Sunday was the auspicious occasion of Veto and I returning to the trial ring. Probably the most excited I've been about going to an agility trial for a while. But of course I haven't been to a trial other than to judge for ages anyway... Absence has most definitely made my heart grow fonder. It was a bit of a race against time to get him ready and I would have to say that he is still very underdone as far as skills go. If he hadn't already been out for four months then I wouldn't have trialled him but I kind of felt that even with our skills not quite there, the ring experience won't hurt him. He is a cautious guy in new situations and it's going to take time for him to be confident out there competing. Funnily enough it ended up not just being his lack of skills that was the biggest problem and I made more mistakes than he did.
The weather was crap. It always is for our last day trial of the year. Even though it's been really cool so far this spring naturally it was the hottest day it had been all October and of course dropped ten degrees the following day. As I've learned previously Ve is not a fan of standing in the sun. His CoolBuddy Cool Coat certainly got a good workout. His first run was about lunchtime when I would say it was at it's hottest. I struggled to get him focused and warmed up because I was so busy trying to keep him in the shade. It really didn't work well, not to mention half of his very good doggy friends were entered and he really wanted to catch up with his buddies. The course was not hard at all but a couple of 90 degree turns. The first turn, even though I did give him a nice early cue, he totally slid over onto his left shoulder. He very obviously lost his balance but settled for the next few jumps. Then I gave him a stupid cue for a jump out of the tunnel which caused him to run past the next jump. After that he had a lovely run home and he very carefully lined himself up for the tyre to make sure he got right dead centre. Love it when he is concentrating so hard. No bars down but I wasn't happy about his shoulder slide. Number one, I don't know if that means he is not quite right, secondly I don't want him to injure himself again and lastly, it's like his brain and body are still way out of sync. When I give him a verbal for a turn he just can't correlate the cue to what he needs to do to turn.
His second run was better. I made an even bigger stuff up with his verbals. He started off really nicely, I didn't cue him as I should have for a turn (although I don't think his skills are strong enough to have read that well anyway) and then I told him to jump when I should have given him a turn cue. So he did exactly what I asked and extended forward. Good boy Ve. The next jump was a spread which he didn't really want to do. I thought at the time that it was just because he had lost momentum and was unsure but it worries me that he was sore as he was turning to the left which is the shoulder side that he slipped on earlier. Once we got past that bit he was fine and he finished off strongly.
Overall I am so pleased with what he did, annoyed with myself for crappy handling and paranoid that he's still not quite right. There are massive holes in our skills and we are both majorly behind in where we were pre-accident. It feels like I've lost twelve months, not four. But I have a plan and we'll chip away at things over the rest of the year. I've booked him into physio this week just in case which I hadn't planned on. Interestingly he doesn't seem to be showing any discomfort in the shoulder that he slipped on but the one that coped the tear from his accident is tighter than it should be. We most definitely haven't worked this hard to blow it all because there is still an issue there. So very frustrating for me and him!