ZAP Agility Trial

What an amazing weekend at the Zooming Agility Pups Thanksgiving Trial! I don’t know if I can accurately describe it in one post but I’ll do my best. If you are not interested in a big long post about dog agility, here’s a quick summery:

Harley – 7.5 Q’s (qualifying runs), 7 first place finishes and her first title in Intro Regular!
Guinness – 2 Q’s, 1 Blue Ribbon, 9 other placed finishes

Okay, so now on to the actual post. I want to start off by saying how proud I am of both dogs. They were so well behaved, friendly, and even got compliments from one of the judges. You really can’t beat that!

The trial started very early Friday morning. They were running two rings at a time and I happened to be the first dog on the line in Ring 2 right at 8:00am. So we had to be there by 7:30 for the judge’s briefing and the walk thru. I was worried about it being chilly but luckily the weather wasn’t too bad and when they turned on the overhead heaters in the barn, we were really quite warm.

First run of the day was Chances for Harley. Chances is an interesting class because it’s all about distance work. Any of the obstacles can be in the course but they lay down a line that you can’t cross and you have to send your dog to the obstacles beyond it in the right order. You either Q or you don’t. For the Intro level, it’s pretty easy. In this course, behind the line was a tunnel and a jump but the tunnel was just right behind the line and it shot the dog out to go over the jump perfectly. Harley was just on fire for that run and did everything perfectly and so we got our first Q of the day.

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Next was Jumpers and both Harley and Guinness were entered. I was excited for this class because Harley is awesome at Jumpers and I was hoping we might title in this class this weekend. It was not to be, however, because Harley ran around the first jump! She never does that! Ugh. So frustrating.

Guinness did all the jumps and seemed to be doing okay. One thing he and Eric are really trying to work on is his focus in the ring. He has a hard time at trials because he worries about where Harley and I are. For jumpers, he was pretty focused and while he didn’t manage to Q, he did jump everything and placed first in the class.

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There was then a long break while we waited for all of the Elite dogs to run their classes. It’s always the biggest class and while it’s definitely fun to watch, it does get a little old. Some of those dogs are amazing though.

Both dogs were entered in Intro Regular 1 and Intro Regular 2 which are the same course only one was run backwards. This is the class everyone things about when they hear about agility. It’s the one with the Dog Walk and the A Frame. I was nervous about this because this would be the first time that Harley would have to do contacts at a trial and I didn’t know how she would handle them. Turns out that she handles them just like she does in class which means, she gets them sometimes and sometimes she flies completely off them. Even though she got a 5-Q in Intro Reg 1 for knocking a jump, I think the judge was a little generous. I’m pretty sure we did not actually hit that contact. She did get a full Q in Intro Reg 2 however, and I was happy with those contacts.

Poor Guinness though. He was so stressed and out of it at that point that he missed every single jump in the class. He did the class and he didn’t run out, so that’s a start but it was not a very good day for him.

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Last class for our very tired pups was Touch N Go. This class only has contact equipment, hoops and tunnels. I’ll admit, I was pretty upset with Harley coming out of this class and didn’t even stay to look at results. I was pretty positive that she hadn’t hit her contact on the Dog Walk. And, I kind of goofed off the rest of the course so I knew we weren’t going to make time. But I found out the next morning that not only did she Q, she also won the class. Go figure. Harley is so damn fast.

Again, Guinness was a wreck in this class. The start was super close to a wall and the gate and he did not want to sit or stay. I was worried that Eric was going to get eliminated for man handling him but luckily the judge didn’t say anything. He was better for this class than he was for the Regular classes, but not by much.

By that point, both of the dogs were exhausted. Even though it had only been four runs, they were both mentally on all day. We left the trial around 2 and the slept the rest of the day.

wpid-20141128_140535.jpgDay 2 was again an early start as we had Jumpers first thing in the day. It had just started snowing when we left the house but things didn’t start turning white until we got to the trial and had, luckily, dragged our stuff inside to set up.

IMG_1659 Harley was smoking again in Jumpers but luckily this time she did not run around the first jump. Several people that are in our training class commented that she was running better at the trial than she does in class. I couldn’t agree more and had said the same thing to Eric the first day. She LIKES the trial atmosphere and was just totally on her game every step of the way. I almost felt bad being in the Intro classes because it didn’t look like we belonged there. Another Q and another first place for Harley.

Guinness was much more focused the second day, thankfully. We don’t know if it was just the second day of the trial or that he went in the ring first or something else but he was actually enjoying himself. No Q for him because he missed a jump and the swinging around to come back to it kept him from making time.

IMG_1662 Since we had a long break until the next event, Touch N Go, we decided to take the dogs out to the off-leash area and let them play in the snow and let off a bit of steam. They enjoyed that. It was much much colder on Saturday and even the heaters weren’t quite enough to keep us warm. I had on several layers and my long underwear. It was cold!

Harley did not appreciate the long wait in her crate until Touch N Go and let me know it the minute she came off the dog walk by pretty much skipping the whole down ramp. Ugh. I made her school it but it wasn’t much better so we just moved on and finished the course. I need to majorly school and install the “Touch” command in her. It’s something we kind of ignored early in her agility career because just getting her to slow down at all was kind of a miracle.

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After that were two really good Intro Regular runs for both Harley and Guinness. Harley managed to get her contacts both times and did a really nice switch out to a second jump for me. She Q’d in both classes and Guinness Q’d in one.

Those two Q’s plus the Q’s in Intro Regular the previous day meant that Harley had titled! The very first title of her agility career. And, sure, it’s just the Intro Regular Title but everyone has to start somewhere, right?

IMG_1668To end the day, both dogs were entered in Novice Tunnelers. It looked like a pretty tough course. I was especially worried about going from tunnel 3 to tunnel 4 because tunnel 3 pointed right to tunnel 11 and I was sure that Harley was going to not want to pull off that tunnel.

Guinness went in first and he was just smoking it. You could see how happy he was and how focused he was on Eric. For being such a big dog, it’s amazing how much he likes going in the tunnels and his big stride really eats up the ground. I won’t hold you in suspense. They got fourth place (in a very large class) and Q’d.

Next, it was Harley’s turn. She hadn’t been holding her stays very well that day so I did the one thing my coaches have told me never to do: I walked backwards while holding my hand out, hoping that I could get enough of a lead out on her. Thankfully this worked and I did not fall on my butt.

This was actually one of Harley’s messier runs of the weekend. She did a couple of spins and was focused on me enough to look back and miss a couple of entrances. When coming out of the fourth tunnel, Harley didn’t realize how much it really curved and since she likes to bank off the side, she actually fell down in the tunnel. She recovered though and zoomed along the rest of the course. Even with all of those inconsistencies, she was so fast that we won the class and Q’d!

Like I said, an absolutely great weekend. There are a lot of things for both dogs to work on. The biggest one for me and Harley are the contacts and the biggest for Guinness is the focusing. At the next trial, we’re going to move Harley up to Novice and keep Guinness at Intro, we’re hoping that maybe if he knows Harley is back in his crate and I’m there to be his leash buddy, he won’t worry so much. Worth a shot.

Anyway, so proud of the pups. They did amazing and we all had so much fun. Can’t wait until next time!

5 thoughts on “ZAP Agility Trial

  1. this is so neat – love all the descriptions and videos! the most striking thing imo are the parallels to horse training and showing. congrats on a successful weekend!

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