Sunday, September 2, 2012

CPE Agility

Months ago I started to write up Tessa's CPE adventues, and I never finished.  So, I'm going to write a nutshell post to sum it all up.

It started out very difficult.  CPE was my thing with Maddie and it was hard to go back and start again with Tessa.  I knew Maddie's strengths, and her weaknesses, and I knew what to expect when we went out to run together.  Tessa was such an unknown.  She has tons of natural talent and she was excelling in class, but finding my stride with her in competition was a challenge.

Our first CPE trial was in March.  We went to Westminster - a very tough place to start since I never even took Dean to Westminster.  That was a special Maddie and me trial.

But it had to be done.  The first step had to be taken, and Tessa and I took it.

We left that day with two NQ's with placement ribbons, my head spinning, and Tessa having had a good time!

Here is a video of her second run, which was her first ever Colors run.  Looking at this now, I see that she did a fantastic job.  She was incredibly green, my handling was lacking, and it was a very good "get our feet wet" kind of run.  Of course, at the time I was mentally comparing her to Maddie (even though I knew better and honestly did not want to) and I was disappointed.  Not in Tessa, but just in circumstances.

One thing that surprised me was realizing that CPE is not going to be easy for Tessa.  I had kind of expected it to be, but I left the trial that day knowing it would be a worthy challenge.  And, in retrospect, that truly was what I wanted.

In April we went to Periland.  I honestly expected that to go better, but it didn't.  Where Tessa had run off to take the A-Frame on me at Westminster, at Periland, she ran around it during Fullhouse!  She was jumping tunnels left and right!

I realized something when we were there, though, that turned out to be the key to our success in CPE.  I had gotten a bit ambitious with Tessa and I had started her in Level 3.  I figured I was experienced, she was talented, and I thought we could just dispense with Levels 1 and 2.

During the Periland trial I was serving as ring crew during Standard and I became a bit envious of those who were running the Level 1 course.  I realized that Tessa and I could have done that and probably have succeeded.  She had not Q'ed yet at Level 3.  I made the decision to go back and start at Level 1.

I felt good about that decision.  It seemed that maybe Tessa needed to start from the beginning, and that she would actually enjoy starting at the beginning.  I had entered a trial in May at my home training center - Dandy Dog Training - and I promptly contacted the show chair and changed Tessa's entry to all Level 1 courses.

In the meantime, I was working hard with Tessa at class to learn better handling.  I knew that part of our problem was that I simply didn't know how to handle her as well as I could, and I was asking questions in class, trying out different things, and learning skills that I had never really explored before.  That is still a work in progress to this day, but even by May it was really coming along.

Tessa and I went out in our first run at the May trial and earned our first ever CPE Q in Colors!!!  That was a very fun run.  There were two choices on the course - one that was pretty easy and went right around the perimeter of the ring.  The other was a bit more of a challenge, twisting into the center of the ring, with a backside of a jump at the far end.  I chose the more challenging course, and we had a great time on it.

We would have had our first Wildcard Q, but I messed up and left her collar on, so we NQ'ed.

Snooker had become our nemesis!  At Westminster, we had done a beautiful opening, but when I went to start the closing, Tessa shot ahead of me into a tunnel and we were whistled off!!  In May we started out doing well for the first two pieces of equipment!  I landed in the wrong spot at the other end of the tunnel, though, and I ended up opening up the path to an off course tunnel, and again, we got whistled off.

Tessa was hilarious, though!  When I took off across the ring to head to the table, and called her, she proceeded to turn around, go back through the tunnel through which she had just gone, and then she took every tunnel on the course, ending up on the wrong side of the one closest to the table, so she jumped it to get to me.  She was pleased as punch!!!

I was laughing the whole time.  In spite of the challenge that Snooker had become, I was glad that Tessa was having a great time!!

So, we went home that day with one Q, one that would-have-been, and one very well earned NQ!!!  Tessa's traditional ribbon photo for that day  . . . 

To be continued . . . . 

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