I haven't trialed a lot lately, with Lethbridge being the last big trial in September. This was such an awesome weekend, despite being part of the club putting on the trial and needing to be there from the very beginning to the very end. 2 x 12 hour days plus Friday night leads to being pretty wrung out come the end of the day on Sunday.
Baxter is not running full trials anymore and Spencer never has run full trials so it was pretty relaxed in terms of numbers of runs per day. I did enter Nike, but we're on a confidence building plan with her, so her runs don't "count."
Friends to trial and bench with make a world of difference in having a enjoyable weekend as well. This weekend was no exception. We benched with one of our training partners and having someone to video and chat with is awesome.
My boys rocked Friday night (their whole one run each) but it set me up to have a fantastic weekend. That connected feeling where your training pays off and you run as a team. It's the best feeling in the world!
All of the Masters level courses were under a judge I'd never actually trialed under before and being that she's a pretty standard fixture on various world teams, I didn't expect to love trialing under her as much as I did. Maybe it's a hold over from having the non-standard breeds, or from running my "slow" dogs. I really love it when people notice how good of a team the people in the ring are with their dogs - regardless of breed, or how fast/amazing a run was. What makes my heart happy is when a team is out having a great time and the dog is clearly understanding what the handler wants. Those pretty, fluid, connected runs.
Baxter was ON all weekend, running great except for a bobble in a Standard which was my fault, not his. He picked up 2 Jumpers, 1 Standard, 1 Snooker and ran 4/5. It felt like he wanted to do more during the day, but when we ran those last runs each day he felt a little tired/slower so I think that 2 runs a day is a good compromise for him.
With those Jumpers Q's we only need 3 more to earn his Gold Jumpers which is my big goal for him. I initially wanted to get that in 2017, but even if we hit all the Jumpers possible (locally anyway) that wouldn't be happening, so I guess it'll be in 2018 under the new "jump" heights. (And I call them "jumps" because my short, Special/Vet boys only have to jump 4" which really isn't even a jump for them.)
Spencer was on as well - he really does better with less trialing/training. He held it together for me for the weekend, minus melting in his Snooker run that might have been due to soreness. We had a bobble in his otherwise awesome Standard were he pulled off and refused the Frame right before the Snooker run, which is why I'm thinking he might have been sore. He doesn't usually pull off the Frame, just on jumps when he's feeling worried. He picked up 1 Standard, 1 Steeplechase and 1 Gamble running 3/5, but those 3 he was ON, driving to obstacles and responsive.
As much as Jumpers is Baxter's game - Standard and Gamble are Spencer's. He doesn't LOVE distance, but he understands what I want him to do and has the confidence to go out there and attempt it. It makes me so happy that my soft little margarine puddle of a dog has the confidence to try for me. His weaves and DW make those games so much easier with him than they were with Baxter.
Nike did well with our new goal of having a good time in the ring and not stressing out/disconnecting. First run was only 5 or 6 obstacles on the way to the exit to have a cookie party, and she got distracted by some smells in the back, but we got it back together and finished strong.
Our second run was a Standard, and we actually attempted everything but the table. She knows and likes the table, but the stops where she is not rewarded seem make her think she is wrong and result in her disconnecting - so right now, no stopping! I lost her worse to smells after the teeter again, but again, got her back (it was her idea to teeter again, not mine) and we finished nicely and had another cookie party.
Until I've got 100% of a dog wanting to play my game, she'll be running Specials. Right now we need confidence and happy more than anything and once those are there the skills (that we have in training) will be a *little* more apparent - because right now it looks like I have a completely untrained dog.
I'm also going to fully embrace the journey Nike and I are on here and learn the things that she's teaching me that will make me a better and stronger trainer. It's about Nike and I. Period.
I love my dogs and I love the journey we are on together.