This weekend Philip and I went to a new venue for our Agility trial. Well, at least it was new for us since we've never been there before :) This place was a horse arena of sorts, and so it had dirt on the floor rather than the usual grass that we are used to. It's also a covered arena, which was awesome, as there was no scorching heat! Overall, I was a little unsure how Philip would take to a new surface, but decided I would give it a try anyway, just so that we know for the future.
Turns out the dirt didn't phase him at all, I don't even think he noticed a difference. They were good about raking over it between the different height classes, and that kept everything fairly smooth. You should have seen the holes that the bigger dogs were creating in sharp turn spots and through the weave poles though! It's too bad I didn't have my camera with me...
On Saturday, the Excellent Standard course was a little tough, but not as bad as I've seen before. Little dogs were on fairly early in the morning, so Philip was full of energy. Unfortunately, while many people want their dogs to be fired up, mine tends to go nuts when he is too energetic. This run was not an exception - Philip took off making up his own course and having a grand time, but paying absolutely zero attention to me and making lots of mistakes. He was so bad that I actually gave up and took him to the exit before finishing the last 3 obstacles. This is the first time I've ever not finished a course with him. I used to wonder why many handlers do that, and now I know... When the dog is being so ridiculous, it's only frustrating to keep going, and detrimental to everyone involved, so no point in continuing. Suffices to say this was a non-qualifying run.
After the Standard craziness, I moved Philip's crate out from the covered area and set him out to bake in the sun a bit. Seeing as it helped a little at our last trial, I figured it wouldn't hurt to try this time either. Meanwhile, I got ready for our first Excellent Jumpers run. The course looked really nice, so I had some hope for Philip. When time came to run though, he again took off without paying much attention to me - sigh... After a refusal and a wrong course within the first 5 obstacles though, he got his mind back and finished the rest of the run nicely. If it wasn't for his silliness, we would've had a great run, but alas - maybe he didn't get enough sun.
Sunday started off with Standard again, and again Philip had way too much energy. Just to quickly sum up the terror since my memory is still fresh - he took a wrong course by crossing behind me (bad dog!), hesitated getting up onto the table, messed up the weaves entry twice, was seemingly terrified of and super slow on the teeter, jumped off the A-Frame while I was trying to front cross (thereby ending up behind me again), and finished off by completely skipping one of the jumps that was right in front of him. Sounds like a wonderful run, doesn't it? Yeah... another NQ.
Last but not least was our second try at Excellent Jumpers. The course looked quite a bit harder, and had a repeating pattern of two jumps that the dog had to take 3 times, twice coming out into the far end of a tunnel (usually not good for Philip). I watched the dogs before us run and devised a plan - one with lots of running for me, but one that should help Philip stay on track (if he pays attention!). Philip started off very fast again, but I yelled at him as usual, and this time he seemed to have gotten his head back right as he was about to take a wrong course. The mistake was averted and I took him along the planned route. When we reached the tunnel first time around I called him away pretending like we'd go in another direction, then yelled "Tunnel!" as he was running past the far end. You should have seen the momentary confused look on his face, but surprising it worked, and he darted into the tunnel as I repeated the command - so far so good. Out of the tunnel we came to the weaves, which he took very slowly but thankfully accurately. Then we were back around the jumps towards the tunnel for a second time. Again I pulled the same trick on Philip, and again he gave me a very confused look, but yet again the strategy worked well! A few more jumps out of the tunnel and he crossed the finish line. Another Corgi owner watched our run and I asked him if the judge called anything (those tunnel confusions could have easily been refusals), but he said he didn't see anything. Excited, I waited for the results, and indeed we got a Q with no mistakes, and even a first place :)
Funny thing is I didn't have much hope left for Philip before this JWW run, so I packed up his crate shortly after walking the course in anticipation of a quick get away after a failure. The guy sitting next to me noticed it and said "Packing up already? What if you have to wait for a ribbon?". I laughed and said that in the unlikely event of that happening, I would just wait with Philip's leash in hand - I think he foresaw the future :)
So now we have our very first Excellent Q. It's funny how Philip has struggled so much in Open JWW, but got a Q in Excellent JWW on his second try. At the same time, he started off great in Standard, and has been in Excellent Standard since May, but still has zero Qs in that - go figure! Ah well, we'll get it eventually, and this whole weekend of frustration was totally worth it for that Q! Let's just hope Philip's energy madness isn't gonna stick at next trials.