Well, Ezri isn't technically nine months old until Wednesday, but she's close enough that I'm not going bother counting the days. Last night at flyball practice I started her off easy with some on-off exercises on the box, in order to get her head back in the game from her brain farts at the tournament last weekend. Once we had those back down, we progressed back to loading the ball, then finally up to full runs. She ran in start or solo for her runs last night, due to what we were working on with other dogs, and next week I'll be sure to put her in 2nd or 3rd to give her more practice with passing.
Everything looks really good right now, and she's channeling her older sister Indigo with her current pushing of the limits of when she can drop her ball. She's holding it until right at the line when running with a group, but solo she was trying to drop it as early as jump six. While running solo I made her go back and get it every time before she got her tug reward, and I think I'll add some more retrieval-to-tug work at home to help reinforce that. Indy grew out of it with some work by Deb, and I'm sure Ezri will do the same.
Now, for videos! First up is a full scan of her running in the close lane, with her brother Curzon running against her in the far lane. Her stride is looking pretty good and heaven knows she's got truckloads of drive for both the ball and her tug!
The second video is of her boxturn taken from the side where she turns, and it looks really nice. The camera isn't good enough to truly capture all of the detail, but in the frame-by-frame I can verify that her right front foot does not move until she leaps off the box, and those back feet look pretty planted until she leaps off as well. This is excellent, as foot-moving is difficult to fix.
We timed her last heat of the night, which was the sixth heat straight and at the end of practice, and she still ran a 4.58. I'm guessing she's running in the 4.4-4.5 range when fresh now, as she did beat Curzon on one head-to-head race earlier in the evening. Pretty good for nine months of age! Now to just refine her technique and keep her motivated until she can race for real in late July.
And to close, here is a disgustingly cute picture of Curzon and Ezri being tired and snuggly Saturday night at the hotel in Cloverdale a week ago.