I really didn't have fun at the trial today. My emotions are pulling at me in so many different directions. Part of me doesn't even want to go back tomorrow because some of it's out of my control, the other part sees the mistakes I made today that contributed to our admittedly crappy day.
First of all, everyone is raving about this trial site. It's close to the highway, so it's easy to get to (I even drove over the bridge today for the first time to get there). It's near the water, so there's a lovely breeze. The grounds are well kept and flat for good running surface. There's nearby bathrooms. You can park ringside. The food vendor was good, so I'm told.
BUT, there were some things that my sensitive doggy didn't like. For one, the park is right in the path of Newark Airport, so when they're using a certain runway for arrivals, the planes are LOW and fly right over the rings. Next, there was a fair amount of people walking around the park who weren't there for the trial, some of them getting a little too close to my tent for comfort. There's also booms and bangs coming from the industrial plants surrounding the park that you'll hear if you leave the hustle-bustle of the trial.
Marge warmed up to the trial site more quickly than she ever has in the past. Seriously. There was NO adjustment period for her. She knew exactly where she was and what she was there for. I thought the day would go well.
...But it didn't. Open Standard was first, and I was really confident about it. I had a plan set and thought we would do well.
It was an ugly, ugly run. For one, Marge stopped on top of the A-Frame and surveyed the park. Then, she would not down on the table and definitely was stressed out - it's a new, automated table and it felt different and I can't imagine the loud count was much help, either. Then, a #$#%#$ plane flew over the ring and though I didn't hear it while I was running, I definitely hear it in the video. After that, she was just totally not following any directions. I really don't think my handling was particularly bad or anything.
On the bright side, she did hold both of her contacts.
Everyone gave me the whole spiel of oh, she's young, she's having an off day, etc. But she NEVER pulls this kind of stuff. Three refusals and a table fault? Oh, we were totally making the judge do the YMCA dance today.
The day moved by really quickly - Marge was completely social, met new people and dogs, relaxed in her crate, she clearly wasn't upset about being there and at the end of the day, it wasn't as though she was really looking to go home or anything, either. So it's not like she was terribly scared.
I walked the Open Jumpers course and I wasn't confident. I probably should have just pulled, because it was really, really ugly. Tough weave entrance and a REALLY tough closing.
I decided I was going to be more motivating, run slower, and see how it went. It definitely started better - until we hit the jump before the weaves and she didn't read my back cross at all.. and went to visit the ring steward. Who would have EVER thought that that'd be a problem for my dog?
Then, we bumped in to each other after the weaves (at least partially because Marge preferred to run in straight lines rather than change direction at all). Then came the ugly would-be back cross in the corner. Looking at it on video, it was a MUCH harder turn for the dog than I thought... but really, a front was not an option at all.
Then she went and visited AGAIN, giving us another runout. And we managed to finish the rest of the course somewhat cleanly.
I was, and still am, feeling really bummed about the whole day, but after watching the videos closely, I think that a) the environment definitely played a role and b) the Open Jumpers course just didn't make sense to neither her nor I. I still think it's really weird that Marge really didn't read my crosses at all, though. We have been so in-tune lately in class and I'm worried that today didn't reflect that at all.
I'm worried about going back tomorrow, but hopefully today was just an adjustment to a slightly more difficult trial environment and we'll get on the same page tomorrow. I'm going to spend more time warming her up, practicing recalls and back crosses on the flat, etc before our runs (I do think I skimped on the warm-up stuff today). If our first run stinks, I'm going to just pull her from Jumpers, go home, and pray that things will be better at our next trial in 2 weeks.