Monday, February 14, 2011

It's Monday After A Trial Again

SUMMARY: Time for the usual wrap-up.
With agility, it always starts with the weather, neh?

The weather when I left the house at 4:45 was--uh--dark, with increasing light and color as I arrived in Turlock two hours later.

Both mornings started out below freezing. Yep, that's frost on the grass.

So cold that even the contact obstacles were shivering and so needed their own blankets.

People were bundled up pretty throughly while hanging around waiting for course maps.

VAST has this clever way of handing out course maps.

JD's jacket is just cool. Because, when agility isn't all about the weather, it's all about the clothing.

Here I am--surprise, at the score table--middle of the day when it's warm enough for a while to have stripped off the outer layers down to just my shirt. Gwen, sitting next to me, is in shorts. And is wearing her team shirt from when she and Tika were on the same DAM team. (Thanks, Barbara S.)

Someone always makes these available at VAST. I usually stock up; Tika seems to like these as much or more than anything for tug games at trials. (I call hers her "milker toy".)

Here I am at the end of the day when half the participants have left for dinner, at--surprise--the score table. (Thanks, Richard Deppe.)

We were so lucky with the weather. The sun showed up most of the weekend for all of our agility and the trip home, and then rain rolled in somewhere after midnight last night and is expected to stay for the next week or so.

Results

Other than that--another weekend where I fantasized partway through the day Saturday about scratching the rest of my runs, going home, and giving up on agility forever.

It was better by Sunday evening.

In other words, ups and downs, and it's probably better that it ended with some UPs and perhaps an attitude readjustment.

Summary: 
  • Tika Qed only 4 out of 11, won both gamblers, 3rd in Jumpers, was "wild card" into Steeplechase round 2 without a Q and came home with a small check. Knocking more bars than usual lately and popping contacts left and right.
  • Boost Qed only 2 out of 11--yet another run-of-the-mill useless Snooker Q but also a really nice Gamble on Sunday.  Bars, runouts, refusals, weave pole issues, start line issues first runs on saturday again.

Boost's first four runs of Saturday really beat me down:
  • Pairs Relay. We had 9 obstacles. Within that, she: Didn't stay at the start line, turned the wrong way on a rear cross,  didn't stick her contact, knocked a bar, and missed the weave entry (so much for working on weaves this week).
  • Standard: Didn't stick the start line again and I took her off.
  • Gamblers: This is a very fast dog who should be able to do at least the courses that *I* design, right? And should be getting at least high opening points (which she's often very close to), whether or not she gets the gamble. In this opening, she didn't stick her DW contact and jumped in front of me so I had to down her to get into next position, ran past the tire on a slight curve, had to stop in her tracks and move to the side to avoid taking the aframe that was right in front of her, and knocked a bar, and in the gamble itself, didn't follow me around a circle (hark back to class last week).
  • Steeplechase: Ran past the weaves. Completely. Didn't even try. Brought her back, lined her up so that she could make the entry, and then she popped out after 6 poles.  I took her off the course again and went and sulked.

After a little chatting with a friend, I decided that my goal would be to just run her smoothly around the course and ignore any faults anywhere except hte most egregious ones (e.g., not staying at the start line). That meant that, if she missed obstacles or got stuck on obstacles, I wasn't going to do anything about it (which is contrary to what I am often instructed in) and I wasn't going to say anything, either.

This works for a while, but really if we're not Qing it's not going to be much fun for me.

