25 November 2013

Who's amazing?

Is it me?
Yes, Strafe. It is you.

I drove up to Barto PA to Orchard Hills for our 2nd USDAA trial at 22", hoping to maybe finish up our Tournament qualifications for 2014. Well, we didn't quite finish all of them; but we came pretty darn close. Strafe and I have already found our groove at the lower jump height, and the verdict is that we both love it. He is finding a whole new top speed and I am having a hell of a lot of fun running harder to stay ahead. I think that is perfect for both of us; we can both get a little too caught up in making perfect tight turns, and forget about pushing super hard. Well the lower jump height has forced us both to work harder and that is great! Strafe is even faster at 22" than he is at 26", and at 26" he is nothing to sneeze at!

On Friday we ran Steeplechase and Masters Challenge Jumpers. We had a total miscommunication moment in Steeplechase, on a pretty speedy straightforward course, and it showed me that we need to go back and revisit an issue we had back in May at Tryouts, where Strafe pays too much attention to my general line of travel and disregards my actual side cue once in a while. Oh well. So we still need one more Steeplechase Q for Nationals. Then we had a fabulous Masters Challenge Jumpers run for 1st place.

Saturday began the Team classes, and we won Team Jumpers, Snooker, and Standard with all very nice fast runs. Our Team was in 3rd place out of 21 teams at the end of the day which is great, as it gave us a little bit of room for small mistakes on Sunday and still be able to qualify. In  between the team runs we ran Masters Challenge Standard, and just like 2 weeks ago this class Q eluded us. Last time we had a miscue on the 2 jump, this time we made it 1 more obstacle in and went off course after number 3. Really?? OK so we have a bit more homework for the winter, apparently ;) And this is our only other Q we still need for USDAA Nationals 2014.

Sunday we finished the Team runs, Strafe won 22" Gamblers and then our Team got 2nd in Relay by only .05 seconds which was my fault as Strafe turned the wrong way on a jump and I had to lie him down and call him back before continuing on. We held our spot and finished 3rd place overall in the Team event so a solid Team Q out of the way, so no pressure at the Regional which is great! After that we ran Grand Prix, and it was a fun course with some decisions to be made about handling. I chose the easy turn in the beginning as I felt the time difference wasn't worth the huge effort I needed to make the turn the other way. Strafe turns so tightly with very little extra effort from me, so it's great to just cue the turn and then get ahead again, and boy do I have to run to beat him now, especially at 22"! We had a great run and got 1st place for our 2nd bye of 2014. After that was the fun class of Challenge Finals; this is a class Mary Ellen Barry made up especially for her trial. You pay $10 to enter it, and if you end up in the top half of your jump height and don't have 2 E's in the 2 Challenge classes, then you get to run in the Finals for a chance to win a gift certificate. The Final is just another Challenge Standard class; this one happened to be a really wide open one with several challenges related to "can you even GET THERE?" along with some other typical backsides and threadles. It was fun but boy it was hard as the 10th run of the weekend! Strafe and I nailed it and won the certificate, for a great finish to the weekend. What a good dog! Now we are off of trialing till mid-January. Nice to have a break, and important for the dogs and myself both, but I know I will be jonesing to run again by the time January rolls around. I'm addicted, after all ;)

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