The scoring for this sport is very interesting. There are 15 exercises. All 15 are listed on the scoresheet, and as you go through, the judge assigns a score for every exercise. The scoring for each exercise is from zero to ten. So, if the first exercise is a circle around the handler, the judge will assign a number for that exercise. Criteria taken into account are dog's performance, and cues given. If large hand cues are used, for instance, less points will be earned than if a very subtle hand cue, or verbal only, is used. Also, points are earned. There are no deductions.
In addition to that, there are up to 5 additional points that can be earned for each of the Free Choice exercises. These points are given based on creativity and difficulty for the move or trick chosen. The interesting thing about this is that you can actually earn more points total for doing something simple very well than for attempting something very difficult and not doing it well. It is not necessarily a disadvantage to choose simple Free Choice behaviors, although if the dog can do something creative or difficult very well, it can be very helpful. I like that the scoring rewards good execution of simple behaviors, while encouraging the development of more complex ones.
Finally, a score of 0 - 10 is assessed for three categories, including heelwork, teamwork/attention, and something else that I can't remember at the moment!
This can all equal 200. You need 125 to qualify. That may not sound like much at all, but believe me - you have to work to earn those points, and it wouldn't really be all that hard to fall short.
Now that I have done this in competition, I really, really, really like the scoring system.
So, we went into the second trial of the day with a better idea of how things would go. I was less nervous about Tessa, but a bit apprehensive about Dean. How would he be the second time around? More comfortable since he had been in this ring before, or more shut down because he found it stressful? I would see . . .
Tessa was second again, so I brought her in and left Dean out in the car (where he would really rather be!). Unfortunately, as I was walking toward the building, I tripped a little and stumbled and completely freaked Tessa out. She was walking on my left. After that, she wanted to walk on my right. I was hoping that this would not carry into the ring.
I was able to give her a bit of time in her crate with a Kong, and then a quick potty break outside, before she needed to go in for her next run, and she seemed to settle pretty well.
This run was . . . interesting! It was definitely the weakest of the three, earning her lowest score of the weekend. She started off very well, but at the fourth sign on the course - a down stand - she got confused! Instead of lying down, she sat. Then she stood and bowed! Then she finally downed. But when I cued her to stand, she sat again. Then she stood, but immediately moved forward. I wasn't sure if that was going to be a total wash or if we would get some points out of it (technically she did down and she did stand, but not as she should have). On we went, and she did some things nicely. Later in the course, however, there was a sit-stand. The sit was fine, but when I cued her to stand, she sat pretty and then stood up, but on her hind legs, and she just hung there!!! HooooBoy!! Off we went!
The rest of the run went fine, other than the fact that she didn't even bow at all before sinking into a down at the very end.
I honestly wasn't sure if it would qualify, but I appreciated Tessa's enthusiasm and creativity. I have to hand it to her. She tries! She is actively trying to figure out what I want. Her attitude is, "Is it this? Is it this?". When she knows what each cue means, she is going to be dead on every time!
After she had a chance to enjoy her Kong some more, she got to go out to the car with Dean while I, again, watched some others on the course. I enjoyed watching others. I enjoyed seeing what people had chosen to do for Free Choice signs. I was glad to see that, for the most part, our skill level on those was on par with most of the other competitors.
With a few dogs ahead of us, I went to the car and got Dean. I got his tug and we played tug outside. I really got him going. Then we came in and he got his Kong in the crate. Just before our turn, I had him do some heeling and spins and twirls and things. He seemed very focused.
This run was much better. I can't say he was at his best, nor that his attitude equaled his attitude in Rally. He still "wandered" a few times, but he stayed with me much, much more. He even showed off a little on one of his Free Choices! There is one move that he does where I kneel down and then he dives under my leg into a bow. I had planned this one so we would face both the judge and the audience perfectly when he did it. As he went into the bow, he really stretched forward and the audience clapped enthusiastically for him! He sunk into it even more, obviously enjoying that response. That was very out of character for Dean, and I'm glad it was something that he got to experience!
Both dog qualified again! I was thrilled! This time Dean even scored higher than Tessa!
After the whole day wrapped up, we went and checked into our hotel. I was going to join a group of participants for dinner at a local restaurant, but we had about an hour and a half to relax before going. Tessa sprawled out on one of the double beds as if she owned it and slept for a good half hour or so! Dean slept on the floor.
I knew that no matter how things would go on Sunday, I was perfectly satisfied with our performance at this competition. Of course, I was very much looking forward to seeing what the rest of the event would bring.