Monday, March 12, 2012

The Weekend Report - Off to a Very Disappointing Start

Well, it was a lot of fun getting back to trialing when it comes to seeing friends, watching runs, and just hanging out. It was definitely not fun when it came to qualifying in Standard. Jimmy refused the table both days. We even had a private lesson friday evening to get in a bit of extra practice and reward. SIGH. In most cases, it is handler error that is behind this kind of failure, so I am willing to accept the blame. But, darn-it, Jimmy is a smart boy and he does know what to do. It's never an issue in class or in my yard. I think he's become ring smart and knows there is nothing in it for him at a trial, and that he doesn't have to and I can't make him.

Here's how Saturday went....

It started with Jumpers with Weaves (JWW). It was a very tough course with lots of tight lines. In the interest of getting a Q, I sacrificed time for keeping bars up. I gave Jimmy wide turns to avoid knocking a bar on a tight slice. This paid off and we qualified! Yea! We even made it into the top ten, albeit right at ten. We earned 9 MACH points. So it was a great start to our day.

Being a one-ring trial, several hours later came the Standard course. This was another tricky course. The hardest part was the weave poles to a tunnel/AFrame discrimination. You had to send your dog up the Aframe and then flip or pull him into the other end of the tunnel right at the base of the AFrame. The tunnel shot straight under the AFrame to a jump on the far side. So unless you had a slow dog, you could NOT beat him to the other end of the tunnel to direct him to the jump. But before even having to worry about this, came what was really an easy start. Tire, dogwalk, curved tunnel needing a bit of care to get the right end, dogwalk and then table. Well Jimmy ran down the dogwalk and slammed on the brakes right in front of the table. We were toast! It took about three wrangling tries of to get him on the f'ing thing, and then we were off. We made it through the tough section I mentioned, me being only a tiny bit late to signal the jump after the tunnel, but managing to get in a sloppy rear cross and then finished the rest of the course cleanly. So if it weren't for that screw-up at the table, we would have had a double-Q on two tough courses. Arrgghhhh. LOTS of people did not qualify on this course so I was in very good company, but it doesn't make me feel any better. I heard the next day that even the judge was disappointed with the incredibly low Q rate.

Now on Sunday, we started with Standard. It was an awkward start, two weirdly angled jumps to a tire, but with a very tempting AFrame nearby. And to get the dog over the jumps cleanly, your body language almost indicated the AFrame. So this is where we went south first. I tried to rear-cross the tire and Jimmy read it as a push to the AFrame and up he went. Next mistake came at the end of the dogwalk. It was headed to a tightly curled tunnel, so you had to work it to be sure of getting the correct entry. We got the wrong one but it was not too upsetting since we were already cooked. Usually by this time, when I am already disqualified, the agility gods will decide to take pity on me (or perhaps they have a perverse sense of humor), and  throw me a bone (pun intended) with a successful table. Not this time! It was a chute to the table, and again Jimmy slammed on the brakes. He started his little sassy barking dance at my feet. Two days of this was too much for me. Before he knew what I was doing and could dodge it, I had snagged his collar, swooped him off the ground, and thanking the judge, I carried the little jackass out of the ring. I did this as a knee-jerk reaction, and in hind sight it may make his table avoidance issues even worse now, but it sure was satisfying in the moment!

And, after another long wait, came JWW. With no hope for a double-Q, the pressure was off. It was a reasonably easy course, and we breezed through it. I was able to push for a bit more speed as dropping a bar wouldn't be a big deal. This resulted in us actually making it into the ribbons with a 4th place and a hefty 13 MACH points. So now we have legs 5 and 6 toward our MXJ #2.

To take away something positive from the weekend, my instructor was competing at this trial. As luck would have it, she was watching both times I ran Standard and saw our table fiascos. She did say I was a bit ogre-ish in the way I loomed over Jimmy on the first day. That can be quite off-putting for the dog. But on Sunday it appeared a bit more like he was just giving me the paw. "Nanner, nanner, boo, boo, I don't have to!" She has some ideas to address our issues so at least I can be hopeful.

I did get video, but have not had time to get it off the camera and then up to YouTube. In lieu of that, for you true agility addicts, here are Saturday's maps. I'd love to hear your feedback on these beauts :-)

Oh, and one final thought (if anyone's even made it this far)....I hate it when the clocks change to Daylight Savings in the middle of a trial weekend. It's bad enough needing to get up at 5am to make it to the trial in time for a small-to-tall running order, but it's even worse when your body still thinks it's only 4am!

Tracking Jimmy's MACH progress:
Excellent B JWW legs: 16 (out of 10 needed for his MXJ) Now he's working on his MXJ2!
Excellent B STD legs: 5 (out of 10 needed for his MX) Halfway to our MX!
Double Q's: 3 (out of 20 double-Q's needed for a MACH)
MACH Points: 292 (out of 750 speed points needed for a MACH)

Time 2 Beat legs: 3 (out of 15 needed for his T2B) 24 points (out of 100 needed)


  1. (another attempt to leave a comment...hope it works!) I remember reading about a trainer who said "Whenever someone tells me 'My dog is REALLY smart,' I always say 'I'm sorry!.'" You've got the whole season ahead of you! How fun to learn to outsmart that Jimmy-boy!

    1. Thank for the encouragement! I need it!

  2. Those are some tricky courses! I've noticed that courses have been getting tougher & tougher lately. I used to think there was nothing I couldn't handle my way out of. Now there are some that I just can't find a "best way."
    I have had some of your same struggles, except with the weaves. Porter is ring smart as well & knows that I have nothing out there for him even if he does the weaves...


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