well we are going to be in Open Standard Agility on Sunday. I have noticed that alot of the Open courses here have just been the Excellent courses with a couple of jumps removed. We always practice on Excellent courses so I know that we can do it. Of course now I have a few problems I didn't have before. I will have a conflict because Open Standard and Novice Jumpers usually run about the same time. I will have more people watching. there will be more dogs around to excite Amber. The judges may not be as patient with me at the start line. I have less mistakes I can make and less time to make them in. Weaves are scored. So much more pressure...Why am I doing this ???? Oh yeah becuase when we are actually running a course its incredibly fun and exciting and an adrenaline rush. Also agility people are kinda a weird group so I really fit in. And everyone is always nice. This hasn't come as easy as Novice Obedience so to me it is valued more. I am really going to apreciate our first Jumpers leg because we have had so many problems there.
I always vent of my nervousness here so i can just enjoy myself and my dog at the trial..lol So thanks for everyone for being here and being supportive.
There is something to be said for staying in the same class for awhile to gain experience though particularly when you go 1-2-3 and especially with a very young dog. That extra experience is priceless for you and the dog. A friend of mine learned this the hard way in obedience. They went 1-2-3 in Novice A (all 1sts) so at the next show they moved up to Open A and the dog fell apart. She had no real ring experience and that coupled with the stress of Open (particularly out of sight stays) ruined a perfectly good dog. She has never regained her confidence in the ring. It took 1 yr to finish Open and she has yet to compete in Utility. There is more pressure and more stress with every level. Just something to think about as you take this journey.
Don't worry, you'll be fine. A lot of people will have the same conflict, the course times are still easy, and Amber will do fine with the weaves. Plus both judges this weekend are REALLY nice, we've shown under them a lot. Under Tammy Domico a few weekends ago (who I think will be the Standard judge tomorrow) I scooped up Boo while he was thinking about peeing and she said "good catch." :P
Amber will do fine in Open. She is VERY well trained, much better trained than Dusty was when he started. Dusty moved up as soon as he finished his title in each level and did fine - got his OA in ~6 runs and his OAJ in ~7, got his AX in 8 runs and his AXJ in 5 or 6. Plus in agility you can move back down to Novice until you get a Q in Open, so if it's really unbelievably overwhelming you can move back down or do Novice Preferred for a while.
Well we did survive. we didn't Q because we dropped two bars in jumpers and a single bar in standard. However we ran both courses perfectly, we got our weaves done just fine (even though there was twelve in open.lol) No refusals or run ons. no table faults. we hit all our contact zones. we did the tire fine. At no time did I think she was going to go off course/take a wrong obstacle. Our startline manners still need some work but we are getting them worked out. I even started her off my right side today, something that really freaks her out due to our obedience back ground. Our next shows will be at 20" instead of 24" in two weeks so hopefully that will limit our dropped bars. I remembered both courses even though I had to walk both before I ran either. we still aren't as smooth as I want to be but we are way better and getting better each run. I am getting more confident. I am getting better at spotting some of my own mistakes. And this is becoming even more fun.
We are lucky to have trainers that make us train well ahead of our levels. I run excellent levels in obedience with my trainers and one of them has us do really hard things in class that we might never see on a course. As far as open obedience I am thinking that it will be a while before we go back into the obedience ring. I totally know that you don't enter until both you and the dog are ready. I also think that us going for the top novice A obedience dog was both alot of pressure and a good experience, but we need a break from obedience after all those shows. We had something like 15 trials most of them in a 2 month period. and it just flat wore both of us out. SO we switched to obedience for a while for a different experience. When we are ready for Open we will just go do what is more confortable for us. And I think it will give her some time to mature a bit. We will do training as we go and when I think we are ready I have a friend that will proof us and correct us and fix us and make us ready. She will want us to be able to go in and get a 198 or better before she lets us enter another show and I absolutely trust her judgement on these things.
The good thing about us is we don't have to do any one thing. we can switch back and forth and do all these different things. I think we are way ahead of where we should be. And I know it is always better to leave Amber wanting to do more than to work her till she wants to stop. I think I am beginning to get a grasp on teaching my dog to do things in the easiest way. And alot of it has come from here. I try to learn from others mistakes and successes. So thanks everyone.
I contribute most of Murray's knocked bars due to me. Murray's obedience training has actually hindered us a bit in agility. When we first started trialing I would tell Murray "over" about 2 strides before the jump and he was constantly knocking bars. It wasn't until I watched a video of us that I realized that Murray jumps when I say jump...literally. He was jumping way too early. I started running quiet and that helped immensely. We still have occasional dropped bars but nothing like before. My trainer said she sees Murray dropping bars when I suddenly stop forward motion (whether to turn, front/rear cross or whatever), Murray literally stops in mid air and drops the bar. She's been having me make a conscious effort to drive a step or two further into the pocket and once again, our bar dropping issue has improved. It really helps to have an extra set of eyes.
I am hoping our move down to 20" will solve our problem. And I think if i can calm down a bit at the shows and pace Amber instead of trying to race her, that we will also do better. I am totaly glad that I have switched trainers. My new trianer is helping us fix issues and solve problems. Just tonight my new trainer is having us take a step back and relearn the weaves so that Amber will weave holding her head down instead of up. This seems to make Amber get a much better rythem and keeps her from poping out. She is helping me handle Amber way better.