Sunday, May 04, 2014

20 months - Trial crazy

Uh oh, we've gone a little trial crazy! Kili had her first 3 trials within a week and a half. We just started and couldn't stop! To be fair, these were not "real" trials. The trials were real enough but we only entered one run as a normal entry. All our other runs were done as fun runs or FEO (for exhibition only). FEO runs do not allow treats/toys in the ring, but you are allowed to touch your dog so you can do some reinforcing and training in the ring. Fun runs allow you to reinforce in the ring (some allow any reinforcer, others only allow toys) and are great for training in a trial atmosphere. Unfortunately, FEOs are easier to come by than fun runs as you can enter any trial FEO.

We started with a Thursday evening AAC trial at our indoor training location. This was great as it was a familiar location but with a lot more activity and distractions. I entered Kili FEO in both the Starters Standard and Jumpers. Our standard run was first and unfortunately I have no video of it as I hadn't made friends yet. There were some really great moments, like when she nailed her weave poles on the first try, and there were some not so great moments, like when she ran off to visit the ring crew. But she still did super well and I was very happy. We got the designation of "team that looks like they are having the most fun" by the other competitors who were watching... probably because whenever something went well I used praise and personal play to reward since I had no toy or food. My initial plan had been to just do the first 1/3 of the course as it contained only obstacles that Kili is comfortable with, but she seemed to be having so much fun that I decided to keep going and just skip the equipment I didn't want her to do (which ended up only being the teeter as she did the poles herself).

Then we had our Starters Jumpers course. In AAC the Jumpers contained only tunnels and jumps. There is no contact equipment and there are no weave poles. Wouldn't you know it but the little bugger actually managed to get her first (unofficial since we were FEO) Q! So proud of the little girl. The only bobble right in the beginning was my fault for setting her up poorly on the start line.

Then the following Monday we had an evening CKC trial. This trial was only games... there were no Standard or Jumpers runs. They only offered Points and Distance (PAD) and Steeplechase that night. But they were also offering a fun run before the trial. The fun run was to allow people to try PAD out since it is a very new game that was just introduced. We entered because we were able to play in a trial environment with a toy. This was a very small trial though. There were only about 11 dogs entered total. Kili did really well so I elected to enter her in the trial.

PAD is a game where you and your dog must accumulate a certain number of points in 35 seconds. Each obstacle has an assigned point value and if you successfully complete it you get the points. There is also a distance component that must be completed for a "bonus" of 20 points. It's called a bonus but you can't Q without successfully completing it. At the Novice level the distance component is only 2 obstacles and you are only 5 feet away from your dog. The nice thing about PAD for us is that you choose your own course, so I was able to make a course that didn't include the teeter. We had a little bobble in my handling which was inconsequential. Then Kili decided to sightsee from the top of the A-frame (this is a new problem that I haven't figured out how to fix just yet) and then she got a little distracted coming out of the tunnel and missed her jump which put her out of line for a nice weave entry. I had to take her back to try the weaves again, and unfortunately she didn't complete them before time ran out so she didn't get the 10 points from the weaves. If she had we would have qualified. Oh well! It was fun!

Finally, we had our first full weekend trial not even a week later. I almost had to pull Kili from this trial though as she started coming into season. A few days before I noticed some very slight swelling. The next morning I could tell for sure that she was coming into season. After consulting with our trainer (they were hosting the trial) and with my breeder I decided to risk it and not pull my entry hoping that she would hold off long enough to make it through the weekend. Fortunately, she did.

The trial was held at a really nice equestrian facility in an indoor arena. This was a completely new environment to Kili with lots of big distractions... namely the smell of horse everywhere. As you know, Kili has trouble with distractions and it is particularly bad in new environments. We definitely battled that a little at this trial but honestly... not as much as I had expected! I was really happy. Once again, Kili was entered FEO (for exhibition only) to allow me to focus on making this a fun experience and allow me to offer SOME reinforcement through praise/play. What I found was that she was very focused and enthusiastic so long as we didn't make any mistakes. If the flow was disrupted at all she would get distracted and start sniffing or zooming.

Saturday I entered Kili in Starters Standard and in Steeplechase. I only have the Steeplechase on video. In our Standard run everything went very well until the teeter. My intention was for her to not do the teeter, but I wasn't able to direct her off course, she did the teeter and jumped off early which spooked her a little. Then I had some trouble getting her back on course and we had some sniffing and some zooming. But all in all, I was still happy with how she did in a novel environment and it was my fault for allowing the teeter mistake to happen. In Steeplechase you can see how she was doing well until she blew past the weaves coming out of the tunnel. When I tried to get her back to try it again she started sucking into tunnels. But the rest of the run was pretty clean.

Sunday Kili was entered in Starters Standard and Jumpers. I decided to take her to an open field and run her hard for about 20 minutes prior to leaving for the trial to take the edge off, hoping to eliminate her need to zoom to relieve stress. I think it worked out really well. I am SO upset that I didn't get her Standard run on film. It was pretty much perfect. We had no mistakes and she didn't leave me once. She nailed all her contacts. This time around instead of trying to get her to NOT do the teeter and risking my being out of position to help her I decided to just plan for her to do the teeter and help her with the tip as I have been doing in practice. That went without a hitch and then she nailed the 12 weave poles! This trial is the first time she's ever seen 12 weave poles, so I was super surprised and happy that she did them successfully. Then we had Jumpers. This should have been clean and it's my fault that it wasn't. I made the wrong choice for changing sides and caused her to make a mistake which derailed us for the next section. BUT. Check out that last section from the purple tunnel on. She is FLYING! I wasn't sure she would get the tunnel-tunnel transition because I was SO far behind her. I had to just trust that she would hear me call for the tunnel and that she would do it. Then she had a little blip where she saw someone sitting in the ring and went to visit. That was a hard one... after all that jump was right in front of the person. And check out the last 3 jumps. She only takes 1 step between them... that's how stretched out she is. She was flying!

Kili really impressed me over the past week and a half. I am beyond excited and happy. I got so many nice compliments on her, especially at this last trial. Things like "once she gets a little older and you work out the kinks, she is going to be amazing" and "she's still just a baby... she's going to be fantastic in another year". So proud of the baby girl. Though, coming into her first heat I guess I need to stop calling her a baby!

1 comment:

Hiking Hounds said...

She is looking great. Congratulations!