Monday, August 09, 2010

Get your Cowboy on - UKI at the Larimer County Fair

The County Fair and agility, I'm not sure it gets much better.  I loved the County Fair as a kid and I still do.  I probably wouldn't take the time to go though if it wasn't for the agility trial.  Last year was USDAA but they gave the club such a hassle this year that the club decided oh forget it we'll just do UKI instead.  This was Colorado's first UKI trial and I was excited to try a new venue.  Unfortunately we were stuck in Beginners since UKI doesn't recognize DOCNA titles for grandfathering  but otherwise the venue has a lot of nice amenities including reasonable jump height cut-offs and lots of heights to choose from, 24" weaves (though we didn't have them for this trial because the club hadn't received their new set yet), displaceable tire which the club did have, no up contacts are judged-hooray for the big dogs!  The upper level courses were on the tight, twisty, technical side which a lot of the dogs didn't seem to care for.  Lots of frustration, 'you want me to go where?' barking going on.  The Beginners classes were fine though, similar to what you see in USDAA.  In a way I was glad we didn't have to do the harder courses but in another way I think we would have done better on them because it's more the sort of thing we practice in class with Joy.  Strum collects a lot better and keeps his head about him more when there are lots of turns.  It's when things are more wide open and he starts charging around that he loses his head and the bars come down.  Still I think too much of that technical stuff is demotivating for the dogs even if it is more interesting for the handlers.

Last time I had photos and no videos, this time I have video but no photos.  I thought I'd try a video montage this time and I have some great footage subject wise-pigs, goats, sheep, rabbits, a wee kid leading a bull around, a chihuahua in a pink dress, a log rolling competition, a kick ass Bluegrass band playing a Cheap Trick cover (does it get any more County Fair than that?), 4-H girls in shorts, pony tails and stylish cowboy boots with their pigs and sheep, and a pig with the hiccups.  But unfortunately most of it sucks.  Too dark inside the livestock barns and it turns out my video talents lean towards the 'Blair Witch Project' and are more vomit inducing than the carnival rides.  But I pieced together a small bit of it and added it to my agility runs that a friend with better video skills taped.  I'm starting to wonder if the taping I do for people at trials comes out this badly.

Oh yeah, there was some agility too.  Strum had no Q's which should have been depressing but he was running so nicely and finally hit a weave pole entrance on a full set of weaves like he knew what he was doing.  I was SO happy over that since that was my main training goal for the trial.  I feel like he's finally starting to get it.  He got 2/2 of his dogwalks and 2/3 of his A-frames.  I'm a little doubtful over whether the miss was truly a miss but oh well.  He hasn't missed in A-frame in I can't remember when and I thought he'd got it but to be honest I wasn't watching all that closely.  The only thing I wasn't happy about was the amount of bars that came down.  One cost us a Jumpers Q and he had one down in Standard and Speed Stakes.  I think he kept them all up in Snakes and Ladders.  I've never had a bar knocker before and it's frustrating.  I don't think it's a jumping issue, I think it's mostly a handling issue and maybe a little bit of overexcitement.  It's the #1 reason for us to miss a Q though.  I haven't had a lesson in months, Joy's not teaching right now and nobody else teaches masters level classes in my area.  I've been so focused on the weaves that I've let the handling slip.  I signed up for a handling seminar and a jumping seminar with Daisy Peel in a couple of weeks so hopefully that'll get me back on track. 

Anyway, here's the video.  A little mistake here and there with the knocked bars, a horribly executed rear cross, and it wouldn't be the Larimer County Fair if I didn't get lost on a Jumpers run but otherwise nothing too terrible.  I'm rocking a pretty good crazy dog lady look with my new hat which predictably falls off during the last run and distracts me enough to cause Strum to miss a jump.  I know sunglasses are bad because you can't make eye contact with your dog but I think I need to go back to them because I have yet to find a hat that stays on.  You can click on the link of the video title for a bigger view.

Strummer's runs
UKI at the Larimer County Fair from colliebrains on Vimeo.

I put a little bit of the Bluegrass band, The Blue Canyon Boys, at the start of the agility tape but I also thought I'd put all the footage I had in their own video.  Unfortunately I came into earshot of them at the end of their last song, a cover of Cheap Trick's 'I Want You to Want Me'.  This literally sent me running to the stage but still I was only able to catch the end.  I have to confess, a stand-up bass sends my heart to pitter pat.  Again, the video footage is a bit dizzy making in places, I was finding it hard to stand still.  These guys were great, I was so disappointed that I only caught the a couple of minutes.  The other tragic thing is that it was like me and an old guy in a lawn chair watching them.  How did nobody else see how great they were and come over?  Oh well.  I see they're playing an outdoor concert in the park in Lyons which is only a 15-20 minute drive but it's on a Thursday night and I'll probably be too tired but we'll see.

Blue Canyon Boys-'I Want You to Want Me'
Blue Canyon Boys-'I Want You to Want Me' from colliebrains on Vimeo.

The only downside to the day at the fair is the parasites, and I don't mean the slumming Boulder trust funders.  Last year the dogs came back with a suspected case of lice sending me into a minor panic.  Of course I notice Strummer scratching as soon as he gets in the door then Lola starts up on cue then my head starts to itch.  Then last night I dreamt my arms were covered in 3 layers of parasites, each layer a bigger bug that had come to eat the bug in the layer below.  I've been up since around 4 am after waking up screaming from that nightmare.  Probably shouldn't be reading Stephen King's 'It' before bedtime.


  1. I was so tempted to enter the UKI trial but I realllly want to give Summit three weeks off from competition. I hope it catches on. I agree, Summit does much better with the technical and twisty courses as I have more control. My favorite course is very technical and twisty then it opens up at the end and lets the dog finish in extension.

  2. I hear you about the super-technical courses being potentially demotivating for some dogs. AAC introduced a Challenge class last year that is supposed to be European-style, very technical. I don't think Walter would ever agree to set foot on an agility field again if I ever dared drag him through something like that! Heh.

    Yay for the lower jump heights, displaceable tire, 24" weaves, and no up-contacts! Sounds like those UKI people sure know what they're doing.

    Your video was fun! I didn't know tri-athletes were known for their sprinting abilities but WOW did you kick it into high gear in that Standard run with the dogwalk near the start. Way to go with the weave entry!

    Those Blue Canyon Boys are really something, too.

  3. Wow, that dog is moving! And so are you! Lots of good stuff in there.

    Must admit that I don't really go to the fair for the music and generally avoid it because it's usually way too loud.

    Laughed when the hat came off, and boost had to come see what I was making noise about. I wear glasses all the time, and I'm not sure that, at a full run, dogs can see what my eyes are doing most of the time anyway because of reflections and distortions. So I don't worry about sunglasses too much.

  4. I did have at least one place where I made direct eye contact with him (after a wrap) and it helped him to not back-jump. I don't use eye contact a whole heck of a lot because I'm bad about it and forget but every once in a while it comes in handy.

    We did a half day seminar that focused on the European style courses and by the end of it even Strum was getting frustrated but I was surprised by how much of it we could do after getting some good instruction. The presenter did warn not to practice it too much because it can be so demotivating.

    Looks like I'll probably go see the Blue Canyon Boys this week at some concert in the park thingy. If I can stay awake. Luckily the sound at the fair wasn't loud at all and I'm pretty sensitive to that. Maybe that's why no one came to see them, they didn't even know they were playing because they couldn't hear them unless they were right near the stage. Or maybe I've lost my hearing from being home now and having to hear the dogs bark all day.