Saturday, May 12, 2012

Fast and Furry

In addition to Marge's 6 runs at last weekend's trials, I also ran Arrow, the Border Collie, in 6 runs as well.

Arrow is a hard dog to run.  She is a phenomenal agility dog, but I have to execute everything almost perfectly because she's about a zillion times faster and a zillion times more responsive to slight body language than my dog is. A Border Collie in the truest sense, one misplaced hand, one accidentally outstretched arm, could mean an off-course or bars down (and it often has happened).

If given the opportunity to run both Arrow and Marge at a show, I always prefer to run Marge first to give myself a chance to grab another look at the course without having to run at warp Border Collie speed.. and, since Marge is not all about that type of precision, she usually does fine.

I have been running her in a few trials here and there since last summer, and while we've had many close calls, the only qualifying run I managed to score with her was in FAST.

On Friday, we had a shoddy Jumpers run, and then a near-miss in Standard (she went around ONE little jump).  Saturday, Jumpers, again, did not go so well, and I stepped to the line in Standard really not knowing what was going to happen.

We were clean until the table.  OK, good, I thought, now I just have to help her through that 90-degree turn to the teeter without any bars down.  Done.  Next was the weave poles.. would she stay in until the 12th and last pole?... yes, she did.  Then, she kept the double jump up.

By about that time, she was creeping down the descending side of the A-Frame.  I paused an extra second to make sure I knew exactly where I was sending her next.  I was not about to let any bars come down.  I was going to get that Q.

And I did!

Unfortunately, we weren't able to repeat that success the following day, but I was ecstatic over getting that one Q.  Hopefully, a Jumpers Q will be next, since that's what Arrow needs for one of the titles she's working on.

Running Arrow is vastly different from running Marge.  When Marge NQ's, it's often not because of the agility itself.. it's because her head is on swivel and she's not reading me clearly because she's stressing about something.

On the other hand, nothing seems to phase Arrow when she is in the agility ring.  Admittedly, it was kind of hard in the beginning to tell myself to stop worrying about the environment and stop being a cheerleader when I am running her, because worrying and cheerleading is what I had to do with Marge for so long.  But, I have learned to differentiate between the two and it has made me a better handler for BOTH dogs.

Next up will be a two-day indoor trial on Memorial Day weekend.  I'll get to show this wild and crazy gal again... and I am so happy that I've been given the opportunity!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Six, Seven, Eight

We had my dog club's three-day agility trial this past weekend, and I think we had a good deal of success!

Marge qualified in three out of six runs.  This is exactly what she did at my club's November trial, with one minor difference.  In November, she qualified three times in Standard.  At this trial, she qualified three times in Jumpers, giving her 8 of the 10 qualifying scores needed in Jumpers for the Master Jumpers title.

Here are her Jumpers runs:

She seems to be running really well lately - putting in some fast times and reading my handling very well. She picked up 9, 10, and 9 MACH points, respectively, in each run, putting her total at 83.

Our Standard runs were not horrible.  On Friday, she was a little bit stressy and went around a jump and then took an off-course dog walk (probably due to bad handling).  On Saturday, she skipped a weave pole (just a fluke thing), and then jumped her A-Frame contact.  On Sunday, we were clean up until the very end of the course, when she took an off course jump (that I pretty much sent her directly to) and then took down a bar.

She did do her teeter all three days, though, so that's a gigantic plus.  She did her table, too, but was hesitant to lie down on it, so we'll need to work on that before our next trial.

It's important to note that this is the trial site that, back in 2010, I was convinced that Marge hated.  There were planes overhead, trains going by, and it was just very noisy and industrial over all (it's sandwiched between oil refineries!). She ran here again in 2011 and did much better, but did not qualify.  The fact that she ran here this past weekend and DID qualify and DIDN'T appear to dislike the site makes me very, very, happy.  Naturally, now I'll start to change my tune a bit about this site and admit that I actually like it!

We've got a fair number of trials coming up - two days over Memorial Day weekend, and then FIVE days scattered throughout June.  I expect for Marge to finish her MXJ title and begin to put a dent in those much-needed double Q's!  This is the best she's ever run and I want to capitalize on it.

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