I spent the last 5 days down in North Carolina. Raleigh is only about a 6-hour drive from me (a little less if i don't stop often). I only took Kiba and Trig on this trip. Strafe isn't old enough for USDAA yet, and I didn't enter Seri because of her weird pelvis/sacrum thing at the end of December. And Drifter isn't going to Denver for nationals so I don't see a reason to travel with him.
My goals for the weekend were to get Kiba a PGP, PSJ, and PVP Q so that she'll be qualified for the Regional in April. And we met that goal easily - she won all 3 with a bunch of great runs. We did have an unfortunate off course in Team Standard but luckily for us, so did pretty much every other PVP Team! My teammate got around and so we stayed in first. It was actually strange running her back at 16" again - we've been practicing at 20" for the most part and sometimes at 22", because I want her to be prepared for Belgium. But I'm not convinced that 22" is the right height for her at USDAA Nationals. I am eagerly awaiting confirmation of the rumors of USDAA adding a middle height of 18/19" for dogs of her size - I would happily run her in Championship if that came about! All of that said, I did run her in some of the Masters Challenge classes at 22", with the expectation that she would knock some bars after running 16" in the morning, and she did, but not that many bars, really, and she got around all 3 of the Challenge classes (they're international-style courses, really) without an off course, just a couple of bars, and on the 3rd try she actually ran clean and beat one of our WAO Teammates for 1st place! I was very happy with that. And the bars she did knock tended to be on straight lines when she opened up and forgot she couldn't jump as flattened out as she can at 16". And the triple surprised her on the first day. it's bigger than the 20" AKC triple, I think.
Another goal with Kiba over the weekend was to try to have the fastest time of all dogs in the class when we had a clean run, and we also met that goal - she had the fastest time of all in Grand Prix, Steeplechase Rounds 1 and 2, Team Jumpers, and Masters Challenge Jumpers on Monday. I wanted to try to have that as a goal so that I'd push her a little more, even though it wasn't a huge trial, and also because at 16" our timing is slightly different and she can run very fast since it's just under her shoulder height.
Trig also ran great for me all weekend, and got 3rd place and a GP Q, picked up a needed Super Q towards her ADCH, and won Steeplechase 26". She also did well in the Masters Challenge classes, and ran clean in one on Sunday. She only had one off course out of all 4 classes, and considering how little time we've spent working on difficult stuff, I was pretty pleased with that. Because Trig is a little bit slower than my other dogs, it is easy for me run and beat her places, and as a bonus, she enjoys being handled that way.
I continued to use some high speed blind crosses. I think it's funny how a lot of people talk about using them, and may even use them in practice, but very few americans have gotten brave enough to use them in jumping sequences at high speeds. i find them very useful, and fun, and so far after about a year of using them with all my dogs, they are still not demonstrating any confusion or going behind me when I don't want them to do so.
Back home today, and planning out the rest of the month. Teaching classes tomorrow, then teaching in NJ on Saturday (weather permitting - we're indoors but will cancel if there's snow that makes driving dangerous). Then next Thursday I leave for a 10-day trip in FL with a friend - 3 border collies and 10 days worth of clothing in a compact wagon! Should be a fun trip, but it's a damn good thing I already bought that rooftop cargo box!
One of the downsides of my car is that even though it is a small car with a 4-cylinder engine, it is only rated to get 30mpg on the highway - well I got 32mpg on the way down to Raleigh, so I'm feeling a little better about that! And I easily went almost 350miles on a single tank of gas, and the tank is 14gallons and I have yet to put more than 11 in when I fill it. Yay for efficiency! (although I'm still jealous of all the cool diesel wagons they have in europe...)
Drifter stayed home with my mother and spend the entire weekend digging every toy, bone, and antler chew out of her toy box. Apparently he was in there with both front feet and his face, digging through happily... what a goof. I know some people's dogs are upset when they begin to retire, but not Drifter. I leave with the other 3 to go swimming and he doesn't even get off the bed. He is perfectly happy to stay home. Sure, he loves agility, but he also loves toys and couches and dog beds and sitting on my mother's lap... He isn't entered in another trial until early March. Kiba now has a break in trialing till mid-February, so i think I'll give her this time as a "no jumping" time, and maybe just rehearse and proof some contacts while I'm home, and let her run feral with my mom while I'm in FL. Then once our PT comes and makes sure she didn't do anything too crazy while I was away, she'll go into hardcore training/conditioning mode for Feb/March to prepare for AKC Nationals, where I hope and expect for her to do very well...