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2015 US Open
Home from the 2015 US Open. I really enjoyed the event again this year. Fortunately I have a dog that can tolerate the stress of air travel so I have the option of participating in an event such as this. The entries were down from last year, mainly because of Cynosport being held on this side of the country. Guessing that next year's entries will balloon again as Cynosport will be in Arizona and the US Open is rumored to be back in Perry, GA. Also rumored to be the weekend right after Cynosport, which makes attending both events highly unlikely for people from the West Coast who work, have financial constraints, and don't want to fly their dogs twice in a two week period. I really do like the course challenges, the length of day, the number of runs, 22 inch jump height and A frame height in UKI. I won't decide until the announcement is official, but more than likely I would focus on qualifying and getting to the US Open next year rather than Cynosport, and bringing two dogs. I did come away from this year's event with a list of things we need to work on. Unfortunately we don't see challenges like this in any other venue so I'm not sure how we'll be able to test these skills next year, but here is my random list for both of us.

1. Course walking
I had trouble remembering the courses after the morning walk thoughs. The complexity of this year's courses were such that you didn't have much time to perseverate about one section of a course during the 10 minute walk throughs. The decision needed to be made quickly because there were many handling decisions to be made for every course. I think I would spend more time looking at the courses and paths of travel before the walk throughs start in the morning. It's also pretty crowded, unlike our usual UKI trials at home with 5 of us walking a course. It was sometimes hard to see the lines through so many bodies.

2. Distance
Holy crap. Tim and Terry's courses had pretty normal US spacing. Lauren and Martin's courses were set to UK standards and the courses were long. Very long. Unfortunately the tremendous distances made it extremely difficult for turns to get cued well. You really needed to be able to run at this year's event, much more so than last year. I need to be in better physical condition to get my dogs through courses like this.

3. Skills
Mad skills. The dogs needed to be able to take only obstacles which were properly cued. There was a lot of running past obstacles or past jumps at full speed and admittedly a skill that I have with Merlin but not with Kona. The q rate for the 26 inch jump height class was always better than the 22 inch jump height class, and the fast dogs getting through in the 22 inch jump height class either had incredibly fast handlers or were incredibly well trained. There were only 2 or 3 clean jumping rounds out of 70 or so dogs in the 22 inch jump height class, we E'd in very good company.

4. Specialty jumps
I thought Lauren's course design was brilliant. She used the viaduct to add to the complexity of the courses. It never occurred to me that the viaduct can be used to block the dog's view of what is coming next and therefore limit handling options for the next sequence of obstacles. The ascending spread cost us dearly on all jumping courses. We'll just need to train the obstacle better, I had no choice but to keep my dog in full extension for every ascending spread and that needs to be improved upon. She did brilliant over the broad jump, but we had spent more time working on our broad jump skills this past year.

5. Snooker
By the time I ran snooker I couldn't really remember my plan. It was the end of the first day of competition and I was jet lagged. If we attend next year I'll fly out a day earlier to make the time change adjustment and let the dogs get more exercise. We had a real snooker course this year and I know we should have advanced to the Gamblers round, my fault.

6. Dog walks
I decided not to use our round 2 bye and entered the National round 1 because jumpers is usually a better warm up for us. That was stupid, won't make that mistake again. Kona only did 2 dog walks at the US Open, because we didn't advance in National Round 1 or in Biathlon. Both were good, a running and a stopped. We need both behaviors and I'm glad that we now have both.

A compilation video, of the things we did well and a couple of my favorite blooper moments. I really enjoy this event, so much thought and work is put into it. The main ring was completely broken down at the end of the morning runs (eg all equipment moved off), just so the main arena could get groomed for the "big" afternoon event. There is no other venue that would have the time to do this or make the effort to get the surface perfect for the dogs. The conditions are terrific thanks to Greg and Laura Derrett and Mike Padgett. I think it's mainly Mike that makes the conditions so optimal, he didn't even run a dog this year. Kona is already completely recovered from the trip. Me not so much. We get to train with Justine and Jessica next weekend, have another UKI trial next month and then will start the annual winter agility hibernation.

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sooooo QUIET there! wow... Like agility in a vacuum. Interesting.

Man, that course with the three tunnels back to back.. That looks nasty.

I'm glad you enjoyed it. But yeah, you should have at LEAST 24 hours to re-coup and get adjusted to traveling and time.. At least.

Yes, should have known better. Waking up early to drive to ATL for a 7 am flight was even crazier.

I enjoyed watching the live stream/VOD of this event just to see who would survive. Some of the courses seemed a bit over the top hard and I was glad I was not running them, but it was fun to watch others try. :-)

Greg and Laura actually rejected 3 of the 5 courses Lauren submitted because they were two difficult. All of the other judges had pretty reasonable courses.

Yikes, you did awesome! I would have had total suckage. Kinda hard to do any distance work :) :)

Be sure to leave Lucy here next year :) :)

Thanks. Sorry I forgot to tell you about the barking before meals.

7. Kona Video
We get Kona Video so it is pretty much the best event ever in my mind. She is spectacular. Perfectly spectacular.

It makes me laugh that you don't put yourself in the fast handler category, I can only think these other handlers are doping.

Here's the team I always stop to watch, the other being Dave Grubel and Boca who weren't present this year because Boca had a litter of puppies.


Bratska was competing at 22 inches at the US Open, they put down some phenomenal runs.

It's nice to see your to do list. Having never run in UKI, it's helpful to know what challenges I need to think about for Bueller.

Yes, completely different from AKC and USDAA.

So awesome to see you and Kona this weekend! You know, you two are the reason we went. At a UKI trial this summer, before I moved, you asked if I would be attending since it's so close to wherever I end up and I kind of waffled about an answer and you said "I'll see you there." and it was so definitive that I was like "Ok, I guess I'm going."

Anyway, even if Kona was being goofy, it was a great event. Next year, Merlin and Jaguar!

I was happy to see Jag's debut. He looked so happy to be running. I also love how your pyr sheps are such great ambassadors for the breed.

I'm definitely going to think about going next year, you always make it sound so fun and the courses were nothing if not interesting. Looks like Kona really enjoyed the HUGE distances!

Announcement has been made, back in Perry GA November 17th, guessing the attendance will be bigger next year since the East coasters don't seem to want to travel for Cynosport. It still isn't the 14 hour slog of AKC or USDAA nationals, which I think is really bad for the dogs.

You two look so great! It looks like you had a fun time!

Makes me want to reclaim Miley dust her off and head to Atlanta!

Oh no, that ship has sailed. But it does look fun!

Now worries. The ship you are on right now looks way more satisfying.

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