In this run, Murray knocked the third jump on the course. Which means that he lost any chance of qualifying in this run within seconds of getting off the start line. However, if you asked me to list the most successful runs that we have had as a team, this one would definitely be on the list.
Rewind three or four months from this video, to a weekend just after New Year 2013, and was one of his first trials ever. Since a picture is worth a hundred words, and a video is worth a thousand, this is what our snooker run looked like:
Of his 10 runs that weekend, 2 or 3 looked like that. A couple were okay, but at least half were painfully slow. So slow that in his Level 1 standard, which is typically a super-flowy, simple, motivating course, he was so slow that we got whistled off the course for exceeding maximum course time. I considered that trial to be "the Murray meltdown," and while at the time I wanted to burn every video and other evidence of the weekend, I am now glad that this happened, and that it happened so early in our agility career, when there was nothing on the line and no expectations.
Essentially, Murray lacked confidence. And therefore focus. And therefore speed. And as a result, he was becoming reactive in the ring. So I decided that we wouldn't trial again until the Spring (when our club was having its annual CPE trial) and spend the winter working on building confidence. We started taking Control Unleashed lessons and reading the book and playing Recallers games and all that good stuff. And attending every damn show-n-go there was to make agility the. best. thing. ever.
And it was. Murray was thriving at show-n-gos, squealing in delight as we'd turn off the freeway to go to Happy Dog events, driving into his crate as we played various recallers games, and suffering through two hour plus car rides for a control unleashed lesson. After working at a USDAA trial at Happy Dog, I had plenty of vouchers in my pocket for entry fees and had the cockamemie idea to enter into one of their trials. I figured that it would be a no-pressure re-entry into trialing: I didn't pay for the entry, would only enter one run, and it was at his "happy" place. And best yet, the course times for USDAA are notoriously tight so going in knowing that there was not a chance in hell that we would Q also relieved some pressure.
And then he left the start line on fire. When I heard the tick of the third jump any bit of pressure about the "possibility of Qing" was lifted and we ran to run. And when he avoided the off-course tunnel and didn't notice the judge and ran so fast that I could barely get in a front cross where I wanted to I had the greatest feeling. And there was cheering and Murray felt like an utter champion as we left the course to more praise than I thought I could ever dish out in a given moment. And plenty of treats to follow the praise.
There were many Qs that followed this run, and my handling has gotten a tad bit sharper, and he's gotten faster. But this was the run where I felt like there was a light at the end of the tunnel.