We did it! Secret got her last P2 Standard leg this weekend to earn her APD title so that we can move up to P3 for all classes now. I had hoped that we would get that last leg on Saturday, allowing us to move to the Masters ring for Sunday to avoid conflicts, but Secret decided she wanted to stay in her own ring, I guess. ;o)
In addition to our snazzy new title bling, we also brought home a new harness this weekend! I've been wanting a Julius K-9 harness for Secret for some time now. Yes, I realize that EVERYONE has one and this does not make us special in the least, but I'm in love with the interchangeable patches and just had to have one. I love Kaiser's ComfortFlex Sport harness, but it doesn't have name patches. lol
I'd shopped around a bit online, but I wasn't entirely sure what size Secret would be. I guessed 0, but wanted to be able to try one on. I saw that Best for Pets was going to be vending at the trial this weekend and I was hoping they'd have a pink harness in our size. The last time we saw them was right after they'd vended at Border Collie Nationals and they were all out. This time we scored! I ran over to the booth before our first run, grabbed the only pink size 0 on the rack and asked Jason to hold it for us. It fit perfectly, so I bought it after that first run and we got to wear it the rest of the weekend! Secret did well with it -- it goes on and off very easily and she didn't have any aversion to it going over her head like she did with the collar/leash combos.
Secret's brother, Blizzard, was at the trial this weekend! Although I've kept up with him online, we haven't seen him since our little family reunion the summer after we adopted the puppies. This was the first time I've been able to see Blizzard run in person, so that was pretty awesome. He almost has his MACH already, but this was his first USDAA trial. I see a lot of similarities in the two dogs, that's for sure. If anything, he's not nearly as quirky as Secret. ;o) Blizzard is running Champion 26", though, so we won't be having any sibling teams any time soon.
Secret was up first with her P2 Gamblers run. Honestly I thought we had this one in the bag because sheesh, it's weaves that are 12' away. Yeah... Well, it was her first run in a horse arena in 12 months. The temptation of poop overpowered all and she stopped about four poles in to sample a morsel on the ground. So much for that.
Our opening was jump (right), a-frame, a-frame, jump, teeter, tire, jump, jump, dog walk, tunnel -- That's when the buzzer sounded and unfortunately Secret went right up the dog walk again instead of coming back to me. I couldn't get her to stop and she just kept going... Until she hit the halfway point in the middle and bailed off the side. Eek. Sorry, Secret. So by then we'd wasted a ton of time... And then the poop thing happened. Well, I guess we aren't guaranteed a move-up in Gamblers (she was one Q shy of that title).
Luke's Gamblers run was up next. I wasn't so sure about this one for him. I wasn't worried about him doing the teeter at a distance, but that backside was going to be very difficult, especially since he has a tendency to turn towards me on the contacts.
I was right. Totally didn't even come close to getting number two, or any of the other jumps in the sequence for that matter. ;o)
His opening was jump (left), jump, a-frame, weaves, dog walk, jump, a-frame, weaves, then the buzzer went off when we were on the teeter wasting time. Oh well, good try, Luke.
Next up was Secret's P2 Standard run. I was really, really hoping for a Q in this run so that we could move to the Masters ring on Sunday. It would open up more opportunity for me to work ($$) and let me completely avoid conflicts since we didn't enter any Tournament classes this weekend.
Well, unfortunately it was not meant to be. Secret had a really lovely run; right up to the weaves, where she skipped a pole in the exact spot she had stopped to eat poop in the previous class. In Advanced you have two big opportunities for faults -- refusals on contacts and popping out of the weaves. You can blow the entry, but after that you are out of luck. Darn it. Oh well, stuck in the Starters/Advanced ring for another day, I guess.
Luke's Veteran Standard run was up next. What else can I say but that he freaking rocks?! That jump sequence after the weaves was tricky and getting a lot of dogs, but the big old moose sailed right through it. I pushed to the backside of five, rear-crossed to six, pulled in to 7 and then phew, breathed a sigh of relief. I praised him profusely when we got to the table.
