Sunday, September 14, 2014

USDAA Trial with Flexible Flyers

Two day USDAA Agility trial for the girlddogs!

Perri played in Intro, and out of my confusion, we ended up doing the "default" heights of 16" jumps and a 5 foot Aframe.  I felt...a little silly.  Perri is way too tall for that!  It was probably for the best though.  I have no idea how Perri will handle jumping a 26" tire or a 26" Wall Jump.   I have never asked her to do either thing at that height, so it is a good thing that she could be exposed to the wall jump at a low height.  (she may have jumped one a time or two at our old training place.)

Saturday I had both girls entered in Gamblers and Standard (P1 for Molly, Intro for Perri.)

Molly went first in Gamblers, and though I knew better than to put her on the dog walk second obstacle of the morning, it was worth 7 points so I did it anyway.  She blew the contact, too much VROOM! at that time of the day.  We had a really awkward dance around the ring and earned 18 points and then did the gamble.  Molly was stressed after our lack of flow in the opening and went ring crew visiting and after the second obstacle.  I got her back and she cleared the last gamble obstacle just as the buzzer went.  My video shows the judge giving us the bonus (thumbs up), but it was not reflected in our results score.  I did not take issue with it because we did not deserve a Q or the gamble bonus, and we were 3 point short on our opening anyway.

Perri was next and she was a good little girl!  We stayed away from the teeter and the dog walk and kept a nice flow going until the end when I was playing around at the tunnel to kill time.  Though the gamble line is pretty close in Intro, I am still proud of her for doing a distance chute and especially the jump that came afterwards.  She held her line nicely and nailed a Q with 44 points.  Bam, first USDAA Q for my baby dog!

Standard was next.  I really wanted this Q with Molly, because if she got two Standard Qs this weekend she would earn her PD.  Well, "Q Brain" had me over handling the 180 jump sequence that came after the dog walk.  There was an off course jump I was worried about so I called her to me too hard and she came in and took the next jump the wrong way.  From there some stress behaviors on our "favorites": the weaves and the Aframe.  Oh well.

Perri was next in Intro Standard.  She was really nice ringside and actually heeled in with me with a wagging tail.  Then she saw the photographer hiding in the corner (You can see him on the video.)  That worried her.  Couple that with the dog walk not being something that she is confident on  yet and we started out a little rough.  Some stress ring crew visiting and I took my time with her to support her contact behavior and criteria.  The teeter was no issue, the table behavior she was like, "Seriously?"  It has a been an enormous challenge for me to get Perri to do "downs" in any circumstance and I have never asked her to down on a table in training, so I was really proud of her for this.  (Another USDAA-specific thing that I forgot about when I entered Perri in Intro.  But the thing about Intro is is that you can switch to training-mode any time that you like - and that is why Perri was in Intro and not Starters!)  We finished a few seconds under SCT for another Q!

Sunday was Intro Jumpers first for Perri.  The course was flowy with a few gentle traps, nothing crazy.  For some reason Perri was absolutely on fire and moving ridiculously fast.  I had to distance handle her and trust her to not run jumps out because I could not catch up.  The wall jump did not even register to her as something to be concerned about.  (Yay!)  I have every other run on video from this weekend except this one, horrible!  She did have one jump run out in the beginning, but other than that she stuck her line really well and even with that bobble, her course time was 23 seconds.  I better tie the running shoes a little tighter when this girl really gets confident on a consistent basis!

We did Intro Snooker next and silly me thinking that USDAA would set a lower point requirement for Intro.  Nope, Intro to Masters you must earn 37 points.  I honestly did not know what point amount I needed, and since the highest you would ever need to get in CPE is 32 points (in Level C even!) I did not understand why I did not Q.  I am still learning to read USDAA result sheets, so I thought that it said that I only made it to the 4th closing obstacle.  The judge was so kind and explained everything to me - even though I should know the rules.  I was so grateful to her, some judges would have been annoyed. (No matter what agility venue.)  

Ringside Perri was nervous.  She was doing a lot of looking around and not a lot of focusing on me.  Border collies whipping on their tugs and screaming really worries her, so I would like to work on that more (such as, just taking her ringside and give her lots of treats and return to her "safe spot" - the crate without her needing to run agility.)  Snooker is a lot of handling, way more than Perri is used to.  She was a good sport and played along, and we made it through 6 in the closing, but she was not the dog of Jumpers in the morning.  We earned 36 points, one point shy of a Q - and not bad for my baby girl at all.   I am so proud of her this weekend that I could explode.

We finished the day out with Molly in Standard.  I did my lead out pivot but didn't set her line to the weaves hard enough and she completely missed the entry.  I put her back in them, she popped out.  And then back weaved, which is an off course fault.  This is the second time that Molly back weaved in this trial weekend and I am a little confused by it.  And strangely encouraged.  In the past, when Molly has faulted the weaves she has stressed down hard and started: sneezing, getting away from the weaves and other avoidance behavior.  She has not ever turned around and willingly started weaving again.  She has wanted to get as far away from the weaves as possible.  So.  A new stress behavior?  A desire to do the weaves in some way to get them over with and get me to stop asking her for them?  Or....somewhere deep inside that reptilian cranium, an actual desire to do the weave poles?  Hm.
What is most important, moving forward, is to get Molly out of my house and yard and doing her weave poles in as many other places as I can manage - armed with puffed cheese balls and aimed to generalize her newfound weave pole understanding.
The rest of Standard was so pretty, it was definitely a "Personal Q" for me and her.  She got all her contacts, she stayed on the table until I could set the line to the next tunnel (that was "off course country" for many of the other dogs in the class.)  And we ran the last line with no run outs.  Being on the dog's right side was key.  What I was most proud of with this Standard run with Molly was that even after the weave stress, she had a nice run afterwards.  So much of Molly's erratic behavior and contact blowing is directly related to something stressing her out.  She did a nice smooth run down the Frame and Dogwalk (stopped contact?  What stopped contact.) and did not zoom out or kiss ring crew, despite everything that happened on the weaves.  That is huge for her, keeping her brain and running the course after a major stressor.

So, no Molly PD after this weekend.   And really, it is okay.  I was mostly happy with my handling over the whole weekend and I was happy with how Molly followed me.  We are getting there, and we had a good time together.  And what is the sense in moving up to P2 anyway when our weave poles are terrible.  I feel good about moving Perri into Starters at our next USDAA trial, whenever that may be.

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