Thursday, April 22, 2010

Columbia Agility Team - CPE Trial, Ridgefield April 2010

I've been remiss in keeping this thing up-to-date. Life has been more hectic than usual as I finish my degree and am juggling kids in school and another dog in training. However, the next couple of months are crucial and I know I'm going to need to reflect on what worked, what went well, what I could change, and to watch more videos and see Vegas' performance. I'll get into why in another post, perhaps tomorrow. Today is dedicated to recapping last weekend's trial.

The schedule for Saturday was as follows: Full House, Standard Round 1, Standard Round 2, Colors, and Snooker. We were mostly able to run in that order although I believe I ran round 1 Standard then Colors and then round 2 Standard. This was a two ring trial, something we rarely enjoy for CPE in the area. It was a well-attended trial and we had a lot of fun hanging out with our friends, Jami and Dharma. On Saturday, I had my youngest son with me who was a champ to video for us. I also ended up getting one picture (on Sunday) from Joe Camp who is an awesome photographer that attends most of the trials in the area. Jami did some videoing for me on Sunday. So, without further ado, here is a picture, some videos, course maps, and my recap.

Full House is a great way to start the day - and quite commonly they do start the trial with "fun" games where the handler has to choose a course versus following a prescribed numbered set. Here we needed one 5-point obstacle (weaves, double, or a-frame), three single jumps, and two circles (tunnels or tire). In Level 3, we had 30 seconds to accumulate the 23 points we needed (and 5 seconds to get to the table, although we could go to the table early). With the a-frame being worth 5 points and being allowed to do it twice, I figured I should take advantage of it. The course layout was good for practicing some wraps around jumps, too. I believe the judge called a zero on our first a-frame for which I'm not certain was accurate as it appeared Vegas came down the contact but I could be mistaken. Adrenaline can kick in when you're out there and I am not always 100% certain what happened or did not. Regardless, as the video will show, we got to the table in plenty of time and we had enough points, finishing with 33 in 32 seconds for a qualifying run in 1st place. That run completed our level 3 requirements in Full House.
Next up was Standard level 3, round 1. Going into this weekend, Vegas needed just two level 3 legs to move on to level 4. We had four total chances, two with each judge.
This is the one run out of the entire weekend that I can say was completely poopy. As far as I know, it wasn't me. Vegas just decided she wasn't interested in playing. Surprisingly, this was early in the day (Saturday we had 4/5 runs done at 12:05 pm) and she wouldn't have been sore or anything. She just clearly decided to be moody. I can say that I have something to work on as a result of those moments, though. I need to focus on staying on track and not sighing or getting frazzed. I know she's capable - I just wish I could figure out her "off" switch. So, that is a challenge I am taking on.
Standard round 2 was much better. Maybe Vegas is starting to recognize that when I don't give her a treat it's because she did something wrong? Nonetheless, she was in and out of her kennel repeatedly over the next short while as we ran in and out of one ring or the other, walking the course or running it. Here is the round 2 course.
One thing I'll say about both standard courses was that the weave entrances were really nice. There should be no reason why Vegas couldn't nail them other than attitude. Fortunately shes was cooperative on this one and we earned another leg. The course time was 58 seconds; she finished in 44.19 qualifying in third place.
Next up was Colors. I usually love this run as it's a shorter course that we can run fast. However, it has its tricky moments at times as the game is automatically "over" (DQ) if your dog takes a wrong color obstacle. We chose the square course as it seemed the straightest shot to let Vegas really open up and run a bit more, something she loves to do. It used up a lot of the ring which was also good for her, although tiring for me. She ran it like a champ, didn't balk at the weaves, and finished 11+ seconds under course time in first place.
Our last run of the day was Jumpers. Jumpers is one of the courses that Vegas loves. Perhaps it's easier on her body because she is performing the same action repeatedly, I'm not sure. But she loves, loves, loves jumpers courses - most of the time. This run definitely had some tricks built into it, which I would expect as we progress. For a giant dog, the most difficult part of handling with the tricks that we usually see is queuing early! The earlier the better and yet this can become complicated, too, because if I queue and pull off too early, Vegas may not take the obstacle. The other challenge can be whether the trickiness and complexity of the course come from sharp turns, wraps, cookies, etc. Often they do and that can be hard on the dog's body as it causes them to put pressure on their shoulders to make sudden maneuvers, ensure they choose the correct lead to land from a jump, make sudden lead changes, etc. In this course, areas I identified ahead of time while walking to pay attention to were: 1) the turn from #3 into the tunnel, #4. I started out running up the course on the right side so that I was on the side of the tunnel. Fortunately with a straight shot here, Vegas had momentum over #3 but I was able to queue her ahead of time with my shoulders to move toward the tunnel versus going for the most obvious option, the #13 tunnel. 2) #11 turning into the tunnel looks on paper like it could be difficult but based upon where I was handling Vegas (inside the "circle" of jumps 5-11), I was able to throw my off arm and queue her by turning toward the tunnel. From there it was fairly smooth sailing and she qualified in that run to round out our Saturday with four qualifying runs out of five. 

