Well, we started off with Open Regular and had a really nice run! I didn't ask for a stay at the start, but his contacts were perfect. He was running fast and happy and would have qualified, but he missed one jump.
Next was Chances - his startline stay was decent, but he bailed on the dogwalk contact and barked at a lone person standing on the far side of the field while he made up his own course with the jumps on that end. He was just a little on the wild side for this run.
Then was Touch N Go - for the first time in a trial, I stopped him when he broke his stay and we started over. I then proceeded to get lost on course and at one point I just wasn't paying attention and I thought I sent him into the tunnel I turned around and he was on the dogwalk. Before I could stop him, he leaped right off the middle! That of course didn't phase him at ALL, but I had visions of a broken spotty dog in my head.
Round 2 of Touch N Go was next and while we were waiting our turn I noticed that Peyton was really anxious and seemed to be worried about the dogs behind him. I decided to just do a running start since it was a hoop-dogwalk opening. Well, he got halfway up the dogwalk and stopped a started bark-screaming at the judge, who was only a few feet a way. It was a very loud rooooo-roooo-roooooo bark - the kind that only happens when he's really freaked out. I finally got his attention and we ran out of the ring - needless to say, that was our last run. In hindsight, I should have pulled him from this run, but lesson learned - trust your instincts!
Usually I am more than happy to share all of our runs here - the good, the bad, and the ugly, but honestly I don't want to look at them again so I thought I'd share a few pictures instead. These are from video so please forgive the quality - the first is of the barking incident and the second is of the dogwalk leap (I think all he needs here is a cape and we could call him Superspotty). Notice the proximity of the judge - Peyton didn't seem to mind when he was *outside* of the ring.
I've been trying to figure out why we seem to have issues at these trials and I think that there are a few things happening. First, NADAC courses are designed for speed and the games classes have multiple tunnels (aka puppy rockets). While these classes are FUN, I think that it's just too much speed for us (me) to handle right now. Peyton gets so amped on course that he stops thinking.
The trials are also usually pretty small. It might seem odd that Peyton seems to do better at large trials as one would think that all of the dogs and people would make for even more distractions and cause for worry, but I think when the trial is small, he notices that one lone person standing on the sidelines.
Yes, it kind of a training issue, but I think (and hope) at this point it's just an experience issue. Hopefully with more experience, Peyton will learn that tall men in hats standing next to the dogwalk are not going to eat spotty dogs.
I've also decided that for now, we're going back to running starts. Yes, it puts me behind and yes, there will probably be some openings that are not feasible without a stay, but I think at this point, it's waaaay more important that I work on building confidence in a trial environment than to try to qualify. Hopefully, Peyton agrees. :)