We did Beginners Agility first. I was very very happy with this run. She stayed on the dog walk and did not spring off to go say hi to the ring crew (though, if you watch the video you can see that she definitely notices her!). She gets her weave entry and stays in. She does all her contacts and works with me well. I truly thought that we had qualified but when the results came out we were 3.07 seconds over the SCT. NQ.
This was really disappointing to me. On analyzing my run, the Aframe crawl took forever. Molly is not solid on her Aframe. She comes off the teeter wide, she takes the next jump wide. Her weaves are slow. She is slow off the dog walk. Slow slow slow. But I thought my dog was fast!
I was absolutely astonished that I was over time though. This was really a nice run for Molly and I, no bobbles for once. And I am used to qualifying when we actually run clean. Another competitor pointed out that the course was "wheeled" (measured.) and when that was done it was not wheeled to allow for big wide turns like Molly did.
I was feeling half negative, half inspired for Jumping. I wanted to get her running fast like I know she can! It was sort of like a bit of a challenge. We didn't make it. I was pretty happy with my handling all the way through but when it came to the weave entry, I failed. She came out of the tunnel and I said "Watch" instead of "Weave" and I did not shape her entry properly. She missed it and had to be brought back around. That little bobble put us 2 seconds overtime and we NQd.
Those weaves. They are absolutely, positively, freaking killing us. A club member was discussing the matter with me and said that somebody told her that when we talk to dogs while they are in the weave pole it is like trying to read a book while somebody is talking to you. They cannot concentrate. I don't like that I clap and talk to Molly in the weaves, and I have fallen into this rut where I think that she cannot do them unless I clap and talk to her.
I also found this post by Susan Garrett regarding the Internationalization of Agility that has the wheels in my brain turning.
I was angry originally. Those SCTs are tight. Usually when we are overtime it is because of bobbles and considerable fooling around. Today's runs were pretty damn good for Molly and I and I was really frustrated that we were NQd for time faults. Truly, you need to be just about perfect to qualify in UKI. That is international style courses, that is how it is.
However, NQing today for time faults magnified nearly every one of mine and Molly's faults: the unreliable Aframe. The wide turns. The terrible weave poles. Susan's post outlines the difference between European Agility and American. What really stuck with me was that Europeans must be competitive to move up in classes - and I felt very fortunate indeed to be in America where there is a chance for move up success with a 20" pitbull in an ocean of 20" border collies. But that competitive atmosphere pushes those handlers to be better, faster and take risks. In America we operate on our "title based system" - but we are apparently more protective of consistency and not taking risks in order to guard our Q and work towards our titles. Guilty!
So, instead of feeling frustrated and angry and avoiding UKI forever more I am going to try to be more "risky". I am going to keep my mouth shut and no more clapping in the weave poles. See where it gets me! My initial thought when I was given the advice about the weave poles was to be defensive, "My dog needs me to do this!" But does she? I am so new to agility, I refuse to be in a rut. I refuse to not try new things. I refuse to not keep trying to be the best that we can be. I refuse to enjoy the luxury of excuses, "I run a pitbull not a border collie!" and not try to be better.