Well the big event has come and gone. I have to say I was really rather embarrasingly nervous. This wasn't helped by every second person I walked past asking me if I was nervous/excited! Luckily I didn't have to wait long for my first run which was Novice Jumping. I wasn't sure how Sonic would handle the course as for Novice it was quite technical. There were three pull throughs and three rear crosses that I'd identified during the walk through and it was relatively tight. I had secretly been hoping for a figure eight or something simple... We were the third dog in the ring in the first set of classes so there wasn't much time for standing around and thinking about it too much.
As I walked into the ring I just blocked everything out (quite a lot of people had come up to watch the big debut, so no pressure!) and tried to focus on keeping nice and calm. Sonic seemed relaxed which was great. He held his start line perfectly. There was an off entry tunnel after the first three jumps which he managed well then another pull through when he came out of the tunnel to miss the off course jump that was right in front of him on exit. Then we had a straight line then around into a tunnel that I rear crossed. This was followed by another rear cross when he came out of the tunnel onto the next jump. This was followed by a tight loop around that I actually did another pull through on but shouldn't have (a moment of nerves) then back down through the tunnel for another rear cross. I put in another pull through before the rear cross as when he came out of the tunnel he was heading too far down to make the jump. The pull through straightened his line up. Then it was a straight line home for a wonderful clear round and a first place. The standard course time was 49secs and he did it in 21secs which was 5secs clear of the second placegetter.
Later on we did the Open Jumping which was technically much easier and more spread out than the Novice course being that there was only one front cross required in the whole thing. However the distance challenge required a flick away to be able to get your dog out there to find the jump (unless you went over the distance line). That was never going to happen as I have no intention of compromising my handling system for one Open pass. His start line was perfect again and he handled the first two jumps and weaver entry with no problems. Unfortunately as I was moving away from the weavers he pulled out at about the tenth one so we went back and redid them. This time no problems. As we went around the back to the first part of the distance challenge I started to move away laterally and he actually missed the first jump which I was a bit surprised about. I turned him around and sent him back out. When we came out of the tunnel I actually stopped him and realined him for the "flick away" jump although in hindsight I should have just run straight over the line out to it. Then he came around and did a lovely section to finish with one interesting development where he ran between the uprights of the first and last jump that had been set quite close together. It wouldn't have been the first time he's seen two jumps close together but with the electronic start gates set up I think he's gotten a bit confused about what was in front of him. He stretched out nicely for the run and seemed quite relaxed and comfortable.
So all in all I'm really pleased with our first attempts. You certainly wouldn't have thought it was his first competition as he handled himself like a pro. Things to work on for me will be revisiting some inside circle work to help tighten up his rear crosses. I think he's swinging out too wide from me when he does them so the circle work should help things along. I need to do some more weaver proofing on twelve weavers so we can prevent anymore occurances of him coming out at the tenth pole. Then I think I might get some wings out to put next to some uprights to manage the problem we had with him missing that last jump. I must admit I'd forgotten to proof his view of uprights with my obsession over weavers and contacts!
I feel really confident now about putting him in both Novice Agility and Jumping at the Classic next weekend. We will have another month break after that before I will enter any trials again in April when there are quite a lot for us to enter.
Lastly, thanks to everyone last night for their good wishes and support for Sonic's debut. Once again showing what a great agility community we have in WA. It's so nice to have people genuinely wanting to see you do well :-)