Saturday, November 26, 2011

MCDF Thanksgiving Trial

This weekend is our last agility trial before the AKC Invitational. Yikes. Three days to max our potential and work out any kinks. Vegas was entered in just Standard and JWW Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Our Friday started off very early - 5 am when the alarm went off and 6:03 when we pulled out of the driveway. Yikes. The location of the trial has very little space for crating so time was of the essence. The day's runs weren't to start until 10, crating was supposed to be allowed starting at 8:30, but those arriving to help unload and set equipment could stake their crate space at 7:30. We arrived right at 7 am. Yawn!

After a brief doze in the truck, 7:30 had arrived and I left the dogs to head inside and see what needed to be done. I laid out our crate mat and went to work. First up each day has been Standard followed by JWW.

This was a new judge for us but I was pleased enough with the course. My plan was to handle from the right as I felt trying to rear at #3 would potentially cause her to take the off course #18. That worked well and she hit the a-frame fast. Unfortunately what I'd been attributing to an occasional "oops, stride over" on the contact has become a pattern and a bad habit. It was this run in particular that I realized how much of a problem it is and oh how I wish I'd worked her harder on it sooner. So in walking the course I had told myself, "Work the contact!" Imagine my dumbfoundedness when she blew straight over the contact without a modicum of touching the yellow. Must have thought it would burn her feet. So as I stood there she then also took the #12 tunnel. Whoops! Then we were back on track. I got her back and went into the 180 and weave. Thank you, God, she's so solid on her weaves these days. She nailed that and moved onto the walk. Here was a dilemma - front cross to get the correct side of the tunnel or threadle arm and move sideways? I opted for the lateral move and it worked well. The #12 tunnel was quite intuitive for most dogs so I didn't worry too much. She did, however, scare me when she hit the table. She landed on the lower side so abruptly and with such power that, while she didn't tip it, she did spend the entire five-count straining her muscles to hold her body aloft and not come off forward.

After last weekend's chute issues, I knew I wanted to run the chute out with her. I had then planned a front cross after the panel jump into the #17 and 18. By running out the length of the chute though, I was behind in her quest to dive over the panel. She landed long and I had to make a last second decision to handle from behind. It worked well to serpentine 16-18 and she ran hard and fast for the #19 jump. So all in all a good run, a lesson learned, and something to work on.

Obviously JWW has been our game historically and I wanted to make a comeback. I was disappointed there were two tunnels, though. My plan was to run the outside of the tunnel and call her to #3 verbally. From there I would run up the inside, slowing at #5 and dropping her into me at 6 and then pushing out to #7. Rear cross at 11 and a hard push into the tunnel with a front cross for the weaves. I hoped for a front cross at #18 to make the final sequence, a pinwheel, and "go for gold."
SCT of 45 for 161 yards. Our time? 36.75 with a YPS of 4.381. 8 MACH points and 11th place out of 17 qualifiers. Not too damn shabby for the largest and tallest dog of the class. So proud of my girl!

That put her MACH point count at 374 - the halfway point. 

Because of our earlier debacle with the a-frame and my realization, we stuck around really late last night for a B match. I entered both Vegas and Leo to run the standard course and I knew that I would use the time to work the a-frame. And work it I did. I didn't count but my guess is that Vegas climbed the a-frame about 20 times. Yep, 20 times. Jump/a-frame/jump/a-frame, rinse, repeat. She nailed the contact each and every time. Go figure. 

We didn't have to arrive quite so early this morning but tall dogs were running first. We got to the trial site about 7:45 and had a little more than an hour before the Standard class started.
I really liked this course. My biggest concerns were really the tunnel/dog walk discrimination (although they were set a decent distance apart and I knew exactly how I would handle it to avoid an issue) and the a-frame. Did I mention I had anxiety over the a-frame? I set Vegas up for a start-line stay and, would you believe, I got one? Wowza. Gave up on that two years ago but never stopped trying. Good girlie! From there I was going to front cross after the weaves and pull her around the 270 and make sure my shoulders were square to the tunnel. From there I planned to rear cross the tunnel and I knew after talking with Craig about another area of the course not to push too hard on 6-7. I didn't want to push her too far and potentially get an off course tire or anything. As soon as she committed to the tunnel I was pulling back to the dog walk and calling the command. I also wanted to control her landing on the table this time so we didn't risk her knocking it over, rocking it, or continuing forward motion. That worked well. I also hoped to be able to lead out a bit while she was on the table because shaping the chute entry was important. My plan was to lead her straight over the jump, out, then drop with my left shoulder to push into the tunnel, again running out the length with her. Cha-ching! Success. Teeter to panel and then I debated a front cross after the panel to the a-frame or to front cross afterward. Both after watching Craig walk it and figuring it avoided me losing time or causing a dropped bar on the panel with any late movement, I worked from the inside and fronted afterward. The area he had pointed out of issue was 17 to 19. He said it was natural to move in on that section but doing so could easily cause of off course from 16 to the triple, #7. It definitely happened to a few dogs so I held my position and moved in a straight line toward #20 closer to the a-frame than the tire.
SCT was 66 for 176 yards; our time was 54.03. 11 MACH points and a clean run complete with Great Dane feet having connected with the yellow a-frame contact. Whoohoo! Very, very pleased with that run. Could have been faster, sure, but it was clean because I played it safe and I worked the areas I was concerned with.

JWW was another lovely course. The most concerning part to people walking it was the off course jump by the weaves. In reality, it didn't catch anyone unless they had issues they had to correct with the short sequence before.
My plan was to work from the inside all the way to the tunnel. Setting her up at a nice diagonal start line, she could see clear to the #2 jump. From there I was just going to move outward to pull her over 3 and send to 4 and 5. I hoped that while she was in the tunnel I could move out at least to the other side of 6 if not more toward 7. I debated and walked the 7/8/9 section. I was comfortable with both a front cross after #8 and also rearing the entire thing and working the weaves from the back wall (off side). In the end, I was able to get out to #7 while she was in the tunnel and draw her over those jumps for a smooth front cross before 8. From there I hoped to rear cross 12 with a send out to 13, draw her back over 14 and front cross at 15. I actually managed to pull off a front at 16 because she was moving so well laterally and away from me. This was a run of a lifetime. There was not time for extra thought and we were really syncing. I watched the video and her timing was amazing, her ability to respond to my queues just gorgeous. We nailed this course with an incredible time, I think, for the SCT set. I had actually gone into it worried we could do it in time. The SCT was just 40 seconds. Vegas ran it in 31.83.
This run also represented a landmark - QQ #15. Three-quarters of the required QQs for MACH. Wow. And, we are now at 393 MACH points. 19 points for the day and 27 points for the weekend with one day to go. So, so, so proud of my girl. She still amazes me. I can't wait for tomorrow.

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