Sunday dawned chilly and yet turned out to be a much warmer day - almost too warm as it was very humid. Everyone was feeling it - but, in my opinion, in a good way. I think the spring fever ran rampant and everyone was having a good time.

Our first run of the day was Jackpot. This course offered three chances to get the jackpot requirement and we were even allowed to take all three, if possible, for point accumulation. They were valued at 15, 20, and 25 points. Vegas and I were able to easily get the 15 pointer and the 25 pointer, but the 20 pointer I attempted at the end on our way to the table was a long shot because it is always more difficult to push a giant breed dog out to a tunnel when faced with the entrance to an a-frame along side. Either way, we got the points for the obstacles even if they did not account for a jackpot. This was a great course and run to start our day.

Vegas did qualify in this run with plenty of points and in time.

Next we ran Standard round 1 and 2 almost back to back. The standard courses this day were combined levels 2 and 3 which meant we had a set of 6 weaves versus 12. One area of concern another large dog competitor pointed out to me is the #8 tunnel. It was wedged under the dog walk and the judge did not want to move it. However, they did have the trial staff get some padding for the support bar under the dog walk so that it would be more comfortable going through the tunnel if the dog came into contact with it. The weave entry was nice as it was a straight shot from the tunnel. I walked the area between 9 and 10 several times to get the best feel for pulling Vegas on that corner versus heading to 16 prematurely. Fortunately with the tunnel leading up to the weaves, I was able to be on the inside and it was not the challenge I initially thought it might be. Plus, coming out of the weaves Vegas was on the inside so she really never even looked toward 16. As she headed into the #13 tunnel, I did move to the outside so that after the a-frame I was able to pull her over 16 after 15 versus being in her way.

We ran Standard round 2 next. The turns here were a bit trickier and I started out handling on the outside with a cross to the opposite side of the 5 - 6 - 7 jumps while Vegas was in the #4 tunnel. I wanted to be on the inside so as to better direct her to the weaves and then into the tunnel without any more difficult maneuvers to switch directions, etc. Vegas did decide to be a pill about the weaves again initially and it is frustrating every time I see it as I'm not sure what is causing it. But we'll get there!
Third run of the day was Wildcard. There was no easy choice with this one...lots of people very experienced struggled mostly with the beginning where the entrance to the tunnel was in such a position as the dogs really felt like the wrong end was the correct entrance. Regardless, Vegas did it! I chose to do 2b, 6a, and 11b (2 Bs required and 1 A). I think the video probably picks up how I had to holler to pull Vegas off the 11a tunnel or it would have been "game over." She did great.
Last run of the long but fun weekend was Snooker. A lot of people scratched and headed out. Some of us were debating the wisdom versus irony of having snooker at the end of the day, at the end of the weekend, when participants canine and human alike were tired. For me I felt like it would probably work out. It meant I wouldn't have a crazy cooped up dog with the zoomies. Or at least I hoped. There was no easy way to look at the course we were given. It was one of the tightest, most difficult snooker courses I have seen to date. Further, several places were numeric sequences comprising a single criteria. Always presenting interesting challenges....
As this trial wrapped for the weekend, Vegas had added two more titles to her name. She has just three legs left to complete level 3 in CPE and is now KKZ's Apache Vegas Rose CL1, Cl2, NA, NF, OAJ, CL3-R, CL3-F

On the way home, I stopped and got Vegas a little treat. She loves vanilla ice cream and with trials not always frequently, it became somewhat of a tradition to offer this little treat. Leo, of course, gets a spoon or two now. 


  1. Wow- what a team you make. Love watching the videos. Congratulations!

  2. Aw, thanks, Leigh. I am such a lucky girl. Vegas is my rock star.