Posted by: allstaragility | August 11, 2013

Individual Pentathlon Jumping 2

Our second run on Saturday was the second of two Jumping classes in the Individual Pentathlon, judged by Marq Cheek.  It is always exciting to see what Marq has planned for us and this course didn’t disappoint!  Video of our run can be found here.  Again, many thanks to George Mariakis for sharing his video talents!

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This was the last run before the Speedstake “finals” on Sunday.  Knowing that we were sitting in a good position overall after a clean 3rd round, my main goal was to put in another solid run.  I was so pleased with our performance to this point, I can’t say that I didn’t believe Solei and I could continue with our streak of clean runs on these courses and in these conditions, but I was definitely taking it one run at at time and not thinking about the overall end result.

I also have to be perfectly honest that this was my least favorite run of the competition, but one I am still very proud of.  Our group was the last to run and the 650’s were the 3rd height to run on this course, which was outside in very sloppy conditions.  The weather was threatening rain all morning and it continued to deteriorate as time went on.   By the time our group was getting ready to go, it was sprinkling and it started to really come down just as I was preparing to go into the ring, with a pretty good breeze on top of it (I had my somewhat dry shoes stored under an umbrella by a tree row and it blew off so that everything got wet).  There was no way to avoid getting thoroughly soaked and I was definitely thinking I was becoming a fair weather agility competitor!  It took me back to the (not so) good ole’ days of schlepping through the muck at many outdoor trials.  How quickly we become spoiled to having nice, dry indoor facilities!

It was unfortunate that the last group to run was at a significant disadvantage due to the worsening footing for both handler and dog.  Early teams were able to run full out and push themselves, while most of us in the latter groups were simply hoping to get our dogs around clean (particularly if we were in the hunt for overall placements).

One way the weather altered this course for everybody was that the #3 chute was replaced by a straight tunnel.  This gave us several more handling options from 1-3 by not worrying about helping the dogs into the rigid chute barrel opening.  I chose to perform Ketschker at #2 to get a tighter wrap to the tunnel.

Going from the tunnel to the weaves, I was terribly concerned with the line from #6-8.  I had walked a front cross between 6-7 and hadn’t really considered a different option, however that was prior to the arrival of the rain and torn up ground between the 2 jumps.  I watched numerous competitors, including fellow US teammates, run in the 525 class before our turn.  After seeing one of them crash the spread, whether due to the footing or the front cross right before the spread (or a combination of both), I decided to revert to rear crossing the poles and not force a tighter line from 6-8 (not worth the risk of the jump coming down).  Because I hadn’t walked this option, I was too busy thinking about it (you can see me looking at it as she was in the tunnel) and that almost caused Solei to run past the #4 jump.  She was very good to redirect back to it, but it threw off our timing even more.  We weren’t in very good sync heading to the poles and I was very lucky that the last bar on the spread stayed in the cups as she jarred it pretty hard.

Thankfully, the weaves gave us the opportunity to “reset” our teamwork a bit and I got back on my proactive handling plan (which was in “survival mode” at this point of the run!).  I was able to get decently far ahead of Solei while she was in the poles so that I could work the line from 10-11.  It doesn’t look too tricky on the video, but I was concerned that, had I not been up there to cue the front side of #11, she could have easily flowed to the back side of it (hence the off arm cue).

I recall not being in Solei’s face too much for tight wraps at the following jump sequence, mainly because I didn’t want to run the risk of her slipping.  We had a bit wider turns than normal, but I don’t regret not working them more in those conditions.  One of the toughest decisions on this course came from #12-13 and which direction to wrap them at #13.  I had decided, initially, to take her to the right at #13.  When the footing got bad, I recall giving a lot of consideration to going left at #13 to avoid the mud pit on the landing side.   As I was running that sequence (taking her to the right at #13), it was going through my mind that I had intended to go the other way, but sometimes our unconscious mind just knows better!  I think my concern at that point was getting into the correct position for the ending sequence and going to the right allowed me to be further along that path than going the other direction.

I knew I had to get a front cross in between #16-17 to properly cue the ending and was very pleased with her line #14-17.  That ended was a source of huge debate; whether to go on the inside of #17-19 or layer the #19 jump (something that generally goes against my “rules”).  I had seen a lot of different faults in that area with handlers going on the inside of that piece and I was far enough ahead of Solei that she naturally flowed towards the #18 jump and we post-turned those last few obstacles.

It wasn’t our most brilliant run, but I was happy that we stood the test of the rain and were able to endure.  Our time was 32.2 seconds and it put us into 17th in that run.  Not great, but I feel very respectable given the challenges we had and the fact that it was a “make it work” run for us.   I would love another crack at this course under better conditions where I could really handle for speed to see where we would have ended up!  After this 4th round, Solei and I were one of four teams to run all clear and we were sitting in 2nd place overall.  Even better was that this was our last outdoor class and we were inside the rest of the weekend!


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