First the good news... Ribbon did a fantastic job her first weekend out. She passed all four Novice trials. She also won three of her four classes. Her highest score was a 198.5. It was really hot and the days were long. She was a real trooper – which isn't a surprise, given her strong work ethic. We did have a few hiccups along the way. On our first run, during the off lead, something the judge did caught her attention and she lagged quite badly and I gave a second command, and then she recovered nicely and completed her routine with style. Her second trial was her best, she still had a little problem with the end of the heel free routine, but that was the only thing that occurred through the whole routine. On Sunday morning, this was day three in the heat; she did a really nice job. We got heeled into the stewards table on the heel free so she stopped to have a look at the table and then ran to catch up. She also moved on the stand for exam. I also got hit for bumping during my on lead heeling. Which is disappointing since Ribbon never touched me. So I had a bad feeling walking away from that class. However Ribbon did a nice job! Our fourth and final trial of the weekend was under the same judge we had the first time. I was curious to see if Ribbon would have any kind of reaction to her. And in hindsight I should have warmed up my stand for exam, given that she moved during the morning trial. However, I was sort of running between rings with Gali in utility and missed that opportunity. Her heel on leg and figure 8 was really, really good (in fact Ribbon got 4 perfect figure 8's). On the stand she moved ever so slightly, I thought it was more of a move, but on the video she barely moves her foot. However, when I returned to heel position, she stepped forward. So two points lost there. When I released her from the stand she started to move forward but not with me more towards the gate as if she wanted to leave or move away from the judge. I took a moment to call her back to me and asked her to set up into heel position and then heeled towards the set up point for the heel free. As we were moving along together I praised her and got a nice level of intense attention. I felt like we were back together as a team. During the heel free she certainly noticed the judge, but held it together much better with only minor flaws. Her final score for this class was a 195 and she lost 2 marks on the stand, she is right there for another couple of high scores and hopefully a HIT. I have her entered in two more trials in a few weeks and I have a pretty clear picture of what I will be working on.
Oh and on her stays she twice got attacked by a fly (which she really, really hates) and had a dog come to visit her on the down stay, but she remained in position and looked really solid.
Okay, now Mr. Gali – Our first trial was not good – period. He didn't get his second jump, so it was pretty much over before we even started. But I didn't do a very good job over letting it go so the rest of our run suffered. He didn't get his signals either. I don't think the lighting was good for him.
The second trial, I had gotten myself together a little better and was concentrating on each task at hand. I also took some advice from Susie about doing the signal even more away from my body so that he would have a better chance of seeing it. He got his directed jumping, but I held my signal for longer and on the second half I used a verbal command as well. This helped push him towards the jump for sure. It seemed like at one point he almost stopped, figured out where the jump was and then continued on. Our heeling was not our best, Gali missed some sits, but he got his signals and glove and moving stand. So all that was left was the articles exercise. He has always been pretty solid on this exercise so I was feeling pretty good. However, the obedience gods had other plans. As I turned to send Gali to the pile, my foot went underneath the mat and flipped it up, so that it lands on Gali's pasterns. He stopped and didn't know what to do. I didn't want him to worry so I gave him a second command and that was the end of that utility leg – Can you believe it!!!!! His second article was perfect – so good for him!!! I think the judge could have given us a redo, but she didn't. I feel somewhat cursed....
We have one trial on Friday and I have a plan of working him each day and putting the jumps out wider and doing more sequences to give him opportunities to be rewarded during a routine instead of only during training drills. So by 9:30 on Friday he will either have his UD or we will be done – maybe forever maybe just for a few months.