We went to a trial at Rancho Murieta on Thanksgiving where the surface was a wonderful pale, loamy sand mixed with felt. It was divine. I heard there was a huge world equestrian event at the facility and the surface cost $50, 000. It felt like a million.
Dogs floated as they ran on it, canine masseuses and chiropractors alike composed songs about how refreshed dog muscles felt after running on the surface. I cornered anyone I met after the trial and expounded on how wonderful the surface was. People who had no clue what agility was started avoiding me because they knew if they made eye contact I would start talking to them about pale, loamy felt sand again.
And then there was the New Years Trial.
I told all of my agility friends that they HAD to sign up for the New Years trial because the surface was so wonderful. Imagine my dismay when I arrived to find plain brown dirt. At first it wasn't so bad. We've run on plain brown dirt before. But this wasn't the USUAL dirt. It was slippery, oily dirt. Bars were coming down left and right, dogs who normally take every obstacle in their path ran around jumps because they just couldn't keep their traction. This wasn't just dirt, it was the antithesis of the pale, loamy felt sand. This was the price we had to pay for the wonderful Thanksgiving trial agility surface.
I know what you're thinking. Apollo went 6/6 at the trial, got his MACH3, could it be that bad? Well for some dogs it wasn't. My theory (which is quite possibly wrong) is that dogs with straighter fronts did better on this surface. Apollo is one example, I think he might have actually enjoyed the evil dirt surface.
Rampage seemed to do ok on the surface, he slid a bit but his only faults all weekend were weaves pole faults, but boy we had a lot of those! It's easy to blame it on the surface (and I think that did play a role, the weave pole divots were like moon craters) but mostly it's a training issue. Rammy hasn't done many weaves in the past 2 months. I was surprised at the weave fly-by's he did though. His entries have been pretty good in the past. We only got one Q on the weekend, but it was his last Exc A JWW Q so now he's Exc B JWW.
Icon was really affected by the surface. On Friday he dropped a bar in both runs and then Saturday and Sunday he qualified but he was slower than normal and his jumping was horrible, especially in his JWW runs. He was measuring and stutter stepping the whole way through. There was only one run we had where I felt like we were running close to normal, our Saturday Standard run. On our Sunday JWW run, we were even below the 5.4 yps cut-off time for World Team Quals. I think that's the first time this have ever happened in his entire AKC career.
I was relieved when we had a lesson on Tuesday and his jumping looked good. I've always known that dirt is not a good surface for Icon but I never thought it could be that bad.
And on New Years Day I started having horrible back pains. I blame the surface for that too.
Videos can be seen here, I don't feel like embedding them :)