June 2012 Rally Trial – Wowzers!

While I am busy at an Agility trial this weekend (and recovering from it), I figured I would give an update of the rally which took place here in Brandon last weekend.

To say the least, this trial was interesting.

This is the first time in a while that we’ve had a trial in Brandon where I was not judging and so it was almost relaxing to ‘only’ have to worry about being be trial secretary and running Bear.

For the past few summer and fall trials, we have opted to hold one day of the trial indoors an the second day outdoors. This set up tends to give competitors the best of both worlds and, in case of inclement weather, we are only forced to cope with one day outdoors.

Since the new year, Bear has been coming to work with me on a very regular basis. He does not get to play much since he can be cranky with other dogs  but when he does come he gets quiet time in the morning, comes out at lunch while the others are eating and then more down time in the afternoon. Before other dog get here and during lunch I try to do 5-10 minutes of work at a time. For the past few months I have been focusing on:

    • A moving down on a verbal cue only
    • Straight sits when we are facing walls
    • 180 pivots left with only one cue.
    • Ignoring the food bowls
    • Working on both sides

These may seem relatively minor – straight sits are only a 1-2 point deduction – but in the C stream, we need a score of 190 or higher to qualify and those points seem to disappear rapidly.

Since we were at home, I entered quite a few events every event we could figuring that if he started to peter out or lose focus we would either do FEO runs and/or just stop all together. I never seem to be able to predict how Bear will behave at a trial so I always have a ‘worst case scenario plan’.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Advanced C (1) – This was the first run of the day and it included the dreaded food bowls. Fortunately enough Bear only paused momentarily to sniff them on the first pass and I was able to recover him with a quick “hurry”. The rest of the run was flawless. Both the sniff and the extra cue cost me 2 points for a total deduction of 4 points and a score of 196. This was our 3rd leg towards the CARO Rally Bronze title.

Advanced C (2) – This run did not include food bowls! *Big Sigh* The course went very smoothly until bear’s nose got the better of him at one of the pivots. I used an extra command to get him to sit (2pts) and then we continued on flawlessly. We finished with a score of 198! Unfortunately we already have the maximum amount of Advanced legs needed for the CARO Bronze title so this leg will go towards our CARO Rally Silver title.

Excellent C – This course was a short one but had the wonderful challenge of having to run by the jump within a foot of the jump standard to be exact. For dogs that have been trained in agility and dogs that have done a lot of jump work, jumping is reinforcing and a jump within a foot is the very picture of temptation. We made it past the jump without taking it but we did lose a few points when Bear popped out of the weave poles (-4), when he moved slightly out of position during the back up 3 steps(-2) and when I gave him a second “down” cue during the moving down(-2). I did not need to give that extra cue and should have kept my mouth shut we did manage to qualify however with a score of 192, earning our fourth Bronze leg.

Excellent TeamWe got to do this run with a team that finished their advanced team title just an hour before I don’t think the dogs had worked together before and we were in slightly cramped quarters in the small rung but both dogs worked very nicely. We finished with a score of 197 earning our second Excellent Team leg.

Versatility C (1) – This was our very first time competing in the Versatility C class. Bear was on the ball until the weave through legs when we got confused. I’m not sure what happened but as I told him to “go through” he for some reason came around in front of me, went through my legs and then stood behind me with a strange look on his face. Figuring we had botched that side change up and knowing we could not retry stations in the C stream I continued on. The rest of the run was perfect with the exception of Bear getting a bit ahead of me during the slow ace at the end of the course. We did not qualify in this run but if we had managed to perform the through legs station correctly, we would have had a score of 198. All things considered I was pleased. we were both really confused but able to pull ourselves together and keep going.

Versatility C (2) – During this run, I was more consistent with my cues and we did the side changes perfectly. We did however lose  3 points for a crooked sit during a pivot – ironically this was a pivot out in the wide open, not one that was directly facing the wall. We finished with a score of 197 and earned our fifth and FINAL leg towards the CARO Rally Bronze title!

What a wonderful way to end the day!

BEAR-CRB
Bear and I with Judge Patty Rollheiser (L) and Marne Birch (R) after earning our CRB title and High Scoring Senior Dog in Trial.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

On Sunday, the trial moved outdoors. Having had a wonderful day on Saturday, I was not worried about Bear’s performance outdoors. We practiced a total of 2 times in that ring and Bear had been hit or miss – Birds, Squirrels and smells were distracting – I did not have high expectations.

Excellent C – Our First run of the day was quite nice until Bear took the tunnel instead of the jump right beside it. In hindsight I did tell him “OUT jump” and I think the tunnel looked more inviting than the broad jump even though it was out of his way. This disqualified us instantly but we kept going and, had he taken the tunnel, we would have finished with a score of 195 – Bummer!

Excellent Team – We chose to go second in this run and started of nicely until bear got so distracted sniffing that he actually walked the broad jump – Instant NQ which was too bad because our team partners performed well.

Excellent Team – This time we chose to go first, in the case that writing a whole minute was just too much for Bear. Apparently it wasn’t our day because we pointed out with more than 20 points worth of deductions – most of them ours.

At this point, I pulled Bear from the rest of the day’s runs. It was apparent that he was not going to work or rather that the rain, and smells of the bush were too much for him.

On a positive note he did perform a wonderful moving down – outside – in the WET(!!!) grass.

Weekend Lessons

The lessons I took from last weekend are that:

  • A little bit of work goes a long way: No NQ’s on moving downs or food bowls and very few crooked sits.
  • The largest factor in Bear’s performance is stress/distraction, not time or number of runs. In our home training environment he qualified in 5 out of 6 runs. I did not have a lot of time to do settle work and he rested both in the car and indoors in the building.
  • I need to do more practicing outdoors if I want to see improved scores out of doors.

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