Agility trials are stressful places. People often forget basic manners because they are so focused on what they're doing with their dog. In my experience, it's not uncommon for someone to walk away mid-conversation, let a door slam on someone behind them, or cut the line while waiting for course maps or armband stickers. Some of it is pure rudeness, and some of it is the result of inattention and stress.
A certain level of crazy is to be expected at an agility trial, and to get mad at all of the things I've mentioned above would leave a person in a full-out rage at any trial they attended. However, this past weekend totally exceeded any level of bad energy that I've encountered thus far. It was one of those weekends that left me feeling really discouraged and disillusioned with agility. And I HATE when that happens.
Every year, this trial has been a particularly noisy, close-quartered trial. I knew that when I entered, but because I had been there before (and Marge had run successfully there before), I thought nothing of entering. This year, however, it seemed infinitely worse. It started in the parking lot (where there are barely enough spots for the number of cars at a 990-run agility trial), continued to the crating room (where people took up extra space by laying down more mats than they needed to), and reached its peak near the rings.
There were some administrative issues with the trial -- people being entered in the wrong classes, stewards using the wrong gate sheets for a class -- and I think it made people go crazy. There was so much rudeness and franticness that it made the trial very unpleasant.
The dogs definitely felt it. I saw dogs that hardly ever have any major issues really crash and burn in the ring. My own dog was not immune to it, either, though I think that at least some of her issues were caused by me getting miffed about all of the craze around me rather than worrying about handling her.
Our first Jumpers run we really blew. My handling was poor and she was high as a kite. The Jumpers ring seemed to be the epicenter of all of the commotion. I didn't think much would faze Marge, given the fact that the ring is comprised of walls on 3 sides, but I was wrong.
Our second run, Standard, we qualified for 17 points. It was actually quite a nice run. 17 points is our new high total for MACH points in a single run, so I was really happy with that.
The next day, our Jumpers run was one of the worst we've had in a while. Someone snapped at me prior to my walkthrough and I was really angry about it. For a few seconds, I thought about confronting the person but I decided it wasn't worth it. When I got in to the ring, it started out well enough, but then I didn't call Marge enough on a turn, so she took an off course. Then I FORGOT the course, which led to more off courses, and finally, she took more straight lines instead of making turns. It was bad and it felt horrible.
Our Standard run was a bit more of the same.. it started out very well, but a hard line after the chute to the weave poles did us in. Then, she sorta semi bailed on the teeter, though I don't think the judge called it. Then, I gave up, which lead to another off course.
I'm upset that the environment was what it was and I'm upset that I let it get to me. I need to learn to worry only about having fun with my dog and tune everything else out.
We have one more trial next weekend, then we're taking a break from trialing for about a month. I'm really looking forward to it. We didn't really have any long breaks this year.. we didn't trial every weekend, but we trialed at least a couple weekends out of every month.
I'm also just about giving up on our goal of qualifying for Nationals. With under 200 points out of 500 needed, school starting in 2 weeks, and only a few months left in the qualifying period, it just doesn't seem realistic. I don't have the money, the energy, nor the desire to trial every weekend with Marge.. and I'm not sure she desires to trial every weekend, either. So, I think it's time to alter our goals some and just think about getting that MACH and having fun at our own pace.
Over all, Marge has 8 QQ's, 15 Masters Standard legs, 25 Masters Jumpers legs, and 365 MACH points. We're getting almost to the halfway point.. so that's pretty cool!
Here are Marge and Arrow with their ribbons for the weekend. Arrow had a really nice Jumpers Q on Sunday.