Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Trial Weekend Summary

I had high hopes for this last weekend's trial, and at the same time, I was nervous. It's supposed to be for fun, right? That's what everyone says and that there is no other reason to do it. Well, yes, it is fun - a lot of fun - but for those of us who are competitive, have goals, and know what our team is capable of, it can be nerve-wracking because we naturally develop certain expectations.

A little history... Vegas and I have been training in agility since June 2008. She is my first agility dog, and a non-traditional breed to participate at that. She has always taken to everything we have done really well. We spent our first year or so training with All American Agility. When they got shut down, I looked into several options for continued lessons. We took a class through Columbia Agility Team that began in April and continued for almost two months. After that we were supposed to start pre-competition classes (although we had already been competing since April) in June and extend throughout the summer. Long story short, that fell through. We spent a lot of time practicing by ourselves during open barn times during the summer and then also took a couple of lessons from Craig French, best known for his amazing Dobie Rockets. Up until we worked with Craig, we had about 5 trials under our belt and a sum total of 1 Q. After our first lesson with him, we earned another Q at a NADAC trial. In August we earned another 4 at a CPE trial. September brought even more good fortune after working with Craig again - 7 Qs! The most recent lesson we had with him was in October just weeks prior to our first AKC trial. After a traumatic event on the first day before we had even run, Vegas ended up qualifying in 3 out of 6 runs for the weekend. However, day 3 was trying for me in particular as I expected more out of her and that is what leads us up to last weekend's CPE trial. Because she had done so well thus far, Sunday was heartbreaking because she quit on both runs after about 5 obstacles. Just quit. Gave up. Couldn't convince her to do another thing. Hence the stress and also, still, the hope we could pull off a good weekend in Corvallis.

Saturday we ran in the following order: Jackpot (Lev 2), Standard Round 1 (Lev 2), Standard Round 2 (Lev 2), Snooker (Lev 1), then Jumpers (Lev 2). Jackpot should have been a great start to have a chance to do some of the obstacles we like to do and gather points. Vegas was having none of it. She started off well then sort of just meandered off, didn't want to do anything I asked and we ended up just cutting our run short. Thinking all was lost and already frustrated, I got my girl situated in her kennel (no small feat) and then went and worked in the ring for a while. I finally came back and got her after walking our standard course several hours later. Yes, several hours later. Considering we had been up since I don't know when and on the road at 5:30 am, it was already early/mid-afternoon before we had our second run.

Boy was it worth it, though. My son was with me and my official videographer. Unfortunately for this run he had trouble with figuring out how to get the lens cover off and didn't capture it. It's too bad I hadn't gone over that with him because it was seriously a b-e-a-utiful run. Vegas Qd in this run, got a first place, and that left us with one standard run at level 2 before moving on to level 3 standard. Another hour or two later and we ran standard again. Again, what a rock-star! Another Q, and we finished our standard requirement for Level 2!!! One of these two runs was almost 15 seconds under time, too! No small feat for this big dog!

Continuing on Saturday...almost 5 o'clock and we still had snooker and jumpers to go. We were getting T.I.R.E.D.! We stuck in there though - we were not giving up now! I was getting nervous though. Snooker has been so difficult for us. It tends to be such a fits and starts type of event. Plus, I don't always like to make up my own course and I think Vegas likes the variety of standard and the fun and simplicity of jumping courses. It was finally our turn and we went in with a pretty good plan. I felt like it was doable and Vegas was following along just fine despite all the fun obstacles I was asking her to ignore. And then I forgot where I was at - essentially I learned that I can't count to three. *sigh* In my brief confusion, then when I figured out where I was at, I forgot to guide Vegas and she took a jump ending our "game." In retrospect, I had not taken her through the course I had planned. I took her over a jump (red) and through a tunnel (color) then over a jump (red) followed by a sequence of two jumps (color). Next we went over a jump (our third red) and I proceeded to take her over the same sequence of two jumps I had just before. In theory this is fine. However, I hadn't planned on doing this and it got me "lost" as I forgot if I had already completed the third red obstacle. Anyway, because of that and my failure to tell Vegas what to do for a moment, she took another red jump and we were whistled out - game over. So, that was our second NQ of the day and another lost shot at Snooker. BUT, it was totally my fault. Last but not least, we had a killer jumpers run. We probably got lucky getting out of there at 7:37 pm because a ton of Level 3/4/5/C people had scratched their runs. It was a fast course and easy for Vegas to finish. We didn't even wait around to "verify" her Q...it was 9pm before we got home and we needed to be back down there before 8am on Sunday.

Sunday was run a little differently in order to try to get out of there earlier. Not sure what was really different but it was nice - we left at 3pm! Running order was: Full House, Snooker, Standard, Wildcard, and finally, Colors. Full House - she did everything I asked except the weaves but we still had enough points and Qd. I had worked right after our Full House run up until Snooker and got pretty stressed because they changed the order and had Levels 1 & 2 run before the upper levels and I didn't get a walk through on Snooker. Knowing it was all on the line to finish our level 1 is what had me a bit peeved, to be truthful. Thankfully my friend, Jennifer, running with her adorable Chihuahua, Delilah, ran first and I just watched her course and took mental notes. BUT, then I had to run over to the standard course and walk/run it when only 4 dogs remained before our snooker run cause I didn't get a chance to walk it either due to working. Sense my blood pressure going up?! Ran back over to run snooker and still had to wait. Ran it and low and behold, WE GOT IT (See the video where I give the big "whoop!"). Back over to standard and things were going great for about 7 obstacles. Then Miss V decided tunnels were not her thing but she was going to strut her stuff on the dog walk. Boy oh boy, 2 additional times over the dog walk (the wrong direction and unneeded), I finally convinced her to go through the tunnel but it was a calamity of mistakes after that and we ended up with a horrible time and 32 faults. YIKES. That's okay, though. We had another short break and I worked again while Zach kept Vegas happy.

Our final two runs of the day were Wildcard then Colors. Piece of cake. Choosing the least problematic path, I avoided tunnels when I could in both events. We had plenty of points in Wildcard and finished Level 2 with another Q. A 32 second course for Colors, Vegas ran it in 20.35 for another Q.

What a weekend! She was so tired afterward but we had so much fun. It was a great group and a nice arena. Lots of familiar faces, good courses just challenging enough, and we are that much farther ahead with our CPE work. I was so proud of my girl...and her boy was, too. Next CPE trial is in December and we can't wait!

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