Thursday, May 24, 2012

Where's YOUR head at?

Last weekend (what happened to this week?!?! ) we were off to Durban for a weekend of (very slow) agility shows.  This weekend has always been a big deal to some people, especially seeing as it is normally 2 weeks before SA Champs, so most of us use it as dress rehearsal.  You have to remember that our SA Champs is also our World Team Try Outs, so a pretty big deal you see.  The problem with this Durban weekend, is that it CAN be a maker or a breaker.  Well if your mind is not right.  If your head is not there.

At the end of the day, it is JUST a dress rehearsal, nothing more, nothing less.  If you happen to make a mistake somewhere in the weekend, the secret is not getting all hung up on it.  I have seen it time and time again.  People have a bad round or two and the whole machine just falls apart.  Luckily for me, there was falling, but no falling apart...

My weekend started of rather fun... with Chaos ankle-tapping me, see he was 100% convinced that we were on our way to the poles.  I was convinced we were going to the jump next to the poles.  And if you have any knowledge of physics, you will know that it is a physical impossibility for two objects to occupy the same space at the same time.  So I went flying.  My fall started at the beginning of the poles and almost made it right to the end.  It was friggin hilarious.  AND to make it even better, I managed to get up and clear the rest of the course.  Now I wasn't the only one to have a 'moment' over the weekend (although I DEFINITELY win the first prize), so I decided to make a video diary of the moments... please enjoy.  And I promise that I give you permission to laugh and other than a few bruises (including some bruised ribs), I am fine, so laughing is in order.

Now wipe the tears of laughter from your face and FOCUS again.  Do you know how good this was for me two weeks before the SA Champs?  It was BRILLIANT!  Because now I have confidence I can recover from anything, any mishap and still get it RIGHT.  Considering our qualifying system that definitely favours consistency over brilliance, this is the best confidence booster I could get.

All in all my dogs worked very well throughout the weekend.  I am in such a good place right now, where I can trust my dogs and I know I can walk out on any course out there and get around it.  I finally know what the words 'quiet confidence' means, how cool is that.  Of course SA Champs will be a completely different story, with added nerves, much bigger stakes and all of those wonderful things.  But I will be living in my own little happy place for the next 10 days, so until then, cheers!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Business, Bumper and Broken

I have to admit, I am a little bit broken at this point in time.  I know that it has been AGES since I blogged, but in my defense, I have been insanely busy as part of the organising committee of a HUGE Agility Weekend.  Well huge for South Africa.  All in all I think it went well enough, but that doesn't mean I am any less broken from the hard work this weekend.  Apparently it works for me though, because I did pretty well all things considering.  And by all things I mean the constant running around, building courses, organising food for judges, doing results, catalogues, catalogue numbers, answering queries, moving entries etc etc etc.  I do have some good news though, for the first time since Sunday I can move my legs without suppressing  screams of pain and I also don't think the back transplant is THAT urgent any more.

So now I will stop the b!tching and moaning and get on with writing about my dogs.  Stupidly I set down quite specific goals for the weekend, not THINKING how hard I would be working.  Lucky for me, I have pretty damn awesome dogs, that not only compensate for my stupidity, but actually exceed my set goals.

I wanted to up my consistency rate with Chaos, which I can safely say we did.  A few of the rounds were not our best, mainly because I rushed walking the course and had to walk for two dogs, which I am not used to.  His A-Frame is less solid than I would like, as in if I am ahead of him he self releases, I threw a couple of rounds to start correcting that, in fact, we will be throwing all our contact rounds until SA Champs if need be.  His dog walks and see saws looked quite good the whole weekend.  Chaos managed to win 6 QC's this weekend, with a few almost rounds as well.  As you can imagine, a lot of his rounds did not get video'd this weekend... with all of my normal camera people running around like mad.  In fact we are thinking of hiring a permanent camera person :)  Anyhow here is a short (and by short I mean long) compilation of Chaos's high's and lows this past weekend.

Now on Sir Volt of the Awesomeness as he is now known.  My goal with Volt this past weekend was NOT very well thought through.  First of all I wanted to make him up into a Dog Jumping Champion and I needed two QC's for that.  Clever monkey did that in his first two tries, by winning the first two Dog Jumping rounds.  Then he went on to win 3 more Dog Jumping Classes to take 5/6 Dog Jumping QC's available in his grade.  My other goal was to qualify him up into Grade 3 Agility and Non Contact.  Which is all cool and well and which of course Volt did at the beginning of the weekend too.  The problem with that goal, was that once he was in Grade 3... what now?  It didn't occur to me that Volt is not ready for Grade 3 courses yet (or this is what I thought).  I had to make some desperate handling plans, doing front crosses where I should have pulled, crossing behind in the weirdest places, occasionally jumping over Volt to avoid life-threatening collisions.  But we did it.  Not only did Volt meet my goals, but he also earned his first Contact Agility QC's AND earn three Non Contact Agility QC's to become a champion in just two days!  As you will see from the videos, it wasn't always pretty and me and Volt have TONS of training to do now, to prepare ourselves better for technical courses.  Oh yes and note to self, watch sales, need new pair of MUCH faster legs for small dog.  Here is a short (and by short I mean even longer than Chaos's video) compilation of Volt's rounds for the weekend:

Some notes on the weekend.  I liked the balance of courses of the weekend.  I think we could have done with some more technical courses, but all in all a good balance.  I think I should have been called on a lot more refusals, especially with Volt.  In fact I saw a lot of spins that I would have definitely called as a judge. My general rule is that if the dog was in the position to take the obstacle, and then spins it should be called.  All of these spins were my error of course, but should still have been refusals.  Contact judging was pretty good, but I should have been called for one fly-off which wasn't.  The refusal issue is one that have come up so many times amongst handlers and judges around here and it really does make me think it needs clarification.

All in all a good weekend and just four more weeks to go before SA Champs... bring on the finals baby!