Well there were 2 Q’s each day, which was awesome. Really. Less than awesome is our continued Standard Ex A curse/funk that we cannot get out of. Good thing though is I think I have figured that out.
Fun parts first. We were at Walnut, a site I really like. Both mornings were almost identical—chilly and running Time to Beat first, then Jumpers shortly thereafter. All the courses were pretty reasonable, lots of running and one backside jump thrown in for good measure (much to the horror of many of the die-hard AKCers in attendance). Forest was fast and furious, pretty much perfect for all four of those runs, saving me again a few times. We earned two Time to Beat Qs and our first-ever MACH points in both JWW classes. I haven’t run AKC since last year when I forgot to move us out of Excellent A, so this was our debut in the fun, fun world of MACH chasing.
Standard also could have been cut-and-copy from Saturday to Sunday as well. Both days weather-wise went from very chilly dog-shivering-in-his-sweater and gloves-for-me weather at 8am to dry and borderline hot by 11am. Also the Standard ring was more in the middle of the action, more in the sun, and according to Forest more-not-as-fun. Yesterday he checked out on me and sniffed off into a corner (possibly because I did a poorly-timed FC off the bottom of the Aframe earlier, maybe he was leaving me out of embarrassment), but we saved it until he hit the same corner again and did a wide loping turn, running around a jump. I didnt care at that point, we just kept going (and verbally goosed him out of the weaves, sorry pal). Today I knew he was a goner as soon as it was our turn in the ring—I warmed him up just a hair too much and he suddenly got too hot–he was fine one second then loopy and melting the next second as we walked into the ring. Popped his weaves and missed his Aframe contact. Oh well. Laurie also made a good point after the fact that we all need to be better about keeping our dogs cool, it was well-taken. I am/was in denial of it being 80 degrees in January, especially with the mornings being the way they were, but I still should have been more prepared and aware.
My epiphany today about our continued success on fast, flowy courses with lots of handling requirements (T2B, JWW, Steeplechase) opposed to continued failure on straightforward “all obstacle” Standard runs is this; we practice handling, a lot. Other than trialing, I dont know when the last time was we ran a full course with all (or even more than 50%) of the equipment. AKA a Standard course. My handling has gotten so much better and his confidence is so much greater. But, when I am too lazy to drag out the Aframe for months at a time and/or we only train short twisty jump sequences in a sterile room, we lose ground on some of that other important stuff.
So, the plan is to get back outside and get on some longer/full courses more often. I did rejoin the local club which I think I will be much more mentally prepared for this time around (as will Forest–the days of him charging other dogs or running away from me while on course are 99% over). I rejoined the club moreso with Phin in mind, but I think it will benefit Forest as well. I also have some agility friends who have a private field down in SD that I may be able to take advantage of (win!) and I may even see if I can squeeze in an occasional drop in class with my original instructor down that way as well. She has a great field, just need to see if I can get in a class and down there after work one in a while.
Lots of video from this weekend, I splurged and bought a few and have another view of our great JWW run from Saturday courtesy of Deb (thanks Deb!).