Wednesday, February 11, 2015

What it's like for a dog to move from USDAA championship to performance?

Many of you may know that I am almost 11 years old, yep only few months and I hit the big 1-1!

After getting my ADCH back in March of last year with that last pawsome Super Q, Mum thought a lot about my future.

You see I love agility, love the atmosphere, love the competition, and love, love, love running with my Mum.

Over the years Mum has retired me several times as old and new injuries cropped up. But I've come through the other side every time to come back running stronger and faster than ever. It's a good thing because I'm a very frustrated dog if I don't get to do agility.

Mum wants me to be able to run agility as long as I can and want to. So with that Mum entered me in the performance class for my next trial that occurred last April after I got my ADCH. This was be the first time in all my years that I've jumped 12" instead of my championship height of 16".

The first time I saw 12" was at a run through near Norcross where we like to go to practice about every six weeks or so. Mum wasn't sure what to expect from me, but she was eager to find out. And I didn't disappoint, I was faster, and really got the hang of jumping a lower height, especially by the third and final run through of the day. I had to get used to the lower table, and more efficiency in going over the jumps (aka not jumping well over the bar, but just over the bar).

Our first trial in performance level 12" was in April in Alpharetta. Mum entered me in three runs per day which was quite different than the one run per day I have been doing over the past few years. She thought I'd be able to handle it as when we go to run thrus I run three runs in about two hours.

I came away from that trial 2-6 with my first PIII SQ and a 1st place in Standard. Indeed we were kind of rusty as a team running 12" with this trial. I remember well my Jumpers run on the first day, our timing was way off. I was faster than Mum expected, her timing was way off and she wasn't creating nice lines for me at all. And she noticed I was jumping high. We talked with Stuart M a little and he said it may take a trial to get your timing down better and for me to jump more fluid over the 12's. And indeed that's exactly what happened.

My next trial in performance was just a month or so later in April of last year. Now I have to say that Mum and I worked on our timing and me jumping 12" (and a little lower) a little in between and it paid off. I came away from that trial 5 for 5 with 2 SQ's, four 1st's and one 2nd. Oh yeah baby! I am loving 12".

Mum did notice that I was getting the hang of jumping 12". And with getting the hang of it come confidence. Mum had more of that confidence too and it showed in both of us. However, Mum believed that we still weren't at our 'peak' in being a team at 12".

Then came a trial in August later in the year. Oh boy, I won't forget that weekend. It was very, very hot and humid. I ran two runs and it was obvious that the heat was bothering me. I trotted through those two runs and so we went home for the rest of the weekend. Seems heat can bother you when you get older, as I have never been affected by heat before.

It got Mum wondering though, was I injured? Was it just the heat? Time would tell and come November when it was time for our last trial of the year, I was feeling good again. So Mum entered me in three runs for three days again.

I have to tell you that more and more as time goes by we are becoming in sync team again and it showed at this trial. Mum was always in the right place at the right time (well almost always), she supported me, gave me great instructions, and created great lines, I was very obstacle focused which allowed her to see my commitment early and get into place for the next line. It just worked.

We came away from that trial 6 for 6. We had such a great time Friday and Saturday, that we decided to stay home on Sunday. We were both exhausted, but very happy. So we decided to go hiking instead. Not only did I get all those Q's, I got 1st in five of them and a bye to regionals in Steeplechase. We were just a fraction of a second from a bye in Grand Prix too, but happy with 2nd to a great team.

We're looking forward to our next trial which is in a few weeks. Mum can't wait to see how I do. If practice is any indication, I may just be flying again. We're entered in only two of the three days (I think three in a row may be too much for me now) taking the middle day off.

And I'm already half way to my PACH, can you believe it?

Overall I think performance is great. I have loved competing in championship, but it's just a little too much for me to have tons of fun now that I'm nearly 11. That's what performance is for for many folks, and perfect for me. I can last longer, do more runs in a day, stay fast and accurate throughout the day, have more just works.

The neat thing is that when 12" becomes too much for me there is still Veterans level (8") I can run on occasion. At that time it will be time to share the reins with youngster Rach for all the wonderful fun, Mum bonding, awesome exercise and wins I've enjoyed over the years.

But for now, I'm happy to have my health, happy to be able to run with my Mum, and happy that having puppy Rach around has brought a lot of exercise, fun, life and energy in our lives.

1 comment:

  1. You are such an amazing pup for almost 11 years old, Johann! We couldn't be more proud of you!

    Love ya lots♥
    Mitch and Molly


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