I am still beaming with pride from this weekend. Not because we did fairly well in the “Q” category (Miles was 2/6 and Rue was 3/4), but because of all that I learned about myself and my dogs. I had been feeling “off” since we started back into heavy trial season in the beginning of September, but couldn’t really figure out why. I had high hopes of getting Miles his Excellent A titles so we could start accumulating QQs for AKC Nationals. It was easy I thought…he’s so consitent….but what I failed to realize was that my mental game needed help. I had become so focused on the Q that I had lost sight of what was most important. It took a few trials and me feeling bad about myself and my handling for babysitting M around the course to finally get my head straight. It’s not all about the Q and I wasn’t happy with that as the focus point anyway. I had to take a step back and think about where we were just a few short months ago to see it. Miles has only been trialing full height in AKC since the end of April…and he had only just started doing the teeter in public a month before that. What the heck?? He’s still a BABY and I’m still very new to this. I was letting my competitive nature get in the way. So, after a less than stellar start to the weekend on Friday, I decided that my goal was speed and speed only (well happiness too). I wasn’t going to babysit, I was going to RUN…just like we do in class….and see what that got us. So onto the report….
Excellent dogs only, so just Miles ran. The trial started at noon with Excellent FAST (Miles is still in Novice, so we were not entered). What had been predicted to be a mild day was pretty darn hot and humid, bleh. Fortunately, my friend go there early and saved me a shady tent spot 🙂 The courses looked great for the day, challenging yet flowing with more than enough space for a big do to open up. Truthfully, judge Kathleen Rupprecht had fabulous courses all weekend (I can’t say I wasn’t a little nervous when I had found out that she ran Lhasa’s)!
Standard was very fast and fun. We had a little hesitation on the table to get into a down…not unusual on the first day of a trial weekend. The rest was pretty great except for an unfortunate bar and me misjudging the ending. Miles came out of the chute so extended that we completely missed the second to last jump. He sure did find the finish jump and his cookies though!! I tried using raw chicken as his reward for this run to see if it was the fact that he runs super fast in class because he’s running for his dinner (raw chicken) or if it’s just the difference between class and a trial. Preliminary verdict: it’s the enviroment not the reward.
I love love loved the JWW course on Friday. Super fast and fun. I mishandled him after the tunnel and rushed a rear cross causing a refusal. Otherwise pretty perfect and fairly speedy. The video is messed up, but maybe it’s worth watching…
I left Friday feeling particularly down on myself. Miles did fine, but something was missing. I promised myself that the rest of the weekend I was going to handle for speed and work on continuing to tweek our warmup routine to see what works the best.
Up at 5:30 and went for a nice long training run in the pitch black morning with my headlamp on. Very cathartic…so glad I did it! Got to the site around 8:30 to watch some FAST and get my head straight for the day. The courses again looked great, except for Novice Standard. Yet again we got a course with a turn off of the dogwalk. What compounded the issue was that the dw was the #2 obstacle, was pushed up near the timer/scribe, and had a very poor/possibly unsafe entrance to it unless you led out. More about that later…
Excellent Standard was awesome fun. The start was less than motivating, but because I was going for speed and not the Q I chose to start with him which forced a tight rear after #2 instead of leading out a bit to signal a wrap. Miles did just fine with the start and read the rear well. Everything was great until he noticed that they were moving an EZ up tent and wouldn’t release from the table until it was “safe”…silly boy. Still turned out a respectable run for our AX! What’s cool is that when I watched the video you can see they start moving the tent while we’re on the startline and are carrying it while he’s on the dogwalk and teeter. He didn’t even notice it until he stopped on the table. The old Miles would have absolutely melted 😀
Novice Standard was just as much of the nightmare on course that I had feared on paper. Horrific entry to the dogwalk as well as a high pressure location of the startline and dogwalk. Oh well, I told myself that first and foremost I needed to get her on the dw safely and then worry about the rest as it happened. I can’t say that I was surprised at the amount of conflict she exhibited during this run. She very much disliked having to stay at the start and then trotted across the dogwalk 😦 She met her criteria and did the turn, but then got distracted my ring crew under a big colorful umbrella. I got her back and on the seesaw which she also walked up. She thought about visiting the judge while she was stopped on the teeter, but chose to go with me only to go visit a ring crew. Once again she was a very good girl and chose to come right back to me and onto the table. I didn’t wait for her to go into a down before telling her to sit because I knew that would be even more demotivating especially since the weaves were next and they were headed towards yet another ring crew! She released fine from the table, did her weaves albeit slowly, and from there picked up her speed. Her a-frame was brilliant, she read my front cross into the chute very well and then flew to the finish even with me having to push hard on her line to get into the tire. Yay Rue! She worked through a TON on this run and still chose correctly each time. What a very very smart little girlie 🙂 This earned her a 1st place even though she was just 2 sec under SCT and got her a 2nd NA leg! Definitely not doing any more start line stays for a while though!
