It turned out to be a great weekend of trials. I wasn't sure what to expect on the drive up - I never really know what to expect with Jackson : ) - but, it went really well. This was the first time I had been to this particular trial, which is about a four-hour drive from our home. It was a small trial so there was plenty of room for crating and warm-up. The people were super friendly and the weather was beautiful.
We qualified in Open and Utility both days, earning us our 3rd and 4th UDX legs! (Only six more to go.) He did the best ever in Utility on Saturday with a score of 191.5. However, today (Sunday) he was back to normal with a score of 177.5 : ) He's getting more consistent with his ability to perform the basic exercises to qualify but his attitude/stress level/focus goes up and down and really affects his performance. We can't seem to make that transition from enthusiasm and attention in practice and warm-up to carry over when we step into the ring. However, on the bright side, he's been able to work through the stress and perform the exercises.
I was particularly happy with the scent discrimination exercises. We've finally worked through the endless circling the pile problem and he goes right to work now and picks up the correct article quickly. I was also pleased with the directed retrieve, signals and the moving stand exerises. We need work though on the directed jumping. The going out part was good, but the sits were painfully slow and he walked in a few steps on two of the go-outs before he sat. A few more steps in and he probably would have NQd. Training note to self: work go-outs separate from jumps for awhile and focus on the sits.
In Open, he was pretty solid on the basics of the exercises, however, we lost lots of points on crooked fronts and some really bad finishes. Today, since we had the #3 glove, which is a left pivot that he backs into, we practiced several of these in our warm up. The upside of that is he did the pivot to the glove great, but whenever I gave him the right finish signal today, he tried to back into a left finish and ended up sitting in front of me instead of beside me. That's probably hard to visualize.Suffice it to say, it was a really bad finish. Training note to self: Work on finishes!
There are a lot of things that we can work to improve, but overall, I am really happy with his consistency in performing the key elements of the exercises. We are entered in another trial in three weeks, so time to sit down and make a plan : )