Actually, this was more like half-a-trial because I only went on Saturday. It was a bit far of a drive, so I didn't wanna do it twice, but they were offering FAST on Saturday, which is why I braved the drive - to get an extra chance at a FAST leg before July, especially since he has failed at two of them already.
Turns out, this was an awesome decision on my part - Philip had a great day. We had the Standard course first, which was pretty tough, but my little guy did very well. He did many hard parts correctly, but he messed up once, taking a tunnel too early. Still, it was a very nice run for him, even though he NQed.
Jumpers was next, and everyone was saying that it's really tricky too. I walked it a few times and saw that it certainly had some lucrative off-course jumps, especially at the beginning - there was 3 jumps in a straight line, but the dogs needed to only take two of them, and then take a sharp turn to the right. I saw many dogs take that 3rd jump, and I knew that it would be tempting for Philip too. So I decided to take a different approach - I placed Philip on the start line and walked out past the two jumps, standing in front of the 3rd (wrong) one. It was a bit risky being such a long lead-out, but Philip waited for me nicely. As he approached me over the two jumps, I turned and he followed! Back in the days, he might have blown right past me, but this time he listened, so I was very happy with that! He followed my lead very well for the rest of the course too, and had a nice clean run in the end. Another Q in Jumpers for him! As a matter of fact, he even took second place! Only 4 dogs qualified this run in our jump height (out of 15 or so), and the third dog was only 0.05 seconds behind Philip - crazy :)
Oh, on a slight tangent, let's talk MACH points. Now that Philip is in Excellent B, he is earning his points on qualified runs. The way these work is that each course has a standard time, which is based on how many yards the dogs has to run, and also fluctuates for different jump heights a bit. The MACH points earned are equal to the number of seconds that the dog came in under the standard course time.
So, for example, let's say the course time is set to 76 seconds, and the dog finishes in 61.3 seconds. The finish time is rounded up (to 62) and subtracted from the course time, so we get 76 - 62 = 14. This dog would earn 14 MACH points. Though there is another caveat - if the dog finishes 1st, its points get doubled (giving this dog 28 points), and 2nd place gets a 1.5x factor (giving this dog 21 points). Third place and further just gets the seconds as calculated above.
So, back to our Jumpers run - Philip finished 16 seconds ahead of the standard course time, but since he came in second, he got a total of 24 MACH points!
Last up was the FAST run - most important one of the day for us :) The course was similar to the Standard one that we ran earlier, and the send consisted of a jump into a tunnel, and back over the same jump. It was somewhat similar to the sends we had a couple weekends ago, but not quite as tricky since the tunnel was perpendicular to the jump, and required entering into the closest (more obvious) end. The beginning was a bit tough to plan to get all the necessary points, and I walked it several different ways. Philip still has fairly weak weaves, so I usually try to avoid them in FAST, as they just slow him down and often fail, but the way this course was laid out, the best approach to the send was from the weaves. I watched how other people were walking it, and most were taking that route. So eventually I settled on a plan that would include the weaves, thinking that if Philip messed up, I'd just let him bail out and run alongside of them instead. There was another 10-point obstacle I could take after the send, as a safety measure for points if weaves messed up.
Philip was the first one to run, so I didn't get to watch other dogs, but I settled on that plan. He did the beginning well, and we plunged into the weaves. Lo and behold, he did them very nicely again (he's done them well all day!). I was on the wrong side of him, but we switched and I took him to the send. He took the jump, and hesitated a bit before the tunnel since it was a bit far, but with a little extra persuasion from me, he went for it. He then almost missed the jump on the way back, but miraculously fixed himself. We should have had enough points at this point, but I felt like we had plenty of time still, so I had Philip take the 10-point serpentine of jumps anyway, and then he was over the finish line. So in the end we had a whole 76 points (too bad they aren't MACH points, heh), and of course a Q - out first one in Excellent A FAST.
So there you have it, we had 2 Qs and came very close to it on the other course. Philip was really good all day, got a good amount of points, and only has 2 more ExcA FAST legs to go :) Good boy! As a reward, he got a delicious hoof to eat today, he's been at it for about an hour, and has barely made a dent in it - hehe :P