Another USDAA trial this past weekend. Two in a row is unusual for me but I'm determined to qualify for Nationals and get out of Starters before it's time for the Vet class. I also haven't been down to this trial site in Fountain, just south of Colorado Springs, for years. On the one hand it's really nice, lots of shady parking so if it isn't broasting outside you can crate out of your car right next to the rings. There's also a nice big field away from the rings for warming up and almost nobody seemed to go back there so I could do my goofy warm-up routine that I learned in boot camp without worrying about putting on a show for all the other crazy dog ladies and men though could be there were some folks in their RV's having a good laugh.
Strummer rocking the broad jump in Steeplechase. Photo by the awesome Ken Gee.
On the other hand the site has many challenges including a freight train that rolled past very near the rings throughout the day, a nearby munitions area where military grade explosions were going off, the occasional military jet flying overhead and thunder on Saturday afternoon. Normally any one of those things would send Strummer into a shaking, panting, panicking ball of mess let alone several of them happening simultaneously but somehow when there are agility toys nearby he can handle thunder, trains and bombs going off with nary a bat of the eye. I'm not complaining but sheesh, what a weirdo dog. I was surprised at the small entry given USDAA Nat's. coming to town but maybe there are others whose dogs can't cope quite as well and they decided to find other activities for the weekend. Sites are hard to come by though and I'm glad I didn't have to drive the extra 25 minutes to Pueblo where they normally hold this trial. Already it was a 1 hour, 50 minute drive and I went home on Saturday night to avoid catching bedbugs or something worse and a poor night's sleep in whatever unsavory hotel I might have ended up in.
Overall it was a good trial, we're slowly chipping away at our bid to qualify for Nationals and get out of Starters. We picked up a 2nd Steeplechase Q on Saturday with a 2nd place finish, only .24 secs. behind 1st, very fun run and I really really wanted to qualify in Steeplechase for Nat's. So now we only need 1 Grand Prix Q to be qualified in everything. There are 4 more chances, 3 if the site of one trial is not going to work for Strummer, and I figure if we don't get it then it's not worth shelling out the zillions of $$$ to enter it at Nationals anyway. We also had 3/3 perfect dogwalks on Saturday and picked up a Gamblers Q that we didn't really need but it was fun anyway. Also picked up a Starters Snooker Q on Sunday so now all we need is 1 Jumpers and 1 Standard Q to get out of Starters.
We didn't get the Grand Prix Q we needed but at least the course was more reasonable than some of the others we've seen. Strum missed a weave entry right off the bat and then later I eased up in my handling and got a back jump towards the end but he had a beautiful dogwalk and I was happy with how I handled everything else, including many more rear crosses than I'm used to doing. Weave entries were a huge problem this weekend, I'm going to have to go back to basics I think.
Aside from our nice Snooker run Sunday did not go nearly as well. A huge miss on the dogwalk in Standard thought to be fair it was a difficult scenario with the dogwalk going into nowhere and then a sharp turn off into the weaves. The rest of the run was a mess, a dropped bar and some other fault too I think. Steeplechase Finals was also a mess, 2 missed weave entries, a dropped bar, a big miss on the broad jump and then he ran off to the score table for his treats rather than following me to the last jump which was not at all obvious to be fair. But still. I got him back eventually but all the wasted time getting him back plus re-doing 2 sets of weaves and 10 faults put us all the way in 7th place. Ah well, at least we had our fun and got our Nationals Q in the first round. Though that was the last run of the trial and I wish we could have ended on a better note.
Next trial isn't for over a month and I'm only signing up for 1 day/3 runs since I have my first triathlon of the season up in Wyoming on the Sunday. That trial is also a 1 hour, 50 minute drive so I don't want to be stuck there too late or exhaust myself with too many runs though I'm feeling pretty good after this weekend despite the driving and 4 runs on Saturday. Still, no point in spending the $$ on Steeplechase and 3 runs should be plenty. Part of me wishes I could trial more. I know we could get more consistent if I did. But the other part of me doesn't want to spend the time, money and driving so we'll stick with once a month for now, maybe twice in August for practice as we get closer to Nat's. but we'll see.
Steeplechase Q, 2nd place Round 1 (.24 seconds off of 1st), 7th place Round 2
Starters Snooker Q, 1st place
Starters Gamblers Q, 2nd place
Dogwalks: 3/4 (75%)
A-frames: 10/12 or 11/12, not sure if 1 was called, might have been up contact on one or both (83% or 92%)
Weave entries: 1/7 (14%) didn't pop out at all, weave entries were challenging even for Starters but sheesh
Knocked bars: 3 (1 each in 2 rounds of Standard and Steeplechase Finals)
Teeters: 4/4 (100%)
Table: 2/2 (100%)