This weekend definitely started out a little rough. I blame the week of 10 hour days followed up with a 12 hour Friday for it. Hitting the agility trial with only 5 hours of sleep with a headache brought on by exhaustion is not a recipe for success.
I had such a hard time getting that feeling of connection with Baxter on Saturday. Lots of little things going just slightly wrong. Sloppy front crosses coupled with a dog fully intending to blind cross on you does not lead to pretty looking runs. We did have some lovely moments too though, his weaves were beautiful. I was able to plan good gamble paths to get the points we'd need to qualify if he got the final gamble (unlike the last trial where we got the final and didn't have enough points to Q.)
Baxter ended up with 3/8 Q's which seems to be our usual ratio. We got another Master Gamble on Sunday, which made the whole weekend worth while. He did an awesome job. So much in fact that I had to ad lib some obstacles on to the end of our opening because he finished 13 obstacles and the buzzer still hadn't gone! He was visibly tired (to me anyway) for the final Jumpers run on Sunday and still managed a very quick (for him) 4 yps. Very proud of my fuzzy one.
Spencer had a great weekend as well. He wasn't in for the full weekend, just 3 runs a day. He was looking quite sore the second day of the Jan trial so he won't be running full time in a trial for a while.
First run of the day was Jumpers. He was speedy and happy except for refusing the chute. I can't say that came as a surprise. After all of our work with strange chutes at Dignified Dogs and in class I was hoping would carry over to trialing but that was okay. As "usual" he did it after a refusal.
Our second run was Gamblers. He did awesome and qualified, giving him 2/3 Advanced Gambles, which is crazy - one more and he's in Masters Gamblers while still in Starter Standard! He also qualified in Advanced Snooker. Completing the teeter with the #7 flag sticking up right beside the pivot point which was worrying some dogs in starters and advanced.
Sunday the boys and I just clicked, Baxter got all 3 of his Q's on Sunday. But the shining moment was Spencer's Standard run. He was awesome and wanted to play. I was getting the dog I get at practice (not quite as fast and as unconcerned as when we practice in the yard, but he was actually driving to the obstacles.)
The chute was our first obstacle and he was worried about it. After a refusal he did it, but slowly. By the 3rd obstacle at the DW he was on! No more worries. His table was beautiful. On the way past the DW the second time to a tunnel under it he did flick away to take the DW, so I'll have to work on proofing that. Almost to the end of the run - just a jump left and I rear crossed to send him back into number 1 - the chute again. Not only did he read the cross nice, he hit the chute like he meant it and zipped right through it. We left to have a cookie party for the awesome chute.
I wasn't paying attention to the ring crew or judge at all but apparently they were very confused. He knows the chute, he isn't afraid of it. Rewarding directly after performing the obstacle the way I would like is the only way I can see to reward him for doing that obstacle. Right now ball and food rank higher than more agility obstacles so that's what I'm using! It was really awesome to have a couple of seasoned competitors tell me that doing the chute again and leaving was a great way to end the run.