Wednesday, June 03, 2009

DOCNA Trial, USDAA Match

Lots of agility fun this past weekend in the form of a DOCNA trial for Strummer and Lola and a USDAA non-titling match for Strummer. In short the dogs did great, especially Miss Lola who had lovely fast Standard runs and picked up Q's in both of them. She's the only 22" Vet dog so of course she is first but she was also first of the whole masters class for one of her runs, 3rd for the other so not too shabby though admittedly this was a very small trial. She ran Traditional Gamblers as well and though she didn't quite eek out the gamble she had a beautiful opening. All her runs were fast & happy, hit all her contacts, weaves, etc. Couldn't ask for anything more.

Strum's A-frame was 3/3 and his dogwalk was 4/6. He missed one in Gamblers so I had him redo twice and he was perfect, the other was in Standard and since DOCNA allows training I took the E, redid the dogwalk and got a nice solid hit. There was a bit of running amok at the end of his first Standard run but he got his head together for the second one. I think he thought the teeter was a dogwalk and he flew to the end which rattled me a bit and led to an off course while I was distracted but an otherwise nice run aside from the danged dogwalk which was just before the last jump and we all know how that one sometimes goes. He had the worst leap I've ever seen-awful-and I couldn't redo because he'd already crossed the finish jump. This sort of thing is up to the judge because once I had it happen with Cody and the judge told me later that he would have let me redo the dogwalk. I asked this judge and she thought a moment and said no, I think you're through. Which is fair enough but it never hurts to ask. He didn't get the gamble either but had a beautiful opening, lovely weaves, hit his A-frame, took everything according to plan.

Strummer did have issues with keeping his head around the ring and I had to put in some work to keep him sane and focused. This ring had no fencing or visual barriers, just a piece of tape to mark off the boundary and this makes a huge difference. But we need to work on this and there's no time like the present.

The video is awful since it was shot from a tripod (no human to pan the shots). I feel bad posting it but it shows the running contacts and I even pulled some clips of the contacts and showed them in slow motion at the end of the runs for anyone who's interested. It's only video of Strummer, no Lola I'm afraid.


On Sunday I opted to enter Strummer only in a non-titling USDAA match. Why enter a non-titling trial? Well for one thing it was so cheap, just $5 a run which is cheaper than a fun match or course run-throughs around here. True you can't bring toys or treats in the ring but still this was a great opportunity to give Strum some ring experience and not blow a ton of money. The judge did allow a restricted amount of training in the ring, ie you could redo an obstacle once if you wanted. Only problem was for the dogwalk you had to bring him back around to the start which I opted not to do because I felt it would confuse and stress him too much. But it was nice to have the option.

The trial site was probably the most scenic I've ever been to-a beautiful park with lush grass and lots of shade trees that backed right up to Garden of the Gods with Pikes Peak looming right behind that. It was gorgeous. There were so many big mature trees in the neighborhood that I was able to crate Strum in the car for the whole day. What a relief not to have to wrangle with the EZ-up. Unfortunately they can't have regular trials there because there was insufficient parking for a full trial.

Honestly, I wish there were more opportunities like this in agility. Cheap entry fee, small classes so no waiting around forever, people not stressing over Q's and titles and yet it felt like a real competition. There were cool toys for prizes for runs that would have been Q's which I think are preferable to ribbons. I was done with 4 runs before 2:00! It was perfect if you ask me.

Strum continued to struggle with the keeping his cool around the ring (no visual barriers again) for the first couple of runs but as the day wore on he finally calmed down a bit. I guess after 2 days and all those runs I finally had worn him down plus I think he was getting used to his warm-up routine.

Gamblers was first and was a bit wild but he listened well for the most part. I used the class mainly to work on the dogwalk. I think he was 2/4 (maybe was 3/4), hard to remember and though I set the camera up on a tripod I forgot to turn it on before our run.

The Standard course was well over his head. The courses were supposed to be Advanced level but they were more like Masters courses. My plan was to ask him for what I felt he could do and not push him for what I felt he couldn't and in the end I thought he did a nice job considering how tough it was for him. His dogwalk was legal but there was a leap which doesn't meet my criteria so I verbally marked it. His A-frame was lovely and he even nicely managed a flip away to a tunnel which we've hardly if ever worked on. His weaves were gorgeous, teeter was good, did a great job with a serpentine. He flew off the table though, something he's done before and something we've been working on though obviously not enough. He got back up on it no problem and even let me lead out a bit while the judge was counting. He had an off course at a place I knew would be tough for him so I couldn't feel too bad about it and he dropped a bar in the opening which I wasn't thrilled about.

