Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Port Allen Agility Trial

Maxie: 6 XB runs, 3 Q's, 1QQ, 1 1st place, 1 2nd place, 1 3rd place, 38 MACH points
Lucky: 6 Open runs, 5 Q's, 4 1st places, 1 2nd place, Earned her OA Title

John drills the weave nails into place, while Anna, his
assistant, reads the Course Builder's map.
The Port Allen trial was put on by our local dog club, so there was a lot of work involved in addition to running my 2 dogs.  John took 2 days vacation, initially to help me video our dogs, plus he volunteered to drive the U-Haul on Thursday morning and Sunday night to and from the arena to our field, and be an Assistant Course Builder. But he ended up having to step in as Course Builder some of the time, with almost no experience, because our scheduled Course Builder had his dog die over the weekend and could not attend all the sessions. John worked his butt off the whole 4 days, I mean worked, sweated, figured his way through 9 course changes per day, and worked, which earned him lots of kudos He came home dog tired every night, bathed, ate a bite, and went straight to bed with the alarm set at 5:00 so he could be at the arena for 6:30 each morning.  He toughed it through and learned a lot, and maybe has found his niche in the club and in the sport. I'm sure he will be called on again.  When asked if he would volunteer for next year, he said "I know better than to ever volunteer. But my wife volunteers me anyway." He may say that, but he is usually happy to help and proud of his volunteer efforts.

Only 6 helpers showed up to unload, with John
deep in the truck, handing stuff out,
sweating like a pig.
Preparing for the Thursday match and Fri/Sat/Sun trial included securing the location, washing and re-labeling all the equipment, repairing 4 sets of number cones (my job), loading and unloading the U-Haul, organizing people to help with all this, etc.  Of course the job of Trial Secretary and Gate Steward were enormous and continuous and how Nedra and Georgie also run their dogs I have no idea. There was also the job of organizing food and icing down beverages for the workers all 4 days, which Sheryl did very well.  I'm not sure what the Trial Chairman did.

My self appointed job of videoing as many of our club's teams as possible for our club's web album, was all shot to hell with me running 2 dogs, in 2 classes.  Seems I was always missing someone because I was prepping my own dog to run, or Gate Keeping.  I barely managed to get my own dogs filmed (letting John know when to video us), and catch all the newbies as they are the ones who seem most anxious to see how they did.  When Lucky moves up to Excellent Class (and I'm only 1 Q away in Jumpers), I'll only have 2 courses to walk and memorize, then I should have an easier time of it.

Two nice surprises:  Nathan and Allison came to see Maxie run on Saturday morning, and Audrey showed up Saturday afternoon and caught a Lucky run, and one of Maxie's too, and all 3 of those runs were Q's.  They brought me luck!

  • For the first time, I didn't need the course maps!  I walked the courses early, found them easy to memorize within about 5 passes, recognized the patterns more quickly than ever before.  It's true what Susan Garrett says, course memorization skills do improve!  I did the visualizations she taught me, and they were very effective.  More than ever, my dogs seemed confident I knew where I was going, and they followed along, resulting in a lot more Q's.  I also benefitted from the Handling Fundamentals course I've been teaching, doing my own flatwork homework, so my handling was a bit smoother.  Not perfect, but improving.  And, there was so little difference between the Excellent and Open courses, by the time I had memorized one, the other one was easy.
Lessons Learned:
  • Move Up Deadlines: If your dog titles at a trial, be sure and get your Move Up request into the next Trial Secretary as soon as possible.  We titled on Sunday in Amite, I unpacked on Monday, and I waited until Tuesday to move Lucky up to Open for our club's trial the next weekend. Alas, Tuesday was one day past the Move Up deadline.  Nedra, bless her, did me a favor and moved her up, because I didn't know there was a deadline.  She said "Read The Fine Print"!  Of course, I hadn't.
  • Never curse in the ring.  I didn't realize it, but on Lucky's last run I said "SHIT" when she ran right up to a jump then stopped and I almost tripped over her trying to rear cross.  The judge called me over afterwards to advise she could have taken my Q away, but would be lenient this time.  We NQ'd anyway, because while Lucky had only 1 refusal fault, she exceeded course time by 13 seconds, strolling through those weaves. 100 - 5 - 13 = 82 (takes 85 points to qualify) in Open.
  • Time to focus on speed and weaves.  Both Maxie and Lucky can race through the weaves, but at trials they barely walk through.  Why?  Don't know.  Gotta fix that.  They each lose precious seconds in the weaves, and with the loss of rhythm Maxie often pops out.  Could this be because I anticipate a problem with weaves, slow down and babysit them through it?
  • Pick up your ribbons, stickers and toys as soon as possible after the last dog runs.  The trial crew packs up and goes home as soon as they can, so if you shilly shally, you may not get these items.
The Port Allen arena is wonderful.  Much better than the Parker Collisium!  I posted a short video tour and description on the Trial Sites Summary page.

  • Lucky's OAJ title in Brandon.  Only 1 more leg needed.
  • Lucky's Excellent Titles, only 6 Q's needed, 3 each in AX and AXJ.  We can concievably do this within 2 more trials.
  • Another QQ for Maxie, in Brandon, and more than 50% Q'ing average.
  • Perfect the weaves with both Maxie and Lucky.  Work on speed.
  • Keep practicing how to run.
  • Keep building my stamina
  • Keep reducing my packing.  I still bring too much.
  • Move Lucky up to Excellent Standard for the Brandon trial.
  • Fix my red wagon (new cotter pin on wheel, weld the cross bar back on).
  • Upload videos.
  • Toss around the idea of a blog post on "Things That Can Go Wrong In The Ring".  Ask Michael Loftis to photograph the 'oops' moments: refusals, wrong courses, sniffing, stalling, stopping, cross behinds, etc.
  • Interview Nedra on what the Trial Secretary does, start to finish.  Sit with her and make a list, which she has agreed to do. Post in our club docs, in case anyone else wants to learn the job.
JWW EXC B  Not Qualified   Yards: 133   SCT: 44   Time: 41.5   Score: 0
STD EXC B  Qualified   Place: 1   Yards: 165   SCT: 71   Time: 59.79   Score: 100
JWW EXC B  Qualified   Place: 3  Yards: 148   SCT: 49  Time: 42.54   Score: 100
STD EXC B Qualified   Place: 2   Yards: 168   SCT: 72   Time: 64.22   Score: 100
STD EXC B  Not Qualified  Yards: 163  SCT: 70  Time: 70.29   Score: 0
JWW EXC B  Not Qualified  Yards: 146   SCT: 48  Time: 48.01  Score: 0 

JWW OPEN Qualified Place: 1 Yards: 129 SCT: 37 Time: 39.34 Score: 96
STD OPEN Qualified Place: 2 Yards: 156 SCT: 64 Time: 63.56 Score: 100
JWW OPEN Qualified Place: 1 Yards: 124 SCT: 35 Time: 42.26 Score: 86
STD OPEN Qualified Place: 1 Yards: 156 SCT: 64 Time: 69.95 Score: 90
STD OPEN Qualified Place: 1 Yards: 143 SCT: 59 Time: 56.55 Score: 100
JWW OPEN Not Qualified Yards: 125 SCT: 36 Time: 48.71 1 Refusal Score: 0 (actually 82)

Home on Sunday, long hot soak in the tub, dinner, fall into bed.  Next day, John off to work at 5:45 a.m., me play catch up on house work, emails, wash and groom the dogs, then out to the field to help set up courses for practice all this week.

Upwards and onward!

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