Monday, December 06, 2010

December DOCNA trial

So many runs, it's all kind of a blur.  The good was his Jumpers runs-both of them fast, clean, 1st places and there are some fast dogs in Masters nipping at his heels.  There's no room for a wide turn or refusal.  The bad, I'm not even going to discuss the bad.  The ugly was weave entrances and of course the dogwalk.  I thought we'd gone 4/5 hits on Saturday but reviewing the video revealed a gift from the judge.  I had to put it into slo-mo to see the miss but once I realized it I could then see it at regular speed.  Sunday, ugh, the wheels fell off the dogwalk on Sunday.  I think he was 1/6, the worst yet in trial or practice.  I thought maybe he was 2/6, I thought he had it on one run but the judge said no and I'm supposing she was probably right.  I let him get off with it on his first Standard run then thought 'duh, why didn't I make him redo it since DOCNA allows it?'  He missed again on his second Standard run so I made him redo it and it took until the third try for him to get it.  I'm not convinced this is the best way to handle the situation though.  The Time Gamble had the same set up as Standard so I repeated the run exactly and he missed again, had him redo it and that was when I thought he got it but the judge didn't give me the points so it must have been wishful thinking on my part.  So I'm not so sure there's that much value in repeating it other than marking the incorrect behavior.  I've put in a fair amount of dogwalk practice since October and in return I have a degradation of the behavior so something isn't working with the training.  What it is and how to fix it is the question. I think I need to go back to setting things up so that I can be 100% sure of what I'm rewarding.  I suspect the one or two misses that I reward every practice session aren't helping my case.  I think I need to tighten up my criteria a bit as well and only reward the really perfect hits.

Weave entries didn't fair much better and cost us placements in Standard and the NAC.  I don't care so much about the placements themselves but now that we're in Masters I'm using them as a way to gauge our progress.  I'm not content to just go for Q's, I want the runs to be the best they can be with no refusals or wide turns or having to redo the weaves a million times.  Just because DOCNA allows refusals doesn't mean I want them to happen.  Every trial we're pretending we're at Championships so that I can have some motivation to get better.  Because now that we're in Masters and there's nowhere to go I'm finding myself lacking a bit in motivation.  Titles are o.k. but now that they don't have any real world value, ie I'm not moving up to a higher level, I don't care all that much about them.

Saturday looked good on paper-5/6 Q's but I wasn't happy about the refusals and missed weave entries.  Sunday looked not so good on paper-1/6 Q's though Strum and I were clean save for a refusal in the Jumpers portion of Trigility so I guess technically 2/6 Personal Q's.  I used one Standard run and the Time Gamble for training the dogwalk.

You want video?  We've got video.  Here's a link to his Jumpers run and 4 Standard runs that a friend shot with her Flip camera.

And I'll also embed the videos I had on my camera.

North American Challenge (like USDAA's Grand Prix) and Snakes & Ladders
DOCNA Dec. 2010-NAC and Snakes & Ladders from colliebrains on Vimeo.

Standard runs (shot with a tripod)

DOCNA Dec. 2010-Standard from colliebrains on Vimeo.

The Jumpers run on the Flip link is the best.  The NAC run wasn't too bad either, just the missed weave entries and the missed dogwalk that wasn't called.  It was so close though, it's easy to see how the judge didn't call it.  She gave most people the benefit of the doubt all weekend and was very consistent with her calls.  We ended up in 3rd.  I put slow motion clips of the dogwalks after each run.

Most of my handling issues for the weekend were due to being too far behind.  Must be more faster.  And have more independent obstacles.  Some of those courses were horse races though.  Look at this course from the #11 weaves poles all the way to the end.  I managed to keep up until the dogwalk and then it was all over for me.  The entrance to the #17 tunnel was set at more of an angle away from the #16 jump and with me too far behind to reset his line Strum ended up in the wrong end of that tunnel.   The opening was challenging as well (the 5/7 jump was rotated a bit more counter clockwise so it handled more like a serpentine).  I had to run like I stole something to be able to get ahead to handle the serpentine then rear cross 5 to 6 and front cross 6 to 7.  The weave poles were the only chance I had to catch my breath.

