Sunday, October 5, 2014

Outdoor Agility!

Yesterday was our second outdoor trial of the year. I admit that I took a risk with the Memorial Day trial, as we know it can be hot and/or rainy that time of the year (it was both). When I entered an outdoor trial for the first weekend in October I figured it would be dry and cool, as that is "normal" for fall in these parts. I woke up to snow yesterday. SNOW!

I knew we weren't going to be experiencing any sort of beautiful fall day -- checking the radar in the morning revealed that this lovely weather was tracking directly southeast into the location of our trial near Madison. Awesome. The good news is that it wasn't sticking on the roads, so travel was safe. Also good was the fact that the trial didn't start until 9 a.m. and I only had a two hour drive. We left home right around 7:00, since the trial was starting with Time 2 Beat and I didn't need to be there for that.

The snow accumulation ended before the Dells, so that was good -- at least we shouldn't have to worry about running on snow at the trial. The temperature wavered between 34 and 37 degrees for the drive. The rain was actually starting to break up a little when I pulled into the trial site, but unfortunately the weather was following me down and it picked up again soon after. We never dealt with anything heavy, more just a constant light rain or drizzle. But at least it wasn't snow at the trial!

Master Standard was up after T2B. Several people were grumbling that it would be better to run JWW in the morning with the hope that the weather would clear up by the time we got to Std. There was no guarantee, though, so I didn't see much point. Besides that, it's AKC -- I don't even think it's an option to run in an order different than what was published.

I understood the grumbling a bit more once I got on the course to walk it, though. The contacts weren't rubberized. Whoa. When was the last time we've been to a trial that didn't have rubber on the contacts? Some people thought that the a-frame and dog walk were painted rubber, but frankly, once you paint over rubber it's absolutely no better than painted sand. The teeter was absolutely painted sand, and not even very textured. That said, my equipment at home is not rubber so it's not like my dogs have never seen this before -- I just didn't expect to go to a trial with this surface. In the rain.

The judge at this trial was Ilze Rukis. We know Ilze from her NADAC days and when Kaiser did TDAA, but we've never shown under her for AKC. I like Ilze, which is one of the reasons why I chose this trial. I was a little disappointed to hear a small group of people standing over the course maps talking about areas they perceived to be "NADAC-like" because Ilze is a "NADAC judge." It perturbed me a bit -- not only because Ilze doesn't actually judge NADAC anymore, nor because judges don't even design their own courses for NADAC, but because I don't think any of those people actually do NADAC so what the heck would they know? Whatever. I thought Ilze's courses were fun and am looking forward to running under her again in La Crosse next month.

Tall dogs were up first, so Secret was my first dog to run. I actually planned on doing a reverse turn at 3 to get a nice tight turn into the tunnel, but Secret was way ahead of me so I just had to pull her in. I did a blind before the a-frame and ran ahead to "scoop" her into the weaves and by some miracle it worked and she stayed in. Hooray! Unfortunately I didn't support the jump after the weaves enough for Secret's liking with the questionable footing, so she cut in and didn't take it -- or the double that followed. That's one thing I learned yesterday -- don't take anything for granted when the footing isn't perfect, because Secret will choose self-preservation every time. If I didn't make it perfectly obvious, she didn't do it.

Secret didn't have a problem with any of the contacts. She did pull up at the jump after the dog walk because she was balking at the person in a giant fuzzy coat sitting in the back corner -- the lady kept lowering her head every time a dog came towards her, which just made her a giant fuzzy blob. I think the dogs would have been better off seeing a human face at least. Oh well, I'd be more upset about it if we hadn't already NQ'd. Despite the errors, Secret still posted a good time and ran well. I know we need single Qs, but I'd rather they come from Std than JWW!  ;o)

