Last night was the individual agility classes at the Western Classic for 2009. We had three interstate judges who had come over plus Richard Barville our local representative. It was pretty warm initally but cooled down somewhat when the sun finally went down.
My first class for the evening was Novice Agility with Sonic. Michael Vigor from South Australia built a lovely course which was basically a figure of eight (hooray!!). After walking it I felt pretty happy that Sonic should manage it easily. The lack of anything particularly technical also meant I could concentrate on keeping criteria for contacts and getting a good weaver entry. I hung around to help keep Sonic relaxed and had the chance to watch most of the dogs before me. Unfortunately most made a bit of a mess of it which diminished my confidence a little... When I got to the start line I made myself stop thinking about it and focus on the job at hand.
First up we had a line of five jumps and into a flexi tunnel. I was a little concerned about such a long row of jumps in that he may rush and knock a bar. I led out a little less than what I could have done to get him to steady up a bit. I shouldn't have worried as his timing and striding between were perfect. The flexi tunnel took as around the first corner then over another jump then the broad then over the A-Frame. His AF was great, nice and fast with a stopped two on two off plus a tail wag to show me how much he was enjoying himself. Then onto the table for our five second count. I held him for another second after Michael said "go" just for safe keeping. Then onto the dog walk which although not as fast as he's done was solid with another lovely two on two off. I held his position for about a second and then we crossed back through the middle of the figure eight, over a jump and into a flexi tunnel, onto the weavers and the run home. He powered out of the tunnel quite fast and actually hit the weavers pretty hard. His wonderful understanding of collect then weave fast kicked in and for a novice dog it was pretty impressive. A great advertisment for Susan Garrett's 2 x 2 method. Then we had two jumps to finish. I don't think there is anything that Sonic could have done better for his first run. I just couldn't fault him on attitude or understanding of his job.
Later on we had Novice Jumping and quite a tricky course. It required quite a bit of handling to get around although the up side being that it was much more open than last week so the dogs could stretch out and get some speed up. It started with three jumps on a hard diagonal and onto a tyre (same as the masters jumping course) then a pull through into a tunnel. Sonic handled this without any problems however I had to sprint to catch up after my pull through. Then it was straight out onto a three jump serpentine. Once again Sonic handled this no problem. The tricky bit came up next in that the last of the serpentine and the following three jumps were in a diagonal line which required a pull through after they'd gone over the serpentine to straighten them up for the next two jumps. I didn't quite manage this as well as I'd like and although we got through it, it wasn't pretty. In saying that the last jump in that line was a flick away for us due to my bad position and he didn't take the jump. So all kudos to Sonic that he understands my handling system. I had to pull him back and continue. We avoided getting a refusal as he didn't actually go past the jump. Then it was another pull through then across a broad jump into a tunnel and two jumps home for another clear round. One other note to self moment was his last exit out of the tunnel. I forgot to give him a big enough cue and he came flying out like the clappers not realising that I'd turned. We lost at least two seconds there.
So naturally I'm really happy with our night. You put so many hours of work into them and to have it pay off on the night was a great feeling. Sonic is loving every minute of it and feels like he is getting faster with every competition. The other thing that impresses me is that he is really concentrating and trying so hard for me. And you can't ask for more than that.