Snooker was interesting. It was a somewhat confusing course because there were several tunnel/jump combo's to keep track of and one of the reds was also part of the #6 tunnel/jump combo. I figured out a nice flowing course and of course the crazy wee monkey knocks the very first red bar. Ugh. Somehow I managed to keep it together and make up an entirely new course with all the crazy combo's and I made it to #4 in the closing when the whistle blew. Huh, wuh? I stood there in confusion and then the judge said 'oops, never mind, keep going'. So I did then the buzzer went but he said 'it's o.k., keep going' and I made it to that darn red that was part of #6 and as I came up on it my brain said 'no, it's a red, danger will rogers, don't go over that' for just enough of a split second to lose the Strum man into a tunnel. Judge said I could keep going though so we finished off and got to practice a tricky entry into the #7 weaves.

After the run the judge said he'd made a mistake with the whistle and I could re-run up to #5 if I wanted but I told him it was o.k., we were here to train and we'd gotten in plenty of training for our run. I felt bad for Strum though, he was so confused with all the stopping and starting that he was breaking out into his stress dander by the time we finished our run. He was flying though, he sounded like a herd of galloping buffalo thundering through all those tunnels and I think the dander was as much due to overexcitement as it was to stress and confusion.

Jumpers was the highlight of the day. Again it was what I would consider a masters level course and Strum had a beautiful clean run, super crazy fast but for a wide turn at the start and a little spin on a rear cross (must work more of those) which was good enough for second place in the 22" Champ. class which was made up exclusively of Border Collies and some crazy fast ones at that. It was funny seeing his name up in the placements with some really competitive masters dogs. More importantly it was a blast running the little rocket man. He did a nice call to heel on his lead out and a beautiful lateral send so I could get in place for a front cross. What fun.

Below is some more crappy video shot from the tripod. It's just Standard and Jumpers and shorter than the other video.


This upcoming weekend there will be yet more agility for Strum and Lola. I signed them up for 2 runs of Standard at a local Fun Match. It's a benefit for Western Border Collie Rescue who I do occasional volunteer work for. If anyone local is interested in going it's this Sunday out at Riverstone Ranch and they are taking day of entries. Runs start at 10 am. Sounds like there will be a lot of rescue members there with their fosters so if you're in the market for a rescue BC this would be a great opportunity to check out the fosters. And if you see me canoodling with any of them please slap me upside the head. Much to Jonny's dismay I found out that it's Boulder County that has a 3 dog limit not the city of Boulder. Not that I'm at all up for #4, seriously I would have a break down so please do not let me near the fosters if you happen to see me there.

We're going to bust out the sardines to work on Lola's table and for Strum of course we're going to focus on contacts and calm around the ring. Should be fun, we've never been to this place before so it's a great opportunity to get Strum on some different equipment.


  1. Why was someone doing a "nontitling USDAA trial" and how is that different from a fun match? Just curious.

    Doing agility with GotG as background sounds absolutely gorgeous!

  2. I would have liked to have done 1 day of the prairie dog trial, but after 5 weekends straight I just needed a break. Sounds like a good time though.

  3. The USDAA match was put on by a new club. USDAA requires them to do a non-titling match before they can put on a real titling trial so in addition to getting an inexpensive training opportunity I was also helping out a new club so we can have more USDAA trials.

    It's not like a regular fun match because there are no training devices (food, toys, etc.) allowed in the ring. I was even surprised the judge allowed a limited amount of training but I guess that's at his discretion. Aside from allowing us to repeat one obstacle to train all the other USDAA rules applied. There was only one level of classes and like I said I felt they were masters level but they were judged by starters rules. The judging only mattered if you wanted to take a toy for a prize for a Q and if you wanted to see how you stacked up for the day in terms of placements.

    Funny, there was way stiffer competition at the USDAA match than at the DOCNA trial. It didn't matter to me but I thought it was funny.

    Yeah Greg, I don't blame you, 5 weeks in a row is exhausting. For future reference though it's a nice facility that Sandy has and she let people crate indoors in her training barn if you wanted. Unfortunately I got there crazy early and had already wrangled the EZ-up and crates into a nice spot before I realized I could have crated inside.

  4. Strummer looks good! He is really settling down. What a long stride he has. He reminds me of Carol Ricca's, Dude.

    I really wanted to do the USDAA match but Sage and Summit were demo dogs at the judges seminar at Jeffco, which is 5 minutes from my house.

  5. Yeah, 5 minutes sure beats 1 3/4 hours.

    Dude and Strum are buddies. Well, as much of a buddy as you can expect Strum to be, he's not all that into other dogs. Strum does have a huge stride like Dude's, if only I had Caryl's crazy mad handling skilz.