Sunday, February 21, 2010

Leap and a net shall appear...(ESSC Agility Trial)

We spent the weekend at the Eastern Springer Spaniel Club trial in Amherst, NH. I was really hoping to see some progress in our contact performance. I've blogged quite a few times regarding our contact challenges and our plans and progress to fix them.

Unfortunately....no wait, who am I kidding? Teller rocked his contacts - ALL WEEKEND..the whole weekend. That's FIVE a-frame contacts (we went into FAST and worked contacts) Saturday and Sunday - repeat...FIVE two hit running a-frames. EUREKA!! We also had BEAUTIFUL dogwalk sits in both of our standard runs. I am so pleased with my WOOIE!!!

The run by run:
Saturday FAST - big ol' a-frame smack in the middle of the ring...I planned two a-frames - and got two solid contacts, and the bonus. Good enough for a first and Q. I've kept him in novice FAST for a couple of reasons - some selfish :-) First when FAST is run it's Excellent-Open-Novice. FAST usually runs first - but novice FAST doesn't usually get started until 10am or so. We still sort of have to be there early-ish, but we have time to settle in and come up with a gameplan for our run. The other thing is that I haven't worked a lot of distance/contact stuff with Teller - the novice gamble distance is about what we have for contacts if a contact is in the gamble. So yeah, I should train more distance on contacts - but he's not there yet and we're not about to go hunting for those triple Q's. I'm viewing FAST as a way to get out and work contacts and have a warm-up run at a trial - very much treating it as a match and going in to work specific things without the umbrella of a Q or pressure to go for a Q.

Saturday Standard - two significant bobbles, both my fault. The first was a wrong course tunnel - I pushed him out to the wrong end...and then at the last obstacle I pulled him off another tunnel after he committed to the right end of the tunnel. Our contacts were SOLID so that completed Teller's OA (That's so that's Can CH Teller CD RN OA AXJ NF NAP NJP CCA CGN CGC).

Saturday JWW - Teller dropped a bar on a partial pinwheel. I called him too soon and too strongly. He gave me this look like "whoa lady!". My fault. Kuddos to Teller for getting it back together :-)

Sunday FAST - another super a-frame. I didn't stick to my plan though - I got a little greedy down at the "wrong" end of the ring playing with a tunnel entry and when the whistle went off I wasn't in a position to stop the time in time for a Q. He finished with 49 points - which is annoying - but I got my a-frame reps which was what I was there for!

Sunday Standard - Teller's first trip in Excellent Standard. I didn't have a lot of expectations in this one. The 20" dogs didn't have a particularly high Q-rate - lots of off-courses and bars down. Teller saved my tushie pretty significantly on a 180 and we lost time on the dog-walk to tunnel wrap (not something we really have worked on). It was a clean run though - good enough for his first AX leg.

Sunday JWW - Some difficulties on the startline (he was distracted) cost us a refusal at #1 and then a bad read of a rear cross after the weaves. I thought he was committed and he wasn't. Live and learn!

In general - I LOVE LOVE LOVE what he's giving me - he's getting better and better as we go on. I need to trust him more - twice this weekend I micromanaged things I should have trusted him on. He's never let me down in his effort - why is it so hard to trust the dog?

I'm also thrilled with his a-frame and dogwalk contacts. All that work has paid off. We need to continue to work on reliability and consistency - but we're getting there - and I'm so relieved. I love the weaves I had this weekend. Six weaves, six correct entries - no faults or mistakes on the weaves. I'm seeing more speed from him in competition too.

I did a couple of things differently - first I did find a place and time to sit with my mp3 player, the course map and my thoughts. I did a lot of visualization of what I expected and what I wanted the runs to look like. I don't think that this had any impact on the cosmic performance in our runs - but I think it helped me be more mindful of my plan while running the course. I threw in a lot of front crosses - something I haven't done a lot in competition. I trusted myself more than in past trials.

I walked the course with my earbuds and mp3 player - this weekend's choice for course walking was the Black Eyed Peas, Katy Perry and Pink...and no - not even a little guilty :-) I found that once I got into excellent I'd hear all these really phenomenal and successful handlers complaining about courses and about all of the things they expected to go wrong - I don't need to even think about what their dogs are going to struggle with - I need to focus on running the course for my dog. The music tunes all of that out and I get to make my own determination and decisions - remember, look where you want the car to go. Leap and the net shall appear.

I'm not sure what's going on with his teeter performance. He's getting on and then pausing at the pivot. We haven't had a lot of reps on the teeter lately, so the game plan is to go back and get some more reps in. I'm not going to worry about it, I think it'll work itself out.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great post - thank you! And congratulations on the OA!