Tuesday, November 06, 2007

USDAA Nationals 2007 - The Mega Report







I was hoping to do little reports during Nationals but I couldn't get an internet connection this year in my RV on the Westworld grounds so you'll have to suffer through the ginormous report in one post.

First off here's a link to all my videos: USDAA 2007 videos I"ll put links to the individual runs in my report so it's easier to follow but it's handy for me to have that link to everything at once.

Wednesday

Grand Prix Classic

First day of Nationals, not sure how the dogs are going to react. The only event today is the Grand Prix Classic which is a Grand Prix course from 1988 designed by USDAA founder Ken Tatsch and judged under 1988 rules. It’s a weird course with straight lines of obstacles like you’d see in NADAC but spaced much more tightly then a weird technical bit in the middle with a hideous weave pole entry and another 2 lines of straight obstacles finishing on the line you started on. The A-frame was performed twice and there was a hogback broad jump which is a broad jump with the highest point in the middle, something you don’t see these days in USDAA, thankfully. It’s a horrible jump because the dog can’t see the back part of the jump to judge how long to jump. And in this case the obstacles were placed so tightly with the tire right after the broad jump so the dogs naturally wanted to collect as much as possible to make the next jump. I saw dog after dog after dog tick the far end of the broad jump on the way out and on the way back to the finish.

I thought my dogs would have no problem with it but like so many before here Lola ticked it on the way out and on the way back. This was her only mistake though other than a refusal at the weaves which was not called under the 1988 rules. I did have some confusion over the table though. I noticed the judge was allowing a sit on the table which I thought was bizarre but figured it had something to do with the 1988 rules. Just to be sure I went up to him personally and asked him not just about the sit but also what happens if the dog goes from a down to a sit. He said that was fine. I asked him 3 times to be sure because that sounded bizarre but he insisted it was o.k. if Lola laid down and first then moved into a sit. Well, o.k., you’re the judge. My plan was to put her into a sit if she seemed stressy about the table which is just what I did during the run. And the judge says to me it must be a down. Huh? Wuh? O.k., I put her into a down but we lost a lot of time as she jumped off the table while I was talking to the judge. We had 10 faults anyway so I didn’t make a stink about it but sheesh, how can the judge change the rules like that, esp. after allowing other runs at my height to do a sit? Someone standing at the sidelines told me he came over right before he started our rotation and told a small handful of people that he had checked the rules and he was wrong, it must be a down. But what good is that to most of the people who were off getting their dogs warmed up?
And what about the advantage the other people had that got to do the sit? I also heard a judge in one of the other rings wasn’t calling the broad jump at all, even dogs that ran right over it. I’m just here to have fun with my dogs but I don’t know, it’s Nationals, you’d hope the judges would have been briefed on the rules before the competition.

Cody had no problem with the broad jump and other than missing the weave entry and having to come back and redo it and a couple seconds lost to running off in the wrong direction after the A-frame for no obvious reason he had a nice, fast clean run. Because of the time lost to the bobbles I doubt we’ll get a placement but it was great feeling to have such a nice run right off the bat. Our runs were at around 5:00 p.m. and it was nice & cool with part of the course in shade so I’m sure that helped. I hope both dogs run like this for the next 4 days.

Grand Prix Classic Lola


Thursday

Today was Team Snooker, Team Jumpers and Grand Prix Quarterfinals.

Team Snooker


We ran at 9:00 a.m. while it was still nice and cool. The course had only jumps and one tunnel which was perfect for us, finally a Snooker course with no weave poles. There were 4 reds and the 4th was optional. We had 45 seconds in the opening, plenty of time to do 4 reds on a course of only jumps and tunnels. I chose a nice flowing course that I thought would give us the best chance of no off courses. The opening points were 4, 5, 6, 7-not terribly ambitious but I was pretty sure we’d make it through to 7 in the closing. No need to get too crazy in Team Snooker, better to make it through to the end then do crazy stuff and risk an off course to get a few extra points.

