This weekend Whisper and I went off to an agility trial. We just started competing at the Excellent level and it is often a humbling experience. The courses are quite complex with many side changes and it is difficult memorize. Looking at the runs for the Novice and Open courses-they seem so easy. However, they didn't seem that way when we were running them!
This weekend in Excellent, Whisper hit all of her contacts!!!!!!!! Hitting the contacts, especially the down dogwalk, has been a bit of a challenge. Although we didn’t qualify Saturday I was still pleased with touching all the contacts. I recently started retraining Whisper to a two-on two-off position instead of a running contact (ha, Whisper calls it a leaping contact). I am slowing her down on all her contacts in the standard run. It slows her time down but it is making her pay attention to foot placement when she is amped and excited.
One of the challenges of agility (at least for me) is changing strategy in midrun. You can plan a course but while running I often end up being in the wrong place or have wrong timing for a cross. In the opening standard sequence in the video below, Whisper decides to break the sit stay (she has never done that) and I can’t get into the planned start position. Off I have to run and figure out how I should handle the next obstacle. You can see in the standard run I have a hard time getting Whisper to sit on the table too (another thing to work on) and got frustrated. I am so excited when she finally holds the 5 second sit that I am out of place for the next obstacle. Ah, well at least we get that handled successfully. Towards the end of the standard run I send her into the tunnel and then we just have the jump sequence left to leave the ring. I am so excited by qualifying up to this point that I forget which side I need to have her on. Luckily for me, Whisper knew what needed to be done with little direction from me and qualified. Several times she has held up her end of the partnership better than I. That day she double Q'ed (earned a standard and jumpers leg)-our first. She also earned a first place in each class! There ere upwards of 10 dogs in each class!!
All in all a motivating weekend!