Sep. 4 found us at American K9 Country for the Merrimack Valley KC show. At the time of entry I was unsure if I would still be in Rally Advanced, or need a moveup to Excellent which I'm not sure I'm ready for (we all know how that turned out, LOL), but the club was offering Non-Regular classes, which I had never seen done before. After researching the rules, I could not resist the chance to enter Rally T Challenge, along with the regular trial. Seems no one had ever seen it done, and it garnered a charge of interest at the show. Unfortunately, only one other person entered that weekend, and it was on a different day. So Tripp and I were all alone out there. Not much of a challenge for 1st place, but it was still a great experience, and lots of fun. I truly hope more clubs will offer this class in the future! No, you can't earn titles, it's just for fun and the sake of competition. Maybe a chance at some cool prizes, but that's it. Entry fees are lower though, and it really is worth it for so much fun mixing it up out there, plus it's great practice for more advanced Rally exercises. :-)
About the Rally T Challenge: This is a "non-regular" class. Regulations are based on AKC's Rally Advanced level. Any exercise from Novice or Advanced, as well as a few exercises exclusive to this class may be used. The course is longer and a time limit is set. The judge determines course time by averaging 3 personal walk-thrus. The time limit, however, is not posted until the end of the competition. Scoring is normal for each station (max. 10 pts. per), with the addition of 1 point added for each second below course time, or 1 point deducted per second over time. There are no NQs in this class; all dogs are awarded points. A perfect score is 200, though it is possible to score higher than this, or receive a negative score. A big part of the challenge is the walk-thru. Handlers are allowed to walk slowly through the course only once, and absolutely no practicing the given exercises is allowed (this includes after you leave the ring, which you must do immediately). Also, if you are unsure of a sign, you're on your own - can't ask the judge for clarification. Handlers are expected to be familiar with all rules.
The T Challenge is definitely aptly named. It is a new and exciting way to showcase your training, challenge your skills and mental acuity, and just have a lot of fun doing something different! I highly recommend entering!
Regular Rally trials saw good entries that weekend. Advanced alone had 20 on Sunday (8 in A, 12 in B). Interestingly, we in A division (the novices) scored better than nearly everyone in B (those more experienced); even the judge commented on that! It was a tough course too; challenging exercises, intricate layout. And the judge held us to high standards when scoring. She was fair, professional, really nice.
Tripp made me very proud that day! While his performace was not entirely flawless, he did wonderfully overall, even on some usually hard exercises like the Figure 8 (past bowls of smelly treats)! Such a good boy. Funny thing is he was extra tired come afternoon... apparently it's more exhausting to behave himself than it is to be a twerp. ;-)
We hit one snag in the trial - after finishing, the judge explained that there was a timer malfunction. She offered two choices: I could do it again and be timed, or take whatever score I got. Time only matters in Rally as a tie breaker, so I could still place IF my score was good enough. She could only tell me that I Qed. I thought it over (that is, I agonized over the decision) and finally resisted the temptation to be greedy - I was pretty sure we did okay, and realistically we weren't likely to do much better a 2nd time - but possibly could've done worse or NQed. I'm so glad I made that choice. Reviewing the video, Tripp did better than I thought. Turns out there was also no need for a tie breaker; scores were all off by at least 1 point. We ended up placing 4th with a 97 (wow, good class!) and earned a second leg towards RA. All in all, a wonderful day!