The Excellent JWW course again was super fun. I tested a short lead out here and he did just fine…even with a delay due to the judge yelling at the gate that she needed to have us enter sooner (oops). Miles did an amazing job despite my momentarily forgeting where I was going after the weave poles. I never quite got my head back and ultimately my poor timing in a 180 caused him to turn sharply to hit a standard and drop a bar. Fantastic finish though! A friend told me she thinks that was the most stretched out she’s ever seen him 🙂
By the time Novice JWW came around it was after 5pm. I was exhausted from getting up early for my run and being out in the sun all day helping to build courses, etc. The nice thing was that it was cooling off at this point and there were bits of shade in the ring. My goal for this run was to make it fun and to give her early early early cues so that she had little time to be in conflict. I think we accomplished that goal. Even though she still is no where near her “normal” speed, she looks happy in this run. Unfortunately the little stinker learned where her cookies were and decided to take herself back over the start jump in hopes of rewarding herself early. She again was a VERY good girl and came back to me (over the jump again of course….awesome foundation what can I say) and finished well….and then got her cookies 🙂
Had more thoughts and plans for the day. Of course those thoughts and plans kept me from sleeping very well, but I was feeling refreshed and ready to tackle the day. JWW was first and without the addition of FAST, I was hoping for a much shorter day. I was at the trial site until 7pm on Saturday, ugh. In any case, I promised myself that I was going to run like I do in class for both dogs. No babysitting, no safe plans, just go for it and see what we get. I also decided that I wasn’t going to get Miles out until only 2-3 dogs ahead. It occurred to me that I really need to take advantage of his spastic energy that he gets when he comes out of his crate 😉
Excellent JWW was first and they were finally running small to tall so I got to watch plenty of runs before our turn. It was tall to small Friday and Saturday which also messed with my brain. Furthermore, I told everyone that I wasn’t going to discuss my handling plan with anyone. I had been feeling like I had been overanalyzing courses and worrying about every little offcourse or potential bar, etc. The truth is, Miles rarely knocks a bar and is so very responsive that the only time he goes off course is if I’m a complete idiot and tell him to go the wrong way. So I walked the course, came up with a plan, ran the plan and we Q’d and we took 1st place and earned our very first MACh points (16 actually)! Sweet!!
Lil’ Rue’s Novice JWW course looked very fun and much more flowing than yesterday’s. I can’t say that I wasn’t a little concerned that she’d take herself back over the start jump like yesterday though! I was very proud of her in this run. She actually opened up a bit in a few spots and read my cue to turn in the box very very well. Nice weaves despite a sharp turn to the entry too. Overall very nice run for our second NAJ leg with a 1st place! Of note, I used liverwurst as a treat to warm her up and canned sardines as her reward.
Pretty quickly it seemed we were ready for Excellent Standard, yet another fun and fast course and this time with a tunnel start, yahoo! I took Miles out 3 dogs ahead and quickly ran to the ring for a few warm up tricks. Unfortunately I told him to twirl (rollover to his left) but he decided it would be more fun to rollover (rollover to his right) and rolled right into the tent pole. Oh boy. Small amounts of fear insued b/c Miles was certain that it would eat him. He had a bit of a hard time letting go of that for the first part of the course, but once he hit the tunnel before the weaves it was gone from his mind. I didn’t support a jump after a poorly placed front cross that I had obsessed about during the walk through, which earned us a refusal, but I was super happy despite it! Definitely feeling like I need to plan my courses on my own at least for a while to see if that helps my mental game.
Last but not least was Novice Standard. Again a tunnel start directly to the dogwalk and a pretty much straight exit to a jump. I was psyched to see what I could get from her in this run. Rue really did do amazingly well and this earned her the NA title!! However, she was slow again on her dogwalk and refused the teeter twice. Something she’s never ever done. Really not sure what’s going on there. Might need to rethink having her stop at the end as that might just really be causing a conflict again between the teeter and the dogwalk. Or maybe she just needs more training and reiforcement for the stop on the teeter and the running dogwalk. Need to think about this. In the meantime, I will do some short sessions with both this week before her next trial and see what we get.
Up next: Charlotte AKC/PBH USDAA this weekend followed by New Hill AKC and Moore County AKC. Rue is entered one day in Charlotte and two dayse in New Hill and then she’s taking a break 🙂