I was really pleased with both Jumpers runs.  Both had serpentines and I remembered to stay straight and not turn into him, worked perfectly, thanks to Jennifer Crank for helping me with that when she was here for a seminar last year.  Pulled off some tight front crosses too and no bars down.  6.15 yps for the first run and 5.99 for the second, whee-ha, that was fun.  I love Masters Jumpers.  Let us never speak of Advanced and Starters Jumpers again.

Final Stats

Specialist Traditional Gamblers Q-5th place (struggled with the gamble and lost time)

Specialist Standard Round 1 Q-7th place (2 refusals, missed weave pole entry cost us time)

Specialist North American Challenge Q-3rd place (2 missed weave entries)

Specialist Snakes and Ladders Q-11th place (again with the weave entries)

Specialist Jumpers Round 1 Q-1st place (6.15 yps)

Specialist Jumpers Round 2 Q-1st place (5.99 yps)

No titles completed.

4/11 (36%)  Worst ever for a trial and probably for practice too.

6/8 (75%)  I think this is a low for the A-frames too.

100% legal but I wasn't happy with several of them.  I stayed back to babysit one of them and this put me behind and led to an off-course.  Must work on teeters.

Weave pole entries
I think he got 2 or 3 out of I don't even know how many.  Goes without saying that I must work on this.

Bars down
Maybe 1 or 2, all were handling errors

Overall more Q's than last October's trial but big degradations in contacts and weave poles and I spent the last 6 weeks working on these things.  Maybe I should try the not training approach.


  1. Well, congrats on the Qs you did get and on the wins! Sometimes feels like it's 2 steps forward, one step back, doesn't it! WHen I was doing NADAC when Tika was young and regularly blowing off her contacts, I started with the instructor's advice (at the time) to redo them until she got them right. That had pretty much no effect until maybe the 4th or 5th time in a row, when maybe she got bored and so slowed down and did the contacts. I had much better luck with her by just immediately taking her off the course if she flew off a contact. But she had pretty darned reliable ones in class, so I wasn't dealing with the issue of whether I was rewarding incorrect performance in training.

    Maybe a little training break would be useful. Even pro athletes take a break from intense training at least once a year.

  2. Yeah, I'm not sure I'm going to carry on with repeating obstacles. I don't have the stomach for taking him off course at this point, especially since he clearly doesn't have a strong enough grasp of the behavior. Back to the training field I think.

    He's had plenty of long term breaks this year brought on by one thing or another. This is the time of year for amping up the training because it's nice and cold and I can get more training in because he doesn't get hot so easily. Despite our freakishly dry winter I'm sure the snow will come at some point and then we'll be forced into a break so for now I want to get in as much practice as we can.

  3. Well, bummer about the contacts but geez that Jumpers run was a beauty. And holy cr*p can you ever hoof it!!

  4. Wow! That is one wide-open NACAC-type course. No wonder you were behind.

    Congrats on the Q's... bummer about the contacts but from what I've been told (and observed) running contacts are way more work and much less reliable than 20/20. Can't wait to start them with Soleil the end of the month ;-)

  5. Well, if you need a shoulder to cry on... Just kidding, I'm sure you guys will do great.

  6. I loved watching you guys run! Speed and enthusiasm. What fun. I couldnt even see the first dogwalk miss until you slowed it down. It looks like you have a good start at running contacts. You just need to work on him adjusting his stride. I failed at running contacts buy learned a lot. LOL Diana

  7. What's the deal with that off course jump between the #8 A-frame and the #9 jump on the last map you posted? Surely that wasn't actually there was it? Is that a normal challenge for a DOCNA course? We don't have any DOCNA around here but we do have a lot of CPE and now we're getting some UKI, too.

  8. That jump on the map was a typo, it wasn't on the course. DOCNA would never do something like that, they're all about nice, flowing courses, sort of like old school NADAC.

  9. I was hoping that was the case :-)