Sunday, November 29, 2009

Illiana Collie Fanciers 3-day trial

We spent the 3 days after Thanksgiving at the Illiana Collie Fanciers Agility Trial in Merrillville, Ind. I've attended this trial at least twice, and I really like the location and judges. Crating never seems to be a problem, and there are good vendors.

Friday Excellent JWW
This was Devon's first attempt at Excellent JWW. There were nearly 100 dogs in the 20 inch class, and Devon was about 3 dogs from the end. Even though we were the first jump height, it was a long wait!

Due to a technical error on my part with the camera being set wrong, we don't have a video of this run. It was a really nice run. Unfortunately when Devon turned to the weave poles, there was lots to look at, including a chair sitting in the goal area, the goal area itself, the empty room behind the goal area, and the numbered cone. By the time Devon got all that looked at, she couldn't possibly make the weave poles!

I restarted her in the weaves, but she went in at pole 2 and then weaved them out. Because she did most of them well, we went on.

The other thing I found with this run is because I ran the shorter path on the inside, I could focus on Devon. I could see when she was starting to lose her focus on her run and look elsewhere and I could stop my motion and give her a name call to keep us connected.

Considering Devon nailed everything but the weave poles, I considered this run a success.

Saturday Excellent JWW
This was another fun, fast JWW course. After a long wait on the start line, Devon was a little slow off the line, but I was pleased not to see any stress in her. Except for only a little hesitation, she read the rear cross very well. Devon also had a little hesitation at the first tunnel. These two tunnel entrances were actually very straight forward, and I wondered if Devon thought they should be harder than they were.

I thought I had Devon lined up for the weaves pretty well, but she blew by them giving me little effort. I turned her around, and she again gave me no effort in the weaves. This aggravated me. After two weekends of beautiful weaves, Devon suddenly wasn't weaving and not giving me effort. I considered making her do them again (you see me hesitate), but then decided not to pick a battle over the weaves in a trial when she's so green.

We went on, and it was a good choice. She runs the last line really strong. I had originally planned to put a front cross in two jumps before the end, mainly to prevent the distraction of the ring crew for Devon. After watching 90 dogs run this course, I decided a pull would be the better way to handle that since the few that tried the front cross barely got it in. Since I only walked the pull once, when I disconnected from Devon to check my location on the course, she did what I expected and was distracted by the ring crew.

In all, I wasn't very happy with this run. It was the worst she'd run in the three weekends, and I was unhappy that she didn't give me much effort at the weave poles. I was probably a little hard on Devon, because the opening and most of the closing was lovely and fast.

Sunday Excellent JWW
The third day, and this was our second 3-day trial in a row. I wondered what Devon would do today. On Saturday evening after the trial, I tracked both Devon and Page. Devon did a lovely job, but Page was too tired and I ended the track early. I woke up with a headache, and Devon took her own sweet time doing her business that morning. She got to spend about 30 minutes walking around the area of the hotel, so I think she had a lovely morning!

We had another great JWW course. Devon gave me just a little lip lick on the line, which was her first sign of start line stress in three weekends. I didn't notice it until I uploaded the videos on the computer, and you see from the start she doesn't seem stressed.

Devon read the pull after the triple like a pro. The third bar of the triple came down a lot, so I was pleased with the opening. Even better, after jump 5 in the pinwheel, you hear me give her a loud name call and hand clap. That was because she was landing facing the judge, and I didn't want her to go say hello. She didn't even flick her head that direction, so I was super proud! The rest of that line into the tunnel was just terrific.

Now we come to the baby dog moments. She came shooting out of that tunnel and saw me really far ahead and came right in to me. This was really my fault. I should have supported that jump better for her, but I was so worried about making that front cross. Devon was a good girl and came with me even though she went around two jumps.

We again had to make two attempts at the weaves, but Devon did go into them and give me effort so I was happy. After the weaves, I didn't trust my baby dog enough and didn't show her enough lateral motion on the 270 for her to get the landing side front cross. Poor Devon does give me a couple of head shakes through here to show me her stress.

We ended the course nicely, and Devon didn't go see the ring crew too badly after the last jump. In all, I think this was a nice run for a green team! P.S. Devon is sporting a new pink leash, which I bought for Page. It looks really good on Devon, and if it breaks in better than her purple one has, Devon will be running in it along with Page!

Overall I was thrilled with Devon's performance this weekend. She had some really lovely fast runs. My goal going into this month of trialing was to keep her speed up. I think we've done just that! Devon is now running at 4.5 YPS or faster. Ian's average JWW run was 4.22 YPS, with only five career runs over 4.5 YPS. That means I'm having to learn to run a faster dog than I've ever run before. Combine that speed with being a green team, and I don't think our mistakes are really all that bad!

The second thing I know about this weekend is that the weave pole spacing was only 20 inches. I found that out last year, and I remember it took Ian 3 runs to get his footwork down on those poles. Devon hasn't run on 20 inch poles in a long time, and she's a green dog. She doesn't have the experience Ian would have to stay in the poles and adjust. Since Devon's poles were fantastic the previous two weekends, I want to see what she does on "home territory" this week in class. I think if I don't make the weaves an issue, they won't be. However, I think some extra weave work over the holidays wouldn't hurt!

One final note on our runs. I tried a different warm up routine with Devon on Saturday. I don't notice that Devon relies a lot on her warm up routine, but I do have very consistent routines in all of our sports. Devon's weakest run of the weekend was Saturday. I went back to the "normal" warm up routine on Sunday, and she did much better. I was also able to get tugging into the ring area on Sunday and clear up to the practice jump. This was new, and it showed me she was very comfortable on Sunday.

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