Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Fleet Feet CPE Trial March 2011 - Sunday Recap

I'm late getting Sunday's recap in and for good reason. I was too grumpy and tired to deal with it yesterday. Poor Vegas. Poor kids of mine. I'm realizing too many weekends in a row plus stressful work, raising kids, trying to take care of life although my house is falling apart, sickness, doctor appointments, groceries, meals, bills, etc. Gah!

Sunday we got to leave a bit later even though it was tall to small. The run order was Jackpot, Standard, Wildcard, then Colors. I particularly liked the choice of classes this weekend because the two shortest classes were Sunday which is a lot easier on Vegas' body - Wilcard and Colors. I was really, really tired though and kind of off. Unfortunately I didn't really realize I was "off" until much later in the day. Poor Vegas was in a snit over being put in the crate right away so that didn't help either. The weather was atrocious on top of it all and most of the day we had to strain to hear and yell to be heard due to the pounding of Oregon weather on the barn. Yeah, it was kind of a crummy day. At some points we even had hail, sleet, and then random sun breaks where you felt the need for shades. Our weather needs a good therapist or some drugs. So messed up.

Jackpot was non-traditional which is always good. Until I read the description at the top of the map, I almost thought it was like the non-traditional course we ran two weekends ago, but it turned out it wasn't double points. Either way, my preference is always non-traditional so the Jackpot can be done at any point. In my opinion, it's less stressful and allows the handler a bit more control over his or her course. I find it difficult to plan the opening not knowing how many things we can actually accommodate before the warning buzzer goes, plus worrying about being too far from where the Jackpot begins. Of course the least of the issue is also working from a distance, although CPE is not as difficult as AKC's distance challenges. Here's the course:
Here's what my plan was:
I had hoped to beat Vegas to the box so she crossed the second jump while I was over the line. That was my first mistake. It didn't work and I didn't even try to get a start line stay. I should have even to gain a step or two. I made the turn in the box to send her in the tunnel and she wouldn't go. She went forward, kind of leaned forward and halted almost as if her rear feet were going to come off the ground. She stopped and turned slightly toward me. I asked her to go again and she again refused. The third time she took the tunnel. From there it was kind of a blur. All I know is that I got her over the a-frame and into the second tunnel and wasn't hearing the judge call out numbers. Suddenly she was calling out single numbers, not the bonus point number. Crap. We kept going but didn't get too far. No Q. Jackpot is our nemesis. I took Vegas back to our crating area kind of muttering and cursing. I was kind of annoyed. Why didn't she listen? Didn't she want to play? She acted fine. Strange. Our point total was a lousy 24; we needed 44 to qualify. Jackpot is our nemesis.

Next up and a while later, Standard. Ah, now that's our game.
Walking the course there is one thing I was excited about - only two tunnels! Yay for V! The largest challenges I identified were the weave entrance #7 and the tunnel entrance #12. Other than that, a pretty fun course. I was a little disappointed to have two sets of six weaves since I know how much easier it is for Vegas to do and kind of don't like going into an AKC trial having done just six weaves the weekend prior. We ran the course. Vegas refused the weaves. She went in from the left after the first pole, not once but twice. It wasn't until the third try she nailed the weaves. The rest of the course was flawless. I was not annoyed this time but confused. What was going on?

Rachel and I chatted back at our crates and she reminded me how rock solid Vegas is. This wasn't like her. She will work for me no matter what without getting distracted, ignoring me, etc. She is consistent, hard working, and dependable. So Rachel pointed out there must be something wrong. She felt her back and found a warm spot. Uh oh. She was nice enough to massage it a bit and determined it was just a sore spot that might be giving her a smidge of trouble until a few obstacles into the course when she was a bit more warmed up and limber. I wondered about scratching our last two runs and taking her home but Rachel figured it wasn't that bad and to try the next run and see how she handled it. Until then, I massaged her back quite a bit, focusing on that area but also working other areas. I warmed her up more before our next run - difficult in tight spaces and with the weather thundering down outside - and stretched her back really good, too. One of my favorite stretches with her is to use a treat to lure her to reach toward her rear forming her body into a "C" shape. I get her to do this and sustain the position for a good 10 seconds or more and then repeat on the opposite side. If I can, we do it at least twice for each side. I also lure her head between her front feet with a treat. Shes fairly cooperative and I know it's important to stretch that long back of hers.

We learned we did qualify in that Standard run. Usually with six poles in the higher levels they must be completed cleanly or will be faulted. Turns out they are not faulted if the entry isn't correct to start with. We did receive a two point deduction for time though. That was our third level five standard leg. Yippee!

She was acting more like herself by Wildcard, bouncing, playful, ornery, and happy. The course was fun and, like I said, short. I was able to choose the wildcard options that did not require her to go through tunnels. My plan was to take 2B, 6B, and 9A. There was one change to the course and that was to move the double to the right for obstacle #2 versus the left because the club's double has wings which weren't expected.
The course went well. Vegas ran well and we didn't have any issues like previous. She missed her weave entry, moving just beyond the weaves and I had to pull her back. Otherwise it was smooth and simple. Our time was in the 20s and we finished our level four requirement for this game.

Last run of the weekend was colors. I was excited for Vegas again. Usually the tunnel choices are equal. This course gave me three tunnels to one tunnel. Easy choice! This course (the "circle" course on the map) appeared to also be the easier of the two. Unfortunately I screwed it up and couldn't fix it. I decided to eliminate us just to save on her and me. As I said, I was tired and getting grumpier although it wasn't at Vegas. She tried and was simply confused about my bumbling handling. The issue was the transition from the 180 into the obstacle # 5. I was so focused on preventing her from going out to the tunnel that I didn't make my front cross and turn into the #5 jump. Instead I tried to handle it from the front and she wasn't reading me. After going around the jump twice she took it from the wrong direction. She was trying and I could see the puzzlement on her face. Poor girl.
Anyway, I was pretty disappointed with our Sunday. Most of it was being so overtired though, and I know that now. Vegas was a sweetheart and she was trying to tell me she hurt. I hate that I don't read her well enough to know better and I let my competitive streak come out first. I have a goal and I want to achieve it, damnit, and I need to stop and enjoy every second with my girl. I'm still feeling the guilt tonight as I write this and while I know she doesn't require me to make it up to her, boy do I feel like I owe her. Vegas is my best girl and I could not be luckier. She's amazing and I don't deserve her. Her giving heart and spirit humble me. Every run I have my goal from this point forward is to enjoy it and remember that she wouldn't do anything to disappoint me intentionally.

The plan for the rest of this week is to keep things low key. She's going to get some core and body work done, simple stretches and exercises such as hind end awareness, plus massage and I'll be paying close attention to her back. She should be fine for the coming weekend's three-day AKC trial where we'll only have two runs a day, but until then she gets rest and loads of love.

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