Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Eastern Springer Spaniel Club

The problem with entering trials three months ahead of time (that close 3+ weeks before the trial) is that in the case of outdoor trials ANYTHING can happen. In this case it was tropical storm Dan. The Dufrense Park in Granby is a nice place to trial - lots of trees mean easy shade, REAL bathrooms, plenty of space for three rings of agility and ample parking/walking paths, etc. The downfall is the occasional snapping turtle and the unfortunate experience of that place in the rain. Several years ago I was at a trial there with Murphy when we had something like two inches of rain in an hour - the whole place was a sloppy mess with really bad footing. The show committee decided Friday afternoon (as it was raining) to move two of the three rings to the parking lot area - which is actually better footing all around I think - though I'm sure it gets dusty when things are dry....

Anyhow, they moved the two excellent rings to dry ground but left the Open/Novice ring down in the swamp - and it WAS swampy!!! When I walked the course on Saturday I had to contemplate footwear. Do I trash the new shoes that have good traction (rubber cleats) or do I wear the crappy shoes that have bad traction (worn down tread)? I opted for the good shoes and minced my way around the course. My intent was to run the Open Standard course conservatively with Teller - hoping he'd handle the turns better - particularly the bit that was under water - if I held him back. The answer there is that he doesn't like that one bit - and I confused him by not playing the game with him. Net result was a whole scribe sheet of complaints. Wrong course to the wrong end of the tunnel, missed a-frame contact, bar down, refusal as I backed off a jump before he was committed. I was glad that it was too rainy for the camera because it was a crappy run and 100% my fault. Saturday's Ex JWW run was equally blagh. Teller was distracted by the swallows that were buzzing over his head on the startline, so when I released him he actually stood up, smelled and cost us a refusal - very un-Teller like. He ran the rest of the course nicely - if not a bit slower than I'd expect for him - this was in one of the other rings (with better footing) but it was still raining non-stop so who knows what smells were in the dirt.

Sunday dawned a little dryer - though the footing in the open ring was no better. Less wet, more muddy - and got slippery over time. Another not so great runs for us - Teller slid on a corner, ended up too deep for a single bar and knocked it, came off the table through that upright and blasted over the a-frame - missing his contact, then as we came around off the chute the teeter hadn't reset from the dog ahead of us (so we skipped it), which put him at a bad angle for the double which also came down in spectacular fashion. Not our best performance, but we both left the ring as sound as we went in - which is more than I can say for other people.

Sunday's JWW run was really nice - lots more positive than negative. We NQ'ed on a wrong course - Woo adding a jump to the weaves (which actually made for a HARDER entry that he got). He was under SCT though, if we hadn't added a jump (more on this in a couple of paragraphs).

Monday runs were all in the same ring - up in the parking lot area - much better footing. Teller was the first dog on the line in standard and kept it together, listening and getting his contacts for a first and Q! Thankfully he saved the weekend!

Monday JWW was gorgeous - I really wish it was on video somewhere - but alas....Woo made it cleanly through 1-17 (opening with a serpentine that was lovely if I do say so myself), then instead of picking up a 180 after the weaves (#17) he went right for the out jump (#20) - a wrong course (obviously). For the first time ever I called him after the weaves to turn, he looked at me and took the #20 jump anyway - with a look of "yeah, pretty sure you're wrong".

So...Woo is going to see some broken lines at speed - don't take what's ahead of you if I'm telling you to turn :-) Entirely expected with a baby dog forced to run with a bad handler :-)

The really good thing - his weave entries and staying in the poles - were right on all weekend. On and off-side weaves, I had speed and determination in the poles - I love that - we have worked hard since GMGRC for that and it's paid off.

We do need to work some more contact stuff...I need to figure out a way to get 5-10 reps in every day....easier said than done honestly. I did notice that he's now jumping the apex of the a-frame - he's never done that before - he's getting more confident and he's getting stronger - I think that's a large part of why we didn't have a-frame contacts on Saturday and Sunday. Monday's contact was exactly what I ask for in practice - maybe he was tired, maybe it was the work we did on the dryer vent at the hotel on Sunday night? Dunno - we'll see!

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