Kaiser had a super run. The rain was wrapping up by his turn. Kaiser loves running outside -- he just jumps so much better outside with natural lighting. The cool temperatures (it got up to about 45) were to his liking as well and he was just a happy camper. I knew I couldn't pull off the same weave entry that I'd done with Secret, so with Kaiser I stayed on the right side and ran ahead to really point out the entry to him -- many dogs were entering at the 2nd or 3rd pole and I know Kaiser is prone to the same thing if the entry is too shallow, so I made sure to show him where to go and it worked. He had a really nice rear cross out of the poles into the chute and then I made sure to verbally support the jump more than I had done with Secret. There was a fine line here, though, with that off course jump so close. I stayed down on the inside, though, and we made it through -- and he stayed on the table! Yay! With a clean finish, we got a much-needed Std Q. There were very few Qs on this course, so I'm pretty proud of the wee man for getting through this one.

The rain was pretty much done save for a few spits here and there by the time we got to JWW. The wind was picking up, but it wasn't that bad. The footing, which had been holding up to the weather remarkably well, was getting a little more slick in spots (mostly just affecting the handler), so I took note of that during the walk-through.

I opted to leave Secret at the start for this run, which is something I very rarely do. I really wanted to beat her to do a cross at the top of the tunnel, though, as I really didn't like any of my other options for the 4-7 sequence. This worked really well and I got in for a front cross between 5 and 6, but then I cued too tight of a turn and didn't support 7, so she ran right past it to the inside. The rest of the run was really nice. I shaped the turn coming around 13 so that she'd be slicing 14 and not look at the off-course jump and it worked beautifully. Again, a really nice run with just the one flub. No points. Darn.

I led out again with Kaiser, but with him I held back and opted for a rear cross at six. I made sure to push out to seven and support the jump. At 13 I held my breath for a bit as I worried he would back jump it on the wrap due to how close I was, but he came through nicely and I was able to shape the turn. He seemed oddly distracted and looking off to the outside of the ring as he was coming by 15 so I called his name and he kind of took the jump sideways, but good boy for saving it! He turned on the afterburners for that final line and took off way early for the second-to-last jump, but thankfully he didn't crash it and he kept all the bars up.

So there you have it -- when has this ever happened? Kaiser got a QQ (#5!) and Secret didn't Q at all. I know I struggled with running outside more than the dogs did. They thought it was great. The ring reminded me a lot of my yard at home in that it wasn't flat and even. That took me a bit by surprise. I know the ups and downs of my yard and don't really notice it anymore, but you definitely notice it more in an unfamiliar area. The ring also had a noticeable slope; we were running uphill on the dog walk, for instance. There is a good chance that I was being more cautious and taking short-cuts, which led to Secret missing the jumps. Who knows, I get very spoiled by trialing indoors all of the time. I'm glad I got to this trial, though, if nothing else just for Kaiser. He just does so much better outside.

I did not for one second doubt my decision to not enter Kizzy at this trial. The ring was surrounded by snow fence, but the in and out gates were completely open. There would have been nothing to inspire Kizzy to stay in the ring if she felt like going to visit. In the Novice class they actually did have one dog go rogue -- he took off after the dog who had just left the ring and it took like five minutes for everyone to round him up. Yeah. Glad that wasn't Kizzy.

We got home at 5:00 and Secret spent the next few hours going absolutely crazy. I threw tennis balls for a good long time to wear everyone out, but apparently it didn't come close to taking the edge off. At one point while she was outside running laps she pulled one of the giant weeds out of the ground and thought it would be a good idea to bring inside for show and tell. She finally settled down once it started to get dark out, but man, it was nonstop there for a bit.

Today has been pretty low key. It's another cool day, I'm sure it's beautiful at the trial. At some point I should get my butt in gear and take the dogs out hiking or something. We went out on Friday and I got to pick sticky weeds out of the girls for what felt like forever. That kind of dampens my desire to go out on the trails, I guess. I should also school Kizzy's contacts and weaves a bit more. I'm not sure if we'll get to the NADAC trial the weekend before AKC or not. I have to get Secret into the chiro and that Saturday may be my best option. I'm still waiting to see the work schedule for Petco, but I'm going to guess I'm working that Sunday. We'll have to see how things work out.

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