Monday, June 28, 2010

Columbia River Agility Club AKC Agility Trial Recap (Trial 5 of 5)

Last weekend wrapped up a five weekend stretch of AKC trials for Vegas and I in our goal of earning one of the five coveted invitational spots for Great Danes. I was actually pretty sad that our "run" was over and not nearly as tired as I thought I would be of the 'get up and go' early for that many consecutive weekends. We most likely won't have any more AKC trials until Labor Day weekend but do have two CPE ones scheduled, one each in July and August. So our summer will be more free for the beach, the mountains, hiking, walks, biking, and chilling out.

For now, here's our weekend recap starting with Saturday. I entered us in all three runs both days, Fast, Standard, and JWW. The way things panned out each day, that is what order we ran our classes. My youngest son came along on Sunday but I don't have video for Fast either day - Saturday because there wasn't anyone to video and Sunday because chief videographer, Zach, was snoozing in the truck.

As our friend, Rachel, and I walked the Open Fast course Saturday morning we thought for sure there was little chance of our dogs nailing this one. The lead up to the send wasn't great and the distance just seemed insurmountable for our dogs without at least something to build momentum. Of course that is the point - the dogs are supposed to be able to go out on command. However, we're neither one really as there as we would like to be hence our concern. Other than that the course was nice...and even with the send challenge, there were good options for what obstacles to hit and what path we could make on our way to trying it.
The path I chose was the single jump that faced the a-frame to the a-frame to the tunnel that was in a "U" shape under the dog walk. We hit the weaves, and I sent Vegas on to the jump in the send. She did great and although I called the tunnel she came out toward me and, I believe, across the line. I sent her back to the tunnel and she took it. Leaving the tunnel I called her to the teeter and we took the single jump after to the finish jump. The clock registered 28.83 seconds and I had counted our points to 58. We needed 55 points in less than 32 seconds. Success! Well, when the results were finally printed and posted in the book, it said we had just 50 points and were an NQ. I was rather upset and after talking with Rachel decided to go talk with someone at the score table. At first I thought perhaps the scribe didn't write everything s/he was supposed to. It turns out that the issue was really something in the computer. I got the results corrected and we now have just one leg left on our Open Fast title. Go Vegas!

Next up and not too far down the line was Excellent Standard. This course presented a few challenges. The first one and one that really irritated some of the other competitors was the #7 jump which was a wrap back to the dog walk. They even made a comment to the judge who said, "My course was approved by AKC." Good for him. Sure, I analyzed it and walked it a couple of ways trying to figure out the best option, but if I wasn't worried overmuch with a Great Dane.... So, what I decided to do and what I am excited to say worked well and shows in the video was to wrap on the outside (toward the circuled 1 you can see on that jump). This gave Vegas a much straighter shot to the dog walk - very important for a giant breed. They need their footing solidly on the obstacle and with only 12", straight on is the safest approach. From there, I would't have guessed we would have a ton of trouble until we got to the weaves. However, Vegas bounced off the table again. Not sure why - just another training issue. Then I struggled with getting her to lay down. All in all this made or the run to be quite frustrating.

In walking the course, I had thought to do a rear cross after #12 and before #13, but after I had sent her on ahead over #13. Well, I ran her too far and crossed after #13 so what happened next was my fault. She ended up taking the #5 jump which gave us an off course. Her weaves were fine at that point but then she launched off the a-frame and missed her contact which gave us a failure to complete. So, all in all, those things on top of the time it took us to run this course made for a big, fat non-qualifying run.

Our last run for the day was JWW and, despite loving agility, we were super excited it was only 12:30 when JWW started. We were able to get out of there at a decent time and I even got to go enjoy my son's last baseball tournmant game of the day. This course looked perfectly doable although when walking we had quite the "pile up" after the trip going into the weaves as each of us intensely debated with ourselves and each other how best to accomplish the entry without an off course. Needless to say, there was a challenge!
The rest of the course was actually not as challenging as sometimes it looks when you see the potential for off courses. It flowed well and the tunnels were placed in just the right spots to allow (some of) us to catch up. Of course, despite well laid plans, things can go awry. I had really planned on holding back at the triple. I wanted to be sure to accelerate enough for Vegas to fully take the jump and not pull short and knock barsk but I wanted to decelerate at the right moment to prevent her from going to #16 versus the weaves. Well, what failed to be in the back of my mind is Craig's training - "Never use a front cross if you aren't certain you have room." Except I thought I did. I didn't expect to get ahead of Vegas during the 9-12 sequence. We had a failed entry into the weaves because I pulled out a front cross but blocked her entry thus inhibiting her making the right choice. So, darn. Especially tough to swallow since this was our next to last chance to qualify and earn MACH points for the invitational period.
So, that ended our Saturday. One Q and an additional leg for our Open Fast title. We came home to a hot house. Vegas stayed home while the little one and I went to the ball game. She was happier than happy when we got home though because I brought her kids with me.


