Kala’s First Agility Trial

CR180x160_agilityThis past weekend was Kala’s first trial.  Kala is an Australian Shepherd and is almost 2 years old.  She has been practicing agility for several months now.  She is able to do small sets, mostly jumps, tunnels and tire.  She can do the contacts (except teeter), but still doesn’t get the stay part at the bottom.  She is just learning to weave using Susan Garrett’s 2 x2 training method.  By AKC or USDAA standards, she would not be ready for a trial, but by going to CPE and only entering some of the games, we were able to have the trial experience.  We entered in Jumpers (no weaves in CPE), Colors and Fullhouse.

Our first event was Jumpers.  I really had no idea what she would do – she stayed on the start line and I led out the first jump.  She is pretty fast and Jumpers is a fast course, so I had to keep up with her and call her back to be a few times.  Luckily she didn’t take any obstacles out of sequence and ended up with a Qualifier and first place! (3 dogs).  I was very happy since I knew any mistakes she made would be easily corrected once she got used to doing courses.

The second event for her of the day was Fullhouse.  At this particular venue, there is a spot in the first ring that my other dog, Sullivan, always like to stop and sniff.  I don’t really see any other dogs stopping there, so I was surprised when Kala decided to stop and sniff there too!  Maybe Sullivan told her there was something good there???  We did OK in the Fullhouse, but did not Qualify.

The second day we started out with Colors.  Colors is a course that has 2 intertwining courses and you choose which one you want to take and once you start with that one, you have to stick with it.  At Level 1, one of the courses had a sharp turn from a tunnel exit to a jump, the other course had a better path, but included the A-frame.  I decided to go with the sharp turn.  The first obstacle was a tire, so I did not lead out.  Kala took the course like she had it memorized or something.  She completed the 38 second course time in only 12.89 seconds!  She got another Qualifier and first place.  Wow – it was great!

The second event for that day for her was another Fullhouse.  Unlike the Colors, she acted like she could have cared less.  She didn’t even run or go for any obstacles and when we got over by the sniffing area – that was it – she wouldn’t budge.  I almost had to ask for her leash to get her off the course.  Very disappointing.  Not that I expect to be perfect on every run – especially on the first trial.  I was very happy with the other runs, but I was concerned at her lack of drive to go out and do anything.  So, along with everything else, I will be getting her excited before each practice run, so she will be ready to go out and have fun.

Our next trial is in early November so we have less than a month to get ready.  One of the big issues at this last trial was the heat.  It was in the 90’s both days and almost no breeze or anything.  My other Aussie, Sullivan, did her best, but did not Qualify in anything.  She does not run well in the heat and it was just too much for her.  We came close in the early morning events, but just went downhill as the day got hotter.

I learned some good lessons from her  runs too and will be posting them soon – off to practice!

click here for more agility!

click here for more agility!

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CPE Trials

The Florida agility season is about to begin.  Our first trial will be Sept. 12-13!!  It will still be very hot , so we are entering in only a few events.  They do have a few night time trials during the summer here, but I finally gave up going, since we never did very well – just too hot and they end at 2 or 3 in the morning!!  The heat doesn’t seem to bother some dogs (like my Kala) but others (my Sullivan) just seem to wilt.

With CPE nationals in Kissimmee (our backyard almost!) we have decided to focus on just CPE trials this season.  I might try one or two AKC with Kala, depending on how she does in CPE.  Her first trial will be in mid October!!  We really need to step up our training.  In CPE one of the nice things for beginners is that there are no weaves or teeter in Level 1.   You can also enter FEO (For Exhibition Only) and run the course with your leash (no toys or food though).

We love CPE!  It’s a great group of people and a great way to get started.  If you want to compete for fun or see where your dog is at before doing AKC or USDAA, CPE is the place to be.  The jump heights are lower than in the other venues and the rules are a little more forgiving.  There is a lot of variety with 5 different games and a standard run.  Each day you can only do 5 runs, so most trials offer a slightly different program each day.   Not only is it fun to run, but fun to watch, so those long trial days go by really fast!!

Some of the games are just running the course that is set up like Jumpers (has jumps, tire, tunnel, chute – no weaves), but most of the games require some strategy and thinking on your feet.  Jackpot is like the traditional Gamblers where you must aquire a certain number of points in the first part and then perform a series of obstacles from a distance in the allowed time frame.  As you move up in Levels, the tape gets further away!!

Colors (Sullivan’s best event) is 2 short courses intertwined – you must complete only your course.  Each one will usually have one easy part and one hard part – you have to decide which one your dog will do best.  We tend to do well because it’s usually only 9 or 10 obstacles and Sullivan sticks with me.  It is timed, so that is a factor.

Wildcard is another short course that will be one course, but three times during the course there will be a choice of two obstacles.  One will be easier than the other (ex: a tunnel or weave poles).  In the beginning levels, you have to do 2 easy ones and one hard one, in the higher levels, you have to do 2 hard ones and one easy one.

In Fullhouse it is a wide open course.  The object is to collect points within a certain time.  Each level has a corresponding number of points that you  need.  You can do each obstacle twice for points.  Not only do you need the points, but you must complete 3 jumps, 2 circles (tires, tunnels) and one “joker”.  The joker is usually a contact piece like A-frame or Dogwalk, weaves or a combination.  It’s lots of fun.  You must go to the pause table to complete your run.

Snooker requires the most strategy and is in someways the most challenging as it requires you to make adjustments if your dog makes a wrong move.  It is easy to get blown off the course (disqualified) because the rules are a little tougher.  There are generally 3 or 4 red (marked with a flag) jumps  and you have to do a red jump, then go to an obstacle (which are numbered for points) then take another red jump and another obstacle (obstacle can be the same, but the red jump cannot) and do it one more time, before running the course – obstacles 2-7 and ending at the pause table.  The red jumps are usually spread out and if you take two obstacles before getting to the next red jump you will hear a whistle – not good!!!  We used to be fairly successful at snookers, but lately time has been an issue for us.  If the course does have 4 red jumps and you knock a bar down, you can go to the other red jump that you weren’t going to use – but you cannot take any obstacle in between.  I love watching it!!

Everyone at CPE is very encouraging and we are getting quite a few trials here in central Florida.  To see if there is CPE in your area, check out the website here. You can also start your own club too.

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