This has been another lesson for me regarding the "Cart Before the Horse" syndrome. And maybe a little "I'm in love my new pup" blindness. She is great, and we will get there, but not by me rushing things just to make a trial date.
That is a great post, Jen... (poor bird boy..LOL)
If you havent finished Twork, swimby and de-cheating, I wouldnt be worrying about running a trial.
Good idea Jennifer, if you are still doing T work, swim-by and decheating you and your dog will be better served polishing those before even thinking about a derby. Make sure your dog is not cheaty at all because if she gets away with it in a trial you have dug a serious hole which is very hard to get out of in future trials. Many good trainers, when seeing Fido try to cheat in a trial, will blow a whistle and pick up their dog. Tough pill to swallow but that is much more important than a five dollar ribbon!!
There is a lot to be gained as a handler and dog by going to the line and getting two or three series under your belt. The trick is to have high standards set in your mind and stick with them regardless of the additional pressure to succeed in an actual trial. A big well timed "NO-Here" followed by walking your dog back to the trck on lead can be worth the cost of entering.
I would also try to get the opinion of someone with knowledge in FTs to assess your dogs talent and level of training. If you mostly train alone.
"Note to self: train for a delayed triple"....is a good thing, as said not to encounter in Derby (?)..but certainly for the upper stakes that you are really preparing for :) ...so in your proper training sequence (and balance in training..a Dennis reminder :)..) that you have gone back to!
Enjoy your pup..
This is actually what my original intent was, John. Because I don't have a steady group to work with yet, I really wanted to drive the 5 -7 hours to the trials to get a feel for how they work and how the nerves and atmosphere affect our performance at the line. I was thinking that if nothing else came of it, it may be worth the $80 entry fee to practice being at the line, feeling the nerves and see how she does. May still do that at the end of Feb. But not at the beginning of Feb, like I had wanted to. There's always another one in April. Pup is only 11 months now.