a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: More Trials? Or Different Ones? Or None?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

More Trials? Or Different Ones? Or None?

SUMMARY: What to do for me and Boost? CPE? Nothing? More of everything?
I've been pondering what to do about Boost's performance at trials. Well--chyah--there's always, like, practicing the things we're weak on. But I mean other than that.

Bear with me while I think out loud.

I've been talking about whether doing more CPE would be beneficial for us as a team. I like CPE because it's a real trial but yet I'm more relaxed. And my dogs seem to do better there (in part because you can Q with faults). Which might build confidence for us as a team in a trial situation. I can tell you that fun matches don't help. Everyone involved knows it's not a real trial, no matter how much I try to emulate the real process (same warm-up routine, same collar off before running, try to convince myself this is the National Finals and it's do or die)--no, everyone's happy happy with perfect contacts and tables.

But CPE. I dunno, I don't know that many people in the CPE circuit any more. And they're farther away (no "local" ones any more; have to stay overnight). And they're more expensive because I'm not in the loop for the free-entry trial positions for most of them.

I'd hate to give up the USDAA trials and everyone I know. But if I added CPE, that would be more trials and I'm still trying to do less. (Plus there's always an off chance that Tika could make Top Ten again...)

(Oh--huh--out of 3 days of 2011 trialing, tika has placed 1st in 3 Gamblers, for 15 points, taking us halfway to Top Ten already--but no points in anything else at all! Well, OK, we could be top ten in gambling and nothing else. That's hardly worth getting my tights in a knot for.)

Because I've also been thinking: Tika earned her ADCH with her 3rd Super-Q the week before she turned 6, and it seemed like FOREVER between the 2nd and 3rd SQs. And yet-- Boost has now turned 6 and hasn't a single SQ to her name.

But at that point, Tika had competed in 89 trials: 49 USDAA (55%), 28 CPE (33%), and 12 (13%) NADAC/ASCA. Boost so far has competed in 68 trials: 56 USDAA (82%), 11 CPE (16%), and 1 ASCA (2%).

In the year leading up to her ADCH, Tika did 18 trials; Boost has done 13 in the last year.

The differences aren't huge, and yet I wonder whether it's enough to make a difference in experience and confidence? And since we're doing more USDAA and less CPE, the trials are harder on both of us? When Boost competes in CPE, she tends to come home with a lot of ribbons, including Qs and placements, which is more gratifying to me, which might make me generally a happier and less stress-inducing teammate for Boost. When we compete in USDAA--well--yeah, you know. Maybe a couple of Qs here and there.

Soooooooooooooo I'm just thinking maybe we need to do a bunch of CPEs instead of USDAA, just blow off any chance of Top Ten for Tika this year in the hopes of improving Boost's agility career. It's like hyped-up fun matches as part of our training regimen.

Or, yeah, give it up altogether.

I'm just sayin', it's an alternative.


  1. I vote for more CPE trials. Sounds like they're more fun for everybody and that's really what it's all about in the end. And maybe after enough CPE trials you and Boost will be more solid and relaxed as teammates and able to have more success at USDAA.

  2. I think you should try a couple of AKC trials if they're local. They will be just as reinforcing as CPE and you might find you like them.

  3. The thought has crossed my mind. I'm not a super AKC fan, but when I do drop by local AKC trials (usually to pick something up or drop something off), I recognize more people there than I do at CPE trials!

  4. I don't know, the AKC trials that I've dropped by around here are extremely crowded and full of stressed out people. That Double Q thing really sets people on edge. Plus you have to sit around all day for only 2-3 runs. It doesn't seem like a great option if you're trying to aim for less stress. But maybe it's different around you.