This past weekend, Marge and I attended a huuuuge AKC agility trial at Dream Park, located about 2 hours from my house. Normally, I'd attend only one day of a weekend trial at this facility, but this time, I got to stay in my friend's little travel trailer for 2 nights.
This trial was a big deal for MargeDog, as it marked the biggest trial she'd ever been to (1100 runs per day!), the longest she'd slept away from home (2 nights), and the most runs she'd had over two days (five - the usual two classes plus an extra class, Time 2 Beat, on Saturday).
We went down to the site Friday night, in preparation for our first runs of the day at 8 AM on Saturday morning. We hung out inside the RV, ate spinach ravioli and talked about horses until almost 11 at night. Marge and her friend, Spirit, had an awesome time with each other. When they weren't laying next to each other, they were wrestling and slapping each other with their paws.
I didn't sleep well at all Friday night, but Marge didn't seem to have any problem getting comfy. To save space, I decided not to set up her crate, and had her sleep, curled up in a little tiny ball, next to my pillow. I thought for sure that she'd be antsy, especially with another dog around, but she had no problem getting comfortable.
Saturday morning came, and I was super worried about the gunshots that I was hearing that sounded very, very, close by. Living in New York City, I totally forgot that it was deer hunting season. Marge had a bit of a breakdown, but was definitely comforted by Spirit, who didn't react to the noise at all. Once I got her back inside the RV, she was totally fine. (In a bit of a milestone, she actually managed to poop outside on the grass despite the fact that she was unnerved by the sound.)
Now for the agility! My first run was at 8 AM Saturday morning - Excellent B Jumpers with Weaves. I don't have it on video - my friend asked if I wanted her to record it, but I told her that she could just watch this run, and record my later run. Boy, am I eating those words now! Here is the course.
I ran with Marge on my right until the takeoff side of jump #7, where I put in a rear cross. I also reared on the takeoff side of 11, 15, and 17 (I think). We ran in to a little of of trouble after the 180, where Marge was *so* close to taking the off course #19, but ran it clean for 6 MACH points.
The next class was Excellent B Standard - our first time in the Standard B class following our 1-2-3 AX legs at our last trial. It was a tough course with a lot of tough discriminations. Here is the video.
Again, not the most beautiful of Q's (I think I'm very very lucky for not getting called on that tunnel refusal), but a Q nonetheless. We came in at 11 seconds under time for 11 MACH points. Our first double Q of what I hope to be at least twenty of them!
I was absolutely thrilled to have QQ'ed and quite honestly wished I hadn't entered a third class. But, one more run was to be had, and just a little while later, I walked the course for Time 2 Beat (T2B), AKC's newest titling class.
I had entered T2B so that I could have more practice on a Standard-esque course without the stress of having to form my own sequences in FAST (another AKC class, for those who don't know). The course was fun and fast, but it was clear that Marge was tired; we did qualify and picked up 4 out of a maximum 10 points for the class, but it didn't feel like a great, connected run.
I was absolutely pooped after that, and headed back to the RV, ribbons in hand, and took a nap. I slept like a rock that night, with Spirit and Marge curled up beside me. Spirit had a successful Saturday, too, scoring her first 17 MACH points in Excellent B Standard, as well as wrapping up her Open FAST title.
Sunday, we couldn't repeat our stellar triple-Q day. Mostly, our double-NQ was due to my own bad handling. Unfortunately, though I asked people to record me, none of the videos came out (a lot of people have trouble working my camera, for some reason.. I think it's easy to use, but whatever!).
Jumpers was an interesting course. It started out tight, then got big and flowy with pinwheels and 180s, then tightened back up for a tough weave entrance, then spread back out again. Marge and I aced all of the hard parts, but we incurred a jump refusal as well as a knocked bar due to a rear cross that Marge just couldn't pull off on a tough angle. We definitely ran really well, though, considering the difficulty of the course.
Standard was one of those beautiful courses that you can't wait to run and qualify on. I thought we'd be a shoe-in for a Q.. that is, until, I tried to front cross and pulled poor Marge right off of a jump. We then incurred a tunnel refusal, most likely due to bad handling, and, then, the worst of all.. Marge walked on to the teeter, remained motionless for a good 2-3 seconds, and then bailed without tipping it :( My guess is that she was worried and stressed from the mistakes I made and that's why she bailed. On a happy note, she did nail all of her other contacts, including the table, and we had a pretty nice finish to the course.
BUT, now, of course, I'm worried about the teeter again!
We hung around until Spirit's Excellent Jumpers run (which she aced, save for one knocked bar), then got back on the road. Here are the two amigas posing in the RV parking area before we headed home. We had a GREAT time together, and I am so fortunate to have a friend who enjoys my company and lets me come along and stay over at trials with her.
And that concludes the 2011 trial season. Though I didn't formally set any goals, I completed my biggest goal - the AX - and, much to my surprise, finished the year with a QQ as well. We're going to take a couple of weeks off from agility because we're totally pooped out, then train and get ready to head back out to the shows in February. It seems like Marge is getting a) more consistent, b) faster, and c) less forgiving of bad handling. We're having a blast together and learning a lot about each other as we go on.