Cody had a beautiful, fast run and even saved my butt at #6 in the closing when I briefly forgot where I was going. He had one really wide turn that was my fault but otherwise his turns were fairly tight for him. Joy’s helping me tighten up his turns but it’s going to take some work though it seems the little bit of work we did with him last week helped a bit. It was a fun, yee ha run and we made it through to #7. Lola’s run was much the same but I remembered my front cross at #6 in the closing and set her up better at #7 to take the jump that stopped the clock. She looked great out there, fast, happy & relaxed. Lola’s teammate also had a nice Snooker run, I think she got the same points as we did.

Videos:



Team Jumpers


It was hot by the time we got to our Jumpers runs at around 11:00 a.m. or so. Not horribly hot but hot enough to slow the dogs down. This made Cody easier to handle and we were having a really nice run through all the technical bits until we got to the weave poles. I set him up nicely for his entry but he missed it yet again. Are we going to get any entries at this Nationals? When I tried to bring him back around to restart he took an off course tunnel. Argh, we made it through all the hard bits, just the weaves and a simple little jump sequence until the end.

Lola did make her weave entry though and had a nice clean run. We had a little bobble at the end of the weaves which cost us a second or two but the main thing is we were clean and she was running really nicely. She was slow because of the heat so I’m sure we were out of the placements but I was still pleased.

Videos:


Grand Prix Quarterfinals

This was the event I cared most about at Nationals this year. I really wanted Cody to make it through to the Semifinals like he did last year. It was a tricky course but something I felt sure he could do. It was hot with the sun beating down at 1:00 p.m. so I knew he wouldn’t be fast but as long as he went clean I was sure we’d make it through. I soaked him with the hose, which he loves, and spent loads of time with him beforehand working on focus and attention. He seemed relaxed and focused outside the ring but he was a little stressy and distracted on the start line. He started out o.k.and made it through the tricky opening. Again I had him lined up nicely for the weave poles and again he not only missed his entry but took one look at the poles and took off in another direction. Again, he took an off course jump when I tried to get him back. Whistled off the course at the 5th obstacle, double argh. I don’t mind agility mistakes but it drives me crazy when he goes flaky like that because there isn’t much I can do about it. Oh well, he’s my sweet crazy boy and he is who he is.

After our runs were over for the day I took Strummer out to walk around the grounds and get him used to the crowds & noise. Last year it was a few days before we could even take him into the grounds during the day because he was so freaked out with the crowds and loudspeakers. Today he was fine until we got too near the agility rings. He was able to stay sort of calm at a distance for a few minutes then started losing it so we had to take him away.

I decided to let him try the dock diving because I thought some physical activity and the opportunity to swim and cool down would relax him. Uh, yeah, right. We did a practice run first where he went up a ramp and into the pool and since he was fine with that I decided to take him on the dock to see if he’d jump. He got completely overstimulated watching the other dogs while waiting for our turn. I started him too close to the end of the dock and when he went in he just sort of plopped off the end of the deck into the tank. He swam to the end and with a bit of struggling we got him to come out on the ramp rather than leaping out of the side of the tank. All that for $10. We won’t be going back there this weekend. I may try him at the sheep herding, we’ll see. Last year I decided against it because it was expensive for what you got compared to what I can get back home but we’re here, he needs something to do, and the sheep herding place back home is a 50 minute drive which is a long way to go for him to run around a sheep pen like a crazy man. He’s matured some in the year since I last tried him on the sheep and I’m interested to see how he’d do. I’m concerned that Nationals might not be the best atmosphere though. I’ll see what the set up is like before I make a decision.

Friday

Today was Team Standard and Speed Jumping Semifinals. Lola’s team was in 17th place out of 115 teams after yesterday’s events as her teammate also ran clean in Jumpers with a good time and both of them had 53 points in Snooker out of a possible 59. This put a lot of pressure on us for Team Standard. Cody’s team was in 79th or so thanks to my E. His teammate had a clean Jumpers run and a good Snooker run so I felt bad but what can you do.

Team Standard

I finished walking my courses at around 8:40 a.m. and had to wait around until 2:45 for my first run so I had a lot of time to obsess about it. I had plans and counter plans for Team Standard and after watching about a million dogs run the course I had even more plans. In the end though I decided to run it as I’d walked it except for one part at the end. It wasn’t a great course for Cody or for big strided dogs in general because there were lots of tight turns and traps.

