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Adventures on the Ranch
What a weekend!!

-----We were in our first AKC agility trial this weekend and what a weekend it was!
-----My mom and I got up at 5:00 Saturday morning - did all the dog and horse chores - hooked up the trailer and we were on the road at 6:45. We stopped at McDonalds on the way (you know I have to have my egg mc muffins!) and arrived on the trial ground around 7:45. There are lots of odds and ends to do when you first get there - get the dogs situated, electric hooked up, get your numbers, patterns, etc. So we took care of all that, I was in the 3rd class and at 10:30 they called for the walk through. They give you about 15 minutes to walk through the course without your dog so that you can figure out exactly what your game plan is - where you want to be - how you want to turn and where to cue the dog. Our time was up and the judged called everyone together for her briefing and just reminded everyone of a few important rules. I believe I was the only one there who was in their 1st trial - so the competition was good! Especially considering many of those people and dogs have been training in agility for some time - my dogs have only been in serious agility training since March 10 - not even 2 months! But I didn't care, I wasn't going in to win or even qualify - only to get experience for the dogs and me. That was my goal - and to do the best we could for where we were.
-----Finally! Show time! They called Rhett... and I headed into the ring. Got set on the correct side of the start line and the timer gave me the go ahead and off we went! Rhett did everything - all the jumps and obstacles very well - however, since he has never seen a judge standing out in the middle or people sitting in chairs inside the ring (timers, course people, etc.) he thought he had better go check all those people out and make sure they were ok. So because of Mr. Rhetts friendly checking people out he had too many time faults to qualify - but I was proud of him for doing everything correctly!
-----Next up, Tess. Again, I headed into the ring, got set and got the go ahead and off we went! Tess did awesome - just awesome! She was 100% focused on me and did everything I asked. She won the class with a PERFECT score! YAY ! Her first class ever and she not only had the fastest time but also a PERFECT score. I was really proud of her. She won a blue ribbon and a green one for qualifying and you can pick out a stuffed animal as well, so she got a little orange caterpillar (very cute!).
----- Later in the afternoon they had their second class which is a jumpers class - all jumps, tunnels and weaves but no contact equipment like the see saw or dog walk. Rhett was first again and did much better than his morning class but still wasn't too sure why that judge was just STANDING there! So he kept looking at her in between doing his jumps and again had some time faults but was much better than this morning. Next up - Tess! She had a beautiful go on a VERY tough course, she was doing perfect until I unfortunately pushed her out a little to far and she ran around the jump - which wasn't too bad - except that I called her back and sent her over a jump she shouldn't have taken which was a Wrong Course and a DQ - but other than my mess up she did perfect and we learned and I was very proud of her because she did what I asked. What a day! About 4:00 we were finally ready to head back home for the night - take care of all the animals and go to bed to get all ready to do it again the next day!
-----Sunday morning the alarm blasts us awake at 5:00 and we're up and running. Again after chores we arrived at the trial about 7:30. This morning began much the same as yesterday and about 10:30 we had out walk through for our first class. I got my game plan figured out, and was ready to go. They called for Rhett and we headed in - the pattern began great but he still didn't think that judge just STANDING out there was a proper thing - WHAT was she doing - WHY is she just staring at me. IS she a THREAT to my mom -- WHY is she acting so different (judges can only stand there - and many people came up to me after the class and said that is a common thing for new dogs that are bred for protection to want to check out why the judge is just standing there is a somewhat treating position). Anyway, Rhett did everything - but because he spent so much time just looking at the judge he had time faults again. He never barked at her - but just looked at her. After that class was over I asked the judge if she would mind saying "Hi" to Rhett so he could see she was ok. She said sure - and came up to him and gave him one of his favorite neck scratches - after that he licked her in the face and seemed to agree with me that she really WAS ok! Would it help in the class - we would see, but I just wanted him to have a good experience and learn since he is young and it is his first trial.
-----Back to the class though - next up was Tess. My baby girl went out there and did another flawless job! Again she won the class - YAY! What a way to start. We headed back to her cage and I gave her lots of treats and you could just tell she was beaming and so proud of herself. She knew she did great.
-----Later in the day was their jumper class. Again - another hard course but I figured out a (hopefully) good game plan and went for it! Rhett was up first and YES it worked - he never once looked at the judge and had to run by her a couple times but was like - HEY I know you and you're ok now. He did a great job with his pattern and I was just thrilled that he was paying attention and not visiting the judge. YES, YES, YES! Good Boy for such a young dog !
----- Next up was Tess and she went out there and gave me her all again. What a dog, she had another perfect score and placed 2nd in the class - only slightly over 1 SECOND behind the first place dog. So she had 3 qualifying legs over the weekend. What a way to get started in agility - and keep in mind both of these dogs have only had agility training for about 7 weeks......they will only get better from here.
-----Tess and Rhett are such funny dogs, they are kind of like kids - each with such distinct personalities and moods. Rhett is such a happy go lucky guy and at only 15 months he thinks life is about having fun (and making sure his people are safe) ! Tess is a little older but EVERYTHING is about me - where's mom - what is she doing - what can I do to make her happy with me. And they are really funny - in the trailer we have a giant soft "cage" for them and if I put them in there together - Rhett is such a hog - he takes up 3/4 of the cage all sprawled out and relaxed and poor Tess just lays there and looks at me - like she thinks he is so wierd - how can he just lay here when there are things to do! Their looks are something you can't explain in writing - but make perfect sense when you are looking at them. They are both such characters!
-----We promised the dogs a hamburger if they did well so last night before bed they both got a hamburger (Tess actually got 2 because of all of her qualifying scores!).
-----The dogs and I had so much fun. It's so addicting and I love it because it's fast and just you and your dog working as a team. If either one of you makes a wrong "dance step" your out - but when it all comes together in one beautiful flowing "dance" - it's so neat! It is also amazing how much dogs read body language - and there are so many parts to it. Agility looks fairly easy if you're just watching - yeah just teach the dogs to jump and you run fast. But that is hardly the case! Done right it looks easy - but to get fast times and good scores you really have to position yourself and the dog just right for every jump and obstacle.
-----That's all for now! It was an awesome weekend and I really look forward to the next trial.
-----Till Next Time !
-----Leah and Everyone at Omega Shepherds
Below : Inside the trial arena

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