Monday, February 28, 2011

First Trial! Surprise!!

I said I would hopefully have big news to share on Monday, and Secret does not disappoint. She made the news ever better than I had hoped. :o)

Yes indeedy-do, Secret went to her first trial! And not only that, but Secret QUALIFIED and got 1st place in three out of her four runs! Holy cow, baby girl!

The whole thing was kind of a last-minute decision. The games trial being hosted by RACE Agility wasn't really even on my radar because I always figured I'd probably be working because I couldn't ask off two weekends in a row. But as it happened, I wasn't scheduled to work this weekend. Then the trial secretary posted to the WI/IL agility list last week that they were taking day-of-show entries at the trial. Hmm... I mentioned the trial to Bethany and she was totally gung-ho about the idea. The forecast looked okay for the three-hour morning drive over, so we decided to go for it.

We left at 5:15 a.m. and miraculously managed to pack all four dogs, two humans and all of our gear into my Saturn Vue. I didn't think it was possible, but thankfully Bethany packs pretty light and she just got a new soft crate that doesn't take up much room at all. The dogs traveled so well! My three pretty much slept the entire trip over and left Rascal alone, which was great because usually they pester him and try to play the whole time. With a long, busy day ahead of us, I was happy that Secret rested. Because she slept well, and because she had done so well during our practice the night before (Bethany & I drug tunnels & hoops out into the snow), I elected to go ahead an enter her in both rounds of Tunnelers along with one round each of Touch-n-Go and Weavers.

We arrived to the trial site at about 8:35, with the trial scheduled to begin at 9:00. Parking spots were slim pickings, but we found a spot against a snow bank a fair distance from the barn. I've never been to this location, but it appeared to be someone's personal horse farm. The arena was really nice, but crate space was really, really tight. After submitting our entries, Bethany and I just kind of stood there aimlessly for a bit while we tried to figure out where we could fit four dogs. It would have helped if one woman hadn't brought a huge freaking lounge chair.... But in the end, some kind person moved and made space for us.

I purposefully did not enter Secret in the first round of Touch-n-Go, as I knew she would need time to settle at the new location. There was a lot of noise and commotion when I brought her into the barn and she was totally freaked out and darted into her kennel to hide. I was able to find time to bring her out for a bit after Kaiser's first run and was happy to see that she was acclimating to everything and coming out of her shell nicely. By the time she was up for her first run, she was even starting to bark & sass at me!

Knowing that this was the first time I've ever tried to run Secret without toys or treats in hand, I honestly had no idea what to expect. She obviously felt the same way, because when we went to the start line she looked kind of baffled and wasn't sure what the heck was going on. The course started with two hoops to the a-frame (great 2 on/2 off!), then through another hoop and a turn to a tunnel. She had no idea what the heck was going on, but as she came out of the tunnel and saw the a-frame in front of her again, she lit up and took off! I was a bad, bad handler and rushed her through her bottom (gack, she's a BABY, we should be holding contacts!), but she still nailed it. Then it was nice & smooth until we got to the dog walk/tunnel discrimination.

I know I over-handled it in an attempt to make sure she didn't take the off course tunnel. This made her worry that she might be wrong, which is never good for Secret. Add that to the fact that the last dog walk she saw when we trained in Northfield scared the crap out of her and.... Well, she didn't trust this dog walk, either. After barking at me a few times, Secret offered the tunnel since she wasn't comfortable with the dog walk. Then she did the tunnel two more times, and hid in it once more before coming out, offering her end position on the plank and then finally turning around and going up the dog walk. GOOD GIRL. I really was worried that I wasn't going to be able to get her on it at this trial, so I was so proud of her for facing her fear.

Tunnelers was up next. Secret has never seen so many tunnels in a row before, so I figured she would either think it rocked or it would oog her out. Well, it was kind of a combination. There was a bit of trotting on course because she wasn't sure what the heck was going on, but she was very responsive to my cues and flowed nicely through the course to earn her very first Q!

She was much more comfortable in the second round of Tunnelers and seemed to kick it up a notch! One thing I've noted from watching the video (over and over and over) is that front crosses seem to really turn her on and inspire her to move out. I definitely can't be a lazy handler with Secret. :o) She trotted briefly in a couple of spots, but overall this was a really nice run for her second Q.

I wasn't sure how Weavers would go. It was her fourth run of the day and, of course, her first time weaving in public. The point of the whole day was just to go and have fun, though, so I figured we'd see what happened.

She was awesome! She didn't have the speediest weaves, but she started to really kick it up a bit between the sets of weaves. Secret totally nailed each entry and it was just a really nice, smooth run. Yay for her first Weavers Q!

Getting Q's in three out of four runs at her first trial is beyond awesome. She's off to a great start and it will be fun to watch her speed increase along with her confidence.

We get to play in La Crosse this coming weekend and I e-mailed Laurie to see if I can add the second round of Regular to her classes each day. I figure she can handle it after seeing how well she did on Saturday.

Tonight we get to go play on the underwater treadmill again. I likely won't sign Secret up for the Wednesday session after seeing how tired the last one made her. I need her fresh as a daisy for the trial this weekend. :o)

YouTube didn't disable my audio this time, so I can finally just embed from there instead of uploading to Blogger. No offense, Blogger, but your videos are small.


  1. What a great first trial, if only we could all be so lucky! You had lovely runs!

    She seems to pick up the pace in the video when you keep your arm out and draw the path for her. Maybe it makes her feel more confident?

    Not that I really am in any place to give advise since we're still novice too, but just a thought :)

    I love your blog, you and Secret are doing great. Could you ask Secret to give Freya some focus please? ;)

  2. I appreciate your observation! I have been told on several occasions by my friends that I have the habit of flapping my arms like a chicken on course. lol There is no doubt in my mind that Secret is probably thrown off by that and she does better when I am more steady in my movement. Definitely something to try to remember this weekend at our next trial!!

    Alas, focus is something Secret has never lacked. She's a little worker bee. What she lacks is speed & motivation, but we're getting there! :o)

  3. Ah but speed isn't important if you've got great focus to run smooth courses right? :O)

  4. Congratulations Karissa on a successful first trial for Secret! You two looked like a great team out there :) With confidence will come the speed! Nice job!