a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: Slowly We Earn, Step By Step

Monday, May 01, 2006

Slowly We Earn, Step By Step

("Slowly I turn..." reference)
SUMMARY: We had only 3 runs Sunday: Standard, Gamblers, and Pairs. We really needed a Gamblers Q and we did really well in this one. We really need to work on not dropping bars. Our per-trial average of Qs towards our ADCH is pitifully low.

Slowly we earn--those Masters legs towards Tika's ADCH.

Yesterday turned out to be an absolutely gorgeous spring day after the morning Prunedale fog cleared. We had only three runs, having once again missed qualifying for Round 2 in the Steeplechase:

*Standard: A really nice driven run--I've been playing for speed and continuing to release her the instant she hits her contacts, which I know I'm going to pay for--and I revved her up beforehand (which I don't always do because it really just gives a tiny edge), and...one tight u-turn was spectacularly tight, she nearly wrapped her body around the jump stanchion, but knocked the bar. Our only fault.

A friend reminded me of Nancy's (Linda's?) strategy of "50 jumps a day", just setting the dog up right close to the jump, as we have been, and clicking and rewarding if she gets over without ticking or knocking the bar (I haven't been clicking--could do so), and trying everything you can think of to get her to knock it--calling her name, turning suddenly, front crosses, everything. GET TO WORK YOU LAZY TRAINER!

*Gamblers: One of my friends earned high opening points (30 points in a 1-2-3-5 system (dogwalk 5 pts, 30 seconds) in her Advanced class, which used the same course layout, with her Border Collie "baby", Savanna! So she told me what her course was, and I liked it except for two things--it had two dogwalks, and we do have issues with dogwalk up contacts, and although that was the high-point obstacle for that round, it takes the longest for us to execute. But still--she'd been fast on her contacts all weekend, and I was really craving some placements along with earning the gamble. And the other thing was Savanna's course ended up on the far side of the field from the gamble start, and I wanted to reduce the chances of losing Tika or mishandling on the approach, so I swooped right instead of left at the end of the opening, skipping 2 tunnels and a jump. This meant that I sacrificed 5 points, but hoped to add them back at the far end with an Aframe and two jumps.

So what the heck, we tried it. It worked beautifully! Tika blasted across the dogwalks, hit her contacts both up and down both ways, hit two weave entries perfectly as usual...BUT... knocked two bars in the process, and then coming off the Aframe, she didn't wait for my release "OK" (I knew it would come back to haunt me) and so got between me and the last two jumps so we had some chit-chat before I got her over them, and the whistle blew just as she started those two jumps. So we didn't get those 2 points and we didn't get the 2 for the knocked bars. I believe that of all the masters and advanced dogs, 3 or 4 got 31 points, one got 32, and then there were dribbles from there on down. We had 27 and a good time on the gamble because we were in a good position and SHE DID IT! I didn't mess up, she didn't knock a bar, she didn't miss the up on the teeter, she pushed out to the final obstacle like a good girl, WAHOOOO! Which was good for 6th place, but they placed only down to 5 places in that round. ArghhhH! ONE MORE POINT would've been 4th, TWO MORE would've been 3rd, THREE more would've been 2nd, but I don't know whether we'd have beaten the time on the first place dog with ALL FOUR of those missing points. But I'm VERY happy about finally getting another gamble.
Note: Actual course layout as of May 2, 2006, thanks Gwen! (Savanna's mom)

*Pairs relay. Teamed with yet another friend (thank goodness I have so many), who unfortunately went off course in the first half, which loses our team the chance to Qualify, so I just blasted Tika through our half to see what we could do, and she was FAST and kept all her bars up despite a fast straightawy to a tunnel and then a 180-degree turn--but man, did she ever fly off that Aframe! I KNEW it would come back to bite me! Anyway, it was fun--

So anyway, back to earning ADCH legs--here's what we've done the last 10 USDAA trials on Qs that we actually need for our ADCH:

This weekend: 1 (gamblers)
Last time: 1 (jumpers)
mid-March: 2 (Gamblers, Standard--last one we need for ADCH)
early Feb: 2 (jumpers)
Jan: 1 (Snooker Super-Q)
mid-Oct: 1 (pairs relay--last one we need)
early Oct: 0
late Sept: 0
mid-Sept: 2 (jumpers, pairs relay)
early Sept: 1 (gamblers)

So we STILL need 2 gamblers, 2 jumpers, and the dang Super-Q...I guess, if we continue to average one needed leg per trial, we'll be done in 5 more trials, but I also know that these are the ones we've been having trouble getting, so I don't expect it to get any easier. Sighhhhhhhhhhhh again.

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