We were entered in the DAM/PVP team events, even though we are already qualified for 2012, just because it's fun! Rip's teammates still needed their team Q's, so we were doing our best to help them out. Skye was teamed with Ice.
The event was held at a really huge, nice park - the Balloon Fiesta Park. It's the park Albuquerque uses to host their annual hot air balloon festival, and on a couple mornings, there were actually balloons being launched before we started running. They also had kids playing soccer in some far away fields, and a few guys flying model scale airplanes and helicopters off in the distance!
When we arrived on Thursday to setup, the winds were gusting up to 70mph, so the only thing we could do was pick a spot for the easy-up and lay down our metal crates. Fortunately, by Friday the winds were much much lighter. The rings were all in a row, and we were setup at the end of ring 3 with nobody in front of us blocking the view, which was cool.
On Friday morning we all discovered that the sprinklers had been run until 4am, and the ground was a soppy, puddle filled mess. The fields were going to be very tricky to run on without slipping, and just walking around had my shoes soaked and socks already wet. Each ring did a walkthrough in group rotation, so we walked all our courses before anything started running. Fortunately we were not entered in the 'local' Grand Prix, so I only had to remember 2 courses instead of 3.
We started the day with this really challenging Team Standard course. This course had many traps and I knew it had the potential to give a lot of competitors an "E" to start the day. The map is shown below.
I am super happy to say that both Skye and Rip got through this course without an "E", but as expected, about 60% of the 22" Championship dogs did "E" it!
Rip was the 2nd dog of the day to run this course and coming off the #3 jump, he didnt get traction to get to the frame and started up it from a bad angle and had to practically claw his way up. He also turned right off jump #6 instead of left, not reading my rear cross, and though I thought we had run this clean, it turned out we got called for the dogwalk UP contact.
Skye had a number of faults on this one - a refusal, two contact calls, and a bar! Still, better than an "E"!
Next up for us was the Team Gamblers course. This was a 'timed gamble' type course, where we were given 40 seconds to gather as many points as we could, and you had to cross the finish jump before the buzzer or you would lose any 'bonus' points that you accumulated while running about.
Here is the course for this one:
By doing a Jump/Tunnel/Jump combination, you earned an extra 6 points above the normal 4 points you would receive for the obstacles. Most handlers decided that it was worth trying for the maximum of 6 of these combinations (you could take each tunnel twice for points), and also most handlers decided to start with the jump to the AFrame and then start their jump/tunnel/jump combos. I also planned to do this.
As it turned out, I was successful with both Skye and Rip, and each earned 66 points! For Skye, it netted him a 1st place, and for Rip, we got 10th place, but only 1 22" dog had more points (68). I had a brief heart-attack moment for Rip's run. We did our last combo with the tunnel to the right, and were heading to the finish when Rip landed wide and went right past the finish jump! Now, our plan didn't allow for any extra "fooling around" time, so I thought "oh shit" and immediately called him back to jump over the finish before the buzzer. We made it. By 0.01 of a second! Rip's time ended up 39.99!!
Skye ran our plan correctly, and got the 55 points, and he DID get another Super Q with 1st place. Two other dogs in his class got 55 points but we did it in less time.
Saturday was going to be busy, with two team events, Regional Grand Prix and Steeplechase and a Master Gamblers
Team Snooker went OK for both dogs - not great but still not bad. Skye went first and I planned on a 4+5+5+7 opening. Skye instead headed for a teeter instead of the #4 tunnel to start, which was only worth 2, so the extra time for that and figuring out where to go after caused me to only get through 5 in the close before the buzzer.
I slightly modified that plan for Rip, thinking it was too much for us to get all the way through the closing, so we were going for 4+5+5+4. Rip did the opening nicely though he knocked a bar in the 5-combo so we didnt get credit for that. Rip was pretty wide on his turns and because of that, the buzzer sounded when he was about halfway through the #7 weaves in the closing.
The next team event was Jumpers. It was a good course with a number of crosses. Skye ran first and went clean for 3rd place. Rip was running it nicely, but when I got behind at the broad jump, I turned a front cross into a rear cross that he didnt read well, and he ended up backjumping, so we got our first "E" of the weekend.
