(Agility) Trials and Tribulations
USDAA agility is tough. High jumps (26 inches for Tripp, who is 25 inches tall) and perfect "clean" runs to qualify for titles. What was I thinking starting out here? LOL (Well, as you may recall, it's simply because they allow colored dogs, so I wouldn't have to forgo trials due to creative grooming.) As competitive as it may be, I generally find it to be a pleasant experience. This weekend was particularly good. I really loved this judge, who was very helpful and nice, and obviously having fun. Makes for a great day, regardless of results.
On the plus side, Tripp earned a 2nd leg towards his first Gamblers title. I am hoping we can finish it later this year. We still have one in Standard class, but I may leave that outstanding and move to Performance division where the jumps are lower. Although this will be easier on Tripp's body, it won't necessarily make titling any easier!
On the down side, Tripp had a setback during training last week, slipping off the dogwalk and aggravating an old injury. Thankfully nothing serious enough to keep us from running agility, but plenty to make me worry. Of course, it doesn't take much to do that - we're all paranoid about our babies. I was actually a bit surprised to see him moving as well as he did when I played back the trial footage in slow motion. However, I also see movements that are not normal for him, confirming a slight imbalance (which we've been struggling with for a while). While he may be well enough to perform, we also don't want to push too hard and delay truly full recovery. Now I'm glad there are no more USDAA trials to tempt us for a couple months.
I set the video to slo-mo to evaluate Tripp's performance, but also found it helpful to see the subtleties of my handling. I included this & my notes in the footage below, since it may be of interest or helpful to other handlers. But since I am obviously FAR from being a pro, I would also welcome constructive feedback from knowledable agility folk.
With the summer heat, July also brought our first freestyle demo of the year. Once again we were to perform at the Brimfield Farmers Market/Family Fun Day in MA. There were demonstrations, live music, vendors, and of course fresh produce. It's a small event, but oh so nice. We were so happy to be invited back, and what a great turnout - 10 freestyle teams performing this year!
Tripp & I debuted our new routine to "Jump" by Van Halen. Well, most of it. Admittedly, it is very new, and we had practically no rehersal of the entire thing to music - just been piecing together the moves. So considering everything, I guess we didn't do too badly. Unfortunately, near the end, he flew over my head (right) then flew out of the ring (wrong). At least I learned not to aim him at the exit for that move! LOL But it was all over after that. Distractions abounded, and my patience dwindled. He continued to ignore me after I finally got him back in the ring, so I had to remove him. At least it was almost over, but I was bummed that we didn't get to finish properly. I am just thankful that the rest of the routine was impressive enough that people seem to remember that, and not the frustrated handler giving up and walking out. Hey, I'm only human.
Hopefully, we will do better next time. We have less than a month to practice (and a very busy schedule) so I'm not expecting perfection... but it'd be nice to at least finish it. ;-) Next demo also coincides with an AKC rally trial, so crossing fingers that Tripp has better focus!!
The PomPoms also performed as the grand finale. Again, with little practice together, and a brand new member, I must say we pulled it off pretty decently!
There were several photographers snapping pictures of everyone, obviously a talented bunch both in and out of the ring - they captured many beautiful shots of each team. Here are a few favorites of "Team TnT". (Click the pic for larger view and info.)