Friday, November 20, 2009


Gator, Summit, Puzzle, and Trick at the USDAA Nationals

Couldn't resist posting this picture that Lori took at Nationals. Can you tell they are all related:-)
There is nothing like returning from a big event like Nationals with renewed inspiration and training goals. Having seen and experienced the level of competition, I know what we need to work towards. I also know I have a dog who has the speed, athleticism, and training to be very competitive. I was the weak link in our teamwork last week which is actually a good thing...

I am pretty happy with my execution, but the handling choices I made were not always the best to get the tightest and most efficient lines. It's been a long time since I've taken a group class since I don't really learn anything in the limited amount of time I spend with an instructor in group classes. However, I already have set up private sessions with a top trainer in order to work on my course analysis skills and receive feedback on what we need to work on in training.

We still have snow on the ground so this morning I just worked Summit on jump grids (compression) and lateral leadouts. Once the snow melts and we have dry ground for speed work, I'll set up a course with wide-open sequences that lead into boxes and/or tight turns. One of the skills I need to improve on is cueing relative collection and a turn when I am behind my dog.

I worked Sage on boxes and discriminations. With her being a uni, I find that it is even more important to set a good LOM going into a box and staying on the same side (not RC) since she can't always triangulate well when I call her name to get her attention.
This weekend we'll be relaxing and the dogs will get to hike offleash in the mountains.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

USDAA Nationals

From left to right - Gator, Summit, Puzzle, and Trick

We arrived back home yesterday afternoon from our very first Nationals. What an amazing experience! The level of intensity in the air... walking and running courses with the top handlers in the country... very cool!

I am very proud of both my dogs. Sage had great runs in Team Jumpers, Standard, and Gamblers (didn't get very far in Snooker). She had a fast run in Steeplechase quarterfinals and made it to the Semifinals. She had another great run in Grand Prix quarterfinals but dropped a bar which added 5 seconds to her time, so we didn't make it to the GP semi's.

Sage's run in the Steeplechase Semifinals was awesome! But of course, not fast enough to make the finals (as I expected). Her time was 27 seconds and 25 was the cutoff. But I was thrilled that she made it into the semi's.

Summit has a smokin' fast Steeplechase run in the quarterfinals. But he missed the second to last jump at the finish (I didn't support it). I was thrilled though with how focused he was. He also had nice team standard and gamblers runs. He wasn't entered in Grand Prix.

My group walked our courses early in the morning (7:30-8:00) and we didn't run until 4:00 p.m. Wednesday, I walked Team Snooker at 8:00 a.m. and didn't run it until 5:30 that evening. This was very difficult for me and something I will need to practice. It wasn't an easy Snooker course either and had three combinations (5a, 5b, 6a,6b, and 7a, 7b, and 7c).

I was very pleased to see that Summit's course times were up there with the top dogs. We just need to improve our consistency. I learned a lot by attending and have training goals for the upcoming year. I remember when I attended our first Regional competition and how I felt it made me a tougher competitor. Now that I've been to Nationals and seen the level of competition (you read about it but until you see it and compete at that level, you just can't imagine). I am very inspired to train even harder to improve our performance. A local trial just doesn't seem the same now. Although I will be looking forward to a very relaxing, low-key, three day AKC trial next weekend.

I also learned a lot by watching the top handlers in the semifinals and the finals. The times were very close and hundredths of a second separated the top 10-15 spots.
I met several of Summit's relatives... Lori with Puzzle (Summit's Aunt), Jody with Gator (Summit's Uncle), and Sandy with Trick (Summit's half sister). We got a picture of the four dogs under the USDAA banner. I also met Kim Dash and Will (Summit's cousin). And of course, got to see Susan Garrett and Encore (Summit's other Aunt).
I also got to play with the mother of my future Sheltie puppy (she wasn't competing) and watch the sire run several courses. He did quite well (making it into the Finals in both GP and Steeplechase).

Next year Nationals is supposed to be in either Louisville, Kentucky or Philadelphia, PA. We will definitely be attending if they are held in Kentucky.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Flatirons AKC trial - Double Q's for Sage and Summit

This weekend was our last trial before Nationals. Both Summit and Sage were 50 percent on Saturday (Summit qualifying in Standard and Sage in jumpers). Sunday both dogs double Q'd! The really cool thing on Sunday was that in Standard my dogs took the top two placements! Summit won and Sage got second place. This was a two ring trial with over 50 dogs in the Ex. B 20" class.

Saturday morning Sage had a very nice Standard run. However, I released her from the table just before the judge said "GO"! I have no idea why I did that... so we got a fault. I remember thinking, I wonder if she's going to call that - it certainly too her long enough to think about it:-)

Also, because Sage does not have independent contacts, I was not able to get the FC after the chute so did a last minute rear cross (I had walked it with a FC).

Here is my run with Summit. I chose to do a blind out of the tunnel and I almost didn't get there!

Sage qualified in Jumpers that afternoon with a 4th place. I ran the course with Summit first and he took a wrong course jump after the weave poles (insead of jump and turn, he kept going straight). I realized that my lateral motion (to get into position for the FC) actually cued the wrong course jump. So when I ran Sage, I chose to stay on the same side and run down the line to the tunnel. I didn't do this with Summit as I didn't think I could get down there to cue to correct tunnel entrance. Here is Sage's run.

Sunday we had Jumpers in the morning. I ran Summit first and we qualified with a second place.

Here is Sage's run. I think she got 5th or 6th place.

Here is Sage's Sunday Standard run. She got second place and a double Q.

Here is Summit's Sunday Standard run. 1st place and double Q.

I'm almost packed. We leave for Nationals tomorrow!