Look at that! Someone was RUNNING at our trial this weekend! :o) Many, many thanks to our friend Robyn for taking some awesome pictures at our trial up in Lindstrom. I didn't get any video at this trial, so having some great snapshots takes away the sting of Secret's very first trial with zero video footage. It was a small trial and none of my normal videographers were in attendance, so I decided to deal with it and not bug anyone. I'm a little bummed, especially since Secret's first two runs were so nice.
It was not our most successful day, coming home with only one Q out of four runs. Unfortunately, I have to take the blame for two of the NQ's and I hate it when it is COMPLETELY my fault.
The first round of Elite Regular was eating up a lot of teams. There's no seemingly good explanation, other than that the course went through a similar path three times and several of us managed to get lost. Sadly, I screwed up both Luke & Secret (in different spots...). Secret was moving at a really good clip and my complete lack of cues sent her straight into an off course tunnel. I did a quick, "Crap..." to myself, but I made sure not to dampen Secret's enthusiasm and just kept running to the next obstacle -- So we ended up with 30 faults for that run (off course & missed jump).
Round 2 seemed to flow a little better and I managed to stay on course this time. It was a tricky course with multiple discrimination tests, so I was very happy to see Secret keep her happy attitude and not start to worry or stress over anything. The weaves were the second obstacle on the course and she was quite a bit slower through them than in the first round -- She always seems to weave faster when they are at the end of the course for some reason. I left her more than usual in the weaves at this trial and am happy that this didn't seem to effect her. It was a really nice bobble-free run that earned us a Q and 2nd place.
These Regular courses were really good Champs preparation. They were "only" 22 obstacles, but they spanned quite a bit of yardage (I didn't write it down) and required most handlers to move more than usual. I made it through the courses okay but will be glad to have more time between dogs at Champs!! The run order was in my favor, with Secret going first (which is good, because I feel I need the most energy with her), then Luke (who gives me more distance so I can take more of a break), and finally Kaiser (who really didn't have a very good day, likely due to a muscle spasm in his leg I found later).
Chances was up next. Both of my boys got stuck in Elite at the tunnel/dog walk discrimination. The tunnel was practically sitting on top of the dog walk plank, it was SO CLOSE. It was a very hard discrimination to get, so after sending Secret out through the hoops (distance with a switch) I called too hard to get the "up walk" from her. She listened to my come command and.... came to me. Darn it. I over-handled yet again! I set her up to try it again and she got it, good girl! And she even finished up the run with an "out tunnel" next to the a-frame from behind the line -- YAY!! No hesitation whatsoever, so it looks like the "out" is starting to stick with her!
Jumpers wasn't so awesome. The day was just dragging on and Secret had been in her crate most of the afternoon (as I didn't enter her in Touch-n-Go or Weavers at this trial). It was around 4 p.m. before we ran Jumpers and she was getting tired. Add to that, she ended up being the first dog to run in the class (due to me having to space out my dogs at a small trial), so I essentially had to walk the course, grab my dog and run. Secret doesn't do well with that routine. She's much happier if she gets to sit and bark at me and do tricks before going into the ring. Oh well, sometimes we don't get that chance!
The other issue, I'm sure, is that I left her and jogged off to get a bit of a lead out. Hind sight being what it is, I probably should have just ran with her and did the rear cross. I actually ended up losing her briefly with the push that I used, as she paused at the end of the ring to look at some folks at the results table. I got her back again only to lose her on a front cross (granted, it was poorly placed, but she loves front crosses!) when she stopped at the end of the ring to whine & wiggle at a female border collie she had seen earlier in her crate and wanted to play with. This was totally unexpected, but I suppose wanting to play with a new/strange dog is better than behaving aggressively. It was a dog we are going to Champs with, so maybe we'll have to see if Rain wants to play while we are there. :o)
Long story short, Secret ended up 2 seconds over time. It would have been her EJC-S title, but oh well, we'll get it next time.
We have many positives to take away from this trial, despite the single Q. Secret did not get much settling time at all before her first run, as we arrived around 8:20 a.m. and she was the 2nd dog on the line at 9:00 a.m. She ran fast & happy from the start, so this is great!! We didn't have ANY moments of stopping to search for horse poop in the dirt arena, which is another huge plus (especially considering Champs is running on a dirt ring that has surely had horses in it). Due to part of the arena being ripped off in a storm, crating was in horse stalls this time, which was great practice for Champs. Secret did really well in this environment and seemed to enjoy the more private setting.
The long days at Champs are going to be hard on Secret for sure. It will be difficult since I'm running the Team events, but I'm going to have to try to get the dogs back to the hotel for a rest between rounds 1 & 2 each day. I think it will help Secret to have more of a fresh attitude for the second round if she hasn't been sitting in the stall all day. I also think it will help if I'm able to spend more time with them, though. At this trial I decided to work pretty much whenever I wasn't running (great vouchers!!), so they were left to themselves all day and I know they don't rest quite as well.
Our next trial is back in La Crosse on September 16-18 --- Yup, another 3-dayer. I haven't decided yet how many runs I'll have Secret do per day. I'm going to make a point not to over train this time leading into the trial... Less is more, that's for sure.