Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Back to Agility

Tessa and I ended up taking almost the entire summer off from Agility competition.  We did do one NADAC trial in July, but that was really just for an outing, and, while we enjoyed ourselves, it wasn't the same.

We both went into our day with a much better frame of mind than either of us had at our last trial at the end of May.

I am still just a little bit sad that our C-ATCH chase is over, but I am much more used to the fact that we have moved on to a new part of our journey together, and it doesn't bother me nearly as much as it did before.

We have spent the summer doing other things - mainly Freestyle and Parkour.  And that was very, very good.  I think we both needed the break.  I think we both needed to detach from Agility for a while.  We did go to class all summer, but we mostly did small jumper sequences inside and it was pretty relaxed and casual.

Thankfully, at class last Thursday the weather was nice and we were outside, so Tessa had a chance to go over a dogwalk, an A-Frame, and a teeter!!  I don't think she would ever forget those things, but it was good to know she was still solid before we went into the competition ring!

I made up my mind that I was going to approach these three Agility runs a bit differently.  I have always been one to be supportive of my dog, and to put his or her well being above chasing titles.

That said, Tessa is a partner who absolutely adored chasing titles with me!  And because of that, I thoroughly enjoyed the title chasing mindset with her for five years!

Now I needed a new mindset and a new approach.

So, I decided to focus on being really in the moment with Tessa while we were out on the course.  During the walk-through I mentally broke each course into parts, and then, when we were running, I focused on helping Tessa navigate just that part, and I kept my mind on connecting with her (but also trusting her to do her job!) and being a real team.

It is actually kind of difficult to explain how this is different from how I have approached Agility with her in the past.  But there was a difference.

And I think it worked well for us.  We both enjoyed all three runs.

On her first, a Standard, Tessa did a great job.  Just one little blip on the weave poles, but that is one of the few faults you are allowed in Level 5 Standard, so we still qualified in spite of it!

I loved her work on the jump sequences in that run.  I am starting to appreciate her talent as a jumper more than I ever have before!

After quite a nice break, we got to run our second Standard course of the day.  This one was nearly flawless!

You may notice on the video that it looks like Tessa completely blew her dogwalk contact, but from my perspective, it looked like she did get at least one foot in the yellow.  And the judge, who was a bit behind us, obviously agreed with that because she did not call it as a miss!

I was shocked when I looked at the video and saw that it looked like she missed it altogether.  But in real time it really did look like she actually hit the contact, so that's our story and I'm sticking to it - especially since the judge saw it the way I did!

I loved the serpentine in that one!  Tessa loved coming out of the tunnel and flying into the serpentine!  We got to do that again in Snooker!

And finally, Snooker!  My favorite run of all that we did!

That was a Q, too!

I saw the difference in Tessa in the two days following the trial.  Her eyes sparkled and she held her tail just a bit higher!  She was a happy girl.  I think she missed this, and so did I!

The premium for our next trial - first Sunday in October - has been sent.

We're back!!!!

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