Marge's reaction to trialing in Sewaren was profoundly different this year. She had no trouble with the planes overhead and, for the most part, her head wasn't swiveling all over the place while she was in the ring. Thanks to some really heartbreakingly small errors, we didn't walk away with any Q's. But I am SUPER happy with Marge's performance since it was her first trial outside since June.
Saturday - Standard
Standard was the first run of the day on Saturday, which is usually recipe for a lousy Standard run. The course appeared pretty fun and flowy, with the problem areas coming towards the end. The contact obstacles came in the first half of the course, though, which I think helped Marge stay focused; it was almost like a hybrid Standard/JWW course.
It started out quite well, with Marge holding the A-Frame, getting right on the table, holding the dog walk. The next part of the course was an offside tunnel entrance to the teeter. Marge held her dog walk while I led out just a tad and then attempted to flip her in the to tunnel. She didn't pass the plane of the tunnel, but went in on an angle. I didn't think much of it and continued.
The serpentine at the end was a bit sloppy but we got it done. We crossed the finish line after jump #20 and I was ecstatic. Our first Excellent Standard Q? Yes? Maybe? No.
No one clapped, which was the first warning sign that perhaps I didn't qualify. Louie went over to get my scribe sheet and sure enough, written on it was "R (Tunnel)."
Perplexed, I watched the video that he had just recorded to see what the problem was. Marge had entered the tunnel kind of weirdly, but she didn't stop her forward motion and didn't go behind it. Furthermore, the judge didn't raise her fist to mark the refusal.
I approached her after the class ended and asked her where the error was. She said that because Marge entered at a nearly 90-degree angle to the entrance of the tunnel, based on the "rule of thirds," she had to score it as a refusal. She said it was a close call and told the scribe to write "tunnel" on the sheet so that I would know where the problem was.
I'm still not really seeing it. In my mind, Marge Q'd on this course.
Saturday - JWW
Determined to run a good run AND have the AKC actually record it as a qualifying score this time, we set out to run Jumpers. The course played well to Marge's strengths and I thought that perhaps we could do it. However, this time, an error by me sent Marge over an off course jump. A rear cross cue likely would have gotten her in the tunnel where she was supposed to go.
Sunday - JWW
Tricky course, and I knew it. I THOUGHT that if we managed the weave pole entrance, that we'd be okay. But, frankly, there were a couple of off course traps that I missed, including the one where I sent Marge out after the triple and she took an extra jump as I tried to front cross. Calling her in might have saved that.
Then, she went around a jump, which, again, would have been solved by actually calling her in. It didn't help that she was jumping HUGE.
Sunday - Standard
Our last shot at a qualifying score for the weekend. I was worried about the beginning and the icky line from the table to the teeter.
I opted to not lead out in the beginning, and that went alright. Got her on the teeter and was thrilled with how she flipped away from me to get on the table. Her eyes were darting all over the place on the table, though, so I wasn't too thrilled with that.
But the damn tunnel got us again. She swung out too far and incurred another tunnel refusal. Later, she nailed a really hard weave entrance while I rear crossed behind her, but then popped out of the poles. I truly think that it had to do with where the judge was standing.. several people commented that he was awfully close to the dogs.
Still, not a bad run, and really, just two freak little things that kept us from qualifying.
Look who visited us right after our Standard run. One of these jumbos was on approach to Newark when I pulled in to the park in the morning, also. They didn't seem to bother Marge today at all so I was happy to get to spot my favorite plane.
We're *so* close to a breakthrough, I can feel it. Our next trial is at East Freehold Park in two weeks, where, historically, we have had awesome luck. Some of my best runs have come at this park, so I'm ready to get kick our Fall agility season in to high gear then.