The heat wasn’t terrible but it wasn’t great either. The sun was beating down a bit and I had to work very hard to keep Cody’s attention on me. He started sniffing around the warm up jump and ignoring me, taking the jump then wandering off to sniff. I took him away from the jump and worked him on the flat, getting him to simply run in a circle following my hand. Then I ran around, did some front crosses on the flat, all the while having him follow my hand. He liked this game at that got his attention back on me. It took a bit of work but I got him to stay focused on me until our turn and then of course there was a delay in the ring so I had to stand at the gate with a zillion other wound up dogs & handlers and try to keep his enthusiasm and attention up. When we finally got in the ring he was distracted and stressy at the start line again and refused to sit down at first. Finally I got his attention and he started off just fine. I set a line for him at one part to avoid a demotivating call off which sort of worked, no off course but still a wide turn. He was doing fine until those stupid weave poles and once again missed his entry. I called him back and he started to stress sniff for a moment then decided he did want to play and came back to eventually get the weaves. He blew his A-frame contact but made it through the rest of the course nicely. Phew! 10 faults but no E and he ran nicely considering his state of mind.

Lola was also a bit distracted at the practice jump, I think maybe lots of people had dropped treats by that point so I did the same with her, working her on the flat and she also liked that game. She seemed fine on the start line and I led out one jump, took my eyes off her and started to run the course assuming she’d taken the jump right in front of her. The judge blew his whistle right away and had to tell me that she’d missed the first jump. Argh!!! Who E’s on the first jump??? I’ll bet I was the only dog in all of Nationals to do that. Do they have a special award? Looking at the video it looks like I led out in a bad position and cued her right past that first jump. Ugh, how stupid. I was so frustrated, not only at the E but also at not being able to complete the course. Fault limits suck, especially at an event like this where you have so much time, money and emotion invested. I’m not going to win even if I run clean, at least let me finish the course. If they don’t have time to let everyone run then make it harder to qualify. I’d rather not qualify and stay home then waste my time sitting around for 7 hours to get whistled off after 3 obstacles. Suckorama. Last year only certain judges were calling fault limits, others were letting people finish. This year everyone’s getting whistled off. I seriously doubt I’ll go to Nationals next year simply because of this, it’s just not worth all the vacation time and money. Anyway I found out later that Lola’s partner had only 5 faults in her standard run so I felt bad yet again.

Videos:
Team Standard Lola

Speed Jumping Semifinals

By the time Cody’s Speed Jumping class rolled around at 3:50 p.m. there was some very slight cloud cover and the heat had abated a bit. He was much more excited and raring to go then he was for Standard. I barely had to work with him at all to get his attention. The course was very fast and straight forward and I’d seen lots of dogs in previous rotations in our height group have fast clean runs. I doubted we’d get through to the finals but I really wanted a nice clean run. Since Cody seemed fine at the start I decided to lead out 2 jumps to make the course a bit easier and the stinker broke his start line and came sailing past me taking me completely by surprise. I should have maintained eye contact with him, then he holds his stay no problem. But I’d turned my back and he decided to go. While I was pleased that he felt sassy and motivated enough to blow his start line I had to think on my feet pretty quickly. The third obstacle was the dreaded weave poles and the crazy boy finally got an entry and weaved all the way through. The rest of the course was fast & furious but I let him get away from me a bit and had a wide turn costing us precious seconds. The rest of this turns were nice though and we had a lovely clean run in 36.xx seconds, about 5 seconds too slow for the finals but I was thrilled with his run and happy to have at least one nice run for the day.

Video:


Watched the Performance Grand Prix tonight and there were quite a few Colorado people that made it in. It was a fun evening but for a very rude woman who showed up late and expected me and the person next to me to move because we were sitting on her blanket. I told her she could have her blanket but that she wasn’t allowed to reserve seats (this was stated in the premium) and I wasn’t moving. It was starting to get ugly as the woman was loud & obnoxious and I’m pretty stubborn about loud, obnoxious people pushing me around but the other people in the row scooted over and made room for her. You would think she would have let it go but when I stood up to video someone I heard her ask her friend if she wanted to scoot over so that when I sat back down I would have been sitting in her enormous lap. Thankfully her friend had the good sense to decline. The 2 of them sat there the entire time making catty remarks about the handlers and the Performance program and didn’t clap or cheer on a single handler. One of them was an agility instructor too, can’t imagine how that works with her stellar people skills. Tomorrow the seating will be even tighter for the Speed Jumping/Steeplechase Finals so I’m going to get there early and remove any and all blankets from wherever I end up sitting so nobody hassles me.


