Saturday, September 25, 2010

Portland Agility Club, Day 1, September 2010

Today we attended the Portland Agility Club's September AKC trial at Clark County Fairgrounds. Of course arriving at the crack of dawn and running a giant dog, it meant multiple trips back and forth from the truck hauling things in. Fortunately I had my pumpkin spice latte and was ready to go. Our friend, Rachel, and her Boxer, Harry Potter, were up from the Cottage Grove/Springfield area to run with us at this venue for the first time. It was pretty chilly this morning and I started having my doubts about the weather forecast. The weathermen were calling for low 80s but it was definitely sweatshirt material first thing. Thankfully it wasn't so cold I was worrying about keeping Vegas warm, however.

I worked the first couple of Fast classes to pass the time as we were running small to tall today. Being in Excellent for both Standard and JWW, it was unfortunate that Standard was running first in one ring and JWW was running last in the other. It meant we had to be there for most of the day and didn't even get our first run in until almost 1pm. By then I had to warm Vegas up and be concerned about overheating her. One thing I love at this venue during warm weather is the horse wash area. There's a hose and plenty of cool water to wet Vegas down to lower her temperature and keep her comfortable. All told today, I ended up wetting her down twice between her Standard and JWW run which were about 90 minutes apart.

The courses and judges were really nice today. Unfortunately the surface was not. The arena gets used for a ton of events from horses to dogs to motorcycles. Apparently the venue had recently had a motorcycle event hosted there and when PAC members arrived Thursday to begin preparing for the trial they discovered the surface packed solid and cracked as if it were concrete. Obviously not good. They contacted the fairgrounds and work began to correct the problem. They worked until after midnight and helped to correct the problem. Too bad they didn't have more time though because the surface we had to run on today caused a lot of people to slip and fall or nearly do so. It was very rocky, pebbly with large, rounded chunks of dirt across the top surface. As Rachel and I walked our courses and watched others run, we became very grateful for our agility shoes because it would give us a lot better traction and grip to avoid falling.

Our first course at nearly 1 o'clock was Standard. The judge was Don Farange, a judge I had never met before but whom I had the opportunity to chat with briefly while attempting to get Leo's first temporary measurement done this morning. The biggest challenge for this course other than the footing/surface of the ring today was a couple of jump discriminations. Otherwise the course flowed, ran smooth, and presented no ugly spots that were hard on Vegas' body. The biggest issue I saw in watching others was the weave entry. Even with Vegas' large stride, I would have had to hustle to get a front cross in and send her into the weaves at an angle I was comfortable with. It was a big gamble but I walked it from both sides. I also walked it the way I ultimately ran it and also tried a front cross after the weaves to put me on the right side into the subsequent jumps. See for yourself how it turned out....

Our JWW course was also nice. It almost seemed to easy to be true. The lines were nice and straight. There weren't sharp turns, and there were only 19 obstacles. Oh, and the weave entry was straight on. Like many things, looks can be deceiving. The hitch in our giddyup, as they say, was the simplicity of the triple jump next to the tunnel. Although the triple fell into a nice flow following two single jumps, the second of those jumps was angled just enough for the dog to see the tunnel entrance. Some people tried handling from the outside of those three jumps. I knew that it would completely throw me off down the way to do so plus it just made sense for me to be on the inside based upon Vegas' pace and our way of working. For all my awareness about that jump, however, I neglected to tell Vegas what I wanted clearly enough early enough. Therefore we slightly crowded each other as we approached the triple and ended up with a single knocked bar on the triple - an automatic NQ. As Rachel said, "She was home in on that tunnel and you were late telling her to go to the triple." Yep, I sure was. Bummer. No MACH points today.

Considering the sudden heat of today and the fact that what happened in JWW was my fault, it was a good day. Fifty percent is a higher average than AKC would like for Qs plus our results equated to a second leg toward our AX title and that was important. We're hoping for a double Q tomorrow so that we walk away with more MACH points and a finished AX title. The benefit there, of course, will be that when we run, we have a chance in both runs each day to qualify and earn MACH points.

Speaking of MACH points, the AKC has been slow (very!) getting trial data entered and updated. I've been waiting for our Labor Day trial for what seems forever and the crux of it being that the last day updated was 9/4 for the past three or four days. Well, they finally got through 9/5 and show Vegas having 14 MACH points. She actually has 21 right now but they'll show that when they finish that weekend and get through 9/6. But, here is what I saw that is kind of cool although I know we won't be going to the invitational next year since it's being held in the East Coast region.
Alrighty, so that's day 1 and we have tomorrow to go. On top of being cooler tomorrow, our friends, Lindsay and Heffner, will be there tomorrow, too, so we get to have double the fun - and Danes - running.

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