Tuesday, June 21, 2011

AKC Agility, Birmingham, Alabama

This past weekend we did 3 days of agility inside on soccer turf.  The Sport Blast arena in Birmingham, Alabama is an air conditioned building housing 2 indoor soccer fields.

This was Grace's first weekend to run AKC agility in her "preferred" height class.  At just a smidgen over 18 inches tall, Grace was consistently the shortest, smallest dog in the 20 inch jump class.  By the end of an agility weekend she would be too tired to keep up the spread jumps (doubles and triples).  So after talking to several folks I decided to move her down.  Based on her jumping this weekend I think she really prefers the 16 inch class.  Tracey commented Grace has much better jumping form at 16 inches.

The photographer for the weekend was Phyllis Ensley.  Phyllis shoots similar to Loftis except she usually doesn't upload photos to the web after a trial.  However, since she neglected to explain that to me she has uploaded my folder (which currently is still missing photos of our standard run Sunday - our "horrid" run as described below).  Video should be available soon off Tracey's camera.

Take-a-ways from this weekend:
  • On her first run Friday Grace was thinking that we were doing a strange form of Rally - we were inside a building on green mats!  It was pretty funny when I realized why she was confused.  Grace finally picked up the pace toward the end of her first run when she realized I didn't need her in heal position.  I think she might immediately recognize a soccer arena as agility if we get a chance to run in one again (personally I thought it was a fabulous surface).
  • Grace earned her Novice Jumpers Preferred (NJP) title with 3Qs from 3 runs (all 1st places).  On Sat and Sun she had 31 and 33 second jumpers runs which were both several seconds below standard course time (SCT based on length of course as wheeled by the judge).  I was pleased with this speed - not much herding her handler while she ran.
  •  In FAST, GRACE came home with 1 leg from Sat but on Sun she was busy herding me and got a refusal in the send.  Her not getting the send has little to do with her not being willing to work away from me - at that particular moment Grace decided I needed to be herded and she was busy doing that instead of running agility (issue discussed further below).
  • On Sunday afternoon Grace herded me through the ENTIRE standard course.  It was a horrid run.  Tracey and I discussed it on the way home - should I have hauled her off the course?  We decided I need to "down" her on the course and let her try again... if she keeps herding then off the course she goes.  I will try to incorporate this "correction" into my training so she knows what to expect- that is, after it cools off some outside.  Meanwhile, I'm soliciting more ideas and input because I can't be the only person who has had this problem with a herding dog.  However, several folks have commented that Grace is an exceptional case in this regard.
Lets see... we are doing obedience 4th of July weekend so Bern and Grace need to practice dumbbell retrieves and broad jumps this week.