Saturday


My only run for the day was Team Gamblers at around 3:00 so I decided to take Strummer to check out the herding in the morning. Last time I tried was about a year or so ago and his brain completely disappeared the second he got in the pen with the sheep. He was way too overstimulated and ran around in circles, biting at the sheep when he could and not doing anything terribly productive. The woman doing the ‘lesson’ told me not to give up on him but that he needed to grow up a bit. I’m not all that interested in herding but whenever we go to the training field and he spots the sheep in a neighboring field he slinks over to the fence line in that border collie crouch, staring intently at the sheep. No barking or lunging, just that BC stare & crouch. I feel a bit bad that he has such strong herding instincts and no chance to use them.

I brought him over to the herding area and he stared intently at the goats with no barking or lunging so I decided to give it another try. They were using goats instead of sheep because apparently the goats can’t jump the fence of the pen like the sheep can. Somehow I felt more comfortable with the goats as well, they seemed calmer or something. We had to wait around for an hour in the hot sun for our turn and Strummy got fairly wound up if we got too close to the agility rings but he calmed right back down when we went back by the goats. Beforehand I was a little nervous that he’d run around like an idiot and we wouldn’t get much of a turn for our $20 (I can get a full hour for $20 back home) but when he got in the pen he was a very different dog from a year ago. He was still very excited and running in circles but this time he was actually using his brain a bit and trying to change the sheep’s direction when he was supposed to. After a bit the guy doing the herding test had me come right next to him and the goats and he held my arm while he moved the goats around to see if Strummy would try to change their direction. It was all very confusing to me, I don’t know much about herding or what he was looking for and being so close to the goats was a little weird but it definitely seemed like Strummer was doing something and the guy ended up spending a decent bit of time with us. In the end he said Strummer was overexcited but that he was doing a decent job and had good instincts. He needs more obedience (I had to intercept him and get right in front of him to make him lie down) but the guy said it was worth pursuing herding with him. He gave me a certificate saying that Strummer had passed his instinct test and I thought it was some hokey thing they gave to everybody but someone later told me I should hang onto it because it’s a real thing that I’ll need if I ever decide to compete with him. I can’t ever see myself competing but you never know.

Strummer was much better in general at Nationals this year. He wasn’t at all freaked out with the loudspeakers and walked around the crowded grounds behaving himself for the most part. I had to watch him carefully though as he would occasionally run into a dog that freaked him out and start to growl. He was still over the top near the agility rings though and I decided that Nationals was no place to work on that so I gave up and kept him away.


Team Gamblers

Saturday was terribly hot, worse than any of the other days so far so I chose a nice easy Gamblers course and didn’t worry too much about points. Lo’s team was about middle of the pack and Cody’s was way down as my partner also had an E. It was a time gamble, not a traditional gamblers course. You had 25 seconds in the opening then after the horn sounded you could only take jumps. You had 12 seconds to take as many as you could and each one was worth 3 points. If you went over 12 seconds you lost all your gamble points. If you took anything other than a jump when the horn went off you had to leave the ring and got no gamble points. So yes, I did find a way to get whistled off a Gamblers course. The horn went off as Cody was barreling toward a tunnel and there was no way I could have called him off even if I’d wanted to so we got the whistle yet again. Cody was going so slow because of the heat that I’d slightly mistimed our opening. He also flat out refused to do the weaves and I wasn’t going to push the point. I wasn’t sure if he was sore/injured or having mental issues about it but either way I was not going to try to encourage him. Otherwise it was a nice enough run.

Lola was moving a bit faster though still quite slow for her, especially her weaves, and I set a poor line to the teeter so she ran around and we lost those 5 points but I managed 4 jumps/16 points in the gamble, not bad. The most I saw any of the big dogs get was 5 though someone somewhere might have gotten more. I saw some little shelties get 7 jumps but they had more time than the big dogs and they turn tighter. This event was o.k. but I like games that require a bit more strategy. The course for the opening was straightforward and didn’t allow for too much creativity but it was great for my dogs to be able to run a nice easy sequence given the terrible heat (90 degrees or so).

