Tuesday, March 4, 2014

CPE Agility Trial @ K9 Jym (Rocky Creek Agility)

Molly and I had a very very nice weekend in many ways at our CPE Trial.  I entered her in 10 classes across two days, and that is the most that she has done since January.  And it did not go well in January!

I still saw, both while running and in the videos afterwards, some of the stress signals that I had seen at the AKC trial last weekend.  Not as severe.  Barely any sniffing.  There was quite a bit of sneezing and some yawns.  I was crushed by this initially.  I notice it a lot when she needs to do the weave poles, when she is on the Aframe, or when I am sending her to something or confusing her.

I was crushed by this initially because it meant that I have finally done it.  I have crushed Molly's spirit!  But that's ridiculous.  Of course Molly looked happier when she was stressed up and zooming around the course, taking obstacles at random, jumping into laps and tunnel sucking.  That was like she was in college but having a lot of fun partying instead of studying.  But now she's studying.  She's working harder.  She's focusing.  Despite the other dogs, despite the noise, despite all the people she wants to go visit.  She is concentrating, and she is doing obstacles that she doesn't care for and she is working with me despite the fact that I know she would like to be licking someone else's face.  And she is getting better.  And so am I.  We both have a ways to go.  We are both stressed out.  Learning agility is fun and yet it doesn't come anywhere near naturally for Molly or I.  I don't quite trust her, even though I try to, and that results in me over handling her.  The weaves in particular send me into an absurd panic of trying to collect her and make sure that she gets the entry right - which usually stresses her out and makes her sneeze.  This behavior of mine is so unnecessary and embarrassing, but I can't help myself.  I am trying to get better, and we will get better.  One day at a time, one training session at a time, one trial at a time.

Molly likes a well balanced color scheme in her ribbons...
And so, in the beginning there was Fullhouse (Level 5)...
I wish I had this one on video!  Molly was exhibiting lots of energy and she was connected with me.  We actually did my plan, up until the dog walk.
I was proud of my decel after that first tunnel, and I sent her to that jump and then into the next two tunnels,  and then sent her to that jump after the tunnel that was under the Aframe.  This was something I was nervous to do.  Would she send that far?  Would she leave the ring or go visit people?  I was really telling her to run straight as an arrow towards the ring gating and all the people watching.
I had to try.  Trying things that I am "worried" about is my new game.  It's stupid to be worried about anything.  We are playing a game, we are having fun, and I have got to push out of my comfort zone.
Molly sent right out over that jump and wrapped right back to me and up that Aframe.  Good dog!  We got 29 points and our first Level 5 Q!!!  Fullhouse was our first Qualifying Score ever in agility, and of course it is our first in the C-ATCH class.  "It's a dog's game!"

Next was another try at Standard Level 4.
This one I have video's and it clearly shows Molly stressing down after the weave poles.  She came out of the tunnel and I completely demotivated her by "WHOAH'ing" her and babying her into the pole entry.  This needs improvement!  We will get there.  We NQ'd for an off course, I thought Molly had committed to the tunnel but...she hadn't.  When I pulled away, she pulled up onto the Aframe.  Oops!
There is a lot I was happy with about this run though.  The tunnel/Aframe discrimination at the beginning.  And after the Aframe, that curved line of jumps to the teeter?  That seems like nothing.  It's just jumps.  For Molly, it's not.  She did not used to be able to do a straight line of jumps to save her life.  She would run them out, she would go sniff, she would visit.  She even can be seen sucking to my side but when I move my arm out she runs back out and takes 14 and 15.  It's the little things.  And then once again, she gets that discrimination between the tunnel and the walk.  Good girl!  (Good handler!)

Next was Jackpot Level 3 and this was the Q that I really really wanted out of the entire weekend.  This was a non-traditional with "handler boxes".  Any obstacle that your dog starts and finished while you are in the box is worth double points.  I did a long lead out, hoping to gain 14 points from that first jump line.  Molly takes the bar in the jump combo, but we still got 6 points for the other three jumps.  At the end I called her to me to do just one more obstacle for point insurance, but then mentally panicked that we would go overtime and just went to the table.  We got just enough points, 40 points to Qualify and earn our CL3-S title!