Last two runs were bearable because of that decision, I guess:
  • Snooker: Picked a course that didn't even think about being in Super-Q range, just tried to be smooth.  The tricky thing is that, on this course, that made it in Super-Q range. She knocked the 3rd of 3 reds, taking us right back out of super-Q competition anyway, but got through the rest of the course without any great trauma, and earned another simple Q.
  • Jumpers: Knocked a bar, ran past a jump and while I tried on the spur of the moment to keep her running smoothly over any random obstacles, she knocked another bar, then ran past another jump later in the course, but I did succeed in keeping her moving fast and fairly smoothly all the way through, although it was an E. No refusals, just the runouts.
Tika's Saturday didn't go much better:
  • Pairs Relay: Knocked the first bar, and partner had a fault, although we were fast enough to still Q, barely (no placement).
  • Standard: I flubbed a front cross resulting in a refusal, and she knocked a bar.
  • Gamblers: I tried to run her past a chute in the opening that she'd have had to do a full-run u-turn to get into, and she tried to do it anyway. That delay cost us a 3-point Aframe (she was over the apex but not in the yellow yet). So--we still placed 1st in our class and Qed, and I'm happy about that, but of course the competitive me wanted to be in the top 3 scores of all 100 dogs rather than in the top 11 dogs. (In other words, yeah, my 10-yr-old dog is still doing very very well.)
  • Snooker: Embarrassing for a so-called top-ten handler and dog; looked more like one of Boost's runs! Knocked the 2nd red bar, managed to bobble our way to do the 3rd red, then knocked a bar on the obstacle after that, and then she dove in at my feet and started grabbing them as we approached the #2 closing obstacle and hence she crossed the plane for a runout and we were whistled off with a total of 6 points, out of 51 possible. With Tika, though, I can still laugh about this sort of nonsense while it's happening, because it's not normal for us.
  • Steeplechase: Flew off the Aframe big-time. We were less than 5 seconds slower than the 1st place dog, but with the 5 faults AND combining with the 16" dogs, we didn't even Q while placing 3rd. However--they take a minimum of 4 non-Eing dogs into round 2, and we were it (the others all Eed).
  • Jumpers: Tika needed just 1 jumpers and 1 standard for her Bronze Performance Championship. She ran very nicely on this, one tiny bobble that I'm sure cost us no more than a second, but we still placed only 3rd, with a Q. The run felt good, though.
Sunday Results 
  • Tika Steeplechase Round 2: 2nd fastest time, but again flew off the aframe bigtime, placing 3rd. Won us almost $7 whole $!
  • Tika Jumpers: Knocked the first bar then an offcourse that was my fault and another knocked bar.
  • Boost, same Jumpers: Didn't come in to me on a serpentine (another known long-term issue), then later ran past a jump. But I kept her moving through all of that, pretending that we were still doing fine, and it was a nice, fairly fast run if you ignore the double E. And I think she kept her bars up.
  • Tika Snooker: Gah! Two days in a row! Turned the wrong way on an attempted wrap and then backjumped. Exited with 1 point!
  • Boost same Snooker: Four reds were required. The 7-point combo was confusing enough that I just picked something that *I* could get through easily (although the four sevens opening was pretty smooth if you could remember it and had a fast, biddable dog). So we did 7-7-6-5, and it was lovely other than another running past the Aframe instead of taking it (and she had to adjust her stride to do it). Then she knocked the #3 bar in the closing, so no Q. Perhaps not too surprisingly, we still did better than half of the other dogs in this class.
  • Tika Standard: This is all we need for that bronze championship. And on a difficult course, she did it all perfectly and had to throw it away by not even trying to hit the end on the dogwalk.
  • Boost same Standard:  Came to a stop on 2 jumps (the old "this jump" thing); I just held my position and said nothing and waited, and she eventually hopped over both of them (knocking one), so two refusals and a knocked bar. Of course on this one she didn't run past anything, held her start line, held all her contacts, and had a beautiful table down (which is usually a problem).
  • Tika Grand Prix: A very fun, fast course, and I moved too soon on a tight front cross and pulled her off the jump for a runout. Of course this time she got all her contacts. Sigh.
  • Boost Grand Prix: Two knocked bars but everything else looked good. A fun run indeed.
  • Tika Gamblers: I thought I had a pretty good opening, and she executed it beautifully, but I still ran out of obstacles. Decided that I had to be close enough and sent her towards the gamble, keeping my fingers crossed, and sure enough, the buzzer went just before she hit the first obstacle, woohoo what timing! We won again and Qed, but obviously could've fit in a couple more points soemwhere to put us in the very highest point-earners among the 100 competitiors.
  • Boost same Gamble: I slightly modified Tika's course to add points, and wow, she ran it all beautifully, and got the gamble! *IF* we had gotten all our points, we'd have won our class and tied among the 3 or 4 2nd-highest points out of 100. IF she had knocked only ONE bar, we'd have been in 3rd place and been among a half dozen of the 3rd highest point earner. BUt, no, she knocked 2 in the opening, putting us into a crowd of maybe a dozen or so next-highest. Still--I'll take the Q and 7th place out of 32 dogs. It felt good,she was happy, I was happy.  I think she had almost the fastest time of all the dogs who Qed.

Other Stuff

Won another free entry in the raffle on Sunday. I sure worked to earn this one; busy weekend at the score table.

And won a small basket of dog treats and a toy on Saturday. Plus some Ghirardelli chocolate.  Hmm, better go check it now to be sure it's still OK. [salivates]

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