Videos:

Saturday night was the Speed Jumping and Steeplechase Finals. I enjoyed the Speed Jumping and the smaller height classes of Steeplechase but the 22” Steeplechase class dragged on and on. BC after BC after BC and I didn’t know very many of the people so I got a bit bored. Then to make it drag out even longer they had interviews for local t.v. with every person who ran faster than the person before and they held up the ring for several minutes for each interview. Ugh, talk about a cheesy waste of time. Bruce Jenner was doing the t.v. interviews which I found kind of funny and kind of sad. The 26” class was a little more interesting, not every single dog was a BC. I think I was tired and cranky by the end of the evening which I felt had been dragged out way too long or maybe I would have enjoyed those final classes more. They wasted a bunch of time at the start with some stupid event that had judges & celebrities running other people’s dogs. I don’t understand the point of this at all, some of the dogs were clearly stressed out and some of the judges were either awful handlers or the dogs they were running had no idea what their cues were. One dog ran right out of the stadium into the fields beyond. Last year they had this cheesy event before the Grand Prix and I was looking forward to missing it. Just my luck they moved it up a day.

There were lots of Colorado people in the Speed Jumping event which was partly why I enjoyed it so much more. Susan Anderson (Lola’s teammate that helped up qualify for Nationals) and her sheltie Jenny won the 12” class, very exciting! Reggie Rogers and her BC Joplin came in second in the 16” class just .01 second behind the winner. Stacy Peardot took second in the 22” division with her BC Able. Lola’s teammate for Nationals missed the cutoff for the finals by less than a second. I didn’t realize I had such a competitive group that I compete with on a normal weekend. It’s a wonder Cody ever got those Speed Jumping Q’s. No wonder our qualifying time is often faster than 22” Championship.


Sunday

Steeplechase Classic

It was already hot by 7:45 a.m. so I was glad I had only one class that I was scheduled to run at around 9:15 a.m. The final course for me was Steeplechase Classic and it was a fast, easy course, perfect for ending on a high note. If I could just get the dogs through a fairly straightforward weave pole entrance I figured it would be darn difficult to get whistled off the course though with Cody you never know. Cody was up first and he finally got a weave pole entrance on the first try only to pop out of the poles about halfway through. I had him redo the poles until he finally got them right because I wanted him to gain the confidence to realize he could do them. I kept verbally encouraging him until he finally did it right. I probably should have taken him out of the ring right there to give him a bunch of treats but I wasn’t thinking clearly and I really wanted him to have one final yeeha run before we left, which he did.

Lola somehow managed to miss the easiest weave pole entrance of the whole weekend (in fact it was the only entrance she missed all weekend) then she popped out at the last pole. Normally I would have gone on and taken the E but if I didn’t ‘fix’ it we would have been whistled off at the third obstacle so I had her go through the last pole even though she was very confused. But it meant we got to go on and finish the course. I pushed her for speed so she’d have fun and she blew her A-frame contact at the end, the first time all weekend, but it was my fault because I’d run out way in front of the A-frame and she’s not proofed for that sort of thing in the ring. She had fun though on her last run and that was the most important thing.

Not sure what the rules were for Steeplechase back in 1988 but in my ring the judge wasn’t calling refusals and in another ring the judge was calling them. Again, USDAA needs to get all the judges on the same page. It’s Nationals for crying out loud.

Videos:


I was finished and back at the kenneling area by 9:40 so we packed up the crates, headed to the RV to pack up the car, had lunch and hit the road at 11:10. I had no interest in staying for the Grand Prix, never mind the fact that it was shaping up to be a terribly hot day and there was rumor that it was going to run late this year. We drove the whole way home stopping twice for gas and once for dinner/gas/doggie break. All 3 dogs were so good about traveling, we only stopped once to let them out and feed them dinner and they were fine, not a complaint out of them. We got home at 1:40 a.m. and I was so glad to be home.


