a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: Boost's First Trial

Monday, September 18, 2006

Boost's First Trial

SUMMARY: Successful in many ways, but weaving sucks.


Well, this was Boost's first full trial ever. (Labor Day she was in only 4 classes for practice.) That's 9 Starters/Novice runs, which is quite a full weekend. She did all of her contacts beautifully except that she hit bottom on one Aframe and her hind legs slid off around behind her, but her front feet stayed firmly planted. Will have to work on those nose touches to keep her body focused forward instead of turning to look at me. I even did front crosses (slow, deliberate ones, saying "Good girl!" the whole time, not fast running ones) while she held the contacts. What a delight!

She kept her start line stays perfectly, and I led out very aggressively on most runs. What another delight!

She knocked a couple of bars and we had several bobbles where I wasn't giving her clear enough direction. We need to work on turns to the Aframe, which caused her to run past it (same problem we discovered in class last Thursday).

And weave poles are a mess. I tried them deliberately when they were available in Snooker and Gamblers. In our first glass, Gamblers, I had to load her in 3 times, and the third time she got through about 10 poles and popped out, and then I went on to avoid stressing her. Every other occurrence of poles she could not both make the entry and keep weaving correctly (either hit the entry and then skipped, or ran past poles and then entered). So every time I had to stop, bring her back, line her up calmly on my side, and send her again, and then she did them beautifully, except in one Standard run, where she popped out at the last pole, and I managed to bring her around and stick her back through that last opening to remind her that she had to finish them all.

Here's the amazing thing. She Qed in 6 of her 9 runs, which just happen to be 6 of the 7 she needs for her Starters title ("Agility Dog", abbreviated to AD)--at which point she'd be required to move up to the Advanced level. Welllllll this is concerning, because you can't do weaves like that in Advanced! And you can't run by Aframes and come back and fix them in Advanced. Little stuff like that. So it's not clear that we're ready for Advanced.

However, here's a comparison. In Tika's first year of USDAA competition, Starters classes were not titling except for Standard. You had to earn 3 Standard Qs to move up to Advanced. The others you just entered for practice and glory, because at the Advanced level they did count. But I recorded all the results anyway, so I can tell you that:
  • At Tika's first full trial, she earned 0 qualifying Starters scores. But she did earn her first (and only, until Labor Day this year) clean masters-level Grand Prix nationals qualifying score!
  • At her second full trial, she earned one Standard and would've Qed in Relay.
  • At her third full trial, nothing.
  • At her fourth full trial, nothing, but we "E"ed often mostly because I was taking her off the course if she didn't stick her startline or her contacts.
  • Then I pulled her from USDAA trials for a while because we were having so many problems with contacts, start line stays, and foot biting.
  • At her fifth trial, 4 months later, she earned equivalents to Relay and Snooker Qs.
  • At her sixth trial--a 3-dayer, so she had lots of chances--she earned another Grand Prix, her second Standard, and Snooker and Gamblers equivalents.
  • At her seventh trial, another Relay equivalent.
  • At her eighth trial, nothing.
  • At her ninth trial, another realy equivalent.
  • Then we moved into her second year of competition at the starters level, and the USDAA rules changed: Now, to earn your AD, you didn't need merely 3 Standard Qs (which Tika had 2 of), but at least one each of the other 4 classes: Jumpers, Gamblers, Snooker, and Relay. And Jumpers was the rub. We hadn't yet had one clean Jumpers Q.
  • So, at her 10th trial under the new rules, she earned that third Standard leg, dammit, had she only done so one trial earlier, we'd have been in Advanced in everything! But noooo, now we could move up only in Standard.
  • Also at her 10th, and her 11th and 12th, trials, she earned 2 Relays, 3 Gamblers, 2 Snooker, and 1 Advanced Standard.
  • It wasn't until her 13th USDAA trial that she finally got a clean Jumpers run (no bars knocked) at the Starters level--her 21st Starters Jumpers run.

    At Boost's first full USDAA trial, she earned 2 Standard, a Jumpers, a Snooker, a Gamblers, and a Relay. She now needs only one Standard Q to move to Advanced in everything.
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