We had a close call going from 17 to 18 when he nearly took the tire, but he had a great call-off and came back for the tunnel. Luke did a great job -- I'm having so much fun running him on these courses! And thankfully, I think he's having fun, too. :o)
Next up was Secret's very first P3 Snooker run! I worked for quite a while in the morning to come up with a plan that would work for her. I knew doing a ton of 7's would not be the best plan for us considering the amount of yardage involved in the FOUR jump sequence. I did end up going for four reds, though, with a 1-7, 1-6, 1-4, 1-3 plan.
I knew that we had to get through five in the close to Q. Secret was DRAGGING on this run. We were plagued with issues all weekend that held up our runs. Timers weren't working. Equipment changes. Other various issues... Secret doesn't do well being held at the start line, that's for sure....
At any rate, the video for this run was almost painful to watch. I guess I didn't even realize how much she was trotting through this course. Sigh. Oh well, it is what it is. We almost had an off course, but in the end we made it through six in the close (the judge gifted us with that one as she was barely taking off for 6b when the buzzer sounded). It was good enough to earn us 2nd place in the P22" class, but we were one dog shy of having our own SQs, so we were combined with the 16" class and they got the 2nd one.
Jumpers was our last run of the day. After getting up at 4 a.m., my brain just wasn't in this run -- and apparently Secret was kind of done as well. We managed to stay clean up until I totally dropped her on a blind cross out of the number 12 tunnel. Then my brain shut off and also forgot to direct her after the number 14 jump. Maybe I need to just stop entering the last class of the day on these early starts... It wasn't horribly late; probably around 6:00, but it had been a long day.
Thankfully we redeemed ourselves the next morning when we got to START our day with Jumpers. I felt this was a very fun and motivating course for Secret. Despite having barely slept at all the night before (Ms. Prissypants did not like the sleeping arrangements -- the one queen bed was far too full for her liking and she kept jumping on and off all night), Secret was pretty up for this run and was running happy. I also abandoned the idea of a lead-out at the beginning, as I didn't think it was doing us any favors. The only thing I'm really disappointed about is that I totally chickened out on the blind crosses this weekend. Sissy handler.
Secret won the P22" class! She was a full two seconds faster than the second place dog, even! I was thrilled about this, until I was brought back to reality by watching the Masters dogs that were all coming in about four seconds faster than Secret's time. Sigh. Maybe one day I will just accept that she will never be THAT fast. That said, I was still thrilled with Secret's run and elated that she was happy to run again.
I knew that a Super Q was likely not in our cards for Sunday, but I was pretty confident in our ability to pull off another Q at least. This was a course designed to reward fast dogs with good weaves -- aaaaaaand we know that's not Secret. There is no way I could have attempted three 7's on this course and still had a dog willing to work with me.
I opted for the next best thing and kept a happy dog throughout the course. We did 1-7, 1-6, 1-6 and got all the way through the close. Secret likes a-frames, so I was very happy with this plan when I came up with it. I don't believe I saw anyone else execute my plan (well, mostly because almost everyone went for the 7's). That happened a lot this weekend, though... I apparently march to the beat of a different drummer in my Gamblers & Snooker plans, but they work for us so I have to try not to let that sway me!
My Snooker plan was good enough to earn us 1st place in the P22" class! Unfortunately 3 of the 16" dogs got all 7's, so both of the SQ's went to that class. Have I mentioned how fun it is that we are probably almost always going to be combined with the 16" dogs....?
The rings were much more off-balance on Sunday, so Luke continued to sit in his crate while Secret moved on to her P2 Standard run (after a considerable break, as they ran Steeplechase first).
I didn't think this course was quite the "slam dunk" that the previous day's had been, but I certainly thought it was doable. My only "worry" spots were what to do at the chute (I forced a front cross after the teeter) and getting the right end of the tunnel after the weaves (again, did another front cross). I'd be lying if I said I wasn't worried about popping the weaves again, though! Thankfully it was a non-issue and we didn't have a problem.