Final Thoughts

Jonny said he thought the dogs looked much better this year, especially Lola who seemed very solid the whole time. Cody seemed more nervous this time but the only issue he had, other than one missed A-frame contact, was the weave poles. He listened really nicely, didn’t have too many flaky moments except at the weave poles and had some nice solid runs as long as no weaves were involved. Lola did great, the only issue I had with her was my handling. If I hadn’t sent her past that first jump in Standard our team might have done fairly well. She was so much more relaxed and happy this year, she was trotting from the kenneling area to the rings for her runs with her head up and her tail wagging. Overall I was really pleased with the dogs, I’ll just have to keep working on those darn weaves with Cody. We did quite a bit of practice before Nationals but I didn’t want to rush our training because I didn’t want him to end up injured.

This will probably be my final Nationals with Cody & Lola if they continue to have fault limits. It’s too demotivating for me not to be able to complete the course and I hate having to repeat obstacles or bring them back after a refusal just so I don’t lose my chance to finish the course. It screws with my handling/training and with my head. If I’m going to drive all that way, take all that vacation time and spend all that money I want to be assured of my time in the ring. It’s not like I’m gunning to win, I just want the experience of competing at a national level and how can I get that if I’m not allowed to finish the course? This was especially frustrating in the Grand Prix Quarterfinals because our ring finished early and sat idle for about 45 minutes. Why couldn’t I have taken an extra 40 seconds to finish my course? Some people take even longer to leave the ring once they’re whistled out because they stop running and walk very slowly, sometimes to the start line then they realize their leash is at the finish so they casually saunter to the finish and take more time than if they had finished their run. All of this looks terrible to the spectators too.

I’d love to know how much money USDAA makes off this little shindig. I heard several people going on about how money grubbing they are when it comes to Nationals, trying to gouge every last penny they can from the competitors. I can see their point. You spend a ton of time and money to get to Nationals and show up on the first day all excited. You go to your kennel space and realize you’ve spent $50 on a teeny tiny sliver of real estate barely wide enough for 2 crates. Then you walk to check in and realize the rings are even farther than they were last year because they’ve put the vendors in between kenneling and the ring. Got to make sure you spend your money on those vendors, that’s more important than how far competitors have to walk. Then you stand in line to get your goody bag and you find a t-shirt, cheesy little pin, rubber zipper pull with USDAA corporate logo of course and a cheapo little nylon bag to hold I.D. cards or something. Oh and that’ll be $10 for a parking pass. Never mind the endless advertisements over the loudspeaker all week long reminding you to spend spend spend. I guess it’s sort of like the Chicago Marathon, supply & demand, etc. They have something that enough people want to pay for and they’re going to see how far they can push to make as much money as they can. I felt a bit bad for all the volunteers out there, cheerfully working so hard for free in the hot sun to make it a nice event and meanwhile USDAA is raking it in, taking us for whatever they can and relying on people’s good natures to work for free. Oh well, maybe I’m just cranky because I’m overtired.

Despite my whining I’m glad I went. It’s great experience to compete at a national level and it was fun to watch all the high level competitors. I loved watching the Colorado people in the finals and cheering from the stands. It’s doubtful that I’ll ever go again but it was worth the experience this time around.

12 comments:

  1. Thank you for the detailed report. Flirt and I managed to qualify for this year in everything but GP (we needed 1 more) but I couldn't be persuaded to go. It's just too big an event for me. And your report made me feel like I had made the right decision.

    /amy

    ReplyDelete
  2. Anonymous3:28 PM

    I have to comment on USDAA making loads of money off this event...to set the record straight, they don't. In fact, I'm not even sure they break even. WestWorld raised expenses on them this year which made matters worse.

    Sure, there are things that can be improved on, but the fact of the matter is that there are a lot of little things that need to fall into place to make this a World Class event...to have them mostly fall into place is a miracle. My part as the Volunteer Coordinator was stressful enough...I couldn't imagine being in Ken's shoes having to hammer out the details with WestWorld to attempt to cut costs...but WestWorld clearly calls the majority of the shots.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Karen,

    Do the math. With an average entry of about $190 per dog for agility and I think about 1000 dogs, the gross income for agility alone is almost $200,000. The rental of the polo fields is $2700 a day (this is public information) with set up and break down days costing about $800 each. Westworld charges $20 a day for RV spaces, so that expense is covered by the competitors. So that is about $16,000. I know there is more expense involved, but I am sure it doesn't add up to $200K.