And then there was Snooker Level 4, another bumbling point-counting and stressing adventure.  I am starting to enjoy Snooker.  I have fun creating a plan.  I don't have so much fun worrying about points and time.  I'm sure the latter part will fade away as Molly and I become a better team.
So you can see on the video what I did.  I have no idea why I went on the opposite side of that first tunnel because it really messed our flow up but then, I don't know why I do a lot of things.  I do know that the start line was further away from the jump than I would have liked, and that Molly did not particularly want to sit the way that I wanted her to.  It felt like a bumbling flailing mess (and it kind of was) but we got 32 points and our first Snooker 4 Q!

Last of the day was Wildcard Level 3 and with Jackpot out of the way, this was now the Q that I really really wanted!  Getting this Q meant finishing our CL3-H title and Level 3 entirely!  And we did it!  Goodbye Level 3!!

The day was long, 12 hours, but it felt great.  We capped off the happy evening by winning this Flying Squirrel toy in the worker raffle.  Cannot wait for spring and no more jagged ice chunks on the ground to give this frisbee a work out!

Sunday started with Jumpers Level 5.  I did a lead out and stood next to the 2-Jump standard on the left side, did a jump send to three and then wrapped her back to me and did 4-6.  She dropped a bar, I think 5 or 6 and I think it was because I started running without her.  Wish I had the video.  That flustered me and I got a little lost but found number 7 and finished out the course.  We qualified since you can have one dropped bar fault in Jumpers 5 and we had no other faults.  Yay!  

Next was Snooker Level 4.  We again were a bunch of bumblers but got 34 points and a Q!  Wow look at us, halfway through our Level 4 Snookers.
Again I didn't like the vague and far back start line.  We did two 7's and a 3 for our "colors".  On the first time we did the 7-Combo I expected her to powerhouse that 180 and she instead threadled through to me!  Molly sometimes acts totally different than I think that she will.  I should have deceled better and showed more lateral movement toward the third jump.  Ah well!  Someday I will grow up and be a real handler.
We juuuuust squeaked that fifth obstacle in the closing on time, whew!  That was a close one!  

Next was Standard Level 4 and wow, we got our first Q in Big Girl Standard!  
We had some problems getting into the weaves, but she stayed in them once she was in but went sooooo slow.  

After months and months of fighting for our Wildcard Q's, Molly pulled a nice smooth Q for her first time in Wildcard Level 4.  
We did 4A, 5B and 6B and it felt really nice.  We had no heart stopping moments with the discriminations, she actually came down the Aframe nice and smooth and sent out to the triple jump (6B) and went right into the tunnel without any further direction from me (I was rear crossing the triple).  We again had some collection and weave pole bumbling but we made it.

Last of the whole trial was Colors Level 4.  
I chose the "circle" course because I liked it and because it was similar to the Wildcard course that we had just run.  That's always helpful!  Things went really well but Molly took the bar jump right at the end.  No bars down in Colors! 

Well it was a great weekend.  It was a great confidence booster!  Molly and I are still such a clunky team, figuring it all out but there are some moments here and there (few and far between!) where I watch myself and think that I look like I know what I'm doing.  That is the exception at this point, not the rule.  I still can't seem to get myself to be quiet or stop getting myself on the wrong side of things at least once every run, but hey, that's part of the journey.  

I'm trying not to worry that Molly dropped three bars this weekend and three bars last weekend.  Last weekend was during FAST and she was an absolute maniac.  This weekend was the first bar of the longest lead out I have ever done with her (I have to wonder if it would have helped if I had set her up a little further back.  In the future!).   The other time in Jumpers, I think I left her too far behind or didn't give her enough information.  She will drop bars if she is trying to catch up to me and I am not paying attention to her.   And the last one in the Colors run.  It looks to me like she took off too soon, didn't collect herself properly and was trying to catch up to me.  Maybe she was just tired.  It was a long weekend after all.  

Less worrying, more practice!  Above all, we need to get more confidence in those weaves.  If only the snow would melt out of my yard....

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