Saturday, April 30, 2011

April AKC Trial 3

I did a one-day trial today with Philip because it was offering FAST, and we just needed one more Excellent A leg in that.

However, the stars (or rather Philip's brain) were not on my side...

To start off, we had a Standard run, in which Philip went absolutely insane. He ran happily in circles, taking several wrong turns, zooming off the contacts, jumping off the table early, messing up the weaves entry, and generally being an idiot. At least he was a happy idiot, and had a blast paying zero attention to me. Goodness, I haven't seen him this crazy in several months now, I really really need this behavior not to continue, I don't know what's gotten into him!

Next up was Jumpers, and thankfully Philip had gotten all his craziness out of him by the time it started, so he paid attention and ran well on this course. Unfortunately, he somehow managed to knock two bars though :( Another thing we haven't really seen in a while. Why are all these immaturities making a comeback all of a sudden?

Last but not least was the whole reason for going to this trial - the FAST run. The send bonus today consisted of a jump, going straight to the A-frame, and straight into a tunnel (C-shaped with either side being okay to enter!). Sounds easy enough, but there was also a jump right on the handler line where the dogs were supposed to go to the tunnel. Of course, when a dog sees the handler over to the right, and a jump nearby, the dog will think that the jump is the correct obstacle, so this made the send bonus tricky. So much so that I even considered not waiting for the run when I saw the map, but I stuck it out in the end. Everything went as expected - Philip went over the jump and onto the A-frame with ease, and then turned towards the wrong jump instead of the tunnel. I stood to the side pointing to the tunnel, and he stopped and eventually turned back into the tunnel without taking the jump. However, the judge had already called a refusal and faulted our bonus :( It was good progress, but still an NQ.

So, as you can probably tell, it was a useless and frustrating day for us. I'm kinda glad I'm not signed up for Sunday, as it would have probably ended in a similar manner. Oh well, till next time...

Monday, April 25, 2011

April AKC Trial 2

Alright, here's a quick recap of the trial this last weekend.

On Saturday we started off with Standard, which was a very difficult course. Philip did great to start with and got through all the hard parts, but unfortunately took the wrong side of the tunnel towards the end :( Figures that he'd mess up something easy like that. I'm not complaining though - only three 8-inch dogs qualified this run!

Jumpers was a nice course, and Philip ran fairly well, but again took the wrong side of one of the tunnels. Somebody told me that I leaned incorrectly and that's what probably caused him to change direction. That might very well be so, unfortunately I didn't have a video to review this run.

We had FAST on Saturday, and the send was interesting, but was the same as a part of the earlier Jumpers course (including the tunnel Philip messed up). It played to our advantage that the dogs had practiced that little part earlier, and Philip was a star. He got through the send bonus without any hesitation at all, and we got a total of 68 points to get us a Q. The timer malfunctioned a bit, but since Philip was the only dog in his class height, the judge asked if we'd be okay with SCT as our time. I accepted - better than risking failing a re-run :) Just one more ExA FAST leg to go!

On the Sunday Standard run Philip's bratty not-paying-attention attitude made a slight appearance. He back-jumped a jump instead of wrapping around it as he should have right from the start. Later, he also blew right off the A-Frame ignoring my pleas to "pause", and went straight for an off-course Teeter. Weird dog, I hope I don't see that again anytime soon! Grrr...

Jumpers run was really tricky (same judge as Saturday's crazy Standard), but I carefully watched earlier dogs for spots that needed work. There were 3 spots that many dogs messed up - first was an off-course jump before which many handlers failed to get their dog's attention; second was a double jump out of the tunnel, and several handlers rushed forward without working it much, so the dogs blew past it; last was right at the end of the run, where the dogs had to tightly wrap around a jump before the finish line. I thought I had everything down, but right as we reached the first off-course jump, even though I called Philip's name, he paid me no attention and went for it anyway :( We did well on the double, and even the wrap at the end, but that first mistake caused up to NQ.

So we ended the weekend with just a single FAST Q, though that was a good one to have. Let's hope this weekend was a one-time set-back, and Philip doesn't go back to his aloof self again...

