Sunday, March 23, 2008

Dream Fields trial - Day 2; 1-year anniversary of trialing

Masters Snooker
Goal 1 was to make a fairly flowy course; Goal 2 was to get enough points in the opening before the #5 dogwalk which he wasn't comfortable on yesterday. Well frig, Walter was running fast! He was attentive and animated and seemed to be having fun as was I. We did the #6 tunnel and three #7 tunnel combinations. We only had to make it through to #4 in the closing, but alas despite Walter's good speed the buzzer went while he was in the #3b tunnel. Oh well; I can honestly say it was really fun despite the NQ.

Masters Jumpers
This course had a lot of off-course potential and I really wasn't sure how it would go. Again he was running well and very responsive, so fun! Despite his responsiveness I found myself clapping at the turns to make sure he turned with me. I also found myself way out of position at one point but Walter saved the day. In the closing line there was a tempting off course decoy tunnel so I was pleased that he seemed to respond to my shoulder pull there and he ended up with a Q. I'll be the first to admit I'm eager to get a Masters Jumpers title on Walter so my handling is pretty darn conservative, but after he gets the MJ title (requires 3 MJ Qs of which he now has 2) the pressure will be off for future Jumpers courses, at which point I promise to handle more on the edge and have fun testing our limits.

Masters Jumpers
(yes that barking at the startline is Walter)

This is the second Steeplechase course I've run under this particular judge and I find he designs great Steeplechase courses: fast, flowing, and fun, as Steeplechase is meant to be. It was Walter's fourth try at a Steeplechase and his first Q! Holy mackerel did I have to boot it to keep up with him on that first line to the tunnel! How he managed to keep the bar up on that terribly awkward front cross before the second frame (I found myself in spectator mode -- oops), I just don't know. He was getting tired by this point as it was a long wait between classes so I lucked out that it was the frame twice rather than the weaves twice; he was weaving pretty slowly (check out the inconsistent footwork) and probably would have popped them if he had had to do a second set. Anyway, I was excited to get our first Steeplechase Q which made for a nice trialing anniversary present.

Walter's first Steeplechase Q
(more startline barking... I think it means he's feeling good)

A friend reminded me today that this trial marks Walter's one-year trialing anniversary! It was in the March 2007 Dream Fields trial that Walter and I made our debut. If nothing else, we have been consistent: at his first trial and at this trial his Q rate was 50% (1 out of 2 in March 2007; 2 out of 4 in March 2008). And, check this out: In his Starters Jumpers course last March, his YPS was 4.72; in his Masters Jumpers course today, his YPS was 4.73! Darn, and here I thought he's been running faster lately. Maybe it's just that I'm getting slower so it feels like he's getting faster?

Watching these videos gives me some more goals to work towards (thank you to my camera person... it's a great help to be able to watch runs afterward): (1) not pointing at or naming obstacles that are clearly on his line; and (2) collection and tighter turns -- lotttts of room for improvement.

Classes entered: 3 (Masters Snooker and Jumpers, Steeplechase)
Qs: 2 (Jumpers and Steeplechase)
Time/SCT: 32.99/42.00 in Jumpers; 36.49/40.00 in Steeplechase
YPS: 4.73 in Jumpers; 4.36 in Steeplechase
Bars knocked: 0
Placements: 2nd in Snooker; 3rd in Jumpers; 4th in Steeplechase
Temperature: -10 outside, much warmer inside
Crating: mostly in his crate inside the facility; in the car before his last run since it was getting too warm inside for Walter's liking)
Time spread between his first and last class: approx. 6 hours

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Dream Fields trial - Day 1

Today being Starters and Advanced only, Walter had only one run:

Advanced Standard
I'm really happy about the way he ran this course. It's so nice to have a flowy, connected run with one's dog. No Q though because... (a) He refused the dogwalk several times. This is a relatively springy dogwalk of which he's always been leery... could it be that he remembered the springiness from his other experiences at this facility? Are dogs that smart? (I think so.) He did take it after a few approaches but he didn't exactly look very confident doing it. Then, (b) he missed the weave entry due to my getting in his way in the preceding front cross. Didn't bother to go back and fix it since he weaved the rest of it fine and I don't want to make an issue of the weaves, plus it was my fault anyway. His table was fine today.

Caught him sleeping in the car later on (while Lucy was doing her runs) which is good. Of course, it probably took three hours of constant surveillance before he allowed himself a break from his car guarding duties (he seems to think a tiny, fur-infested, dog-stinky car would be a thief's first choice to take on a joyride) to succumb to a nap. Tomorrow I'll crate him mostly inside the facility and see how that goes.

Classes entered: 1 (Advanced Standard)
Qs: 0
Temperature: cold! (-10 or so outside, probably around 0 inside)

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Last lesson; Walter's startline stay

Today was Walter's last lesson for a while, probably a very long while as my spending has to be reigned in for the foreseeable future. I think his alltime favourite motivators in agility are his squeaky toys. I can fit one of them in my pocket and make it squeak out of sight while walking to the starting point which really gets him into excited/happy mode. The squeaky toys made him happy enough to successfully complete the 6-weaves several times today even in the tight quarters of the facility.

Note for my records re his SLS: In all of this session and last fall's session of lessons I've been leading out on Walter for all exercises that called for it. Every single time he barked, fussed, barked, scooted, and oh yeah did I mention he barked, but 90% of the time he didn't take the first obstacle until released. 10% of the time he broke it right away and got reset. I think I'll try leading out on him at some fun matches this year just for the fun of it. As much as I don't mind running off the start with him in trials, it would be nice to be able to lead out once in a while when it provides a significant benefit on the course at hand.