November brought on our final agility trials of the year. After mostly rough performances over the summer, Tripp finally kept his focus in the ring and gave beautiful runs. No zoomies! My handling had vastly improved, and I managed to keep ring nerves to a minimum this time. Everything gelled and it felt like just maybe we'd grab a qualifying score. And then a blonde moment struck. I honestly have no idea why I misunderstood directions in the gamblers run, but I do know I will never make that mistake again! Studying the map more closely probably would have helped. LOL And certainly I will be sure to get very clear directions from the judge next time... plus remember that the obstacles are numbered in the closing sequence! Duh! So first lesson of the day: know where you are going. ;-)
Our standard run was great, unfortunately I pushed out too far at the table and Tripp flew off it. Automatic NQ in USDAA. But the rest was awesome, and well below standard course time, and I am so proud of Tripp for his best performance yet! We beat another dog for 2nd place, and I took my first USDAA agility ribbon. We had some default placements before, but this was our first time winning over competition. After that lovely run, I am happy to have a little something to show for it. I also bought Tripp a new toy as a prize. He sure earned it!
I also got the chance to watch some of the masters/champion level runs. It was very educational, I picked up some good tips, esp. in gamblers. And I was relieved to see even top level teams making the same mistakes/faults as Tripp and I. USDAA is tough, requiring perfectly clean runs, and it's typically a fairly low percentage of teams that Q, regardless of level. While I root for everyone to do well, it is comforting to know we're not alone out there with our oopsies. On a more positive note, it was also very cool to see some of the more experienced teams taking a similar strategy to mine in gamblers... I even received compliments on my strategy. Which is kind of funny, because (as usual) after the fact, I thought of a few better ways we could have gone to maximize points. Not that we have any problem racking up more than enough to Q; just some competitive strategy to file away for the future.
I am very encouraged to continue in USDAA next season. Hopefully we won't forget everything over the winter! ;-)