Sunday, March 11, 2012

Nail Biter

I had a USDAA trial this weekend, my first chance to qualify for DAM Team for Nationals.  I was also hoping to pick up another Grand Prix Q and our first Steeplechase Q.  I had great teammates and was looking forward to it, especially since I hadn't been to a trial since early January.  I like trialing and I don't do it all that often these days.  We only have 2 more opportunities to qualify for team locally and one of those is on the last possible weekend to qualify.  Agility trials are usually fun for me, these days if we have mistakes it's a dropped bar or missed contact or run-by/refusal.  I don't care about the titles and ribbons all that much so if we don't come home with a bunch of Q's because of a bobble here and there I'm o.k. with it, I'm mostly happy to get out there and run w/ Strummer.

But I'll tell you when agility trials are not so much fun.  Say for example that the tire is the first obstacle of Team Standard and your dog decides not only to break his perfect in trials start line stay but run between the frame of the obstacle, missing the tire completely, and take the next jump before your brain can even process what happened so you get a nice E for your team that had previously been doing so well.  And then he does it again for Team Relay where an E is really really really bad.  Because it's just your luck that the first obstacle for Team Relay is the tire and you didn't think to ask if you could run the other part of the course because Team Standard was a fluke.  And then just because it's really not your weekend, the next day the first obstacle for Grand Prix is the tire.  And the little stinker does it AGAIN even though you line him up perfectly and hardly lead out and really keep a good eye on him and cue him perfectly.  And just to really mess with your head, you had sent him through the very same tire in the very same ring on the first run of the day for Team Gamblers and he took it no problem and took it again a second time during Team Gamblers.  Then as if you're weekend wasn't going badly enough, you wait around for 5 1/2 hours to run Steeplechase because finally a course that doesn't start with the tire or even have a tire in it and the little stinker breaks his stay before you finish your lead out and ends up off course at the third obstacle.

Our team was still a couple teams above the line for qualifying before relay even with an E in Jumpers and Team but with my E in Relay I figured that would put us under the line.  Nonetheless I stuck around to hear the results because you never know.  I sat in the stands feeling pretty badly about things though, I hated to be the one to drag the team down.    We were in second place after Gambers which was the first run of the day and we'd stayed above the line all the way to Relay so it was a little sad to think we wouldn't make it.  When they read the results off and said our team name I couldn't believe it.  I had to ask someone if it they were reading qualifiers off or just the placements.  We ended up qualifying by just 2.5 points.  I was so relieved.  There was a team that missed qualifying by .42 of a point and I felt badly for them.  So even though it wasn't the best weekend and I have some weirdo training issues to puzzle through that I wish hadn't come up during Team and Grand Prix and I don't feel very deserving of it at least I have a Team Q and Strummer and his teammates can go to Nationals.

The other fabulous thing to come out of the weekend is that Strummer stayed sound throughout and he looks fine today so I think he's over his shoulder strain.  I'm still going to go easy on practice and we don't have a trial for sure until mid-May.  I'm still debating about going to Regionals at the end of April.  It depends on how bad his tire issue is or if it's even a tire issue.  I'm thinking it might actually be more of a start line issue though he did have a good start line for Snooker which came after his break in Standard.  He had a bad tire crash back in January but I put him through the tire right afterwards and he was fine.  Can't remember if we had a tire at the seminar, I'll have to check my videos.  And he did do the tire in the morning for Gamblers so I don't know.  I'll take him out to the field next week and see if he does it again.  It could be that it simply occurred to him that going through the frame would be faster because if he was that freaked out why not just run around it and avoid it altogether?  Such a funny, freaky dog, always keeps me guessing.  The broken start lines though, those are naughty.  That is something new as well and I can't have that.  I pulled him off the course when he broke for Team Standard, he had an E anyway but I did call him back to me and kept going in Steeplechase.  Probably not the best decision but I'd waited around for so long, I really wanted to run the course.  But I was so frustrated that my handling wasn't great and the run went badly anyway.  I suppose not being able to practice for 5 weeks didn't help things either.  Ah well, back to the practice field.

I was so happy I only signed up for 2 days.  It was beautiful today, sunny, 60's, I took the dogs for a long walk in the morning then went for a nice long trail run and cleared my head.  Then like a good junky I downloaded the premium for a second USDAA trial in May and checked out the schedule for Regionals.

He's lucky he's cute.


  1. The tire is one of those weird ones that we've had the same kind of problem with. Like we need more WTF moments in agility!!! Congrats on qualifying!

  2. Hope the tire trouble turns out to not really be a problem. Congrats on eeeking out that team Q.

    Guess what Masters Standard started with today? :)

  3. Yeah, I saw that. Thankfully we were spared that train wreck. Nested courses are great, especially on a busy weekend but a tire at 4 start lines? I guess normally I wouldn't think twice about it, in fact I'd rather have it at the start since I can set the line and have a controlled approach so it's safer than mid-course.

    Funny thing is I pulled the tire off the course when I took him out to practice on Wednesday since I didn't want him crashing it again (he'd crashed it when he went took it as an off course and I called to him and distracted him while he was mid-air) and I thought he was o.k. with it so no need to practice.

  4. We had one weekend a couple or 3 years back where boost started doing the same thing with the tire. I couldn't figure it out. But only one tire at the trial. I took a photo of it to try to figure it out. But I never figured it out, as it never happened again, even with the same tire at later trials.

    Congrats on Qing in team! The way I always looked at it, Stp & GP each guaranteed you only 1 run each at nationals, but team guarantees you four, so although there's not as much glory involved, it's the best Q to have.

  5. P.S. *AND* so glad he's looking healthy!

  6. Augh -- I can't imagine the stress/pressure of that. I hated team relay, even though my partners were always super nice, I found the stress of someone else's Q resting partly on me and my dog no fun at all. Lots of people do love it, though. Anyway, congrats on that Q!

  7. I suppose it's encouraging that it happened to someone else and then never happened again. So weird.

    I don't normally mind team, I've sort of gotten over the pressure on myself and Strum doesn't usually have a lot of off courses so I wasn't really worried. But to have such a weird thing happen repeatedly on a team that otherwise would easily qualify for Nationals was unnerving.