Patterns with my Missouri Fox Trotter and patterns with my dog at competitions are very similar.  I got into dog showing and horse showing a bit over a decade ago.  I had shown horses in college but that was a lifetime ago!! I already had Vegas (Eliminators Show Girl) my first “real” Fox Trotter.  I didn’t even know what the foxtrot was at that point but a wonderful woman, Julie Moore, coached me and introduced me to the world of versatility.  I also entered the world of the Australian Shepherd at about the same time. That first dog, Concho, coincidentally came from another person involved in the Fox Trotter show world, Lee Yates.  

DAAO AKC Agility trial

Most dogs and horses need a job.  Aussie’s in particular. I started taking some basic training classes and soon found the world of dog agility.  Now we have dog agility and horse versatility —enter patterns and more patterns. In agility there are no set patterns.  Each class is a different pattern/course which you don’t get until time to run the class. Depending on the organization you get varying amounts of time to walk and learn the course before competing.  Constantly learning new courses for agility helped me with learning my patterns for versatility.  

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I also found a lot more similarities in training horses and dogs to do these competitions than I thought.  You must teach all the pieces before you can begin putting all the moves together in a pattern. To get the best flow on the course or in the pattern the horse/dog must be comfortable with the obstacles and the body movements needed to complete the pattern.  Learning to do tasks and movements at liberty and online with the horse made handling the dog on an agility course flow more smoothly. That same “pressure” of my body movement and the location of my body that effected where the horse went had much the same effect on the dog.   Both animals learned by reward, though differing rewards.

Repetition is required, not too much and not too little. And above all, the partnership is the key to unlock the excellence. When all the pieces come together and both parts of the team are in sync it truly is a dance.  It is one of the best feelings in the world and one I continue to strive for over and over.

I so love and appreciate my animals and all the things I get to do on them.  They have opened up a whole new world of people I would not have met otherwise.

Mindy owns Cashs Sweet Michaela an accomplished Missouri Fox Trotter and enrolled in Foxtrot Urbane.  If you are interested in the versatility of the breed, Michaela is a perfect example of the what this looks like.  If you are interested in buying a Missouri Fox Trotter, here is some great advice.

Go and learn new things and strive for excellence in all you do.  Not everyone’s definition of excellence or “a good job” is the same but we should all strive to go our best and the best for our animals.

-Mindy Jo Hoy-