Friday, July 07, 2006

Post-game analysis and pre-game mental prep

I never did file a report from the Domžale competition on June 24. Obviously we made it back alive. And in fact my fears about the "killer" courses set by the visiting Finnish judge were groundless, since she judged the A2/J2 and A3/J3 courses, but NOT the easier A1/J1 category that Lyra and I are in.

So, briefly (since it's already late and we have competitions in Ljubljana on Saturday AND Sunday), here's a report:

First run: It started out all right, not a particularly difficult course, I felt like we were both in good form, BUT: early on in the course, maybe the third or fourth obstacle, a jump, I got the positioning wrong and this caused Lyra to run past it instead of over. I realize now I made a mistake by trying to do a fancy instead of a straightforward turn, so that she would be on my left side going into the slalom, the next obstacle. (We're very one-sided on the slalom; working on that.) But the timing was off; I wasn't where I needed to be as she approached it, and she ran wide. Then, on the second attempt, she knocked a pole down—first EVER in competition. It could have been due to the awkward angle at which we approached it, or maybe it was because I tripped over the wings of the jump and caused the pole to fall. The wings on some of these jumps were quite wide (see photo below), much wider than what I train on--in fact, most of them are wingless--and I ran by too close.

I got up as quickly as I could after falling; Lyra barely skipped a beat as I lay sprawled on the ground, continuing on to the next obstacle without much guidance from me. The slalom, and she nailed it perfectly. Good for her!

The remainder of the course was fast and clean, but due to those mishaps early on we finished with 10 faults (five for a runout, five for a knocked pole). That put us 14th of 29.

Second run: Damn, it felt good. Fluid, connected, focused. Like there was an invisible elastic thread linking my dog and me. And then--problems where you least expect them. We had a straight, uncomplicated approach to a tunnel, I sprinted straight ahead, took my eye off her, assuming she was with me, and she inexplicably veered to the right and over a wall before I could call her back. Off course, disqualification. A wall! We hardly ever train on walls, because they're more work to set up than simple jumps, and it's odd that she would feel a pull in that direction. The lesson here is never assume anything, and try to keep the dog in your field of vision at all times.

We came back through the tunnel later in the course, and at that point were supposed to go over the wall next. I guess she had it fixed in her head that the wall was a no go zone, ignored my cue, and sailed over a straight jump instead. Well, it didn't matter, we were already knocked out. We did the wall for practice, at a very awkward angle, as you can see below, because she was making a U-turn back from the jump she wasn't supposed to go over.

So, no great results this time, but, as always, good experience and some learning oppotunities.

Olivia, on the other hand, succeeded at her job of looking beautiful and photogenic:

I was intending to write up a few notes on the agility seminar on Sunday, but I'll have to defer that till later. Early start tomorrow and I need to get a good night's sleep.


Blogger Eli said...

Love the picture of Olivia!

6:07 PM, July 11, 2006  

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