    /amy

    ReplyDelete
  4. Expenses: It's really hard to figure out whether USDAA is eating it or eating us without seeing detailed expenses. Having gone through heck & high water with our Twin Creeks location and our regionals, where TC gouges us for every little thing, I'm less inclined to assume that USDAA is making a mint off of the entrants. All the tenting costs a bundle, too. Portapotties and pumping put a bigger hole in the budget than one might expect. And so on... And based on what Twin Creeks charges for onsite vendors, it wouldn't surprise me if the food vendors aren't making an awful lot despite their ridiculous prices. But at least they didn't prohibit people from bringing their own food & drinks onsite, which TC technically does! So I gripe about the feeling of things being cheap, too, but I have an underpinning of bad site experiences to make me maybe a little less irate.

    BTW--herding instinct test certificate--I've seen them fail several dogs. Tika flunked last year and I didn't try again this year. So, yes, it's a legit thing.

    Thanks for all the details.

    -ellen

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  5. USDAA is also making a fair chunk of change off of parking and gate fees from the public plus money from the vendors and I’m sure they must charge the Frisbee and flyball people something to use the fields.

    They also get money from sponsors. I was talking to one sponsor who was complaining about how little he gets for his sponsorship and how cheap USDAA was being with him, nickeling an diming him for this and that. He pointed out that it was telling that Clean Run chose not to show up this year.

    Without knowing their expenses it’s impossible to say how much money they’re making but I refuse to believe they’re losing money. During Steeplechase they mentioned that USDAA donated money to the Humane Society of the U.S., something I doubt they would have done if they were losing money.

    My main point is that some competitors feel like the event is less about them and more about USDAA making money off of them. One person from my area will not be returning next year because of this. Personally, I find the fault limits more of a problem and that would be my main reason for not returning.

    I will say the event was extremely well organized and the volunteers were awesome.

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  6. You are correct, the venue itself (polo fields) aren't that pricey...but then factor in the tents, the tent putter-uppers :), the bleachers, the light towers, the fencing around the perimeter, the ticket booth (only $75, but an expense), the security guards, the judges ($800 x 6 = $4,800 plus hotel, food, airfare, etc.), the volunteer hospitality supplies ($1,000 alone), volunteer lunches and parking, the t-shirts, the awards, the production crew (Feathers, Renee, Joyce), the truck drivers (to get USDAA equipment to Scottsdale), etc.

    I am not defending nor justifying USDAA's expenses...I paid my entry fees too...but many people are quick to assume that USDAA (Ken) is making out like a bandit when in effect, they really aren't.

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  7. Roxanne9:37 AM

    Thanks for posting all the videos. It's very fun to watch you handle and your dogs run.

    I would love to do a herding test with Lilly, but I'm also afraid it would freak her out. Congrats to on getting a certificate.

    It sounds like a crazy busy time. Sorry to hear about the costs, the rude lady and other frustrations.

    I think you should be allowed to finish, especially when you travel that far and pay so much. That would bum me out too.

    Get some rest.

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  8. There's a wonderful woman out near Berthoud that does herding instinct tests and lessons. She was very good with Lola who as it turned out was afraid of the sheep. It could be a great confidence builder for Lily or it could be a bust, hard to say until you try. I can try to find her number if you're interested. I'm thinking of calling her anyway to try again with Strummer.

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  9. I'll echo others' thanks for posting all the details and videos of your dogs' runs. It made it almost as fun as being there to watch in person, and without all the waiting around. :-)

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  10. Roxanne3:46 PM

    Thanks, Elayne. If you dig out her number, send it a long. If not, no problem. I have a friend who is big into herding, and she's supposed to let me know next time her club does tests.

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  11. Just watched a couple more of your videos--Speed Jumping Semifinals Cody looked really nice.

    -ellen

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  12. Thanks, that was one of our better runs from Nationals and the only one in which Cody did the weaves without a fault. Way too slow to qualify for the finals but I was happy enough to have a nice clean run.

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