Secret did have a space cadet moment at the start for some reason. Could be because our friend, Rich, was sitting in the other ring videoing our run as he worked the class and Secret LOVES Rich for some reason. Like groveling and almost peeing on herself loves him... I lost her as she looked around before 3 and then she spaced out at the tire. We were fine after that, thankfully, and still managed to come in about 8 seconds under time. I'm thrilled that we didn't have ANY "zombie moments" after the teeter this weekend! Secret's been having issues with spacing out for a few seconds after each teeter at recent trials, but I didn't see her turning around or worrying at all. Hopefully that is behind us.
At any rate, she made it through the course without any bobbles for a Q/1st, which finishes her P2 Standard title and makes her an Advanced Performance Dog! Hooray! On to P3 for everything!
After a very long wait, Luke finally got to run! His Veteran Standard run was up first. I thought this course was a bit friendlier than the one on Saturday, at least for the big guy. The only area in this course where I kind of held my breath was from five to six. I didn't know if he'd be able to get that angle, but he came in and sliced it nicely.
Luke's been doing a great job on the USDAA a-frames and fitting in a front cross after 7 helped me fit in a blind cross after the tunnel so that I wouldn't have to flip him over 9. After that it was pretty smooth sailing. The big guy got his second Standard Q! And I *finally* got one of his runs on video!!
I might be biased, but I think he is doing an absolutely remarkable job for a dog who has never done anything but NADAC. :o) I give the big guy a lot of credit for jumping right into these Masters courses!
Secret's final run, P2 Gamblers, was up next. I honestly considered scratching Secret from this run because she didn't need the Q and I really felt like she was done for the day/weekend. I wish I would have listened to my gut because I was right. She wasn't into this run at all. She did a good job, but it was pretty lackluster.
We went jump (center), teeter, jump, jump, a-frame, a-frame, jump, jump, chute, jump, tire and then the buzzer went off. I elected to approach the gamble from the bottom, thinking that a switch would help send Secret out a bit better. Well, maybe, if she had any impulsion or if I wasn't stuck at the line. She paused in front of the tunnel, barked at me while I gestured towards the tunnel and then took the dog walk.
Yup, should have scratched, but I was being greedy and wanted to finish her P2 Gamblers title. Oh well.
Last run of the day! Luke did awesome. He was the first dog to run (being the only Veteran entered in this one) and showed everyone how it's done.
Luke's plan was chute, jump, weaves (although he decided he needed another jump before the weaves...), a-frame, a-frame, weaves, jump, and then the buzzer sounded when he was on the teeter. I saw Luke head-check me before each tunnel but he was a good boy and kept going. Yay for our second Veteran Gamblers Q!
Some day I need to decide if I want to go for the Veteran Versatility title with the big guy. I might try him in Jumpers one of these days, but I just don't think he would enjoy Snooker. We'll see. We've only done two USDAA trials so far and I'll give him a bit more time to get used to things.
If you have made it this far, kudos to you! I'm happy to report that I finally got video from a USDAA trial!! Somehow I didn't get either Gamblers run videoed, but seeing as they were both pretty crappy I'm not too concerned about that.
I did find myself wishing that I'd put Sunday's runs first since they were so much better, but if you wish to see them you'll have to suffer through Saturday. ;o)
Up next is a NADAC trial in La Crosse the first weekend in March. There is also a USDAA trial at Think Pawsitive that weekend and I was very conflicted... We've still got a NATCH on the line (for both Secret & Luke), though, so I decided to stay in town and try to get that done. We'll shoot for doing one day of USDAA up in the Cities later in the month.
Today I ordered patches for Secret's new harness. No worries, I'll be sure to update when they arrive!
Oh -- and just for the Google search engines -- Our judges this weekend were Sandra Katzen (Masters) and Kirstie Dean (Starters/Advanced). I always Google to look for course maps before each trial, so if anyone is looking for course maps for either of these judges, have at 'em. I thought all of the courses were fun this weekend! Steeplechase had double weaves both days (ugh), but Grand Prix looked like fun. Maybe one of these days I'll actually enter Secret in that again...