I was really looking forward to this years State Trial. With Sonic running pretty well and of course it was Cassie's first States I was excited about two fun full days of competition. Day one was pretty good with Sonic going clear in both Masters Agility classes but no luck in Masters Jumping although I was happy with both runs. No quallies with Cassie but she was really enjoying herself and so close to getting that first Q. On Sunday the dogs were all fresh and ready to go with Cassie bright and sparkly. Her first run was in Novice Jumping and she flew around the course totally outsprinting me. She has really got the drive home down and showed me a clean set of paws. Although she did swing wide of the tunnel entrance before going in the judge gave us a clear round for her first ever Q and first place qualifying her for the Novice Jumping final! Sonic also had a good morning getting that elusive clear round in Masters Jumping. So by lunchtime I was pretty happy having qualified my dogs for three out of four finals.
Unfortunately from there the day went downhill. There was apparently an issue with the computer system which meant we waited around for about five hours before results were given and finals started. The biggest disappointment was the way it was handled. There was no communication with competitors about what was going on and from what I can gather there were situations that weren't managed particularly well and some decisions made that were surprising. What should have been an awesome afternoon of competing and watching some of the top dogs and handlers in Australia pushing themselves to the limit turned into a frustratingly long wait. Once the finals finally started I ran Cassie in the Novice Jumping final. Although she was pretty tired by this stage she still ran like a superstar and we just had a refusal at the tunnel which was really my fault as I got in her way trying to make sure she got the tunnel entry. By the time the Masters Agility final was running it was raining and as I watched everyone pushing for top speed all I could think of was my shoes were not up to me sprinting in this weather without a big risk of sliding over. Then on top of that Sonic had only been given the all clear from injury that week and of course I'm going to Europe for the World Agility Open in two weeks. With all that on my mind I had a bad gut feeling about it. Next thing I know Lyrik comes flying off the side of the dog walk and that decided it for me. So I scratched Sonic from both the Masters Agility and Masters Jumping finals. So to say I'm disappointed about how it panned out is an understatement. I hope there is a "Lessons Learned" discussion after what happened to prevent another such disaster but all I heard afterwards was lots of blaming so I'm not overly optimistic.
The State Trial was the last competition for me before we head overseas for WAO. I think it will be good for Cassie to have a break and the pressure off as we were working really hard to try and be ready for the States. As it happened I think she is still another couple of months away from being competely "ready" for the ring. I'm 90% pleased with her skill level but her weavers and A-frame are not quite where I want them. At home she's great but I need to spend more time at training working on those things so she gains confidence. There are no other major events this year so it really doesn't matter how long it takes for us to get back out there. I have so much fun running her though I hope I won't take too long. I'm also still not convinced Sonic is right. Although his runs were good over the weekend and he is handling like a dream when I watch the video back I don't like what his hindquarters are doing over some of the jumps and there is an element of power missing. So something is going on. He has a break now too so when I get back I'll work on his fitness levels and see if increased conditioning makes a difference. If not I'll look at things from a more medical level. It goes without saying that I hope it's nothing serious. I love running that dog and he loves doing agility. It would be heartbreaking if there is a physical problem that means he can't do agility anymore.
On the up side I am the fittest and healthiest I've been in ages. On our weight loss and exercise program I've lost almost 5kgs, am fitting into clothes I haven't worn for years and I can run (apparently not faster than a papillon though...). It's going to make such a difference at WAO. Last year I never managed to get anywhere near as fit as I wanted but this year it's all gone to plan for a change. Got my new Asics runners and I'm ready for action!!!