The other week I decided that I needed to enter Grace in an agility trial before we get to Michigan next month. I thought she might need some experience at an actual trial. So I entered Grace in one round of tunnelers at a local NADAC trial. But gosh, if I am going, it seems so silly to just go for one run doesnt it, so I also entered Magic in all 3 of the available runs on Friday night. Hoopers, Tunnelers and Weavers. The closer we got to the actual trial the more nervous I became. I worried about Grace running off, I worried about Magic not remembering what to do, I worried about whether I could actually run a whole course. I worried.
Friday the day of the trial it was rainy. Really rainy too, not just a nice light sprinkle. But thankfully it was a warm rain, so although I chill so easily, I thought I would be able to handle getting a little wet. Well, a little wet certainly was not going to happen, as it was pouring at the trial site. Not the whole time, but often enough. Since we were only entered for the one day, I could not see bringing the easy up, so we just set the dog crates up and covered them with a tarp. For the most part they were dry, unless they were out running.
Magic was up first with a hoopers run. Hoopers is not offered at every trial and our last hoopers Q was 3-15-2008, and we really hadnt run any NADAC since 2009, and had only run one CPE trial in 2010. So I was pretty sure that we were just going to go out and have fun and not worry about how we did, or how badly we looked. We were just going to do our best, play and have a great time together. Hoopers, for those of you who don't do agility is a course where you sort of make up your own plan. There are 5 tests on the course set by the judge and a line of hoops in the middle that are non test hoops. For novice you have to do 3 non test hoops, successfully complete a test, do 2 non test hoops and then complete another test, then get the heck out of there.
I had watched most of the others run the course and very few of the people chose the tests that I thought we were going to try. I started to worry thinking that those very experienced folks were so much smarter than I was maybe I should change my plan. But in the end I decided to do the course that I planned anyways. Magic was super excited as we stepped up to wait our turn. He made it perfectly clear that he loves to play these games with me. I did not ask him for a huge lead out, as it wasnt necessary for the course, but he did wait for his release. He shot off the line and raced down the line of non test hoops, taking the first 4. He was headed for a test at the end of the line, but I called him to me and sent him through the first hoop and out to 2nd in the test. This was the harder hoop to get, because there were 2 side by side and the dog needed to take the further one from the handler, I pushed him out, he adjusted and took the right hoop, headed back to me took the last hoop of the test and I sent him on to the next 2 non test hoops. So far great! The second non test hoop was a bit beyond the next test I wanted to try, so I called him back and sent him through the first hoop of the test. This test was a 4 hoop test, one hoop centered in front and 2 behind it sided by side so the test was to take the front hoop, take either of the back hoops, wrap and come right back through the hoop next door and take the first hoop again. Magic did really well, his wrap/turn from the 2nd hoop to the 3rd one could have been tighter, but he did it very well in my opinion. Back to the last hoop of the test and out to the finish. WOOHOO success! I had no idea is we made time or if we really had done it right, but it felt so good. It felt like teamwork, it felt like it was just the 2 of us and the rest of the world didn't even exist. It makes me smile thinking about it.
I wont go into the blow by blow of the other 2 runs, but they were pretty awesome too. We did mess up in weavers when someone forget his start line stay and then missed a hoop. But the rest of the weavers run was really good. It felt good, he remembered how to weave and did all 3 sets on the first try. Tunnelers also went well, the course was great, and I loved it. I love that Magic is such a good partner. Now I have the bug again and really want to do more agility.
Grace had a hard time being patient and waiting for tunnelers. Whenever I had Magic out, she screamed her fool head off, so that means I have some work to do with her. But, she was eager and when it was her turn she was excited, she was happy and she was fun. OK, she didnt do the course and she kind of made her own, but for a dog that has not been a tunnel sucker she did take every tunnel she saw and she did so with speed and a wagging tail. I was worried about her taking off on me and I guess that is not going to be an issue-at least not in the sense that she would leave the agility field. She was so eager to run, she took every tunnel opening she was, but 2 times I was able to redirect her and I was able to call her off in the middle of the course and end our run. She seemed to have a great time! I am now less worried about the running off than I am about her creating her own path. I know we are not quite ready yet, and she will never be the same as Magic, but I had fun with her just the same.
We were wet, wet to the skin and beyond, but I went home smiling. Magic Q'd in 2 of the 3 runs taking first place in all. Grace stayed on the agility field, she worked with me somewhat and she was happy. I was too.