And then there came the mud.
So begins our tale of the USDAA show in St. Cloud this past weekend.
To start with, the site is a bit of a challenge on a good day. Previously a land fill, the soil is very soft, loose and absorbent. Except for the areas where large boulders peek through. There are many pokey plants and marshy shrubs, but not a lot of actual grass. Then there are the random holes- some quite spectacular and one large enough to fit an Australian Sheperd.
Also to be dealt with is The Neighbor. He owns a business butted up to the site and is notorious for calling the cops if you spend more than two minutes anywhere on his property.
So, add the weather, the site, The Neighbor and about 100 mini vans lacking 4-wheel drive and what do you get?
|Yes, every one of those vehicles are now stuck and will need towing.|
|Garbage Can Islands in Lake CACM|
Yeah, it was a bit of a challenge.
Friday began with a lot of promise. The sun was out and shining, everyone was in good spirits. Then came the courses. And the wind. And the rain. It all went categorically downhill from there.
We started with a Team competition, White Dog had her regular squad and Black Dog and The Dog teamed with BFAM to form Northern Ninjas (which was fitting as we needed all our best Ninja powers to get through the day and come out with a Team Q). The courses were all very non-flowing and technical (this trend would continue all weekend), which would be ok, if you didn’t have the strange terrain and wind working against you too.
The Dog ran oddly in the first class-Gamblers- (refusing weaves, had her funny annoyed look) so I got her a quick massage (and learned how to do it myself!)- sure enough, the old shoulder was tweaked again. Better in the second class –Jumpers- and pretty much normal for the rest of the day, though she never did get a hang of the weaves this weekend (maybe just being cautious of the slick ground?). My Proud Leader moment of the day was in Snookers where the course forced you to do lots of pull throughs between jumps and she nailed them all. I think I have a handle on how to get her through these situations without losing her over a jump. Huzzah! Anyways, all our girls qualified and we all went home to sleep for about 5 hours.
Upon arrival Saturday, I came to find that it rained all night, flooding the Masters ring (and parking area). The club decided to improvise an impromptu ring in the unused field. Good call. Though the field was even more uneven and bare in some areas, the ground was higher and firmer. I decided not to run Jumpers in it though (Nap time in the car!), not wanting to risk injury, in hopes that the rain would stop before the next class.
|Once Upon a Time, this was the Masters Ring.|
|Quite annoyed at hanging out in the car instead of playing.|
While it didn’t stop, it tapered, and I was pretty satisfied with how dogs were handling the surface, so we went ahead with Steeplechase and Grand Prix. One bar in Steeple, but good enough to qualify and The Dog looked fine and dandy with the rain. (I had forgotten that although she doesn’t like heat, and she doesn’t like wind, she is a rainy day dog for sure. Filthy Mudder.) Grand Prix was a TOUGH course, with more eliminations than I’ve seen in a long time. The Dog however LOVED the course and ran amazingly- second best time- and so very close to first place that I almost wonder if she could actually get a bye at some point before the Regional.
|Lake Dogwalk, creeping ever closer to the Impromptu Ring.|
We ran two more classes (Standard and Gamblers: whoops and a Q) before I figured enough was enough. In addition to the weather and the drama inside the ring, there had been drama developing outside as well all day. The Neighbor I mentioned before? Well, after watching those 100 mini vans get stuck all around his property eventually start tearing up the land ON his property getting towed out he decided to call the cops. High Drama! There were inquisitions, investigations, it was all quite CSI.
|Pretty sure this is when the tow truck was stuck.|
Thanks to a dream (of going home and washing off the mud) and the gumption of several people (willing to get even muddier), we managed to push my little car out without needing a tow (one of the few who did at that point!) and away we sped to get clean, never to return again.
|Mud. Everywhere. The car got the first bath.|
I WAS fully expected to stay home from the trial the last day. Really. You couldn’t have paid me enough to consider going back on Saturday afternoon. It was predicting snow and frigid temps. Yet I set my alarm, and after it went off at 5am I found myself getting up and getting ready to go. Apparently I am crazier than I ever thought (no, wait, DIEHARD!). 8 layers up top of my finest winter gear and field sprints with The Dog went a long way towards keeping warm all day (though the car to sit in really played the bigger part). The cold and wind were nearly unbearable (and yes, it did snow)… but then suddenly, it wasn’t so bad. We actually had a bit of fun. It really was pretty vintage- like back in the early days of trialing. Super small entry, no electronics (manual everything!), everyone pitching in to do everything and cheering each other on. The day went fast, the dogs did well and no one got stuck trying to leave.
The Dog finished her Silver Gamblers title and is just 10 legs from her LAA Bronze (and about 20 from her Silver ADCH). Black dog finished her LAA Bronze on Saturday, so big cheers to her. Cheers also to the two new ADCHs, Siren and Revi- both got their last Super Qs this weekend to finish their titles. So there- a few rays of sunshine via titles this weekend, even if real sunshine was not in the cards.
Oh, and if you are noticing an absence of Pup related material, it’s because she hid in her crate from the cold most of the weekend, cursing us behind her chattering teeth for our insanity. She vows revenge.
|A few minutes in the rain, under her umbrella.|