First off can I say what an awesome husband I have? He came to the trial at 2:00 to videotape us and cheer us on. We didn't have our Tunnelers run until around 4:40 and our Jumpers run was at 6:40. Now he likes watching agility and was especially keen to see Strummer's debut but he doesn't love it that much that he wants to sit around for over 4 1/2 hours to watch less than a minute of Strummer in the ring, especially when they turned the heat off at 5:00 and it got so cold he was shivering and he had hardly eaten all day, etc. Heck, I don't love agility that much either.
The highlight of the trial for me was Strummer's behavior. I worked so hard on that and yesterday it paid off. He had absolutely no problems around the crowds of other dogs, had wonderful focus on me, no lunging at the dogs in the ring, nothing even approaching an outburst, what an awesome boy when I think about how far he's come. I realized I need to teach him a few more tricks and improve on the ones I've already taught him so he has more to do while he's warming up and waiting his turn.
His first run was Tunnelers and it was a bit wild. He had a zillion run-bys, not entirely sure why. On the one hand you could argue that we never practice a whole course of just tunnels so maybe he was confused but I can't shake the feeling that maybe it was something with my handling. I was mad at myself afterwards for having him go back and redo every tunnel that he missed. My plan, as it always is, was to keep going if he missed a tunnel, not sure what gremlins took my brains hostage and made me do otherwise. Honestly I could care less about a novice tunnelers Q. I'm not sure how much NADAC we'll end up doing anyway, I only signed up for this trial because it was 20 minutes from my house at the arena where Strum takes classes and goes to practice run-throughs so I thought it would be a great opportunity for him to get some trial experience. And it was.
After that crazy Tunnelers run I was determined we were going to do better in Jumpers. The course was easy, no side changes for the way I chose to handle it and only one trap. He had a beautiful fast run and I had a stupid timing error with my handling, pulling him off a jump. At least I was early with my cue and not late but in essence I ended up calling him off a jump he was supposed to take. Poor guy did it too, he's such a good boy. I felt terrible about confusing him. Highlight of the run was his recall to heel on a 3 jump lead out. We've practiced this a zillion times with 1 or 2 jumps but not so much with 3. He collected perfectly and had a nice turn. What a nice startline stay too, I was most nervous about that. He broke his stay at the warm-up jump a couple of times which was unusual, I think I've been careless about pairing too much motion with my arm and his verbal release. He was solid in the ring for both runs but I'll have to proof that stay a bit more so there's no confusion in his mind.
I thought his jumping looked nice for a baby dog, no ticked or knocked bars and nice take-off and landing points for most of the jumps. Still I think I need to work more jumping drills. I've been slacking off of those lately because of the focus on weave pole training. I hate to work him on too many strenuous things at once.
I didn't hang around to find out what his placement was but even with the 4 seconds lost to the refusal he was 6 seconds under course time. Technically it was a Q because NADAC doesn't charge refusals but again I don't care all that much and it didn't feel like it should have been one. Didn't even think to pick up his Q ribbon. Jonny thought I should have since it was his first but oh well. It would have ended up lost in a pile somewhere anyway.
Poor guy was exhausted when we finally got home. I'd taken him and Cody for a 3 mile walk/run in the morning before the trial. I left him in the car rather than bother with a crate inside where it was noisy and crowded but I have no idea how much he rested. He seemed calm enough when I went to get him out of the car but who knows if he slept any.
Can't wait for our next trial, he's a kick in the pants to run. I signed him up for a DOCNA trial at the same venue in February. Not sure if his contacts will be ready for the ring but I figure we can run past them if we have to. I'm more interested in getting some ring experience at this point and I want to take advantage of the opportunity to do it at a laid back one ring trial on his home turf.