Wednesday, March 27, 2013

2013 AKC Agility Nationals - Seven

Seven coming out of chute at trial before Nationals.

Seven was the bell of the ball, but not without our highs and lows.  On Friday, the warm up day, Seven came up lame in the first practice run.  As you know, her left carpal joint has a lot of scar tissue and some arthritis in it and we see a rehab vet regularly to address it.  What happens... and it happened to us in the Friday practice run... is that on some hard left turns, she will torque the wrist, and is acutely lame for a few minutes.  Ten minutes later she looks like nothing happened.  

I do a ton of wrist rotations, traction, and flexing throughout the day..... first thing in the morning, before she goes out to potty, when she comes out of her crate, before I warm her up, after I warm her up, right before she runs, after she runs, before any other exercise, and after any exercise.  I am constantly trying to fight back the scar tissue so her wrist maintains at least the limited flexibility it has.  And this has worked well and her wrist problems have improved.  In fact before the Nationals, it had been a least a couple of weeks since the last problem and in that time she had completed in a three day agility trial and practiced a lot of agility for the upcoming Nationals.  

But for whatever reason, the hard left turn over the triple jump tweaked her wrist and we had to stop running.  I pulled her for the rest of the day, of course, and worked hard on her wrist.... and it paid off.

Seven came back on Saturday and kicked butt.  She placed 4th in Round 1 and then turned in another perfect run in Round 2.  I think she ended up 10th.  But overall, Seven was in FIRST place cumulatively after Rounds 1 and 2 out of 129 dogs running at 24 inches.  She was perfection and despite all of the hard left turns (and I was counting them), her wrist gave her no problems.

It was very exciting to see our names at the top of the list at the end of day 1.

Unfortunately, we had an off course in Round 3 and it is my fault.  I tried to baby sit the weaves too much and she jumped the dummy jump.  I should have pretended it was not there and just let Seven run.  We would have easily made it to finals had we run clean.  Dang it!

But because of our stellar first day, we had another opportunity to get into the finals via the Challengers Round.  If you can win Challengers, you move onto the finals.  My goal was purely to show her off.  It was a huge audience and I just wanted everyone to see how amazing she is.  But she got stuck in the weave poles and that was just unlucky and could not have been helped.  I think I learned something about Seven though.... after a bobble like that, she becomes oddly handler focused.  She used to run like that all of the time and I had to be very direct with her.  Now Seven has enough experience that she has a nice combination of handler and obstacle focus.  But after the bobble in the weaves, she was too focused on me and neglected the course.  So she left the weave poles early on her second pass, ran past the A-frame, and ran past the last jump.
It definitely stung a little and I wish we had done better on those two courses.  I would have liked to have ended on a high note.  But I am very thankful her wrist gave us no problems those days, that we were able to run, and I am thrilled that she was in first place after Rounds 1 and 2.  Overall, she placed 23rd cumulatively out of 129 dogs.