Meeker's First USDAA Trial

16 Apr 2008Steve Schwarz

Well Meeker and I put on our “big boy pants” and tried his first USDAA agility trial this past weekend (only my second USDAA trial). Contact Sports Agility hosted the trial at a nice indoor soccer facility in Crystal Lake, IL. Our judge all weekend was Becky Dean who was very nice, fair, had nice courses and was in surprisingly good spirits throughout the long days.

It was also nice to see so many of the folks we train with at a trial. The Starters group for 22” jump height had over 30 dogs in most classes. It was a very supportive group, there was a lot of cheering going on and everyone helped each other out. A big thanks to Mary, Jeanette, and Whitney for videotaping our runs! I can’t recall a more fun group at a trial.

Random thoughts: I built courses all weekend and a lot of folks pitched in to help things move along. This was a big trial, almost 900 runs in two rings on Saturday. There was good catered food for the workers. I finally met Linda Mecklenburg. A couple times nice people stopped me and mentioned they enjoyed my blog, thank you! I met Maven, a sweet BC who might be related to Meeker.

I didn’t sleep well Friday night, woke up at 3:00 AM and couldn’t get back to sleep. I was concerned about how Meeker would react in a new environment. This was our first trial “away from home” and I wanted him to do well. But I needn’t have worried. Meeker was very good, although he was almost out of his mind seeing the other BCs tugging and jumping the warm up jump while we waited to run. We earned 6 Qs out of 7 attempts, two 1st places and a 2nd place.

Here’s the video with more description below:


The first course was Jumpers. Meeker was amped up as high as I have ever seen him at a trial. I put him in his usual sit at the line. My intent was a three jump lead out to take out a cross and make it clear where he was going right from the start. I had taken one or two steps to the first jump and Meeker had self released and was off down the course. If I had had my wits about me I would have called him to me and left the ring. But I didn’t. I chased after him, handling from behind for three obstacles, until I caught up to him in the tunnel. From then on I ran our plan and he Q’d the run. From then on I put him in a down at the start line.

Next was Snooker. I had a plan that would give me the three highest point colors in the opening. We completed the opening with only one bobble. Meeker refused the jump wrap before the weaves when I turned off it too quickly. When we got into the closing sequence we got our first test of Meeker’s new running A Frame at USDAA height. He did a good job, not quite as deep in the yellow as I’d like but it was nice. Of course I was so concerned with his getting the contact I didn’t pay attention to his taking the off course red jump. But I didn’t really care, he got his contact.

Next up was Gamblers, the Dog Walk was the 5 point obstacle, so we took it twice. I’m not that happy with Meeker’s skittering down into his contact, we’ll have to work on that. The buzzer went off just as he went into the final tunnel. The gamble was a three jump PinWheel which he handled nicely.

Our final run of the day was Standard. It was a nice run. I baby sat all of his contacts so I could give him a nice “Yes!” at each. It was a nice clean run.

With Steeplechase and Grand Prix running in our ring it was a very long day. I think close to 12 hours of actual running. But everyone stayed in good humor and pitched in to keep things going.


The day began with Gamblers. This gamble was a little more involved. It was a jump to a tunnel and then two jumps parallel to the gamble line. The teeter was a 7 point obstacle. Since Meeker did so well the day before I decided to try to push a little more on this day’s runs. It was a nice run except for some errors in my handling. I got some wide turns and after the teeter I sent Meeker over a jump without any cue as to where he was going afterwards. I then called him over the bar, so he turned over it and dropped the bar. My bad. But we got our Q and a second place ribbon.

Our standard run went pretty well. Meeker

Self Released on the dog walk. He's started doing that occasionally ever since I started running his A Frame... Meeker had a perfect running A Frame and I pushed his line just enough to set him up for the weave entry. Dana pointed out that he was a little tentative on the teeter. He's never been on a teeter where you couldn't see the fulcrum at all and I wonder if that had anything to do with it. Surprisingly, even with me baby sitting his teeter contact we took first place.

I didn’t put Meeker into Pairs because I hadn’t ever seen it and I didn’t want to worry about Meeker barking like a fool while the other dog ran the course. It looked like a real lot of fun and I don’t think Meeker would have any problem with it. So we will definitely sign up next time.

The final run of the trial was Jumpers. But we had a little excitement right before we ran. We were “on deck”, Meeker was in a down and I was kneeling next to him. He was swivelling his head from side to side trying to see the dog on the course. Just as I reached to take his collar he spun his head back to me and poked his eye with my thumb. He let out a squeak and blinked his eye shut. My poor little guy, blinded at an agility trial. Just then the gate steward called “Meeker on the line!“. I squawked that I needed a second and someone went ahead of me. Within a couple seconds Meeker was fine and there have been no problems with his eye since. But a scary couple of seconds.

I had decided I should “go for it” down the final run of jumps. I handled it all with Meeker on my right with a push out for the final jump. I sent him over the triple and then took off down the line. I just barely beat Meeker over the next to last jump and he pushed over the last jump. I really should have been a little further ahead, but he covered for me perfectly. Our time was 0.3 secs faster than the next fastest dog so we Q’d and took 1st place. It was a nice finish to a long weekend.

But my weekend wasn’t done yet, I had to pack up Meeker and get to For Your Canine to teach flyball that night! Luckily we finished around 4:30 so I had enough time to stop at home and wash up before going to class.

Meeker and I both slept well that night.

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