Monday, April 11, 2011

April USDAA Trial

Philip and I went to a USDAA trial this weekend. These don't happen very often in our area, and it's nice to do something a little different for a change :)

The trial offered 4 runs each day, and Philip ran everything at the Advanced level since he finished his Starters title last time. We practiced 12" jumps in class for the last two weeks, and Philip had done alright with them, so there was good hope for not knocking all the bars down :)

We did have a pretty good weekend overall, so here's a quick overview of our runs!

Saturday - Advanced Gambler:
This was the first run of the morning and it was nice for a change since Philip got to warm up without having to worry about being on course so much. He ran fast, and cleared the bars with room to spare, but launched off of the dog walk missing the contact. I took him back over it and slowed him way down, so he got the contact on the second try. We easily got enough points, and Philip did the Gamble with ease (it was a jump to a tunnel straight ahead, then a left turn along the line to a teeter and another jump. We got a Q with 47 points total.

Saturday - Advanced Jumpers:
This course was nice, but I let Philip play a bit too much beforehand so he was pretty tired, and unfortunately knocked two bars down :( Otherwise he ran clean, so it was totally my fault for not stopping him from playing. Needless to say, I made him rest after this run.

Saturday - Advanced Standard:
The Standard course had a couple of tough spots, and I was sure that Philip would fail with a wrong course or something else silly. I made sure he slowed down to get his contacts, and surprisingly he got both of the hard parts correctly. He then almost skipped an easy tunnel, but got it with a little assurance from me, and since there are no refusal counted in Advanced level, we got a Q! I totally didn't expect this one, so that was nice :)

Saturday - Advanced Snooker:
For our Snooker run Philip did great with the first two red-color pairs, but after we got the 3rd red, I had him do a jump-tunnel sequence. He needed to go around the jump after taking it in order to get to the tunnel, and I think I flinched toward the jump too much, so he ended up taking the jump again instead of going around - whistle and NQ for us.

Sunday - Advanced Gambler:
The gamble portion of the run was very similar to Saturday's, the only difference being that it was mirrored to go right instead of left, and the dog had to take a different side of the tunnel than before. I though we'd do well, but I got overzealous during the opening, so we ended up on the other side of the ring when the gamble buzzer went off. I rushed Philip back, meaning for him to take a jump towards the gamble, but he got sucked up the A-frame instead. The put him in a bad position, but time was ticking so I have him go to the gamble anyway. He took the jump, but was facing towards the teeter instead of the tunnel, so I had to stop him, and after that I couldn't get him into the tunnel. Strange since he usually loves tunnels, but oh well - no gamble and NQ for us this time.

Sunday - Advanced Jumpers:
The jumpers course was very nice. It had just enough interesting turns, but wasn't so hard that it makes your head hurt. It was warming up outside and Philip was really tired, so I was worried he'd knock bars again. He ran super slowly, but hopped over every bar and got everything right. He took 2nd place with a Q.

Sunday - Advanced Standard:
Compared to Saturday's, this course was very nice, and Philip did great almost all the way through. When he got off the table though, he knocked one of jump bars :( I also managed to call him off the weaves after that, and Philip actually finished a second over the allowed time. All in all NQ.

Sunday - Advanced Pairs:
Last but not least we ran pairs with Sally the Corgi as our partner. She liked jumped over the contact zone, so we decided that Philip would take the first half that had the A-Frame, so that Sally wouldn't have to. The course wasn't hard, and Philip did it well, albeit very slowly. I almost forgot which jump was last, but got it right, handed the baton to Sally's handler, and they finished their half like pros! We had the slowest run of all, but we still got a Q - yay!

So we had 4 Qs out of 8 - not bad at all if you ask me, especially considering how badly we bombed our last USDAA trial. Philip now has 1 Q each in Standard, Gambler, Jumpers, and Pairs, and just need a Snooker Q and 2 more Standard Qs to get out of Advanced :D

Sunday, April 3, 2011

April AKC Trial 1

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