Sigh. I wish I could say this weekend was as awesome as the last one, but it was actually quite the opposite...
The larger (20" and up) dogs ran Excellent first, so we arrived around 10am on Saturday for the smaller dogs turn. The trial was moving slowly though, so when we arrived, the big dogs has just started their Standard runs. With time on hands, I went to watch what we'll be doing when our turn comes. I stood by the side of the ring and watched dogs NQ one after the other - they were mostly taking wrong courses in the cluster of jumps that the judge had set up. I knew that couldn't be good, and went to see the course map to figure out the correct path. The part where many failed indeed looked tricky - the dogs had to run through a "box" of jumps a couple of times, taking tricky turns while being tempted by a wrong jump right in front of them. The NQ rate was pretty astounding to me, but maybe it's common on Excellent courses - I haven't watched very many, so I can't really say.
I walked the course while the small dogs ran Excellent JWW, and I just had a feeling I wouldn't call Philip off those tempting wrong courses correctly. Our turn came and we got to the first box approach - Philip wanted to take the wrong jump, and I barely manages to call him off. We went through a few more obstacles and approached the box again - this time Philip needed to ignore a jump and go to the table instead. I practically did a cartwheel to get his attention, but he took the wrong jump anyway, happy as a clam. He later missed his Weave Poles entry as well, but it didn't matter at that point - NQ for us.
The JWW course looked a bit nicer, though I wasn't expecting much from it either. Philip took off nicely, but as he went over the 3rd or 4th jump, I heard my least favorite sound - he hit a bar! I always finish the course even if we mess up, so we went on. A few jumps later we were running past the judge, and she suddenly said "It stayed up!" to my back. I almost stopped dead in my tracks to make sure I heard her correctly, but thankfully realized that if it was in fact true, we had better keep going. We reached the weaves, and Philip messed up his entry again, but did it right on second try. The rest of the course was clean, and so I went to my instructor - "Did it really stay up!?" I asked. Yes, yes, it really did! What a nice gesture on the judge's part to reassure me, she must've heard me sigh when Philip hit the bar. I still can't believe it, but much to my amazement, we got a Q with just one refusal on the weaves!
On Sunday I took my time getting to the site, and still ended up getting there too early. I took the course maps, and while the Standard course looked nicer this time, it again had a couple of tricky spots. The start of the run was over two jumps, around the second one, and back to the first - Philip did that part nicely. Then he went on the dog walk and I wanted him to wait for me, so I could switch sides to take him into the correct side of the tunnel. I was worried he wouldn't stop since he loves tunnels, and indeed he tried to plow right on through, but I managed to get him to pause before the tunnel and got him into the right end. Right out of the tunnel we had the weaves, Philip had a nice approach to it, but still decided to mess up his entry yet again (what's with the weaves this weekend!). That of course meant an NQ for us, but I wanted to fix it and took him back. Again, he did it wrong, and again the third time. I got frustrated at this point, and so I had him skip the weaves all together. He ran nicely afterward, though I slacked on getting him to one of the jumps, earning us even more errors, but this one was entirely my fault. Then I rushed him at the end since the buzzer went off and he knocked a bar to add on to our troubles.
The JWW course looked fairly smooth and I felt good about it, but unfortunately Philip knocked the very first bar (I actually saw this one go down). As my instructor later said, I must have been "mourning the bar" after that, as I totally messed up my handling causing a few more errors. Philip did get the weave entry right this time, but managed to pop out early instead (ugh!). I didn't bother fixing it, but in retrospect, I probably should have, as to not teach him that it's okay to mess up. Actually, I probably shouldn't have continued running the course at all while thinking about the bar. I'll know better next time.
Oh well, this was a pretty embarrassing weekend, but we'll just try and forget all about it, and wait for next time instead :)