Monday, February 20, 2012

Mobile Agility Trial - March 2012

This is our first trial this year.  We've been on break from trialing for 10 weeks, and when we practice, I'm concentrating on specific skills rather than running full courses.  I've been less interested in pursuing titles, more interested in feeling "connected and in sync" with my dogs (from whence I suspect all titles flow.)

Goals for this trial:
Maxie: At least 1 QQ, some placement ribbons. (QQ goal not met, but 2 Q's and both with placement ribbons)
Lucky: Every run under course time, whether a Q or not. Enthusiastic participation. (goals not quite met, but the trend is up.  2 Q's, 13 MACH POINTS, with 3 more clean runs that exceeded course time by only 1-4 seconds)
Me: Confidence in the ring, faster running, better handling, don't get lost on course. Relax. (my goals were met)
I wrote an extensive summary of the weekend only to have Blogger disappear it.  Big mystery.  Big bummer.  Can't repeat it. So instead, I just made composite videos of each dog's runs, with commentary, and post them below.

What's not in the videos, I report below.
Weather:  It was bitterly cold and windy on Saturday and Sunday.  I didn't bring enough warm clothes, no gloves and no ear muffs.  I managed to borrow those, and wore 2 pairs of leggings under my baggiest pants, which were still too thin a material to keep out the cold.  I had to wear my pajama top under my 3 upper garments to have enough layers on to keep from shivering.  The wind was fierce.  Poor planning!  My nose ran all weekend and sometimes I had to wipe the drip on my sweatshirt sleeves both days.  Disgusting, but I didn't let it distract me. 
Volunteering: The food provided by the Mobile Bay Dog Training Club (MBDTC) trial committee was delicious two days:  5 huge crock pots filled with various types of piping hot chili on Friday, various types of beans and rice on Saturday.  Of course, with sides of bread, salad, desserts, chips.  Sunday was just sandwiches.  Volunteers were asked to donate some cash for the meals.  Instead, volunteers got a raffle ticket for every segment they worked, and each evening several were selected.  First night, I won a huge knuckle bone, which Lucky chewed on all weekend back at the hotel.  They also had a "Whiners" raffle, for every NQ you put a raffle ticket in a jar.  At the end of the weekend several tickets were drawn for bottles of wine.  Cute!  No toys were given for Q's, but every entrant got either a satchel or a collapsable water bowl.  I forgot to participate in the raffle, mostly because the baskets were all wrapped and I couldn't tell what was in there.

Maxie hits the front edge of
the table like a pro.
Photographer:  The photographer was not selling digital copies of her photos, so I didn't purchase any.  I don't ever purchase prints since I like to crop, size, and print my own.  I managed to snip a few thumbnails off her website to illustrate this page, none of which I would have purchased anyway.
Crating:  It was so darn cold, the dogs spent all 3 days "crated" in my car!  A first! I parked in the sun, and sometimes ran the heater when I went out to check on them.

Lucky Lucy:  To start, I ran her in a 2 minute match late on Thursday. We ignored the numbered course, just ran willy-nilly around the ring interspursing jumps in between the weaves, A-frame, tunnels and dog walk several times, with a tug toy in my hand and tossing it if she ran fast.  She was amazing!  Fast weaves!  Fast dog walk!  Fast across the flat!  Accurate!  Tight turns!  No mistakes.  No hesitation.  Total focus.  Full of joy.  It is clear to me that when motivated, she has what it takes to excel in this sport.  I watched her do better than several other dogs who have much more experience and higher achievements.  I think the match is what improved her speed all weekend, alas, not yet enough for consistent Q's. My goal/challenge remains building up her enthusiasm for agility itself, not just for chasing her toys around. Or . . . . . . .  finding ways to trick her into thinking I have a toy in my pocket!

She came home with 2 XS Q's (making 4 total to date), 13 MACH points, and 5 clean runs, 3 of which sadly were over course time by 1-4 seconds.  Here's a composite video of her 6 runs, with my commentary.

Maxie:  Maxie's first run on Friday was a Q 1st place with 20 MACH points.  2nd place was 5 seconds slower, and 3rd place was 20 seconds slower.  Maxie was smokin!  Saturday he Q'd with 2nd place in Jumpers.  All 6 runs were well under course time, 2 were nearly Q's, 2 were just ugly. Video with commentary is here:

Standard Course Times:  Studying the score sheets from last year I noticed the SCT (Standard Course Time) set for 20" XB dogs is shorter than SCT for 8" XB dogs.  Same course.  Different times. XJ is almost always a 6-7 second difference, XS between 9-11 seconds difference.  I suspect this because larger dogs are presumed to be able to cover more ground more quickly with their longer strides. 
Videos:  I was glad I got to witness and video clubmate Loralie's first MACH run with her little Parson Russell Terrier, Jenny.  I was proud that several of our clubmates were gathered in the stands together to honor the achievement, and made quite a racket, stomping on the aluminum bleachers, shouting, and clapping.  It's the first time I've been to a trial where one of our own achieved MACH.  She said later that her heart was beating so fast she thought her chest would burst!  I finally resolved the mystery of how MACH cakes magically appear at trials, like, how do they know when the last QQ will happen?   Turns out, we'll provide both Loralie and Noel a cake at our own trial over Easter weekend, and sign their MACH bars then!  That was easy.

 Nobody complained that I videoed a few folks' runs from my chair while serving as bar setter in both Open and Novice classes both days.  I was still able to set bars between runs.

So many club mates bring their own video cameras nowadays, I don't really need to video them, though occasionally someone asks me to, which I'm pleased to do.  Someone mentioned they didn't bother viewing the ones I post online since they have their own, upload their own to YouTube, and "besides which, it's too much trouble trying to find them."  Still, I like to review some of them myself, so I keep doing it on a "catch as catch can" basis.  I wish we were so rich a club we had a designated "videographer", but that won't happen any time soon.  Someone suggested I offer a video service: $5/video and send them a disk, and that someone else used to offer that.

So that's it until Monroe the first weekend in March.  Two more weeks to practice, if it ever quits raining.

Upwards and onward!

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