Coldest weekend ever. Possibly even colder than the Cold Easter of ’10, and that was also really damn cold.
I could have entered 7 runs per day, but I chose to limit myself to 5. I am not fit enough for 21 runs a weekend! I also didn’t want to mentally tire Dylan, especially after such a long break. We haven’t competed since the beginning of December, and so with four months off from competition and nearly seven months since our last outdoor competition, I wasn’t expecting a great deal from Dylan. He was struggling so much in the last few competitions we’ve done, and I just wanted him to be happy and relaxed.
We had four split class runs each day, and then an Open class; Pairs Jumping on Friday, and then an extra agility class on the Sat/Sun. With hindsight, I should have picked an extra jumping class, since Dylan’s contacts were too slow this weekend and it let us down in a few classes, but it was still useful.
Our first run was Pairs, and it was a bit of a collective shambles; Emma forgot the course with Diva, and Dylan was really slow and cautious. I think we both wrote that one off! It was a nice introduction back into things though, on an easy course.
The Large G4-7 Agility was a very flowing course, but with plenty of challenges throughout. Dylan ran it reasonably well; he was slow, but he wasn’t stuttering or looking uncomfortable in his movement, and that was encouraging. We got E’d as he ran past the seesaw (my fault!) and I elected to take him back. Everything from the seesaw onwards was encouraging however, he looked confident and smooth.
Large G5-7 Agility was the kind of course you have to work from start to finish, definitely a 5-7 type and one I enjoyed running. I was actually very happy with Dylan’s run, it was by no means perfect and was pretty slow, but there were glimmers of hope as his jumping was again fluent (if slow), and he seemed to be gaining in confidence. He actually placed 10th but with 1 time fault, which was really frustrating for me. The course time was 40s and it was just very very tight, considering the length of the course and the generous ring sizes. There were only 12 dogs that got under the course time and clear out of the 176 dogs that ran (eight G6 dogs, four G7 dogs). Hmm.
Large 5-7 Jumping had a last minute change of judge, so props to the poor guy who stepped in at the last minute to take on his first judging appointment. I liked the course and I was very happy with how Dylan ran, but we lost the plot half way around. Dylan got the difficult weave entry and then decided to miss out a few jumps and add a few different ones. It was the first course where I had the feeling of running my old dog though, the happy confident one, and so it was easy to stay optimistic.
Large G4-7 Jumping was a fantastic course, I was a bit smitten. Quite hard for a 4-7 but with lots of handling options and different tests, and just the kind of thing that Dylan enjoys. Dyl and I had a minor argument about a 360 wing wrap, which lost us time, and we finished out of the placings in 32.186 with the winner about 28s, I think.
First course was Large 4-7 Agility and I can’t remember anything about this course, I think because we were lazy and didn’t get to the showground in time to walk the courses, so I just watched a few people and then made it up. I had to go and check on the video for what happened, and it was an ok run until the very end, when Dylan popped the last 2 poles in the weaves (sequence was jump-weave-jump/finish). I’m honestly not sure why, since his weaving was solid in every other class, but we re-attempted twice and popped every time. Eh, discard run.
Similar sort of story in Large G1-7 Agility, which was a very appropriate course for the Open level, but not very exciting. Dylan placed 13th in the end but his contacts let us down, he was not particularly creepy, just slow.
Large G6-7 Jumping was my favourite course of the day. I thought it would suit Dylan and even with the obstacle-avoidance, we should have a decent chance of getting round. We nailed it, finishing 6th, and I am really proud of that placing! Dylan was happy and smooth in his jumping and I felt like I actually made some good handling decisions, and we ran as a team.
The other Large 6-7 Jumping was also a very nice course, and I dithered and dithered over how to handle 11-15 when I walked the course. As it turned out, being unable to make up my mind got us E’d! I remember making eye contact with Dylan on the crucial turn and he had a very quizical expression, obviously wondering where to go. Oops, must try harder!
Large G6-7 Agility, last run of the day. Nice course, another 360 wrap which are really not my favourite thing, and lots of obstacle avoidance (theme of the weekend!). We picked up 5f somewhere, plus 1 time fault, still placed 13th. Again, it was frustrating to take time faults on a course where Dylan was working well and running fluently. I know he’s not the fastest dog and he’s never going to be challenging for the win on a G6 course, so my goal with him is just to have fun, run as well as we can, and hopefully go clear, so getting those time faults it just disheartening. Unfortunately I didn’t get this run on video either so I have no idea what the 5f was for, I assume we missed a contact somewhere but who knows.
First class of the day was G6-7 Jumping, another super course (Ring 5 were winning on the nicest courses, they had lovely judges with excellent courses all weekend!). Unfortunately I ran quite early and the ground was still defrosting, making it quite slippy underfoot. Dylan ran well but was definitely erring on the side of caution, and I don’t blame him. We got E’d right at the end, oh well. Not a bad start to the day, and it maintained his improvement over the weekend in terms of general confidence.
Large G4-7 Agility was another flowing course, with just a challenging weave entry and a few push-outs to bump up the difficulty. All the 4-7 classes this weekend were nice! We went clear and finished 13th, but again, sloooow contacts.
A really straightforward course in the Border Collie C1-7 Agility, no seesaw and just 6 weaves on a very fast course. I decided to try handling the start a little differently to how I would usually have approached the box-type sequence and it worked really well, and we had an uninteresting and unplaced clear.
Our last agility course was what I believe to be the easiest G6-7 Agility ever. Admittedly, it was nice to run a very straightforward course. Sort of like going back in time to G3, except I think this was easier than the G1-3 Agility that Diva ran immediately before this course, so maybe it was more like going back to Elementary. Either way, Dylan had a super run, nice and fast and clear. I didn’t wait to collect his time, there’s no way he’d get placed on a course like this! This was a course where a tight course time was absolutely appropriate, and it was set at 35s.
We finished the weekend with a lovely run in the G6-7 Jumping. Dyl and I had a minor disagreement over turning at #9, and got E’d, but it was fun course to finish with.
Really pleased for all our friends who won classes this weekend. It was a high standard of competition at all levels and there were some very very well deserved wins.
Flickr set here: http://flic.kr/s/aHsjEyAGk3
SUMMARY: A weekend of very nice courses and very slow contacts but really fluent jumping and really happy Dylan. Next few weeks are going to involve LOTS of dogwalk training.