Monday, February 21, 2011

ACI trial Feb. 19-20, 2011

I'll try and get posts up of previous trials during the next few weeks, but I have a minute to blog so I wanted to get this up. This is our third trial this year and we hadn't trialed since October 2010 due to Devon's heat cycle. I'm pleased with how things are going! Devon is training very well, and her teeter and weaves are solid. She's still having some stress in the weaves at trials, but we have been showing progress.

Saturday Excellent B JWW
Saturday was Devon's 5th birthday, and I can't say our first run, Excellent JWW, was a gift to her from me. I planned the opening so she would see the poles really well, but then I praised her in the poles and scared her to death! My voice was too strong and high and she popped right out. She went back in fine and weaved strong until a hand movement pulled her out and then we fumbled a rear cross on the flat. Poor Devon! She was so confused and stressed, she just stopped and shook herself off. You can see by the video I apologized. What a kerfuffle!

What I really like about this run is how she recovered. She took a couple of wide turns to say hello to the ring crew, but she is happy and fast. We were well under time even with the chaos at the weaves. Devon was still stressed, but she performed well.

Saturday Excellent A Standard
I wondered what Devon would do with the teeter as the second obstacle. She does prefer it early in the course, but it was against the wall and pointed into the wall. Although she looks strong on the video I felt she didn't charge it as she usually does. I was pleased that she was confident, because I think the teeter placement was difficult. It made me wonder what the Open and Novice dogs did with it later in the day.

No surprised after the earlier run that weaves were an issue. I did want her to give them an effort, and she did that for me. The rest of this run was fantastic, including her table performance. Devon slipped on her take off to the table, although you can't see it on the tape, for a split second I feared she might miss the table and crack her chin on it. Thankfully she recovered and you can't tell there was a problem.

Devon handled the A-frame to tunnel ending like a dream even though I had wanted to do a front cross before the A frame. What a good girl!

One thing different for Devon is that she didn't want to tug at this trial. That was unusual for her, since at past trials even in January I was able to get her tugging all the way to the gate. On Sunday I played with getting her more amped at the start. I think this really helped, and I could tell by her body posture she was more up. She also did less scratching before her runs.

Sunday Excellent B JWW
This was a really, really nice run. I was super pleased with Devon's weaves. She did pop the second pole but got right back in and weaved them strong when I asked. I actually got several compliments on Devon's weaves from folks who didn't realize she skipped two poles!

I was reminded watching the video that Devon is super sensitive to motion into her when I pushed her off the jump after the triple. I was distracted by the leash runner's position as Devon came around the loop at the front of the ring and held my position to make sure she wasn't also distracted. Devon did a great job, but I forgot the conversation I had with Kathy about running that line as a push after the jump to the tunnel if the dog was too far behind. I wish I had done the push to see how she would have handled it; considering it worked really well for Kathy and Emma I bet it would have for Devon.

Sunday Excellent A Standard
I think this was the best run of the weekend -- of course, if you ignore the weave poles as Devon did! I can't blame her, and I let it go because the run was so beautiful. Those weaves will come. What I was thrilled about was how well we both handled this course. She was very up for the run (again I did different things in our warm up and pre-startline), and I was super pleased with her speed. While this looks like a straight forward course, there were a lot of NQs on it.

Usually the end of February is our last agility trial of the "season" since we usually only do agility from October to February due to field training all summer. However, this year I'm going to focus on Devon's agility career and continue trialing. Now that Devon is pretty much done with her training issues and has a lot of confidence, we are a lot closer to Q'ing. I want to keep the momentum we have going and continue trialing to see if we can't work on those Excellent and Masters titles.

What is really thrilling me is the speed she's working on. Even with our mistakes, she's consistently 5-8 seconds under time in JWW and she was 15 seconds under time in Standard on Sunday. She is faster than Ian was by just a few seconds now, and I know she has more in her. As we relax and become a team, I can't wait to see where we go! Devon is just such a fun dog to run!