I had an absolutely cool day last Sunday. Molly and I have not tried USDAA Agility since last year. In fact, when I looked up my online results, this club's July trial of last year was the last time that I attempted USDAA agility. It was too hard for Molly and I. I was disgusted and frustrated by the long and drawn out measurement process. And jumping 22" wasn't impossible for my girl, no. It is only two inches higher than her regular jump height. But still, she is very heavy bonded and it is higher than I wanted to go. That alone was not enough of a reason to deter me, but the feeling like I was in over my head most certainly was. Fast forward to this year. The highest performance height is now 20". My friend wanted to enter with her dog, so I said, "Oh what the hell." and entered Gamblers (we are so much better at distance now!), Pairs (still scary!) and Snooker (we are so much better at Snooker planning now!).
Molly still did not have a Permanent Height Card. She had two Certified Measuring Judge measurements, one measuring under 21" and one measuring over. That is a problem, and it required a third CMJ measurement. The judge from the trial was not listed as a CMJ, and I was very disappointed about that. I am a person who cannot stand loose ends, and the wrinkled blue temporary USDAA card that has been nesting in my wallet since Spring of 2013 was getting on my last nerve. So when the trial secretary announced that it was measuring time and that the judge was a CMJ, I was over the moon. Molly measured over 21". Irritating. But honestly, I don't care. I am done with it. Molly will be in Performance Class in USDAA, jumping 20". The matter is finally settled. I put the blue card into the mail on Monday - the matter is put to rest!
We started with P1 Gamblers. I had no idea how many points I needed in the opening. I just made a plan with as many high pointed obstacles as possible and went for it (Turns out that I needed 11. Ha! We got 25. Proud.) The Joker/Gamble/Send seemed so easy for us. The hardest part was that the curved tunnel sent the dog running straight at you and off the gamble line. Molly had zero issue with this, though. She sent right back into it and we qualified with a second place!
Next was P1 Pairs Relay. I will be honest, this class freaks me out. It's okay if you have a partner, but I did not! My friend had to scratch her dog due to an injury, and she had not entered Pairs anyway (we are absolutely planning to team up when it is time for P2, however.) And when you don't have a partner, you get matched up with somebody. You are a team. In Pairs, you and your teammate, and of course both of your dogs are in the ring together. Ugh Number #1. You run with a baton, half of the course. Then you run towards your teammate and hand the baton over and they do the other half. Ugh Number #2 (to the dog and handler running towards my dog.) And each other's Q is entirely dependent upon the other's performance. UGH NUMBER #3. Since Molly and I are the most imperfect agility team ever, being teamed up with a USDAA competitor...having their Q riding on me...it is just all too nerve wracking!
I had nothing to worry about. My assigned team mate was a schnauzer, and Molly could not have cared less about him. My fellow handler had no issue doing the half of the course that contained both the weave poles and the Aframe, thank goodness! We placed 1st of the P1 Teams, with an awesome time that was 28 seconds under SCT. Whew! Molly and I didn't mess it up!!
And in the end, it felt kind of cool. Teaming up with somebody that I had never met and earning a Q together. Deciding who would run what based on our dog's strengths (or, my dog's weaknesses, more like.)
Last of the day was P1 Snooker. I don't have a video this time, and I really don't know how many points I needed. (I do still find USDAA rules to be difficult to navigate and awkward.) I made a plan with high points in the opening, and decided to just do it properly and that would mean that we would qualify. We did! We earned 44 points and were 10 seconds under the allotted time.
And just like that, Molly is only two Q's away from her Performance Dog title. You need three Standard Qs and one Q from each game class (Jumpers, Gamblers, Snooker and Pairs.) We got a Standard and Jumpers Q last year.
Just like that, Molly and I enjoyed a "perfect day" at an agility trial. I had a really nice day with my girl, the competitors were pleasant, the trial was well run. And as usual, I cannot help myself. We will be returning to play USDAA again in September. This trial was a perfect last trial to lead us into our month off of agility trials this August. Molly and I will be taking a break to work on 2x2 weave training, on contact behaviors, on front crosses and a "switch" command. And most of all, we will be taking a break because everything in moderation. I think we will both return to the agility trialing world much more rested and refreshed. And hopefully better prepared.