Monday, June 28, 2010
Columbia River Agility Club AKC Agility Trial Recap (Trial 5 of 5)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.