Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Preparing to Trial - Part Seven - Walking the course...

Ahhh...time to walk the course. What should you expect?

The 16" Excellent Standard Walk-Through @ AK9C
Be aware of how the classes are running and where your classes are in the running order. If your day starts with "Novice Standard" and you've got Excellent FAST, Open FAST, Novice FAST, Excellent Standard and Open Standard before they build Novice Standard you've got time. BUT - you need to be aware of how the ring is flowing. Are they building open now? How many dogs are in open? There might be 130 dogs in Excellent - but only 20 open dogs...pay attention.  You might want to watch your course being built - you could even volunteer to help build your course. Whatever you do, you want to be ready to walk the course when the judge releases it to be walked - You don't want to be surprised and miss all or part of your walk.

After the course is built the judge will walk it, tweak various lines and setup and then hold their briefing. Sometimes the judge will wheel for yardage while exhibitors are walking - sometimes they'll wheel before the briefing - it's all within the judge's discretion.

The 12" handlers walk the standard course @ HGF
OK, so the course has been built and the judge has finished his or her briefing...

Here are some "DOs"
-DO check your dog in for the run. It's distracting to have the gate and assistant scribe yelling your dog's name - and it's polite trial behavior. Don't make trial volunteers hunt you down. Most trials have advance check-in - meaning you can check-in at the same time that you pick up your number.

- DO pick up and put on your number BEFORE you start to think about walking your course - you've got to have your number on to run the course and you SHOULD be wearing your number when you walk.

- DO walk the course a few times. Remember you'll probably be nervous - you should NOT have to look at the numbers while you are running the course. Walk the course as though the numbers won't be there - KNOW WHERE YOU'RE GOING!!!

- DO watch the classes ahead of you - very often the Open course looks a lot like the Excellent course and the Novice Course looks a lot like Open...sometimes the Novice course even looks a bit like the Excellent course....

- DO go into the walk-through with an idea of how you want to handle various parts of the course.

- DO consider an expensive MP3 player and headphones - pre-load it with a playlist that motivates or relaxes you. I like to listen to "up" music - GAGA is one of my favorite course walking playlists - Ke$ha, Katy Perry, Black Eyed Peas, Prodigy, Donna Summer, Queen - you get the idea...

Some DON'Ts
- DON'T chat with your fellow exhibitors while you're walking the course. You aren't running their dog and vice-versa - what will work for them won't always work for you.

- DON'T pay attention to the fellow exhibitor that wants to instruct you in the walk-throughs. I've never understood this - and those same people shut-up when (or if) they get into excellent - but in novice and open I remember these few people who wanted to "help" people walk the course - keep in mind that they were (or should have been) walking the course for their dogs...it's strange. Just politely ignore them - even better reason to walk the course with an MP3 player...

- DON'T mow people over when you're walking the course. Some people want to walk the course at a run - that's fine - but don't take people out or shove people out of your way. Agility is not a contact sport - it's everyone's walk-through - be courteous. And trust me - if you do that you become "THAT crazy person" and it doesn't make friends :-)

- DON'T make abrupt stops and spins. People are walking behind you, in front of you - stopping in the middle of the pinwheel makes other people have to stop abruptly too - and plus, see above - don't be a crazy person! {giggle}

- Really DON'T stop and chat with your fellow exhibitors in the middle of the course - so if you really MUST chat with someone during the walk-through or analyze strategy please don't do so in the flow of other people...your conversation impacts 30 other people - just don't.

3 comments:

Kristine said...

Great advice. I'm probably going to need it. Just reading this makes me nervous for my first trial. Is that healthy?

Agility is not a contact sport, agility is not a contact sport, agility is not a contact sport...

:-)

. said...

@Kristine...
It'd be easy for me to tell you "just don't be nervous" - but I know that's not a perfect answer - it's not that simple.

Part Eight is going to cover handling nerves...Stand by - I've got some ideas for you!

. said...

P.S. - The contact sport thing is pretty important though :-)