Never in my life have I been so thankful for air conditioning.
This was an extremely hot weekend of trialing. Neither Marge nor I like the heat. At all. One day we battled the sun; the other day, it was the oppressive humidity that got to us. Still, we had a very, VERY successful weekend.
Novice Jumpers was, for a change, the first class of the day on Saturday. It was nice, because it meant no waiting around and not having to run in the mid-day heat. So, my sister and I got to the trial nice nice and early, set up our little tent compound with our friends, and got ready to run.
Marge had no trouble whatsoever adjusting to the trial site (my college!). Very, very glad that new trial sites are proving to be a non issue. I guess, in Marge's mind, dogs + tents + agility equipment = I should be here and have nothing to be afraid of. Maybe she doesn't even realize that she's in a new place.
I walked the course and was pretty confident. There weren't really any areas that left me scratching my head; I had a plan for everything, and it helped that the course was extremely flowy.
This took us a blazing 20.52 seconds to finish. Just like that, our Novice days ended (until we start FAST, that is) and we earned our NAJ title. All I needed was a front cross after the weaves and a back cross to get to the final line of jumps. She hit 5.32 YPS - her fastest so far. She was really zipping around this course. I love Jumpers so, so much, and know that if we ever are going for our MACH, almost all of our points are going to come from here (our times are not nearly as impressive in Standard).
We had a long time to wait, so Marge posed with her well-deserved first place ribbon, and we headed home. Sure is nice living ten minutes from the trial site.
We hung out at home for two or three hours, cooling down in the air conditioning, getting a bite to eat, all stuff like that. We returned to the trial site a bit early to wait for Open Standard. We wound up having quite a bit of company - three of my high school friends stopped by to watch us run, and Louie brought his parents, too. I admit, having an extra six people around was a bit overwhelming, at least for me. Marge didn't seem bothered by it at all.
I walked Open Standard and honestly thought it was a bit ugly. The opening was tough as well as the closing. I wasn't sure how it was going to go - there were no shortage of variables to consider.
I wound up leading out to past the second jump (longest lead-out in a trial so far), which made the opening a lot more bearable. She held her A-Frame contact beautifully, which I made a huge deal about while in the ring with her. She didn't wind up holding her Dog Walk, but I'm much less concerned about that. Her teeter was iffy, but she stayed on it. All in all, it turned out to be a clean run and a 2nd place.
Packed up after that and headed home. I was SO tired; I had a graduation party to go to, and I was completely unthrilled about it. I literally couldn't stand up!
A good night's sleep, 2 Aleve and a bottle of Gatorade later, and I was recovered as much as I could be to head back out for day two.
The second day moved very quickly - I guess who ever was in charge was doing things efficiently, and the fact that a lot of people left and even pulled their dogs out of some runs helped on time, too. After waiting a bit, it was time for Open Standard once again.
Tunnel openings are always tricky, but it least it gave me enough time to front cross to the A-Frame, which she held again! She also held her Dog Walk this time, too. I was also extremely happy at how she handled the tunnel-Dog Walk combo - haven't trained that in a long, long time. The run was a little bit sloppy, yes, but what can you expect for a young dog and young handler running agility in the 90 degree heat? The important part is that she's staying with me on these Open Standard courses - she's reading me pretty well because if she wasn't, we'd have wrong courses and no clean runs.
We waited around for Open Jumpers. Marge and her friend Diesel hung out in the shade of their crates and tents and breeze from their battery-powered fans.
Before I knew it, it was time for Open Jumpers - almost two hours ahead of schedule. I walked the course and was extremely confident; it only required a couple of crosses and was very suitable to our favorite, back crosses.
It didn't exactly go as planned.
I didn't realize it was my turn; the gate steward pretty much told me at the last minute. I normally wouldn't known, but a ton of people weren't there and no one crossed their names off. So, we had to hurry in to the ring (which meant that my treat bag filled with juicy roast beef left very suddenly from under Marge's nose - and she watched with her eyes as it disappeared).
Then, she didn't want to sit on the start line - she was VERY distracted by something behind her. Reflecting on it now, I think I would have been better off not leading out at all. Louie thinks she was looking for him and the treats, but to me, it looks like she's looking at the stewards and leash runner behind her (the leash runner was a young girl, so I'm wondering if she thought it was my sister). I finally got her going and she started running toward the fencing after the tunnel. I called her and she came, but her weaves were so pitifully slow and she fizzled out at the 10th pole, which is completely uncharacteristic for her.
I waved my hand to the judge to signal that we were done. And it was the best decision I made all day. Something was bothering her, she was extremely hot, the humidity was oppressive and she had just given me three clean runs over the course of the weekend. Why the heck would I push her? It was obviously not worth it to run her, she was not happy to be out there, and it may have actually been dangerous if I continued.
When I heard that someone's poor dog had actually collapsed due to heat exhaustion at the end of the trial, I felt even better about my decision to pull her off the course. Thankfully, he is OK.
And that was the end of our trial - the end of all agility trialing until September. It seems like it's so far away, but in reality, it's not - the summer, though it seems endless, is only two months long.
A lot of good things came out of this trial and far outweigh any negatives that I can think of. She held the majority of her contacts, she earned another title, she dealt with a new trial site, met lots of visitors, earned two out of three OA legs, and lots, lots more. Though it would have been nice to end this half of the season on a high note in Open Jumpers, I really have no complaints. In six days of trialing total, Marge Q'd in 8 out of 12 runs and earned two titles at four different trial sites. Those are really impressive statistics for a dog who had to work so hard to get in to the agility ring in the first place.
Time for the both of us to get some rest and go back out there in the fall to gear up for Excellent.