Ein and I trialed at this venue before, at their September '12 trial. He didn't like it then, and he doesn't like it now. Last year he spent a respectable amount of time stressing and staring at the ringside going on's, and as today crawled by he did just about that same thing. Why did I try this venue again? After a year of trialing with him, I didn't want to be superstitious and I thought that maybe his confidence had grown to a point where he would not feel the same as he did last year.
Historical Note: It was at this venue that we got our first NQ. We could have earned our RL1 that day, but Ein decided to stare into ringside and ignore me. Instead of clapping, or tight lead-ing, I touched his collar. BAM NQ.
So! Trial 1 was not too bad...
Level 1 - Ein was "normal stressy" and we pulled a 207, points off for lagging. Everything else was fine, but we had to take our time.
Level 2 - Ein was still stressy and we earned a 200, with points off for lagging and the "double cue" monster joined us for this and the remainder of the trial. Regardless, this was our fourth QQ towards the ARCHX and also our tenth qualifying score in Level 2, so...RL2X!
Level 3 - Ein was major stressing. The moving backup was here, the recall over jump and the Moving Stand-Down Dog-Sit Dog. We have worked that Moving Stand sign hard since Ein NQ'd on a broken stay with that before. We sludged through the course with Ein staring ringside a lot or sniffing and NQ'd on ... the Moving Stand sign. When I asked him to down he walked towards me...and downed.
Trial 2 I could have done without.
Level 1 - Lagging and a double cue but we still got a 205.
Level 2 - Ein was short circuiting. Badly. We would have gotten a 199 on this due to lagging and double cues. This course was what I hate, pulling and forcing Ein through a course while he stares off into space. He was stressing on things like finishes. But still, we would have Q'd. Why didn't we?
I did not walk around Ein on Down-Walk Around. We would have had our ARCHX. This hurt so bad! Stupid handler errors like this are devastating. But as I think about it, I would rather earn his ARCHX at a future trial when he is feeling more himself and enjoying his work. It would feel more justly deserved. (Sure, whatever I gotta tell myself!)
Level 3 - This was a really breezy L3 course. I thought we could probably limp through it. There was an angled front sign that led the dog right by the jump (Ein took the jump and should not have.) Otherwise there were a lot of Level 2 signs and a few of the not so tricky Level 3 signs (recall over jump. Not a tricky one for Ein. He did do that correctly.) But as soon as we came in the ring, he was shattered. I asked him to Front and he just stood and stared at ringside. I asked him to finish and he stared, then downed. We repeated the sign with the same response. When I left him for the recall and called him, he stared at me (this is when he took the jump.) All over the course he just would not work with me. Then someone opened a soda can and GAME OVER - that noise was just Too Much. He refused to do a Stand for me. Refused. The judge told me to just use food and get him to have a good time, but he was NOT going to have a good time. Of course as soon as I bribed him with food he worked semi-normally for me but the damage was done.
So, oh well. The trial stress was too much, he was too tired. Lesson learned the hard way, as all of my lessons are learned.
We play again another day. We did get a really pretty ribbon for RL2X, though!