from and he ran the 5 puppies we have right now. I wanted to throw so I could take a couple pictures of the cuteness that is Libby.
Another picture of the ranch near my house. It is sure beautiful country here at home!
Congrats to Matti and owner Tim on Matti becoming Qualified All-Age this past week-end in Lethbridge!
Matti is Elmingo's With One Twist (Shaq x Miikka 2007) and she got a second place in the Qualifying.
I had a great time at the Lethbridge trial. I caught up with friends I hadn't seen in some time and was proud of my girls' efforts. I judged the Junior the second day and I always have fun when I judge. I am judging the Open next week-end in Saskatoon and I am looking forward to that assignment.
Libby caught up with an "old" friend too. This is Libby (right) with her litter sister Ping (blue dot) and they had a great time re-connecting.
Of course, most of the pictures I took looked something like this.