Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Trials and Tribulations

The trial this weekend went pretty well, could have gone better but could have gone much worse and was a big improvement over last trial. Cody had a brilliant day on Saturday, only one Q (a beautiful, first place run in his standard class) but he was focused and really excited to be out there working with me. Sunday he was a bit flaky but still managed 2 Q's out of three classes, both good enough for second place. I was extremely pleased with him.

Lola didn't fair quite as well but was better than last trial. She had a very off day on Saturday but improved on Sunday, earning a Q, first place and her advanced title in her Jumpers class, the very last class of the day. So she's on to the masters ring in jumpers next trial, yikes!

Lola did have a good time at the trial in general. There was a lake there so I let her chase her ball in the water a lot and she loved that. She also got some head rubs and snuggling from agility great Olga Chaiko who isn't from around here but was at the trial nonetheless. She's an excellent competitor having won ESPN's Great Outdoor Games for several years and is almost always in contention at the various National agility championships. As it turns out she's a really nice person too and made a big fuss over Lola. She even asked me where she was from and I laughed and told her 'the shelter'.

The following are my detailed notes from the trial and will probably be very boring to the non-agility folks (and maybe even the agility folks). They're meant mainly for me so I can remember what went right/wrong and what we need to work on. However, I typed them out so I figure I'll make them public in case anyone is truly interested. I have some pictures I'll post later.

USDAA Trial, ACAT, Fountain Creek Regional Park, Fountain (Co. Springs), CO

Saturday, October 3, 2005
Sunny, hot, mid to upper 80’s, little to no cloud cover

Cody:
Cody had an awesome day! He was very focused and excited all day, no stress issues at all except for being in his crate and having to wait his turn while I ran Lola.

Master Gamblers:
The opening went as planned. He missed an up contact on the dog walk because I called him to me coming out of a tunnel to avoid a jump but he came to close to me before I sent him back to the dogwalk. This caused him to approach too much from the side and he missed the contact. Otherwise he had beautiful dogwalk and A-frame contacts. We didn’t attempt the weaves. The gamble was too difficult so we didn’t get it. He had too wide of a turn on a jump that he needed to wrap tightly so that didn’t help.

Advanced Standard:
He had a flawless standard run-fast yet controlled, enthusiastic, focused and CLEAN! He didn’t go straight into a down on the table which was strange since he hasn’t been having table problems recently but that was the only place for improvement. Weaves and contacts were all perfect. He was great at the start line and let me lead out 2 jumps with no signs of stress. He even got first place on top of a Q, doesn’t get much better than that.

Grand Prix:
Another lovely run. I had a handling problem that combined with his big jumping style sent him into a wrong course tunnel but otherwise I think the run was clean. Again, perfect contacts and weaves. He had some big wide turns and run outs in a couple of places so that’s something we need to work on. That’s always been a problem for us and I think I need to start focusing on that.

Lola:
Lola was another story. She was definitely having an off day and might have not been feeling well. Her poop was runny first thing in the morning so she was either stressed out right from the start or not feeling well or both. I think she wasn’t thrilled about being woken up at 4:30 a.m. either. She steadily improved throughout the day though.

Advanced Gamblers:
She was focused and not stressed at the start line but it all soon went to crazy. There was barking and leaping off contacts and basically running around not paying too much attention to me at all. She even popped out of her weave poles with about 4 poles left which she NEVER does. It was pure stressed out running amok. Funny thing is, she did the gamble no problem. Unfortunately because she was running so wild beforehand we weren’t in a good position to do the gamble when the buzzer went so we missed time by about a second or so and didn’t get credit for it. This is just as well because it would have been her title and we would have had to move up to masters next trial and I don’t feel she’s ready for that.

Advanced Standard:
She settled down a bit for her standard run but still seemed a bit rattled. She set up at the start line no problem and let me lead out 2 jumps but when I cued a turn after the 2 jumps she ignored me and ran right behind me to take the off course A-frame. This is her obstacle of choice when she’s stressed out. Good thing is she got her contact all 3 times she ended up doing the frame. I did manage to get her back on course and things went o.k. She ran past the table instead of going right on it then when I got her on she went right down but popped up too soon. Rather than make an issue of it I decided to keep going. The rest of the run wasn’t bad and she managed to focus back on me a bit .

Grand Prix:
This went even better though I made the same handling mistake with her that I made with Cody and sent her into the same off course tunnel. She also ran past an obstacle that was right in front of her because I was rattled and unclear and she wasn’t paying attention. Otherwise it was a pretty nice run on a tricky course.


Sunday, October 3, 2005
Sunny, hot, mid to upper 80’s, little to no cloud cover

Today felt even hotter than yesterday.

