Saturday, September 24, 2011

Portland Agility Club AKC Agility Trial September 2011 - Saturday

Yay for agility trial weekends! Boo for early mornings! Today started 5:34 am - abruptly. I don't recall snoozing or turning my alarm off, but when I launched out of bed it was 11 minutes to my goal time of leaving home. Yikes! Got the dogs pottied and fed, had a quick shower, woke my youngest son up, and hauled the last crap out the door. Loaded the dogs and we were off at 5:59. Whew! After a quick Starbucks stop we were on our way up the freeway. Thought we were going to get stuck in some traffic just north of town because our three lane interstate went to two lanes then just one but we muddled through with minimal delay. Our arrival at the Clark County Event Center was about 6:40 am. We were one of about three cars there so I was counting my blessings. But when we went inside - it was dark, first of all - most of the crating area was already occupied! Crap. Our usually abundant crating was not so much and I worried about even finding a spot that wasn't along the "hot" wall - the one the sun beat down against.

Fortunately we squeezed into a spot and set our stuff up. I'm trying to market my collars and pet sewing projects a bit more in hopes of earning some money for our invitational trip. I made this pocketed hanging organizer for our x-pen to stick business cards in and to use for display, too.

The trial is being hosted by the Portland Agility Club (PAC) who hosts several AKC trials each year. Our judges are David Hirsch and Lori Sage (also a local competitor, trial secretary, and provider of agility equipment). We ran small to tall today and will run tall to small tomorrow. Today, Fast was offered and we were entered.
Sometimes I think I'm dyslexic. When I looked at the map I was planning a course that involved taking the send from 2-3-10. Perhaps it's less a dyslexia than it is an organized brain that automatically put the numbers in ascending order? Whichever, I still thought it fairly doable but was pleased to find otherwise when I walked the course. Below is my planned course.
I almost was going to push for #7 after the a-frame but after walking and talking the course through with our friend, Beth, I decided not to. Especially because if I planned to skip the weaves there was a long stretch between the teeter and the final jump or two that would be otherwise just running. That's always hard on Vegas, it seems. She loves to take the obstacles so it doesn't make sense to bypass them. I will say, too, my goal was to send her into the tunnel and beat feet to the other end of the send to draw her straight down the line toward me.

I'm pleased to say it totally worked! She got out of the tunnel just after I got down to the line and it was really cool to call her to me in that way. I was so excited about this course - we've tried Fast again a few times lately and while we've gotten the send bonuses (Yay!), we've lost out on that Q due to time and points. Our time on this course was a smoking 22.91 and she totally had enough points! The required points was 60; Vegas had 70! I'm so proud of my girl and an amazing time, too. I kind of wish we had done the weaves, but hindsight is always 50/50. We'll take it! That was our second Excellent A Fast leg; we need just one more for our XF title. Yahoo!

Thanks to my son, Zach, for videoing.
Next up was Standard but good gracious did we have a killer wait. We ran Fast around 9:15 or so I suppose. We didn't run Standard until almost 2 pm. Yikes! The course had some similarities to the MCDF trial from two weekends ago. Note the chute start and the dog walk to tunnel sequence.
My plan with standard was to give her a nice big running start into the chute and work from the inside. I hoped to bring her down off the dog walk far enough to have a tad bit of momentum into the tunnel (That's one of my least favorite setups.) and then come out in front of the tunnel exit to call her over the teeter. I was going to be on the right side of the teeter but that's not when I ended up doing, which was fine. My goal then was to work from the inside on the tire-single-triple (7-9) sequence, using a "flip" command to turn her into the weaves. I'm starting to think of most of my maneuvers as rear wheel drive - not that I'm always behind but because I don't often make front crosses; rears and blinds work better for us. From the weaves I was, again, going to work from the right side, no crosses necessary, until I used the "flip" command again at #13 and then rear-crossed.

Everything went really well. It wasn't particularly comfortable at that point; late September and we hit the mid-80s - who would have thunk? I'd hosed Vegas down two separate times over about a 15 minute span of time prior to our run to help. Here's what bugs me about our runs today. I was over-managing things and letting success get in the way of my handling so that I had some panic in my voice on areas where I knew there could be potential for off courses, etc. Ugg! I hate when I do that. I know it slows Vegas down and makes her check with me more often. I also know it has the potential to demotivate her and make her lose confidence. Plus I feel like a shrew! There were a couple of spots on this course I did that. Fortunately, I did have something to be pleased with myself for. I applied a lesson I learned this last week to our a-frame performance. At least I did one thing intentionally that was of importance to working with my girl. I'll cover the details of that in a later post on the topic of that lesson.

The yardage on the course was 180; SCT was 67 for 24" dogs. I'm happy to say that Vegas ran this course cleanly in 55.93, earning us 11 MACH points and our second Q of the day.
Thanks to Lindsay for videoing Standard and JWW.

JWW was late in the day. We finally ran around 4:30 pm. Thankfully there were no tunnels in the course and it looked like it would be a lot of fun with some room to open up and move.
I had checked the gate sheet and had about 12-15 dogs or so. I went down to wet Vegas down and got to chatting with a friend. When I headed back to see where things were at, the gate steward let me know we were up. I was like, "We're up? Right now?" Yep. The dog in front of us was just leaving the ring. I threw off my bait bag and headed into the ring. Talk about no time to fret or think - just jump in and do it. My plan, again, was to work from one side and use "flips" and rear crosses in applicable places. This was both the plan and execution for the first sequence, 1-4, with a rear cross after 4 and a flip at the #10 jump. I almost thought Vegas was going to miss her entry or go past the weaves because of the momentum and movement forward she had. I need to remember to just trust - she knows what she's doing on weaves now and has been solid for almost a year (never missing an entry or popping out). She's just enjoying them more than she used to and thus diving right in.

After the weaves I found that I had pushed forward a bit much and had to pull back so that I didn't send her around the #12 jump. From there I was going to front cross when she was committed to #15, and then flip her over 17 to turn to 18 and run for the finish. She was a bit slow but it was pretty darn hot (mid-80s) and humid.
Once again, my girl rocked the house! 41.22 seconds; SCT was 43. Not a lot of points, sure, but another QQ (our third in a row). This actually made three Qs for the day so we get to pick up a gorgeous ribbon from the club tomorrow morning. I never tire of those things!

Our current MACH tally is: 11 QQs and 270 points. Oh, and one very tired Vegas. She put herself to sleep tonight and got up only when our friend and her dogs showed up. She's grumbling behind me on the bed now telling me it's time to go lights out. It'll be a short while still though. My son is at his sophomore homecoming dance and I have to go pick him up.

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