Friday, July 30, 2010

Fleet Feet CPE Trial July 2010

Following our first attempt at rally on July 16, we had two days of CPE agility in beautiful Turner, Oregon. Barb White really has an amazing facility with a great indoor arena, comfortable crating areas, fenced yards for off-leash time and play, and a big pasture out back that offers extra romping room. Of course having horses nearby and being out in the country doesn't hurt for this country girl....

Saturday we had four runs. I had to miss the last one, Colors, because of a previously scheduled appointment. That was a big bummer since we needed just one more level three leg to complete that portion of our level three title. Oh well; we'll have a chance in August. Without further ado, here is how things shook out. Our judge for the weekend was Joanna Ambroz.

Jackpot, Level 3
Jackpot is one of those games that sounds simple but sometimes is just not. The biggest problem we had in this instance was that it was played in the traditional fashion which meant we had to keep going until the time went off before we could head for the jackpot. Not a huge deal usually but there was some distance that threw us off. We had plenty of points but ultimately went over time by just over a second which is why we didn't qualify. The send wasn't too bad even with the weaves in there. The biggest thing was to get enough momentum to send Vegas into the tunnel and then pull her back to hit the weaves with a nice entry. Voila! She did great at it and I can't fault her performance at all.
Standard, Level 4
Next up was Standard. I thought we already had a couple of legs in level four but it turns out we had none. Here was the course for Saturday.
All in all, the course was fairly straight-forward (and not altogether Joanna's normal style). There were some little stumbling blocks that made sure we were focused and in tune with our dog. For instance, the 5 through 7 sequence was a criss-cross with the potential for the dog to take the a-frame out of the tunnel. Further, 15 through 17 meant you had to be sure to pull your dog to the inside versus letting him or her head straight for the #7 jump. I believe the video will show I almost made that mistake of pulling too late. But, it was still a clean run and Vegas did well. SCT was 59; we completed the course in 51.47, finishing our first Level 4 Standard leg with second place.

Wildcard, Level 3
Wildcard is a fun game, too, where those in the higher levels must complete two 'b' obstacles and one 'a' obstacle (the wildcards). The successful completion of the entire sequence in addition to making the correct selections within the alotted time earns a qualifying run. I didn't want to send Vegas out to the 10b sequence which pretty much helped me make my decision as to what 'a' and 'b' wildcards I would choose. We selected 2b, 6b, and 10a. Vegas completely rocked it - including two sets of weaves - in 22.83 seconds; SCT was 39. Her YPS was 4.25. We got first place and finished that part of our remaining level three requirements.

The last run of the day would have been Colors but we had already headed out. Being one ring, indoors, and a premium facility, trials by Fleet Feet are always packed and tend to run late. All in all, a good day and a tired dog since the temperature was moving up toward the low 80s by the end of the day.

Sunday we ran small to tall and I didn't have any obligations at home (other than cleaning my house, packing to leave town in the morning, prepping all of the dogs' stuff for while I was gone....) so was able to stay the entire day. The order of runs was: Full House, Standard, Snooker, and Jumpers.

Full House, Level 4
Full House is another great game to start the day since it "gets the zoomies out" and any obstacle completed goes toward earning points. We needed one 5-point obstacle (weaves or contacts), two 3-point obstacles (circles), and three 1-point obstacles (single jumps) plus whatever else to total the points required for our level. We had a total of 35 seconds for the game and lost a point per second over time. Our point total 26 and our course time was 38 earning us a second place qualifying run. Yay, Vegas!

Standard, Level 4
So, one thing you might notice by now is how tunnel heavy the courses were this weekend. With every course it seemed I cringed on behalf of Miss V. The poor girl. On this course I did start her back as far as I could and ran her into the tunnel to give her momentum since a tunnel was the first obstacle. This course was similar to Saturday's standard course with some slight challenges that made sure that you didn't relax as a handler or your dog could easily veer off where s/he was not supposed to. It also ensures dogs who love certain obstacles have to work with their handler or end up taking what they like over what they may be asked to do. That said, the identified challenge areas included 3-4, 10-11 (and avoiding #16), 11-13 (not veering off to take the #14/#3 jump), and #14-15. All of these were obstacle discrimination which is something this judge has been known for in our area. However, they were a variation of what we used to see which was a contact and a tunnel much closer together. All in all, it went well. Vegas ran the course cleanly, pulling in a second place finish in 53.27 seconds (SCT was 59). Her YPS was just over 3.

One thing I noticed was how confident her weaves are. She never once missed an entry or pulled out. Go Vegas!

Snooker, Level 4
Snooker used to be our nemesis. We struggled with it over and over and over again when we were in level 1 and since then have never missed a Q opportunity. Since we're currently running level 4 Snooker, that means we've had 6 qualifying Snooker runs in a row. Well, this opportunity was not to be had. The funny thing is, we had the "snooker." I relaxed my guard or didn't give directions as I should have and ended up allowing Vegas to take the first sequence jump from the wrong direction. Oops. So, we got whistled and NQd. Oh well; we'll have a chance again in August. Here's the course.
Jumpers, Level 4
Vegas loves jumpers. Perhaps it's the simplicity of it. It was getting later on in the day but was a bit cooler Sunday than Saturday. The only oddity I find is that a knocked bar is okay in Jumpers for CPE but not in AKC. I really think it shouldn't be allowed in CPE to qualify, at least at this high of a level, but I don't make the rules. We rarely knock bars these days and I know the one knocked bar we had in this course was due to the sudden directional change (180 degrees), my queue, and the wall Vegas was going toward before turning. It happens....
Since we're currently competing in the Excellent B level in AKC for JWW and also train at a much higher level, I found this course mostly simplistic. Perhaps it's my increased focus on AKC as opposed to CPE. I wouldn't call them easy courses or consider getting a title is an instant accomplishment; however, there are distinct variations that up the ante with AKC.

Here are the challenges I identified: 3-4, 6-7 was where we knocked a bar (#6), and 11-12. It looks like on paper that coming out of the tunnel (#15) to the final jump would be difficult as they can't see where they are going. However, in reality, coming out of that tunnel almost all the dogs I watched seemed to instinctually go toward that jump right away leading me to believe it was well placed and obvious for the dogs.

Eleven to 12 wasn't an area we struggled with as Vegas has a great distance directional change queue to "flip" her. Others struggled somewhat significantly with this as dogs were prone to launching toward the #1 jump before turning to the tunnel. The proximity was relatively close - closer than the map looks. Otherwise we did well and ran the course in 33.39; SCT was 33. We earned a second place finish.

All in all, not too bad. Five out of seven qualifying runs - possibly would have had six had I been able to stay for Colors on Saturday. Our next CPE trial is August 21 & 22 at the Clark County Fairgrounds. After that I'm uncertain when we'll trial in CPE again. It's important for me to keep building momentum in AKC as well as grow as a team by working on difficult courses. There is one in October I am considering at this time.

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