Here is a video of our Standard, Jumpers and Hybrid runs, as well as our Finals run:
This year I had qualified both Rip and Skye for AKC Nationals and looked forward to being able to run both of them on the courses. After Skye's very respectable 29th of 265 finish last year, I actually thought that maybe Rip might have a chance to squeak into finals since he is a little faster than Skye, if we could run clean. With the huge 400+ entry of 20" dogs this year, they were taking the top 30 dogs into finals (7%).
The first day of Nationals is really just a warm-up for us - they have a non-scored warm-up Standard run. They will call your faults and such and give you a time, but they dont do anything with the results. Then you get to run Time 2 Beat, and the top placing dog gets a bye into the Challengers round, but that's not going to be us, so that is really a warm-up run too. Rip ran clean in T2B but Skye had 1 bar. We had a really long day, as Skye was the 3rd from last dog to run T2B, which meant we finished right around 7:15pm!
Saturday started the "real" competition and the run order had us running Standard first. This was a tricky course. Only about 130 dogs of the 400 ran this clean. Rip ran before Skye and it wasn't long before our shot at Finals was over - he misread my cross and thought I signaled the chute. I called him off but the sharp angle caused him to knock the bar on the correct jump. Rip then knocked another bar and got called on the AFrame just to wrap it up! Skye had a nice run though and was clean.
Jumpers was then up next on Saturday. This was a good course for Skye as it involved a lot of side changes and tons of front crosses. Rip will often go wide on this kind of course with all the turns. Again Rip ran it first and he did a good job though he did knock a bar. Skye was 3rd to last 20" dog again in this run but he did great and ran it clean.
After Saturday's competition was done, Skye was sitting in 57th place, and with Rip's faults, he was way down in 270th place. Rip was a bit uncomfortable with the environment - all the noise and people had him a bit concerned and he wasn't driving through his runs as he typically does at a local trial. He needs this experience, but he really wasn't too happy about it.
Sunday starts the day early at 7:00am for Hybrid course walkthroughs. Hybrid is basically a Standard course with only 2 contacts. Skye was going to run this before Rip, and we were running pretty early on in the order. Skye did a great job, and I was able to again run this clean. The Hybrid course had a tricky weave entry but Skye has a solid teeter that let me leave him and get ahead for my front cross which really helped. Rip had a couple more faults again in Hybrid - a bar and a contact call again - this was just not his time to shine. He ended in 261st place.
I periodically checked the big cumulative score display to see where Skye was sitting in the placements. Since we ran early in the order, and had 3 clean runs, we were in the top 20 dogs for quite a while, but as more ran, we slipped a placement here and there. When I knew all the 20" dogs were done running, I was sitting in 30th place - but the scores were not finalized for quite a while, so I didn't know if I was in or not.
Finally, the announcer read the names of those who made finals, and I was IN! That meant I got to go get a special Finalist shirt and prepare myself for being in finals. I was oddly calm with the walkthrough (while walking with the who's-who of agility) and I felt it was a good course for us. I tried not to think about the hundreds of people in the stands that would be watching! Since we were 30th overall, that meant we would be the first 20" dog to run. I waited in the ring while the jumps were set and broad jump adjusted and then we got to do it. The Colorado folks were cheering loudly and I pushed Skye to give me what he had and we put in a really nice 36 second clean Standard run.
After everyone had run, we were in 18th overall. I'm Super proud of how Skye ran and proud of how my mental game went through the weekend. It was a great experience, and who knows, it may be Skye's last Nationals, but what a way to go out if so!
Here is Rip's T2B run - his only clean run of the weekend: