Tuesday, November 4, 2008

USDAA Nationals and agility musings

USDAA Nationals happened over the weekend in Scottsdale, Arizona. This year, they had live streaming video of all of the tournament finals - woohoooo!!! They also have the videos archived.

It was SO cool to watch ... almost like being there. I was lucky enough to be able to go to the 2005 Nationals as DH offered me his frequent flyer miles, so I have been there. And that was a lot of fun too :-)

How neat to be able to watch people from this area compete .. and to see people from the North East as ring crew. I would go to do that, but getting all that time off of work and home ... and the money to fly out there .... it isn't going to happen. If I did go again, I would rent a car so that I wasn't dependent on hitching a ride with everyone else. I don't think they minded, but I hate being the 5th wheel and feeling like I am imposing.

Other than for PNS Nationals on Friday night, the running orders were up before the actual event. I was toying with setting up my extra monitor but then realized that would be excessive LOL Results were up by the next morning for the previous day for just about all of the classes which was also nice.

Great job and I hope they continue with the streaming video for other events. Really is nice for those of us at home.

Watching the streaming video was so inspiring. However, I don't think I have the mental capacity to keep it all together for a Nationals. I think running in the main ring would freak me out. I'm not consistent enough either. Luce is such fun to run - when she is running that is - but she isn't a speedy border collie. Never has been, never will be. So, a mediocre team wouldn't have a chance. But, as I say, it was inspiring and will motivate me to keep on training.

Now, Blaze. Oh my. He deserves a better handler!! The Team Relay on Sunday had a weave pole entry that I know Luce would NOT be able to do. I set up just that part (jump, tunnel, weaves) in the yard, and sure enough, Luce could not do it. I have to shape the entry for her.

But Blaze. As I said, oh my :-) I have finally have a dog that can WEAVE!! He was nailing that entrance and doing all 12 each and every time. That dog does love him some weaves :-) In fact, he wasn't reading my body cues (or even verbal ones!) when I tried to get him out of the tunnel and NOT into the weaves! He can do all of the obstacles, it is the stuff in between the obstacles that we REALLY need to work on :-) He is entered in a DOCNA trial in December. It is low key and Friday night typically doesn't have a lot of dogs entered .. .usually 30 runs between the two classes. I should be able to manage him. I just want to see what I have with him. After I got to run him in class at Keystone, I was PUMPED. But I don't want to rush it ... my goal is Blackthorne 2009. If he is ready earlier, then fine, but I NEED TO NOT RUSH HIM!!

I don't have him in a class yet due to his reactivity so I don't really know what I have. I need to get him into something - that is a goal for early 2009. I need to learn how to handle a dog like this! Luce was faster than Princess and Blaze is SO much different from both of the girls. For all of my agility life (10 years now, wow!) I have had dogs that I needed to keep motivating forward and away from me. All of my cues are for this, so the few times I have been able to run Blaze in a facility, he goes to the next county! I need to rein him in, but not too much. I don't want to lose the distance - I want a gamble dog that can weave this time, dagnabit! LOL

He is keeping more and more of his bars up here at home. He was having a horrible time a couple of months ago. I worked on it a little and it is helping. He was also running under the bars when they were up at 20" or 22" and he isn't doing that any more. He still needs to really KNOW that his job is to keep them up regardless of whether he is turning or whatever. I think he will get it, assuming I can be a good enough of a trainer to teach him that!

It will be so nice to have a dog that I won't have to drag around the ring :-) I love my little Luce, but if she is stressed or it is hot out, then I have to drag her around. SO frustrating! We sort of fell between the cracks at Keystone when I got her and we didn't have the foundation classes then as we do now. And the kids were home, so her prime years were "wasted". Not really "wasted" as I did want to go and watch what the boys were doing! But I couldn't get to class or train as often as I should have with her.

I taught with Kruisin for almost 2 years which also caused a break in training. I love teaching, I really find it rewarding. But I am not a high energy person so no way could I be out of the house too many nights a week. I was teaching Monday nights and I worked late on Thursday nights, so going to class on Wednesdays was out. I didn't even pay for a training spot at Keystone in 2006 and 2007 as I had only gone to class 8 times in 2005. That didn't help one bit and we lost some of our skills and our teamwork. I stopped teaching at the end of 2007 and started training again in 2008 and it has really helped.

Usually, nowadays, we lose Q's due to obstacle non performance .... we get all the hard parts of a course but then miss weaves, pop out of weaves there for a while, or miss a contact. She has an aversion to yellow at times :-) Now, having a slower dog does help for some of the courses does help :-) I fully comprehend that I am not god's gift to handling, but I am happy when I do recognize what I need to do and what I would do with a Blazing fast dog.

And then I do have my mis-handling moments. They always seem to happen in slo-mo with a huge N-N-O-O running through my head and my feet rooted to the spot. That part of my brain in the back there, watching and knowing exactly what I should be doing, but the rest of my brain and my body just not following through! Occasionally I totally handle something wrong and the "right" way didn't occur to me. I expect that will happen more with Blaze as he is so different that it will be like starting all over again when I couldn't "see" angles and such.

Anyway, back to watching the streaming video ... man, the handlers can, and must, RUN! I think all of the top dogs have running contacts as well ... don't think I want to go there! I am not Nationals material, so I think I need to train for being the Weekend Warrior which means stops on the contacts for me :-) If the Nationals moves to the East Coast, as is the rumor, I would like to go just for the experience and the fun and to watch the truly fantastic competition. It was wonderful back in 2005, but I didn't have a dog with me so I was free as a bird. Rumor has it that Nationals might move in 2009 already .... that is too soon! LOL

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