Fortunately, since Rip's team was doing well previously, we were still in 8th place out of 25 teams after 4 rounds. My teammate Grete with her young dog Sydney had also E'd in Standard, so you can see that the team courses were tough this weekend with us being placed so high with 2 E's.
For Grand Prix round 1, both Skye and Rip were entered. You have to be clean to get to round 2, so I wasn't pushing too much. Skye ran clean though not very fast, but still it was good for 1st in our small group of round 1 competitors. Rip ran it nicely but he was called for his AFrame contact. Both dogs did a weird right-turn off a jump that I wanted them to wrap left on. They were reading the turn as a rear cross apparently, so I want to set that up in practice and see about getting it right.
For Steeplechase, I had not entered Rip, just Skye. I was a little discouraged the last time Rip ran Steeplechase at last year's regional and ran clean, but did not make it to round 2, so I didn't bother.
Skye ran it well and placed 4th with a Q so we could play in round 2.
Finally we did Masters Gamblers. It's funny - it was the same course we ran in Kansas a few months back (same judge Martin Gadsby). It was pretty hot out, and I did not have fast Skye but he ran OK. Skye actually got the gamble! Most dogs had trouble with this one, but maybe since we had tried it before, I had a better feel for what to do.
Rip ran the opening nicely, but I totally gave him a bad line for the gamble and he went from the starting jump to the finish jump, so boo on that.
Rip only had Team Relay to run on Sunday, while Skye had made it into round 2 of the performance Steeplechase and Grand Prix as well.
Recall I said this event is at the "Balloon Fiesta" park - well Rip's team was 3rd on the line to run relay, and the two hot air balloons that were filling up were supposed to be up and gone by the time the dogs started running. They weren't!
I thought we were going to be fine as the balloons drifted a couple hundred feet over the Relay ring, but when Rip spotted them, he wanted out of there! Tail tucked, he was looking to head for cover. At the same time, Grete's dog Sydney was freaked out as well. Not a great sign as we are supposed to be ready to get to the line. We tried to distract them with treats and such and just headed on in for the run. Somehow, the dogs managed to focus through it though. Sydney ran first and did great - Grete handed the baton off to me and though Rip knocked that first bar, he also did great and I handed to Susan who finished her part clean with Rufus! Our team relay run ended up 5th place with Rip's 1 bar fault, and our team "Fool's Gold" came in 4th overall out of the 25 teams! Unfortunately neither Katrina nor the videographer filmed our run.
Skye ran relay with Ice and we ran clean. Ice should have been called for a refusal but wasnt and Katrina was able to get him back to the jump and finish her half. Skye got a little jammed up by the chute, but the rest was fine. Our relay was also good for 5th in performance, and by some miracle, the Skye and Ice team "Hail Yeah!" finished 16th out of 24 teams I think, just above the "Q" line for a team Q!
Skye then got to run his Round 2 of Grand Prix. This was a pretty challenging course but I had a good plan for it. Skye ran great and except for knocking 1 bar on a push-around jump (the #6 below), we were clean. He was 8 seconds faster than the next P22" dog that actually had a time, but you must be clean in GP, so no Bye for us this time.
Finally, in the afternoon, we had the Round 2 of Steeplechase. There were 6 dogs entered in P22" so we were going to be combined with the 16" group for semifinalist Bye calculations. This meant go fast or go home! I really worked Skye through this course, which had 2 weaves and 1 AFrame. One of the weave entries was about a 90 degree onside entry - a definite weakness for Skye, so I would really have to manage it, but there was an offcourse jump right nearby, so any overmanagement could send him right over it.
I had wet Skye down before the run (which he hates!) so he could be cool and I did get a fast running Skyeboy.
We ran that sucker clean and took 1st in the P22" group!!!
Skye was the only P22" dog to get a bye due to combining with the P16" group.
We won a cool "gold medal" that says 2012 Regional Championships, a very cool clear acrylic trophy that has Performance Speed Jumping Regional Champion USDAA 2012 carved in it, with some shooting stars inside, and $50! I need to take a picture of those to post.
Here are the videos from Grand Prix round 2 and the Steeplechase round 2: