This past weekend was an eye-opener for me, in just how much Shimmer has progressed from the sensitive little girl that she was, to the wonderful girl that she is today and continues to become. We entered our second Rally trial together this past weekend, a total of six trials. She had two Q's from her last trial, so she only needed one more to get her Novice title, which she got in her first trial along with taking High in Class and a score of 94.
At that point she moved up to Advanced. The biggest difference is that it is all off-leash, and there are several new behaviours to learn. We had been training at that level, and was pretty confident that we would do okay. There was only one skill that we hadn't yet perfected, and I told myself that if we faced it I would take the 10-point loss rather than have her attempt to perform a semi-learned skill in the ring. Anyway, her second trial came out with her first Advanced Q and another High in Class with a score of 96! That ended day one, in which we were all tired and headed home to crash for a few hours.
Day Two yielded a busier day, as there was also obedience and conformation going on and there was a lot more going on in the arena than there had been on Friday. It was a much louder morning. Shimmer showed a little bit of stress-sniffing and some other calming signals, but she handled herself well and came out with two more Q's that day and a second and third place (her third place was a result of that 10-point loss that I mentioed above, that I knew I would likely run into), which I was very very grateful for considering that I knew she was showing more stress the second day.
After having gained two new titles in two days, I knew we were not fully prepared for the Excellent Class, so I decided to pull her from her last two trials. I'm sure we could have gotten through it with a Q, but I would prefer to take the time and work through the exercises to a high level of skill and get the good scores I know she can achieve, rather than just *get the Q* with a lower score. I also didn't want to frustrate or confuse her with things she hasn't faced before and risk having that affect her trialing, as it wouldn't have been a fluid performance like her other ones, so we enjoyed our third day at home. Shimmer slept most of the day, as she was quite tired.
All in all, a fabulous weekend and I could not be more proud! She did so well, continued working in the face of some stress, and came out with a great weekend and great performance. I'm excited to see what the 2011 Rally season brings, and it gives me a focus to work towards over the slower winter months!