The weekend trials turned out to be a weekend for training, as we didn't qualify in utility any of the days. The stress monster got to Jackson and our go outs for directed jumping fell apart. He just couldn't bring himself to go to the other side of the ring and sit. Instead, he either didn't go far enough out or when he did he turned around and walked back in too close to the jumps. Now, we've had problems with slow sits and/or no sits on the go outs, but the walking back in is new. There was ring rental time after the trial ended, so we spent our five minutes in the ring just working on go outs. He was able to do them in practice, but that didn't carry over into the trial the next day.
He had a couple other glitches during the weekend - but, I'm not too worried about them. Overall, I think he was just bothered and distracted enough by the trial environment that he couldn't perform well. I never really know what one - or more - things bother him about certain venues so I just have to wait until we go in the ring to see how it's going to go.
My plan in training this month is to try some different things with go outs to see what helps. We were back at the club training today and I put a couple guides out at the location where I want him to sit. It was just two of the 2" high-jump boards parallel to one another and just far enough apart for him the turn around and sit. Well, wouldn't you know - he was perfect. I've used guides before and they evidently are the clue he needs for him to know exactly what to do. He appears very confident about what it is he is supposed to do when he sees the guides. Now, the challenge will be - how to wean him off the guides? I think I'll take it slow this time and maybe reduce the visibility of the guides gradually.
Our next trial is the end of the month in the building where we train. You would think that would be easier for him, but.... we've not done particularly well in that building previously, so I'm not overly confident. We'll see : )