Sunday was more of the same and, again, I was a little sad that it represented our last day of a long stretch of fun. All day I had to tamp down the nerves that threatened to rise up and overtake me what with the goal staring me in the face. Of course Vegas knows nothing of the goal so I forced everything to be about her.

Again, Fast was first. This course was definitely doable although I knew I would have to support her down contact on the a-frame as she likes to leap off. Score! She did it and the rest was cake. The problem is I didn't recongize her speed was slower and tried for the weaves. She was in the middle, having taken the correct entry, when the buzzer went off. I hustled her out of there but it still took us almost 10 seconds to get over the finish jump (she took another jump on the way plus went around the finish) so we lost points. I was mostly mad at myself as I was only going to have her take the double and head for the finish, not practice the weaves. This was a great course and I was really hoping for our Open Fast title but it wasn't to be.
Our route on this course began with the tire. We then headed for the 9-point combo. She took it albeit a bit slow, then we hit the teeter, the single jump, and then the a-frame/jump send combo. The tunnel followed and that's when I chose weaves instead of the double. So, our NQ was my fault.

Next up again was Standard. This time it was a bit longer since we were running small to tall. The first challenge came right away. The jump to weaves was just off set enough that figuring out how to get her into the weaves presented me with a handling challenge. I chose to go on the outside (left) whereas the right would have been easier. Perhaps she would have nailed it, perhaps not. I don't know. I do know that she missed the entry and we had to start over. From there things were really good and we had no problems and were under time. So, it gives me something to add to the "work on" list.
After some down time, some rally obedience practice time to get us tuned into each other (and kill time), we were up for our last run of the day and our last chance to earn some more MACH points.

Okay, this course was a doozy. It was meant for running, for sure. I couldn't decide for certain to handle the first stretch on the inside or outside. It seemed to be easier on the inside but less likely to avoid a mishap. I chose the outside and Craig walked with me giving me some pointers as to where to be, etc. He made sure I knew I would need to run like mad and work constantly to encourage Vegas. I really felt like I did although I'm not sure how much of that the video picked up. However, the video is endearing as Craig was right there next to my son the whole time coaching us as we went. I just got to listen to it today when I uploaded to YouTube and get a chuckle each time. He's been so helpful to us.

So, I started out on the outside. The only real issue was the pinwheel that was the 5 through 8 sequence. Getting into position and not taking an off-course jump. Even the weaves weren't that big of a deal - at least once I got Craig's guidance on making sure I "had her head" coming out of the tunnel. Although you can't really tell on the map, the jumps were pretty much at minimum distances apart not leaving much for stride room for Vegas. Again, a challenge of running a giant.
At the end I got a hold of Vegas, gave her a big hug, told her "good girl" then looked at the time. I had a breakdown in the ring as I put her collar on and just had to sit down and hug her outside the ring. She ran her heart out and did all she could. Even later the judge said he was rooting for her - he remembered her from the first trial we went to at Argus Ranch over Mother's Day weekend. We managed to qualify and complete our fifth MXJ leg but didn't earn any MACH points. The SCT was 38 seconds. We ran in 37.13. Yes a Q. I was heartbroken cause I couldn't ask for much more out of my girl. She ran like a dream and she gave it her all for me. It's frustrating as we are always fighting the clock much more than most of the dogs running. We came in 13th place.

So, that was that. We came home and she drank, she pottied, and she rested. She had two small meals and crashed for the night. And now she gets a couple of weeks rest before our next trial, a CPE one in Turner. We ended our run with two open Fast legs, in Excellent A standard but no legs, five Excellent B JWW legs, and 9 MACH points. If the AKC ever gets their records caught up, I'm hoping we're in for the invitational. Right now they are backlogged to the fifth of June.

1 comment:

  1. BARK! Thank you for visiting me. And yes, that stuff was real yummy. But I am a good girl (most of the time) and do not sneak more stuff. Wow, you look like your one busy girl! Makes me tired just to watch. Gotta go back to sleep now. BARK! Sasha the Princess