CPE Nationals 2010 – our first

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We just finished a long 3 day weekend at our first CPE Nationals.  They were held right here in Kissimmee,  Fl  at the Silver Spurs Arena (normally used for rodeos)  just about 15 minutes from my house so it was a no brain-er for us to enter.  I could only enter my older dog, Sullivan since Kala has just started to do trials and did not have the 20 qualifiers.  Sullivan is all Level 5, except for Colors where she is in Level C (Championship), but for some reason I entered in all Level 5.

We got there on Thursday afternoon to set up.  It was very impressive to me.  We have only done outdoor trials here in Florida so to see 3 rings all set up with beautiful equipment in a big arena really made it special.  All of the crating was on the second level which was up about 40 steps or you could take a small elevator which broke down a few times.  We mainly did the steps which was quite a workout.  My dogs (I had Kala with us too) had never seen stairs or an elevator and I don’t think they really cared for either one.   But it was nice being up above the rings because you had a great view of all of the action.   There was one large ring for standard and then 2 smaller rings for the games.  At Nationals you do 1 Standard each day and 2 games, so by the end you have completed 3 Standards and one each of all of the games.

The event was put on by Pasco Paws of Zephyrhills, Fl and was very organized.  You were assigned a group and your group walked at a certain time, worked at a certain time and then ran.  I knew several people in my group, so it was easy to keep up with everything.  It was great to cheer for our friends and also meet new people and see their dogs too!

Once the courses are set up in the morning, they stay the same all day.  All classes run the same course, but you are given your Q and placement based on your level, height, etc.  There were 313 dogs entered.  The courses weren’t extremely hard, but each one did have a challenge to it.  The most difficult was the Jackpot (more on that in my next post) which only 12 dogs completed and 10 Q’ed (2 dogs were overtime by a few seconds).

If you ever have the chance to go to a Nationals, I would highly recommend the experience.  My dog ran great, we met a bunch of new people and above all felt the camaraderie of the CPE family.  I’m already looking forward to going to another one!

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Judging Agility

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Life’s  not fair – right??   Has there ever been a time at a trial when you felt that you were right, but the judge ruled otherwise and you end up without that needed Q?  Well – you’re not alone.  Talk to anyone that has been doing trials for awhile and they will all have a story to tell.  This is just part of the deal when you decide to take part in a sport that has a judge involved.  I have been in many judged sports, mostly gymnastics and diving and there are definitely times that leave you screaming “NO FAIR”!!!  So how do you handle it??

The good news for dog agility is that the judges really do seem to be on your side.  Most judges want to see you Q and will give you the benefit of the doubt.  If you feel that you were wronged, bring it to the judges’ attention as soon as the event is finished so they might remember your run.  If you are nice and approach the judge in a good manner, you will have a good chance of getting the mistake fixed, or perhaps finding out why they ruled that way and learning something from it.  Once you have discussed it with the judge, remember their decision is final.  Don’t keep going on about something once it is over.  The best you can do is let it go and focus in on the next run.

On the flip side – there will be times where you did make that mistake, but the judge either didn’t see it, or didn’t call you for it.  These are nice and make up for the times that things didn’t go your way.  Once you get going in agility and have done a few trials you will see that you will get some good calls and some not so good calls.  Remember -no one is out to get you and your dog.  Quite the contrary.  Everyone wants to see you get your Q’s and move up the agility ladder.

Once I felt that my time was wrong (manually timed) in a Jackpot closing.  The run was video taped and the counter on the video showed that I was under time (from when the whistle blew), but the timer, who was on the other side of the field showed just barely over.  Very frustrating!  But as a friend said – well if you had done better, it would not have been an issue – so the responsibility is ultimately mine to make sure we are under time to be sure to get that Q.

Before you start to blame the judge, put yourself in their position and realize that it’s not easy watching run after run and if you are in a place like Florida -where most trials are outdoors – the weather can really get to you.  All of the competitors go rest under their tents and the judge is still out there.  Most trials I have been to, the judge barely takes a break.

The next time you go to a trial give a little more thought to the judge.  Most of them have their own dogs that they run, so they  can see both sides.  If you see someone get a lucky break, be glad for them and know that yours is coming.  Most of all, don’t let one bad call ruin your day or your trial.  Remember – judges are human too!  Now let’s go get some Q’s!!!

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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.