Cody:
Cody had a better day yesterday but still put in a good showing. He had some big loopy turns and moments of distraction but he managed Q’s in 2/3 classes and had a beautiful jumpers run despite a bumpy start. I did a really bad thing with his crate though, he was crying in there as per usual so I ignored him and walked away which usually causes him to stop his annoying high pitched barking. It turns out that his crate pad was soaked right through with water and he’s a big priss about things like that. He refused to lie down on it and must have been very uncomfortable all day. I didn’t realize it was soaked until I packed up for the day, picked it up and streams of water ran down onto my feet. Poor guy, I felt terrible and this certainly didn’t help his dislike of being in his crate.

Advanced Standard:
He was a bit distracted, had a wide loopy turn and almost left the ring. I got him back on course but his heart wasn’t in it. He popped out of the weaves and I didn’t redo them, earning us an E (elimination). He leapt his A-frame contact which is another sign of stress. He was in the zone, but the leaping is a bad thing. By the end of the course I had him settled a bit and he stuck the dogwalk contact nicely. Not a terrible run but not stellar.

Advanced Snooker:
The snooker course was fun, a series of 3 tunnels in a circle formed the 7 point obstacle with the 3 reds arranged in a line facing the tunnel circle. The start of the closing was one of the tunnels so there was a bit of strategy to how you went ‘round the tunnel circle. In the end I opted for two 7’s then the 6 point obstacle, a 2 jump combo that flowed right into the start of the closing. He had some more big loopy turns around the red jumps but we made it to the 6th of 7 obstacles in the closing, earning a Q and second place. Not a bad run but could have been WAY tighter. We should have easily made it through the whole closing.

Advanced Jumpers:
Cody ran after Lola and I only had one dog in between so I had someone hold one dog while I ran the other so I didn’t have to run back to the tent. He was a bit rattled from being in the wet crate and the tent collapsing on the crates in the wind so he was completely unfocused on the start line. I couldn’t get him to look at me and some snotty lady was pressuring us to go so I left him at the line and hoped for the best. As soon as I released him he turned tail and ran the opposite direction to Lola. I called him to me and he came tearing back and started the course no problem. He had a beautiful, flawless run earning a Q and getting nudged out of first place by Lola by hundredths of a second. A perfect way to end the trial.

Lola:
Lo seemed a bit better today though still not as focused as I was hoping for. She still seemed a bit ‘off’.

Advanced Standard:
For the first time this trial she resisted going up to the start line. I think this was due to the extreme heat and blazing sun. Before her other 2 runs I let her cool off in the lake first and didn’t have any problems getting her to the line. She had a better run than yesterday but was still a little stressed and distracted. She got her A-frame contact but leapt off the dogwalk for the bazillionth time. She had a beautiful, quick down on the table and held it the whole five seconds, a sign she was doing much better mentally. I was thrilled with this, it’s her toughest obstacle. We had an off course as she sucked to the dogwalk at a trap but otherwise on o.k. run and improvement over yesterday.

Advanced Snooker:
For some reason she dropped the first bar so my whole plan went down the tubes. I managed to get her to another red, through the 7 point tunnel combo, to another red and then I lost her and we were whistled off. It’s hard to think on your feet when things head south during snooker. She seemed a bit settled though, so I was pleased. The screw up was all me, baby.

Advanced Jumpers:
A beautiful, flawless fast run on a tricky course with some tempting traps. She got a Q and first place, what more can you ask for? This was also her Jumpers title so next trial we must move on to Masters-YIKES!!! The Masters course for this trial was ugly and I was glad I didn’t have to do it. Hopefully by our next USDAA trial in January we’ll be up to the challenge.

Things to work on:

Cody:
Tighter turns! This has always been a problem for us. He loves to jump big and long just for the sheer joy of it. He’s perfectly capable of jumping tighter, I just need to teach him.

Continuing motivation. This will always be an issue and I need to stay on top of it.

Weaves. I don’t like to overdo the weaves because of his shoulder and I think the reason he pops them is stress and not because he doesn’t know what to do but nonetheless we need to work on our entries.

Traps, esp tunnels. The issue here is mainly that he needs to focus on me more and look to me for cues rather than taking whatever obstacle is in front of him.

Lola:
She needs some more motivation work though I’m really pleased with her improvement over the last trial.

Traps, same issue as Cody.

Timing-this is my issue, not hers. I really need to work on my timing with her since she’s so freakin’ fast.

Contacts, contacts, contacts, esp. the table. This is ongoing. I think once she gets over her ring stress issues her contacts will improve but I always need to be working them.

No trials until first week in December which is a bummer but there’s a fun match coming up in 2 weeks that will be a wonderful training opportunity. Can’t wait!

1 comment:

  1. I don't know the first thing about agility, but I still find this fascinating from an anthropological standpoint. It's like reading a totally new language.

    ReplyDelete