Monday, November 13, 2006

Agility: More NADAC

I spent the weekend competing in another NADAC trial. I entered each dog in four runs per day, both for financial reasons and because remembering how to run two very different dogs is still new enough that I didn't think I could do any more. Results varied. Saturday gave us beautiful weather--sunny and warm. Mr. Gomez qualified in his first run that day (jumpers) but then we had a few runs where he spent a lot of his time looking around at the spectators and ring crew as if he was still trying to comprehend what was going on. So we wasted a little time here and there as I got his attention back and got him back on track through the course. I think he'll start getting over those behaviors the more he gets accustomed to the trial environment. Lucy was enthusiastic and fast all day Saturday ... too much so, in fact, because in each run she got way ahead of me and took an off-course obstacle before I could call her off of it. Still, it was great to see her so fast and confident. Plus, all of the work we have been doing on weave entries and contacts seems to have been paying off because she nailed every one beautifully.

Sunday was a quagmire. It had started raining heavily in the middle of the night, and when I got to the site at about 7:15 it didn't look like it would ever let up. The field, which under normal circumstances drains nicely, was a bog. The once waterproof hiking boots I was wearing were obviously no longer waterproof (fortunately I had brought two extra pairs of shoes and socks ... although once the second pair got completely sodden I just decided to keep them on and save the third pair for post-trial relief). Fortunately, the rain started slacking off by 9 am, but the field remained sodden, and it got worse all day as competitors slowly churned it to mud. Gomey went 1 for 4 all day, Q-ing only in Touch & Go (with a really beautiful run). Lucy took another off-course in T&G, but went on to have fantastic qualifying runs in Tunnelers and Weavers. Then we missed our Jumpers Q by .12 seconds--she had been well on her way toward an off-course jump when I called her off and got her back on course to finish clean, but we burned up too much time in the correction (we're in Open jumpers, where the times can be astonishingly tight).

At any rate, despite the fact that our Q's were sparse, I had a great time. I'm still not a fan of NADAC, however. I find that there is little consistency in the level of difficulty one can expect in the courses (i.e., at one trial they will be laughably easy, while at another almost impossibly hard). The NADAC trials just often feel so random--at one trial a judge may give a full 10 minutes to walk a course while at another trial (i.e. this one) the judge may give 4 minutes. I wonder if it's a coincidence that the only NADAC judge I have respected so far is also a USDAA judge? Too bad there aren't enough USDAA trials within easy driving distance to keep us busy all year--I'd skip NADAC completely. Fortunately we'll get a new option next spring because one of the local clubs will be hosting a CPE trial. I'll give it a try!

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